By Belisario de las Casas D’Onofrio
Start with the end, without talking about myself….
The raising of the Peruvian horse is definitely not easy. I began to occupy myself or rather to influence the breeding of horses for my father; who did it for my grandfather. When I was 13 years old I started to be interested in being able to “create” horses and based first on what I liked to ride, second in what my father told me I had to have a good horse, third in what they told me about horses that I never knew and of course finally in eternal ignorance dictates. Obviously when I grew up at that age I did not do it for my own economic means, so I did not own the stoicism that every horse breeder has especially in Lima where breeding is not easy, much less cheap. When I was 16 years old, criminals entered the farm and killed my 6 best horses, among them my 3 foundation mares. When I turned 21, I started working. At that time the breeding was “with personal financial contribution”. Fortunately over the years my education and professional career have helped me to keep this young dream alive, but I understood that if we have something to have in our breeding farm, it is clarity. The word “clarity” I think is fundamental for all young breeders especially (and I mean young people for the years of upbringing). I recount my experience a bit to remind me that it has never been easy or always happy. If we have something clear is that economic resources, time, space and of course life (especially that of animals) are scarce and finite so we must be very clear about what we are doing with our breeding and where we want to take it. The only person who can be cheated with a horse is yourself, not knowing what you want, what you have and what you are looking for. Personally, with this document I share a little of my mind and how I “segment” my horses in the process of breeding in order to never have more than what I need. The selection is fundamental, but this does not necessarily have to be done only by classifying the horses from 1 to 12 and selecting everything that comes after 6. In my humble opinion there is something more to take into account.
When I enter the process of breeding, what I am looking for is to comply with a clear segmentation of my horses. For each one, I try to involve him in the “contribution” to my upbringing and my training as a breeder. How many times have we started thinking “I have too many horses, I have to select”. Wanting to select, one reviews what he has and ends up doing anything but to lower the number of horses. I think that we do this because each horse fulfills an end in the breeding program but when this is not correctly identified, we always have an excuse to leave it there.
I’m sure we’ve heard each other saying:
“This is my social horse, with which I take to the trail rides, exhibitions and even it is so easy that my children and my family can ride it”.
” I’m not crazy, I’m in love with this horse.”
“This mare is going to see what she’s going to get, it’s going to be a broodmare.”
“This is going to be that colt that I’m going to use on all my mares with closed eyes.”
“This is the best horse in the breeding program, and I’ll never sell it, it has never been less than third place.”
“This horse has the direct line of my grandfather, what I have to do is cross it more”.
I am sure that all of us who have bred horses at some point have said something similar to the moment we see how we give a break in our pocket or in any case when we need to reduces numbers in our herd. Nothing said is wrong, only it is, if deep down we are not being honest with ourselves.
I describe what for me are the types of horses that I can keep in the farm, I invite you to read it and at the same time auto segment your breeding.
The horse to ride: the loyal, the one that takes me long distances, my work horse and the one of entertainment. This horse is always there for me, soft, docile and strong. When we talk about this type of horse I think that many times we talk about the horse that initiates the romance of everyone who falls in love with this breed of horses. In short, the best way to start raising Peruvian Paso horses is with a gelding or a mare to ride with friends, dabble in the breeding program and have that first contact with our breed. Those of us who have been born among the legs of horses, we are interested in riding horses. When as a child we did not see the hours that we saddled the horse, surely it was even the first horse we saddled, that horse is the toy that surrounds you in this world. In many occasions it is not the prettiest and finest horse of all the breeding farm, but in short we are anxious that all our horses have attributes that they have: the strength, the docility and the softness. This horse can be called “functional”, the horse that truly pays for its food and in many cases it is the horse that presents the least needs. Let’s think if we had it and worry if we do not have it today because if something will keep alive the flame with the breeding it is this type of horse. If personally for different reasons can not continue riding his horse, this functional horse will be the one that starts in the hobby of a family member or friend of any age.
The idolized horse: the one that I love, I fall in love, I have a special appreciation.
It is the horse that since he was born, as in all relationships of love has that something that many other people probably do not see but the owner has it. There is a definite idolization and by which you will always be able to have dreams of. That idolization in many cases may be because the breeder sees in that horse that attribute he craves in the rest of his animals and even probably by the one who dreamed about. In this case you can think that this animal is the sample of a slight irrationality. In many cases that passion is the seed of future mistakes but also of the mark and seal that all of us who we raise want to have in our breeding. It is extremely important that over the years we become the worst critics of our result and we know how to define the steps to follow to always advance. This criticism cannot cut our wings, let us trust our instinct that when objectives are sought passionately, they simply happen.
The breeding horse: the one of the heart, nobody has to understand why that horse is important in the breeding place.
It is the horse that little by little has been building and that in some way is the one that has the most quantity or the highest percentage of attributes that the breeder looks for his ideal horse. Careful – probably this horse is not the best horse of the show, not the prettiest of the breeding but is the one that has allowed him to show as a breeder, as a good horse cross. In breeding any animal, there are very few occasions where to get from point A to point B is done in a “non stop trip”, on the contrary, in the minds of many breeders the point B in mention this every time further away. This horse is the one that tells you that you are on the right path, at least as far as ideals and estimates of the future are concerned.
The show horse: the “show star”, with which a breeder makes himself known on the courts and gives him the ribbons that adorn the trophy room.
This type of horse is definitely the horse that has put our Peruvian horse at such spectacular levels in terms of “level of difficulty”. The champion horse of a show is not necessarily the horse that must be raised if it is not part of your ideal horse. The fact that a judge classifies a horse as the best of its category or even the show does not necessarily mean that this is the horse that must be used for breeding. Being a champion, is relative to the horse and its attributes versus the other participants that obviously are not always the same. The show is nothing more than a competition and those show horses that we have in the breeding place should be evaluated relative to our ideal to know what is their role in our breeding. A breastplate does not necessarily make them the best alternative to reach our goal.
In the end, having a clear idea of the competition horses, puts us on the competitive map and, of course, entertains us to be able to participate against big breeders and big horses. This horse is our generator of adrenaline and emotion. These horses feed your ego, you generate competitive anxiety and excitement of giving your horse to know by comparing it with the rest.
The horse of the legacy: it is what I want to have always, the one that bears my surname, the one that has that sentimental value that you should never let go.
This is a horse that I do not recommend anyone to stop having. This horse is the one that shows our loyalty, gratitude and roots. When you still have the source and root of our upbringing and / or closest to it, you are destined to carry a banner and do things with passion always. These horses may even across generations, generating small jumps “back”, but that is the art. One of the goals that I personally have had in my breeding is, for example, to have the foal that my old mares go to. I want to do all the times that life allows me to have better daughters to the mares of my father but that clearly bear the seal and the original attributes. What for many years my father and grandfather did, I want my children to do, being able to say that their father kept alive the memory and the memory of so many years of work and hobby. This horse forms and makes the breeders endure.
Having said all this, I ask myself the following question: “Why did I breed?”
Because before a horseman and before a horse show I am and always want to be a breeder. I want all my animals to speak for me; I want that when I describe a good horse and see it later in my farm, I am classified as consistent. To do this, the first dilemma I face is what I should raise and I must be aware that if something is in the breeding program it is because I respect some of its attributes.
The riding horse
– The functionality and temperament
The idolized horse
– The stamp, I do not know what but it is
The breeding horse
– The one who has exposed my ideal to some degree
The show horse
– The ability to present with the rigor of the competition and be well classified relative to the rest
The legacy horse
– History, loyalty of the breeder with its origin
Now I ask an important question: if I mix all these attributes in a single horse, do I have it? Did I arrive at point B? Yes, but I doubt that a horse fulfills absolutely all the attributes. Personally, I do not have it yet. I have horses today in all segments? Yes; and there is someone who can not find a segment? Well no, that was the first selected to leave the breeding program.
The second to leave is one that within its segment does not reach the threshold that I personally demand. For example, I have cataloged them as horses to ride three; I need them? Well, no, only two, the favorite one and the substitute. The one that I put in third position, is for sale, or culled.
The third to leave is the idolized one. I have 3 males, that live up to the standard, do I want only one? Even maybe I do not even want selected colts, I always prefer to keep mares. With this reasoning I sell or cull the third, forth, or fifth place of my males.
The sixth and seventh would be idolized mares since I only want to keep two of those that are a fundamental part of my illusion.
In conclusion, the steps to follow are:
- Define the segments
- Assign a priority to each segment (which is more important for my big goal)
- Segment current horses (no horse in two segments)
- Define the parameters of each segment (example how many I want for each one)
- Start to “execute” the parameters starting with the lowest priority
Something very important is to be honest. By this I mean we must be clear and pragmatic. The only ones affected by the lack of sincerity and pragmatism are ourselves. The upbringing is proper and the only person to be paid homage is to oneself; the only one that owes loyalty is to oneself and the only thing that a breeder should have in mind to make decisions is his goal, his ideal. We cannot get carried away by competitions because, in my case, they are not an end. Personally, the show for me is used to compare my horses with those of other breeders but when that horse comes to the court, it comes with a segment of its own and I want to know how a judge classifies it versus that of other breeders that in many cases They are more experienced than me. The only segment that is influenced by a show is the “show horse”. Otherwise we will be raising what others like.
I think that our horse breed and the low conditions which we raise our horses deserve to have more and more breeders. The objective of writing these brief words is not to teach or give lectures, it is to collaborate. There are many new breeders, and even breeders with years of experience have never sat down to think coldly about how to structure a selection in a pragmatic way. In the end, not being clear about the method of selection within a breeding program harms the owner and of course when this happens, to the breed. I consider it a boldness to put in black and white what could seem to be an insolent lesson of a humble breeder like the one who writes. Share my way of thinking can not only help colleagues but myself when great career breeders correct my ways, which I will always be tremendously grateful.