Monday, March 7, 2016

Tracy Meisenbach- You, your horse and the bit, an unhappy threesome.

There seems to be a prevailing thought that how much you love your horse, or he loves you, determines how your equipment works. It doesn’t. Nothing determines how your equipment works except how it is meant to function. If it’s a snaffle it functions like a snaffle. If it’s a tiedown it functions like a tiedown. Nothing about you or your horse alters that UNLESS you actually alter the piece of equipment by adding or subtracting something to it.
Riders/trainers should also understand that nothing about the horse (barring an actual physical deformity) changes how the equipment works. Different horses may REACT differently, just like some people can pick up spiders and some people run screaming from the room, but the equipment, like the spider, is a constant. Reaction is NOT mechanical. Reaction is not based on a specific forumula. Reaction is based on pain, fear, emotion. So don’t confuse reaction with the mechanics of the bit. Some horses ignore pain, some are hypersensitive. Some tolerate poll pressure, some hate it. Just because your horse doesn’t react adversely does not mean he’s not in pain or anxious. Looking at the mechanics of the bit, plus the horse’s anatomy, can give you clues that his response may be hiding. Because at some point common sense has to kick in and say that X pounds of pressure on anything’s tongue is painful. I’ve bitten my tongue before, and it wasn’t with anywhere near the pressure that most people put on the reins and it hurt like hell. So imagine how the horse feels. And while it is true that a finished horse will react differently to a bit than a green horse it still does not change the way the bit works. A finished horse has a conditioned response to the bit's actions. A green horse is listening to his nerve endings telling him what to do UNTIL he finally connects that the rider is trying to tell him something and if he does it there is a reward of some kind. However, neither reaction changes the mechanics of the bit.

So when you assess your horse, and the bits you use, repeat these things to yourself, because honesty is the best policy when dealing with horses. And stop confusing emotional reaction with bitting mechanics.

Things that DO NOT alter how the bit works:
How much you love your horse
How much your horse loves you
Your relationship is not special, unique or rare. It’s simply a relationship with an animal you like, that likes you back and hopefully will last a long pain free time.
Horse’s breed
Horse’s age
Horse’s color
Horse’s training level
Political party
Sexual preferences
Favorite TV show
Favorite horse event
How much you pay for the bit
How much you win while using it
Celebrity using it
Advertising used to promote the bit
Where you live
How old you are
Whether all your tack matches
Drugs, they alter reaction, not mechanics

Things that will alter how a bit works;
A welder
A hack saw
Blow torch
Draw reins
Gag pulley
The bit breaking
Adding a curbstrap or taking one off

Tracy Meisenbach
Copyright 3-2016
Do not copy, republish or use without permission.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tracy Meisenbach- Pedigrees and generational influences

Those of us that love pedigree research regard it as a never ending treasure hunt for information, validation and piecing together the history of horse breeds. It can give us clues to color, genetic traits, breeding trends, even world events, such as the remount program created to mount the cavalry.We love to find the famous, the infamous, the rare and the building blocks.

Pedigrees can be a source of pride, or concern, depending on who is up close or far back. It's amazing how traits which seem minuscule can travel through the ages, carried by one horse in each generations. There are several Appaloosas that carry a literal trickle of Appaloosa blood, 1/32 or 1/64 and still come out wildly colored. When you consider how much each generation influences the horse in front of you it makes you think about the "strength" or "weakness" of some genes. Some seem to hide for awhile, recessives that only pop up when both parents have it, and then only in the right conditions, such as two chestnut agouti carriers that will not exhibit their hidden genes, yet their foal can produce a bay when bred to a black. Or dominant genes that always appear when present ( although sometimes you have to look really close!), manifesting in homozygous or heterozygous form.

We all get to read sale ads or hear brags about horses that go back to some great champion. I can't blame people that like to talk about their horse going back to Man O'War, he's an American hero. However, it is disturbing when they use a horse more than 4 generations back as a huge selling point. It's not. Unless that horse carries a unique genetic trait that can really affect the value of your horse ( and it's usually adversely) then more than 4 generations does not affect the horse in front of you.

Man O'War

So how much does each generation affect your horse? This chart shows how much and how little each succeeding generation contributes to the genetic makeup for your horse. So remember when you cite a famous horse, if he's more than 4 generations back he's not offering much, and if that's your value baseline you might want to rethink your prices and marketability. The average equine generation is 8 years, so from present to Man O'War is about 12 generations. He would be contributing .0244% to your horse's genetic make-up. That's not going to get you in the Derby and doesn't increase your horse's value one iota.

Your Horse
1) 2 Ancestors= 50% sire and dam
2) 4 Ancestors= 25% grandparents
3) 8 Ancestors= 12.5% great grandparents
4) 16 Ancestors= 6.25% great great grandparents
5) 32 Ancestors=3.125%
6) 64 Ancestors=1.5625%
7) 128 Ancestors=.7812%
8) 256 Ancestors= .3906%
9) 512 Ancestors =0.1952%
10) 1024 Ancestors=.09762%
11) 2048 Ancestors= .0488%
12) 4096 Ancestors=.0244%
13) 8192 Ancestors= .0122%
14) 16384 Ancestors=.0061%
15) 32768 Ancestors = .0030%
16) 65536 Ancestors= .0015%

Colida ApHC, Hall of Fame

So enjoy your horse's pedigree, and admire the horses in it. It's the history of mankind's development of the amazing animals we love. Be realistic about the value of distant ancestors when marketing your horse and be sure to check for lines that carry genetic defects.

copyright 2016 Tracy Meisenbach
please do not share or copy