So You Want To Raise a Show Horse?

April 16th, 2014 7:55 AM | No Comments


Increasing Your Odds for Success

By Dave Whitney,

Photo courtesy of Debbi Trubee, Pine View Farms

Photo courtesy of Debbi Trubee, Pine View Farms

I have been looking at horse-related statistical information almost every day since 1997, having had the opportunity to review and analyze hundreds of sire and dam records. I currently spend most of my time updating my website, Quarter Horse Directory, with statistics and providing written reports including “magic crosses” and “nicking reports” for sire and dam owners who feel such information is a valuable asset to their breeding program.

Many horse people believe that if they have a “nice” mare they can breed her to most any stallion in her specialty area and get “a winner.” Breeding to the latest World Champion or Congress Champion stallion is very popular, and is usually assumed to be a sure way to produce the next big “winner.”

How can you best spend your time and money if you wish to produce a quality show horse? Can statistics information help increase the odds of producing offspring that can win at the AQHA level? The rest of this article will help to answer these two questions.

My main focus will be on breeding for a Western Pleasure horse, however we’ll also discuss breeding a show quality horse at an AQHA level. There isn’t a lot written on breeding for the Western Pleasure horse using statistical information, and there seems to be more and more interest from serious Western Pleasure breeders for this type of information.

Set Realistic Goals and Expectations:

If your goal is to successfully produce AQHA show quality horses, what percentage of your offspring currently achieves .5+ AQHA points, or is a money earner? 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%… 3%?  Do you know?  If not, figure out how many offspring you have had, and how many are AQHA point earners or money earners.

Is it important to know? Yes! How can you know if you are on track, or if you need to improve, if you don’t know what your current success rate is? After you figure out where you are, you need to set a realistic goal for the future.

What is realistic to expect?

To help answer this question, let’s look at what the leading sires and dams have historically produced. Historically, all-time leading sires and dams have a total offspring-to-point-earner percentage of more than 30%.  The top 200 all-time sires have over 30% point earners to registered foals.  Here are some examples: Im A Big Leaguer sired 60.5% point earners; Coy’s Bonanza 53.5%; The Big Investment 51%; Doc Bar 49%; Mr Conclusion 47%; Poco Bueno 47%; Skipper W 46%; Investment Asset 41%; and Poco Pine 43%.

Zips Chocolate Chip and Zippo Pine Bar

Zips Chocolate Chip and Zippo Pine Bar

Many current senior stallions also fall into the 30+% range even though many have offspring still competing in the show ring, meaning their percentage of winning offspring will continue to increase. All of the following stallions fall within the 30% – 55% rangeA Sudden Impulse, Allocate Your Assets, Blazing Hot, Certain Potential, Dont Skip Zip, Hot N Blazing, Huntin For Chocolate, Invitation Only, One Hot Krymsun, Radical Rodder, RL Best of Sudden, These Irons Are Hot, Zippos Mr Good Bar, and Zips Chocolate Chip, to name a few.

This shows us that 30+% is an IMPORTANT figure, and brings me to my first principle:

Principle 1: Set the realistic goal of 30% of offspring achieving 0.5+ AQHA points and/or earn money. It goes without saying, the higher the percentage and earnings, the better!  

Selecting a proven broodmare is key, in that she is an important factor in producing winning offspring.

How have you selected a broodmare in the past?  Disposition, conformation, movement, size, show record, offspring record, breeding… all of the above? The criteria you have used in the past are important, and form the foundation upon which you should build.

Principle 2:  Keep doing what you have done, but allow research data to reinforce and perhaps, extend, your knowledge base.

How do you do that? The principles I am providing are based upon a review of the statistical factors producing the top sires and dams over the last many years. Past history should help increase the odds of producing a “show winner.”

Principle 3: Breed a Broodmare with a show record.

Of the top 200 producing AQHA broodmares, 183 (91.5%) had a show record, (.5+ points, and/or some NSBA, NRHA or NCHA earnings) and 48% earned a Performance or Halter ROM. These percentages are significantly above the average.

Certainly there are exceptions to the rules. Neither the #1 All-Time AQHA Dam, Ima Blister Bug or the #2 All-Time Dam, Are You Zipped, had show records. Exceptions, however, do not make the rule.

Principle 4:  Breed producing mares, especially if their offspring record is 30+% point earner, or money earners, for registered foals. The more offspring points per point earner, the better.

Out of the top 201 all-time AQHA point producing broodmares:

  • 185 (92%) have two or more AQHA point earner
  • 158 (78.6%) have three or more point earners
  • The average is 10.6 registered foals per broodmare
  • Collectively, they have generated 444,427.5 AQHA Points:
    • Averaged 2,211 points per broodmare
    • Averaged 11.4 Halter or Performance ROMS & 11.3 Superior Halter and/or Performance Awards per broodmare
    • Averaged 6.5 performers; 5.5 Point Earners
      • (51.9% of their registered foals are point earners; 84.6% of performers are point earners)

A producing mare has a significantly higher chance of producing another offspring with points than a non-producing mare. This can be further enhanced when they are bred to a top stallion cross.

To read the rest of the principles and statistics, click here and flip to page 42!


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