Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Today before I brought Ace in for his lunch and nap, I spent our few minutes leading around and behaving. But first, I just threw an arm over his back and leaned on him and patted both sides which I do sometimes getting him used to having a human over him. It's also useful to do some grooming while standing on a stool which makes it easier in the future when you first go to mount them. He stands for this, but he tosses his head and fights with the lead. His body language quite clearly saying "I'm mad and I'm bad and I hate bending to your will." For a moment, my mind fast forwarded to fall 2011. At that time, Ace will be two and a half years old, and most likely ready to have a little saddle training. And I will be *gasp* ...forty. I imagined sitting there on his back while he quivers and fidgets like a jumping bean ready to explode. I remember riding my Grey Horse a few times during his two year old year. This ought to be good for a mid-life crisis.

Not long ago, one of my readers asked me what my expectations and plans are for Ace. I sort of chuckled and replied "My plans don't always work out." But its a fair question. After all, before you breed your mare, you ought to have a plan for the offspring. When we made this match, I was expecting to get a fine harness or three gaited park horse. So did I? Here is a summary of Ace's pedigree in snapshots. Don't forget that if you click the picture, it will open up larger in another screen.

His sire "Clint" was never shown, but is a park or fine harness type with the trot to match. "Clint" is by CF First Night Out who was lightly shown as a three gaited horse, placing second at Louisville as a 2 yr old before being shown as a junior gaited horse and retired to stud. I don't follow the sire ratings very closely, but FNO has been near the top of the ratings for a couple of years, siring winners in all divisions. FNO's sire CH Night Prowler was a World's Grand Champion Fine Harness horse.

Clint's dam was by Georgetown. Georgetown only sired about two dozen foals before being lost in a barn fire at the young age of seven. We happened to breed a mare to Georgetown, and the resulting foal was the first Saddlebred I trained myself. Georgetown was by the great five gaited World's Grand Champion CH Yorktown who had a long and illustrious career at stud.

Ace's dam "Copy" was shown as a five gaited mare. Her sire Santana Time (Rocky) was a local stud owned by a friend of ours. "Rocky" was a gorgeous flaxen chestnut five gaited horse sired by Sultan's Santana (the first Saddlebred stallion to be syndicated for a million dollars.) Santana was a fine harness horse and was also a grandson of Valley View Supreme who was the first stallion to win the World's Grand Championship in the three gaited division. He and his offspring were known for being very fine and beautiful. Rocky's dam was by Flight Time by WGC Wing Commander. That line was more rugged and likely to make five gaited horses.

Copy's dam has some unusual old Ohio breeding. The only other place I can point it out is it is the same dam line as Attache's Born Believer, sire of the beautiful stallion Born Contender. Her dam traces through Society's Crown Jewel to Society Rex and also to Command Decision, one of several full brothers to WGC Wing Commander.

So, as you can see, there is a pretty even mixture of three gaited, fine harness and five gaited breeding in Ace's family tree. There is really only one true theme. His sire traces almost exclusively to the hard trotting Chief family of Saddlebreds (founded by the Standardbred trotter Harrison Chief), and his dam traces mostly to the easy gaited Denmarks. So, what did I get?

First off, let's have an honest evaluation of Ace. He has a very attractive head and neck with a beautiful large eye showing just a hint of white which is very important in a show horse's expression. His neck is not extremely long or hingy at this point, but he is high headed and I expect him to bridle up easily. He has a nice, loose, sloping shoulder with good width of chest and depth of heart girth. So far, his withers are almost non-existent which surprising considering Copy's very prominent withers. He has a nice hard back, good balance and a strong hindquarter.
His legs are straight and clean. He has only one conformation fault. At this point he has a slight tendency to toe out which we are hoping he grows out of. It isn't that his toes turn out as much as the fact that he loves to splay his front legs. This makes it very hard to measure him. Every time I try to stand him square in front he splays his legs and tries to step on my toe. He has a nice way of going with strong hocks. He does not have a big bold trot yet. He prefers to "parade" or "sashay" like a park horse. When he throws his head up, he ambles quite readily. This is the old Denmark genetics coming out with the ability to be taught to rack.
He is very bold and intelligent. He respects me, and seems to understand he has to comply with my wishes no matter how dumb he might think they are. He shows quite a bit of quality in his hair coat and hooves and looks like he will grow a heavy tail. He knows how to make an entrance. Whether it is a gate or a door, he comes through it with a "look at me" attitude.
So, given those qualities, what are my plans for Ace? First he will be broke to drive. This is something that every Saddlebred should learn. Then he will be gaited to see if he has any talents in that area. A gaited horse must have a sense of rhythm and a smooth way of going. To be a top gaited horse, they must also show speed. Speed usually develops after a couple of years, so it is hard to tell before you get some leather on them whether they will develop speed or not.
Many young Saddlebreds start out their lives with aspirations to be gaited horses then as they age and the demands of the more difficult gaits and speed begin to wear on them, many of them end up in another division. If Ace enjoys driving he has the head and neck and conformation to show off a harness very well. It is important that a harness horse not only wear the over check very well, but they should have a good strong back and beautiful conformation since you won't be able to hide many faults in a harness. If he shows a lot of motion and prefers to primp along at a park trot instead of covering a lot of ground at the rack, he could be headed for the park or pleasure divisions, providing he trains well enough to show the manners required in the pleasure classes. Or, with his handsome face, mincing jog, and luxurious tail he might be stunning under western tack. With his tendency to amble, primpy trot and high head, it is not likely he will excel in any of the sport disciplines.
So have I answered the question? Ace is not yet 12 months old. He shows a lot of promise to grow up to be a lovely horse. It's hard to tell how he will change and develop. I guess I am your typical "mother". I want my kid to grow up to be the best he can be... whatever that is.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

love this post. Wish more would give the history/bloodlines/reasoning behind the breeding. Just helps the rest of us out!

Pony Girl said...

Great post! Love the old pictures from the sire/dam....the dam background is just amazing!
Nice assessment of your baby, too. Isn't it fun to help mold them into what they are born to be?
p.s. is a little around the eye a good thing for the show ring? I've noticed it quite a bit in photos of Saddlebred show horses and wondered about it.

SmartAlex said...

Most Saddlebreds do not have the white sclera like an Appaloosa. But, when they come into the arena with large, wide open eyes, if there is just a flash of white in the edge, it is just enough to highlight and call attention to their beautiful bright eye.
Some people from other disciplines mistake this for the horse being frightened or stressed, but if you were around these horses and saw how happily excited they were, you would know that the "wild eye" is actually a good thing and a sign of a horse enjoying itself.