Now that the weather has warmed up, the grass is greening, and the snow is fading fast, it's a little easier to get into the Triple Crown mood. Those whose only exposure to horses is the occasional nationally televised race probably glaze over when the announcers start talking about bloodlines. Or maybe that's just me. Either way, I figured I'd give you a short primer on how it all works.
A registered horse is one that has been documented and accepted by a breed association. In our case, that is the American Quarter Horse Association. There are also associations for Thoroughbreds and Arabians and a host of other breeds. Each has its own system, but the breeding of the mare by the stud is generally documented with some sort of breeding certificate, and the foal is registered within a certain time frame after birth.
A Quarterhorse can be crossed with a registered horse of another breed and the foal still registered with the AQHA. A large percent of Quarterhorses have some Thoroughbred, a cross that tends to increase speed and size. There are rules regarding what percentage of the ancestry may be from another breed before the horse is no longer considered a Quarterhorse.
On the Quarterhorse forms, we have to give three name choices in order of priority (in case another horse already has your first choice) and indicate the horse's color, gender, date of birth, place of birth and owner. Then, on a diagram of a horse, you must sketch in all markings, which usually means things like a blaze or a star on the face and white 'stockings' on the feet.
I am not much of a student of bloodlines. I know a few of the more well-known Quarterhorse and Thoroughbred stallions, but beyond that I lose interest pretty fast. The truth is, good breeding may increase your odds of getting the colt you want, but it's no guarantee. When buying horses, we mostly look at the registration papers as a way of verifying that the horse is actually ten years old as the seller claims, and not a spry-looking eighteen.
That said, I thought I'd share a set of registration papers, so you can see what they look like. First, here's the horse in action in Cambridge, Idaho. We call him Nico.
And here are his papers. You might have to click on the image to enlarge it enough to read all of the print.
This is the back side. If you look real close, you can see he has a white sock on his right hind leg, a white star and strip on his forehead and a tiny white snip by his left nostril.
Surprised? Yes, you did read correctly. Those are my parents and that is my maiden name. Oh, you meant his breeding. Yeah, he is a grandson of Secretariat. Yes, THAT Secretariat. Even I recognize that name.