The internet offers a wide range of horses for breeding. Thanks to postal services that don’t ask too many awkward questions, it is possible to create foals from parents who have never met and never will. Nestled amongst this massive industry are all kinds of sparkley-bannered-can’t-spell-anything-wouldn’t-trust-this-person-with-a-pet-rock websites, offering “quality” horses to provide half of your next pet’s DNA.
Here be demons.
Just because a horse comes from a “good bloodline”, doesn’t mean that there aren’t gremlins in it. Physical attributes that worked well for one horse, however many generations ago, don’t necessarily make every horse it’s related to ever afterwards a picture of health or sanity. I usually look to Thoroughbreds when considering an example of dodgy breeding practices, but there are plenty of other examples perpetrated by backyard breeders and breed-specific studs.
For example, Arabian horses. Here is Google’s first example of a healthy Arabian horse:
Among other features, Arabian horses are noted for their delicate and distinctive faces. Wide, “dished” forehead, small muzzles and large eyes are among these traits. Now look what has happened when someone aimed to breed for these:
Quarter Horses are another breed not exempt from selective stupidity in breeding for traits. In this case, most breeders aim for an impressively huge hind-end. Sometimes this comes at the expense of every other part of the horse. Here is an example of a good Quarter Horse:
It’s the PtHA Reserve World Champion, Barlink Macho Sent Me! Those legs have not been photoshopped. They are literally upright toothpicks. Ultra-short gaskins, an almost vertical line instead of a hock joint, and massively long canon bones to make for a jolty ride and zero balance. Tiny little feet, and way too vertical in the front too. This horse is a break-down waiting to happen… $500 a serve!
Just because something can breed, doesn’t mean it should.