Tuesday, 17 August 2010 08:21


Written by  Bruce A. Roy
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Barn blindness is a disease common in the horse industry. The number of horsemen afflicted with this disease is growing. Very few horsemen afflicted are cured. The disease has many symptoms.

Habitually, horsemen fall in love with the animals they own. They are blind to their horses’ faults, they see nothing good in those horses that differ. Different bloodlines are looked upon with disdain, as are all horses that differ from those they breed.

The traits sought in a successful breeding stallion should differ from those sought in a productive mare. Far too many mares are bred to a stallion, which happens to be the stable star. If he has strength, where a mare is weak, you will succeed. However, if the stallion is weak where your mare is weak, you are spinning your wheels. Horsemen must recognize traits basic to success and realize there is no perfect horse.

Horses exhibited by family, friends and clients often blind a judge. This clouded vision does little for the industry. Exhibitors are often blinded by show ring success. Defeat is difficult to accept. While excuses will be advanced, few horses bred are champions. Still fewer win a succession of championships. I’ve never known a horse that could not be beat.

A positive attitude is the best antidote for barn blindness. Horsemen must look to the future. The breeders who profit are the horsemen who offer a Baron’s Pride, a Farceur or a Carnot to their respective breed. It wasn’t the horsemen who offered the sons of Baron’s Pride, the sons of Farceur or the sons of Carnot, who set the pace. When their sons came along, the breeders who profited were those horsemen, who offered a Benefactor, a Conqueror or a Laet to their breed. Be a leader in that search for a new breed giant, not a follower who feeds on the crumbs of another horseman’s success.

Fashions will come and fashions will go. However, if you have the basics, you have the horses that will soon give you fashionable offspring. If you have bottoms and bone, some thickness and good height, together with style and action, in the draft horses you own, you will succeed. Whatever the fashion, you have a strong base to work from. However, if your horses are extreme, whatever the trait, other than action, then you are in trouble. You will be unable to adapt the horses you own to the new fashion in one, two or even three generations. Remember, the great breed sires that suddenly appear on the screen set the breed’s future fashion. These will be stallions that differ in type and in pedigree from the breed norm at the given point in time.

Don’t be barn blind. Be a leader. Each of the draft horse breeds has been shaped by breed leaders. Horsemen like Col. E.B. White, James Kilpatrick, Harold Clark and Jonathan Fox, Jr., were breed leaders. At least this is how I see it!

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