Friday, January 15, 2010

Breed Profiling

A family I know who has been boarding "outside" horses at their farm for a few years now has recently decided that they no longer wish to take on Thoroughbreds. It is not (at least entirely) for lack of respect or affection for the breed but instead due to a trend they noticed in the added expense, attention, and headache that their past Thoroughbreds clients have generated.

Some people, being equal opportunity enthusiast would take offense to applying breed profiling when selecting potential boarding clients but as someone who has boarded "out" (at large barns with a variety of breed types and large turnover numbers) for the better part of my adult life I actually have to support her decision as I too have noticed trends in different breed types.

For instance, most smaller quarter horses, ponies, and even draft and draft crosses require half (or even a quarter) of the calories needed to sustain the average larger thoroughbred (of course every horse is an individual and I am speaking very generally here...and yes, that is my attempt to be diplomatic). The quiet blooded breeds tend to be more content to hang out in the field, causing less trouble- generally not pacing fence lines, weaving, cribbing, and stirring their stalls into a manure mash. Some breeds, you must admit, are hardier than others- being less fussy about feed, less prone to digestive issues, injury, accidents and sensitivity to the elements, (bugs bites, weather etc.) ....of course, the exception proves the rule (diplomacy).

If I were trying to make an (ever allusive) buck in the boarding industry I think I too would use breed profiling as a starting point....because really how is that any different than breed profiling for positive traits. like endurance, speed or cow sense? Why is it that even I, who doesn't hesitate to show a marked bias for a certain breed *cough* Quarter horse *cough* still feel so guilty for admitting to not preferring (or dare I say disliking) a particular breed? For example Appaloosas (excluding My Boy and Rusty and any other reader's Appy....of course:) are not my favorite horses... It doesn't matter that I come by that honestly- having caught nothing but shit and abuse from every single solitary appy I've ever thrown a leg over) I still feel it is disrespectful...or somehow wrong to admit a... prejudice against some breeds?
Do you have a breed prejudice?


  1. Breed bias is everywhere, and seems to run along the same lines as fanatical football fans and the like. We have a small, but eclectic group of horses here (and yes, our Cinnamon definitely does suffer from classic "Appy-tude"), but they are a very diverse group of individuals. We have two Walking Horses; one is an absolute rock, and the other a total weenie (who has been known to hide behind me in a crisis - like that's gonna work, right?) I will admit to being partial to the *gasp* Arabian breed for their high intelligence and fierce loyalty (and yep, we have an official weenie there as well). I think it all really boils down to the horse's background and personality, otherwise known as "there's one in every crowd". I've seen plenty of spastic Quarter Horses that completely refute the calm reputation of the breed, just as I've seen calm Arabians (we have three of them here) that totally defy the breed label "hot".
    So I suppose I would have to classify myself as having a prejudice against prejudice and a bias against bias (huh?) when it comes to pigeonholing breeds; you just can't do it. Terrific post :o)

  2. Interesting post, I don't think any horse person out there wouldn't have an opinion.

    Me, I definitely hold biases, not that I mean to, but I do, after all, there is a reason we have 'hot', 'warm', and 'cold' breeds. To remedy that, I try to be aware of my biases, and accept any horse who bucks them.

    I see a thoroughbred, I try and show myself just how quiet and calm it is, even though I've ridden only spas TBs my whole life - and my instinct is telling me to tread lightly.

    When I dabbled in taking in boarders as a teenager, I evaluated horses on a case by case basis, because there are certainly nuts with every breed.

  3. Interesting post... I'm sure all of us hold some breed bias. I guess if I had a boarding stable, I would probably try and evaluate the owner first, then the horse... but I can see why your friend would do so.

    I'm not a huge appy fan either - but I happen to own one. Uveitis? check. Appy-tude? Check. The breed wasn't my first choice at all, but he fit all of my needs at the time - and he is kinda cute... :-)

  4. Appies amuse the heck outta me. Haven't had a problem with uveitis, but half my blog posts are about Appy-tude. And I just LOVE spots.

    Heather has had several OTB's and they are perpetual motion machines. They need 2-3 times the amount of food as evrybody else and it's still hard to keep weight on them. One sucked wind and another had that weaving habit so bad they nicknamed him Stevie (Wonder).

    All that said, if and when it comes time for me to bring another horse home, it will based on the horse as an individual and have nothing to do with the breed.

  5. I have to agree that all horse people have some form of bias towards different breeds. Personally I prefer to evaluate on an individual basis. One of the barns I boarded at charged a secondary fee for the larger more labour intensive horses. This makes sense to me.

    Realistically, I've handled as many "quiet" Arabs as I have "hot" AQHA so I don't buy into the "This breed is _______." bit anymore. All horses have their own personalities and dependent on their backgrounds, habits.

  6. Actually, I don't have any specific breed that I don't like. All horses are fine with me. And unfortunately, I'd like to have them all.

  7. We've got at least three Thoroughbreds at our barn that I personally have handled. One of them was a little bit of a pain when he got there but between my friend and I he has gotten lots of handling and exercise and has turned out to be a fantastic guy. The other two punks are owned by the same person and they are just a pain!!! But in their defense, the owner NEVER comes out except to clean stalls. Horses are no different than dogs, an apartment dweller that doesn't go on daily five mile runs should not own a sporting breed of dog. Thoroughbreds, from my experience need lots of exercise or they will be the fence running, stall kicking pain in the hiney that the two at my barn are!!

    As for the Appys, I try to defend them since I've owned my guy for 20 years, but I gotta admit, they have a 'tude. My guy is night and day from all the Quarters and Arabs I've owned, and he ain't gonna change!

  8. Perhaps instead of having bias towards the breeds we need to have bias towards certain types of owners that perpetuate breed stereotypes?

    I had to move my horse once from my friend's parent's place (where I currently board again) The place I moved her to originally wasn't going to let us come board there because we had TWO strikes against us. My horse was a MARE and a TB! *gasp*
    Make that three strikes because she was also off the track.
    They did relent, on a trial basis. And what do you know, before I moved her back to where we are now they made several offers to buy her. lol

    My OTTB mare has had the least issues of any horse I've owned or worked with which include:
    Paints, Quarter Horses, Arabs (who get a lot of their own bad PR lol), various pony breeds (again bad PR machines), Appies (who I do love), TWH, Trakenhners, Percherons, Belgians, Standardbreds.
    I will say that there was one particular Standardbred that was an absolute peach of a gentleman but he needed a lot of extra upkeep due to poor care while he was racing. AND that while my TB mare is a doll I have dealt with some wicked ones.

    I think a lot of how a horse turns out is due to care/training/handling as well as breed.

  9. Great post! I never considered breeds of horses from the barn owner's point of view before. I've always considered them in regards to ownership. I have owned Appies and never had any real issues. I own Arabs and learned to deal with their extremely sensitive side. It is true that breeds can possess certain character traits but one must look at the individual horse because there are always exceptions.
    Of my three purebred Arabs, one is temperamental and high maintenance while the other two are mellow and easy-keepers.

  10. Oh, and I want to add that I LOVE the photos you chose. That liver chestnut witht the orange mane is to die for. ;)

  11. Fantastyk Voyager- the liver chestnut is a Morgan. I think I recently saw it listed for sale, somewhere! ;)
    C- thanks for the shout-out saying you liked my Appy, hee hee! He is a handsome boy. He does have some 'tude, though.
    I have to say over the course of my life, I have loved all breeds, and have gone through phases where I have preferred others. There has never been a breed I didn't like, even though I've never seen this breed in person or had contact with it! I think it's easy to stereotype breeds based off of one experience, or what you read, or see. I know my sister has recently told me she has changed her previous view on Saddlebreds based on working with half ASB's at her barn. I will say that I tend to root for the underdog. I want to see horses that people think can't cut cattle or dressage (like a Saddlbred, for example) doing just that! I think I should create a job as a "versatility promoter." Seriously, I believe many breed associations don't really do enough to promote their breed (to the general public) and that doesn't help dispel those preconceived notions people have about the breed.
    I do think breed profiling at barns is a bit unfair, though. I truly think it should be based on the individual horse. An owner could sign a 2 or 3 month trial contract where the barn owner could chose to ask them to leave if there are problems. That might get tricky, legally. Great post topic, sorry I've rambled on!

  12. Well, this is a fun topic. I have a TB mare and I do have to say she is one high maintenance mare. She gets fed more feed, better feed, and has to be blanketed in the winter time because she shivers when the wind blows. That vs. my paint horses that eat half as much as her and never get blanketed. Unless it gets below 30.

    I grew up riding TBs and have always liked them. And yes, the majority of them need more attention. I then started riding QHs and I really like them. I really like the body built of a well bred show horse. I have met a lot of crazy ones, but I just like their build the best. I am a fan of huge hips, big cheeks, and wide chests. Ha ha ha, I sound like a man!!

    Okay, don't get mad, but I have never been a fan of Arabians. I just don't think they are "pretty" horses. It's not that they are spooky are flightly, it's really not eye appealing to me. It's just their lack of hip and funky looking heads, high tail placement, and necks. Generally speaking. And I own a half Arab. My kids LOVE him.

    Since reading blogs and getting to know more people and their Arabians, I have come to like Arabians. But I will never intentionally go out on a hunt for an Arabian. They just aren't my thing. I like thick Qhs and Paints.

    As far as Appy's go, I don't mind them, but again, I would never do a dream horse search for an App. I am just a quarter horse fan. Not that they are better than any other breed, I just like their look better.

    So, I guess you could say I am bias? I just know what I like and what I like to do is show, and I like to show APHA and AQHA.

  13. This is an interesting post. :-)

    My Breed Prejudice: The Tennessee Walking Horse

    When I began the equestrian life (with a 14h Arabian) I boarded two years at a renowned Tennessee Walking Horse breeding and showing barn. They had 140 Tennessee Walking horses, four were active stallions, and one mare had taken 4th at "The Worlds".

    Every horse on that farm, except for the 4th place mare, was an idiot.

    I blame line breeding. Yes, it is actually ACCEPTABLE to inbreed Tennessee Walkers. They will breed a brother to a sister. Its true!

    And this is not only common to that breeding farm. I've since owned a TW from California and it was later found to be mentally retarded from inbreeding practices.

    Don't buy a Tennessee Walker.

  14. Well I like some breeds better than others - but there aren't many that I actively dislike. I love all horses. I have noticed that certain breeds tend to attract a certain type of owners and sadly I have grown to dislike many of them.

    On that same thought I think some breed are more well suited to certain types of people than others. I strongly believe "cold blooded" horses are better for beginner riders and owners than "hot blooded breeds" breeds with an infusion of draft horse just tend to be more quiet and easy than hotter breeds.

    So anyways yes and no.

  15. My feeling is you seriously have to look at the horse not the breed. I have seen Belgians I would not have; totally belying the laid back nature of the breed. I have a QH who spooks at his own shadow, always has been jumpy. There is no "working it out of him". Had little Arab mare who was the ultimate child pony. Know an Arab breeder with a mare that could never be trained to ride, she freaked every time the trainer tried to sit in the saddle--totally dangerous. I also feel the more extreme the head on an Arab; the less there is in it! Just like there is no bad color for a good horse there is no breed deliniation for a good horse!!!

  16. Interesting thought.... I wouldn't say I have a bias. Maybe a preference. I see it the same way I see dog breeds. There are plenty of breeds I wouldn't necessarily CHOOSE to have, but that doesn't mean I am biased against them. They're just not for me. However, if I were in the business to make does makes sense that you can maximize profit by focusing on easier keepers. I still don't think I would refuse any animal based on breed alone.