Curly Horse Resource: Hypoallergenic Curly Horses, Bashkir Curly Horses, American Curly Horses & Curly Sport horses.

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Spring is a celebrated time of year for horse breeders around the world. Anticipation of this year's new generation of lovely curly foals is the topic on many curly chat groups and promotion of curly stallions is on the rise. Even non-breeders that own curly mares consider the possibility of uniting their mare to a fabulous stud for a foal of their own. However, a few things come to mind in light of the recent poor economy & surge of unwanted horses (of all breeds) floading equine rescues & horse auctions, much in part to irresponsible breeding practices. No one likes to talk about this, it's a hard and difficult topic, but I felt the need to post an article to enlighten those of you that are considering breeding this spring.

Learning From Other Breeds

With the help of Sereena, manager of Swan Creek, breeder of top quality Andalusians in Alberta Canada, we've put together some thoughts, policies to consider and ideas to help raise the bar on breeding your lovely equines. I personally have never seen such admirable policies before and I felt they were worth sharing publically.

I asked Sereena to share a bit about her policies, and she writes:

 "I believe two things:
1) ALL stallions make great geldings.
2) Show me the quality of your geldings and I`ll show you the quality of your breeding program!

"We, as stallion owners take it further (than most) as in our breeding contract "all colts must be gelded" unless agreed upon by ourselves and an equine vet that it is an excellent representative of the breed and is stallion worthy. I am one of those stallion owners who will send you to a stallion owned by some else if I think they have a better suited for your mare . Mind you, I don`t refer to other stallions if mare owner decides not to breed due to gelding clause! : )"

Evaluating outside Mares: "We also won't breed a mare, pending some reasons, if the mare is not broke at least so she can be rode around. She doesn`t have to be shown just useable. ( we offer free 30 day training on mares that come here FREE) BEFORE they are bred. If not trainable, mare owner knows she won't be bred but we have earned the stud fee to cover cost of training/time/feed. 99% of the mare owners love and agree to this that come here to breed! It makes the foals more marketable and if anything should happen, ie. the owner has to sell the mare in the future, at least she has a good foundation on her so she has a better chance of being sold as a useable saddle horse. Yes we have trained 18 year old mares and I find them to be the easiest to train!"

"I know this isn`t Curly related but it should be something all horse owners should do. Regardless of breed or color. JMHO." Sereena, manager of Swan Creek

Examples of Quality

Helpful ways to evaluate & improve your breeding program:

- To prevent "barn blindness" ask your local vet or a respect equine professional to help judge your herd.
- Physical exams & xrays prior to breeding is also recommended since some physical flaws & limitations can be hidden.
- Do your research to find the best compatible stallion for your mare. Quality takes time and money.

 Inspections serve as an educational tool:

Thanks to Elaine of Curly Sport horse International for offering the following information regarding inspections.

-- Breeders can use inspections as a learning experience, helping them train their eye to sport horse conformation and movement.
-- Breeders can make more informed decisions on the future of their breeding operation, helping them improve the quality of their stock in each generation.
-- Buyers can look at an independent assessment of the horse's potential for an individual sport before purchasing a new horse.
-- As the CSI studbook develops, breeders and buyers alike will be able to see trends in the ability of particular bloodlines based on inspection scores and performance results.
-- Knowledge is power. It takes knowledge to make decisions. Inspections take some of the mystery out of the selection or your next sport horse.

Why don't more breeders have their curlies inspected?

Elaine from the Curly Sporthorse International helped answer this question.

I think it's a number of things, one being that folks don't really understand why that information is important. Second, money is an issue for many people, curlies often don't sell for big bucks, and the price range is all over the map, so it's hard to finance something like that if a person's babies sell for lower end prices. Third, in the US, the culture has a bit of the "no one has the right to tell me what to do, I can decide that for myself" flavor... the natural sort of renegade attitude in the US has a lot of folks feeling that inspections are a way to stop them from their goals rather then help them reach their goals.

The WB registries follow the lead of the European registries and accept that inspection and approval is part of the process. Because at one time European WBs were so far superior to US bred horses, no one was really willing to challenge that premise. It's harder for breeders coming from a culture (the Curly culture, I mean now) where anything goes, no restrictions, not a lot of guidance other than a breeder's own opinion or preference, OR perhaps they breed based on what's available in their area since AI is fairly recent, and still not wide spread. Anyway, it's a paradigm shift, and will take some time for folks to adjust to the idea.

It's a bit of a crazy cycle, if Curlies sold for more money (as a rule) then it would be easier to justify spending money on inspections to improve quality. And if the quality were higher, Curlies would sell for more (again a general rule)... Some curlies do command decent prices, and some sell for dog food prices... I think that fact reflects the range in quality in Curlies as well, although there are the occasional diamond in the rough and also the occasional horse priced way behind it's ability to meet expectations associated with that price... And then it's all complicated by the economy... A glitch most of us weren't counting on 5 years ago...

On paper I think many folks agree that it makes sense, but doing it is another story. And it's not just inspection of stallions, the stallion is only half of the genetic contribution. Just inspecting the stallion doesn't really give a breeder the information needed to make the best informed decision.

How is the CSI striving to change this?

The long range goal of CSI is to only allow registration off offspring from inspected and approved parents. This has been the ultimate goal since the original plan for CSI was drawn up, before the registry came into existence. However, it's too soon to close the books because the gene pool is too small. To close them now would cause too much inbreeding. So, for now the books are open and we are working toward more inspections so that this future IS possible. Read more about the CSI inspections here:

Where can I have my curly inspected?

Depending on your breeding goals, two organizations offer inspections & assistance to breeders.

1. CSI - Click here to host an inspection.

2. ICHO - Click here to see the next upcoming inspection held by the NACHIP

Other Helpful Links:

Sporthorse Conformation

Common Leg Faults in Horses

Conformation & Function of the Riding Horse

If you have any helpful tips or advice regarding this topic, please email me.

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