BY JOSE RISSO MONTES
Breeders in general do not have to be geneticists or great connoisseurs of the genetic improvement of a breed, but they should have at least some clear concepts to develop a sound and successful breeding program in the Peruvian Paso Horse.
There is a lot of talk and discussion about the stallions when making a breeding cross, a subject that is correct, but only essential if within the breeding program there has been a good selection of mares, which make up the genetic base of the breeding program. In the mares you will be crossing them with different breeding stallions which exist in the area of the breed.
Many times we find ourselves with new breeders, who think its necessary to acquire many mares to begin this work and do not know that the important thing is to have few, but very good, to get the results and satisfaction expected. Others, looking for the genetic basis of their breeding program, thinking and evaluating in lower investment costs, not realizing that if they did not acquire mares of genetic quality from the start they will never get the achievements that can be expected from their breeding program.
In the case of the breeders who already have a group of breeding mares, we find ourselves with those who do not have the sufficient coldness to discard what is already a reality: There are mares that do not reproduce what one really wants to get out of them and they think that, in consequence, the stallions used again and again without satisfactory results, are responsible. What must be understood is that these mares never will produce well because they have defects that reproduce in their genes. It should be remembered that the genes responsible for defects, they move away or hide in the offspring, but always stay in the genetic code and must not be allowed to return or recur to use stallions that can carry this genetically in his family.
In the good breeders, the breeder spends the years of his life as such: looking for what are the good dams, which obviously have to be from proven bloodlines, from families solvents in terms of quality by ancestor. One can never insist in believing that a mare who does not have a good family behind her, one free of noticeable defects, you will get, as touched by a magic wand, the great dam that all of us wish to obtain. Believe me, there are so many breeders, as persistent they may be, that never get it that dam, because, in addition to knowledge, you must have objectivity. I repeat, the ancestors are still what dictates quality; when you do not have access to obtain the great mare or a embryo of her, we must find the maternal sisters, daughters or direct nieces, which carry the blood of this big family.
If one analyzes the history of the great breeding ranches of Peru, you will be surprised that in each of these great ranches they have had only two to five foundation mares at maximum, which have been the founders and generating the offspring that actually complied with the high expectations that as a good breeder you want to achieve. There are many good mares, but if we talk about excellence, there are only a few that have the potency of genetic imprint in their offspring the great quality they have consistently produced.
This is why the great mares, of good ancestry, are hard to find! Because they allow the breeder to not lose time and money to get good results, that is what you should look for and achieve as a base for a breeding program.
Breeding horses demands time, money and effort, nothing is free when we want to see results. There are always two ways: spare no expense in buying in quantity that is worth less and will allow you to only give a little steps at a time, delaying time with no guarantee of success; or those who invest and advance in time spent by acquiring a mare, a filly or an embryo from a remarkable family, because as you can analyze, best results are achieved by the produce of this group of animals in a consistent way, clarifying that not necessarily the best stallions or mares who have been the winners or champions of the shows. We know that once in a while an animal appears well prepared and since, well presented, you can get a good result, but when he is required quality offspring, there begin their problems.
The true breeder knows that a breeding program is personal, and if they ask the advice of a third party, it will be because they are interested in the same style of horses of their advisor, believing in the same destination and has had personal success in its own upbringing or giving good advice to other breeders that have already been successful previously. This is the guarantee that it has and for this reason it is considered to be an authority in the field of the Peruvian Paso Horse.
All of these successful breeders, tend to be forever dissatisfied with what they own, they are always watching the defects of their animals, looking for the features they need to enter their breeding program, are always ready for change, to achieve the breeding that they are looking for. They can’t find the 100 % of their satisfaction because, firstly, the breeding is dynamic, constantly evolving; in addition, because they’ll always be the most critical of their own animals, although they did not say so openly , knowing the defects and feeling frustrated by not getting what they want.
The important thing is that they know what they want to obtain , are persuing it, are not fooled, and continue in the search for the eternal image that have burned into their mind, trying different ways to get it through selection, purchasing embryos or breedings of good stallions, trying to achieve this, because the dominates their passion, hobby and expanses that must always have a good breeder. Without these conditions, they will never have that deep motivation to reach the success they want.
There is an Argentinian saying my father always repeated to me, which clearly expresses what I wish to say:
“When you choose the course that YOU WISH TO FOLLOW, FOLLOW IT WITH PATIENCE, WITH FAITH AND DETERMINATION, THAT THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW WHERE TO GO, DON’T KNOW WHY THEY ARE LOST”.
But, how? How do you choose and cull, if you already have some mares in the breeding program, but haven’t reached the expected results? To begin with there are certain guidelines that a breeder needs to know clearly:
First, what style or type of animal you like within the existing universe and has the view, so that from that base select what you want and it should be a platform form which mares you are going to build a genetic basis . This prototype that you look for and you like, must be properly aligned with the official breed standard in terms of structure and pisos as a first standard to base upon.
Another important aspect is to create a group of mares who do not have defects in terms of conformation and pisos, which would be difficult to avoid in the breedings made with them. That is to say, there are undesirable features that are very complicated to out-cross from each individual in the group and related to each other genetically speaking. I will quote some of my experience of breeder and judge I’ve observed:
1. Animals that abound after the walk, which did not have the adequate fluency in there pisos, and, to put it in simple way, require many steps to move, unlike other individuals, which, with a few steps, travel the same distance. This defect is very transmissible and normally requires the presentation of this type of animal at a fast speed in competition. It is very difficult to correct through crosses in breeding, and makes it difficult to obtain animals of good pisos, loose, quiet, good mechanical function. Let us not forget that this is the most important and the reason of the breed.
2.- The animals that do not have good drive and displacement of the rear legs, who are impeded to accelerate their pisos because they do not have the strength of the rear legs. Many times they will be weak, the joints badly structured, and as a result the impossibility of having the necessary strength to propel themselves forward with determination and firmness. These horses are limited in their activities such as trail rides or showing because at the moment of pushing them to execute all of the required speeds and gaits to achieve elasticity, they will begin to fail to maintain harmony in their timing.
3. Animals that do not have a will to work (lazy), without temperament or brio, without good attitude to serve the rider, that you must be punishing them constantly for them to work and they often become resentful, showing cowardice to its rider, they have no shame to the punishment. This group of animals is the most uncomfortable for riding, trail or showing, or any activity that you want to do with them; and if they are not elegant, without good posture in the neck, even worse.
4. Perhaps some of the major faults are those related to the connections of the conformation in general; in particular, in the croup or spine. When they are improperly attached with the croup, showing weakness and result in a poor mechanical movement, without harmony and efficiency the third posterior, producing vertical and lateral movements on the rump that is clearly noticeable in the guarnición.
The horses are divided morphologically into three parts or thirds as it should be called: The first, from the head to the whithers, the second, of the whithers to the rump and the third, of the croup to the tail. We must never forget that in the back is the kidney as an internal organ and above the back, part of the second third of the horse. The latter is the hinge that joins the posterior third, from where is born the locomotion of the horse, the force that pushes forward, should they have a good rump angle, a low tail set, good angles of the femur and hock. Without a solid back, muscular and strong, there is no way that you have drive and force to slide forward with naturalness, regularity and consistency.
5.- Another defect that should be mentioned, is the lack of tilt and angle of the shoulder, which will not allow the looseness of the previous forward, as neither the arrogance in the neck, which today is an essential condition for the modern horse and that are part of the anterior third.
6.- Here I should also mention, by virtue of being part of the weakness, the weak pastern, the long and soft (that is flexed beyond vertical towards the ground), those which flex more easily than the medium length pasterns; the bad angles, which indicate that the basis and structure of the horse are based on ill-foundations, as if the columns of a building, they were wrongly aligned.
I could make a long list of defects but does not come to the case. These which I have mentioned, are among the most difficult to correct quickly through breedings, because when they come from families that have them in their genetics for generations, are actually extremely complex to eliminate.
There are others defects, in contrast, which are easy to correct. The more simple, as all the books of genetics is the stature, who is dominant to use players that have appeal, who come from families with genetically this feature and they are overbearing to transmit it.
What is important for all the foregoing is that we should not lose sight of the time, it is necessary to take quick actions and harsh, if you want to get good results and move forward in the genetic progress to build a good breeding program, where the elements are always necessary to have a good average of animals, with absence of significant defects, so that when you exhibit or use whatever means you have involved in the breed, you know with security that you will not be disappointed.
It is impossible to claim that all breedings will obtain as a result a winner. The important thing is to make being there, in the upper third of the competition, with animals without serious defects, which are always present in the results, in the various categories of competitions; that the rider leaves the show ring proud, mounted on horseback in a parade or trail ride, knowing that your horse is not going to disappoint you or leave you stranded in the journey, and one who will end comfortable and sound at the end of the day. That is what is rewarding for the breeder.
Taking this basis, we tap the genetic improvement to be achieved. How to make the crosses? Choose What stallions? There are many breeders who like to use many different stallions, other use a few, why?
In my opinion, to consolidate a breeding program is better to use few stallions, because the result will be more consistent year to year, being much easier to work with genetically similar animals, with shared characteristics between them, and where you are generating a style of its own that will be working over time. If you use many stallions, the result is a variable of characteristics which ends up being little homogeneous, difficult to set a style or type of its own in the identity of the upbringing that is being developed and we are pursuing. I compared him to a market, where one finds a variety of scents, colors and flavors. This is why I said at the beginning, it is important define in the style or type to one that you particularly like in breeding, showing with the facts and results to where you want to go, with clarity in the action. This makes it much easier to work .
Having the basis of mares with strong genetics and choosing the appropriate stallions of good level, which is genetically tailored to the target , the right breeder, you will get the expected results in the majority of the cases.
On that stallions choose, there is a vast variety. My father, who was a great geneticist in cattle and in the Peruvian Paso Horse, always repeated “that had to be put to a mare that did not have or was missing, without losing what she already had”, never sacrificing virtues to correct defects or weaknesses. This was a simple way and practice to say that one should as breeder, know the prepotence of their mares, knowing that they are genetically dominant and use the stallions that contribute to add what they did not have and they were missing, step by step. This is how you build a breeding of a few! By adding and removing; adding and removing, just as the cooking and preparing a good plate of food with different ingredients, to try to get a perfect result. It is important to have different ingredients to work.
I must clarify that when you perform the crosses, there is that search for correcting the most important thing, what more highlight to the view, and not everything, because this is impossible; always using the stallion that transmitted in overpowering the virtue that the mare needs, without adding defects, correcting to the extent possible, the defect that shows. That is why I suggest first improve the most important , which are the defects of function.
No one can say that this recipe is easy to achieve, but if one is objective to analyze, has the coldness and seriousness that must have all the good breeders, it is not so complicated. What if there is to be, it is drastic to the moment of selecting, be hard when you have to discard, not believing that what one sees in an objective way is going to change, when it comes to defects that are notable to the view and that your correction is not possible with the time. There are things that can vary if, you have to give it to the animals of good lines, which have the good features, all the time and opportunity, because many times are part of a stage or state of growth they are experiencing , but defects of format, weakness, lack of arrogance, of quality pisos, bad connections, lacking in drive or force in the rear, lacking in temperament or inaccuracies, these, do not change with time; quite the contrary, they are exacerbated and heighten.
There are some factors that I would like to discuss with regard to the crosses and I’m from the idea, as I said earlier, that one must form a good basis of mares, of quality and with remarkable absence of defects. The best way to achieve this goal is to choose a few and indispensable individuals; belonging to good families, to transmit quality animals of pisos, good conformation and remarkable absence of defects. In doing so, when we began the formation of a breeding program, choose them by type or style you want to breed, do so year after year in order to consolidate, after four or five years of offspring produced , a group of animals that have good blood lines and as I said, they are absent the defects of complicated away through the crossings. With these offspring you have achieved and well established, you can already without place to doubts, players use to give the polished to the genetic group of mares of quality, that will allow them to carry out more risky breedings, because its genetic basis is largely absent from defects and can afford.
I once wrote in the magazine “Orgullo del Peru”, about what i think needs to be done once in a while: “The Crossing dared”. Is that one has the intuition that, by the blood line that one crosses or due to the characteristics that one dares to interrelate, you can purchase a great result.
Here we enter the world of quality and uniqueness. It is difficult to identify the synonym of quality in animals. If we are going to the dictionary the word quality is defined as: “way of being of a person or thing. Genius character, nature. Nobility of lineage. Importance or severity of a thing.” There is no description for us what we want to interpret.
When aficionados see an animal that has a set of features that make it stand out from the rest, regardless of age, we will give the label of: “What Quality!”, referring to a special set of conditions which are collected in the horse, a way of being, a different spirit. Their way of walking, to look, expression, attitude, arrogance and finesse, the forms and that the way leads to himself, among others. These special attributes lead us to say, that we are dealing with a quality individual. Many times they are not the best show winners, nor are the most complete, strongest or best conformed, but they make us stop in front of them an make us look at them, that expression, which instantly those who are connoisseurs express What a Quality Animal!
These comments appear when they are appreciated animals that come out of the good average that, as I said, you need to get in abundance as they should be the basis of the breeding program; but we must also, for the good of the breed, always look for the exceptional, the ones outside of the norm. Here is, where one can perform the “daring breedings”.
There are special mares, with outstanding features that crossed with a stallion that is working to strengthen a virtue, can be converted to this product in a great contribution to the breed as a subject, as it has fixed the feature that we wanted to achieve. There is a risk there is, but it is worth taking it if you want to move to another level. This type of crossing can occur between animals that provide different lines of blood with some outstanding characteristic in common wanting to consolidate it, or you can also achieve this with the use of inbreeding.
While I do not want to make this article too long and technical, since it is not the purpose, I would like to give you some simple guidelines to make graphs of what we are talking about:
Concentration of bloodlines which you can practice using inbreeding, which comes to be the crossing point between animals that are more related to each other that the average of the breed or population to which they belong. Also Linebreeding, which is a form of inbreeding that refers to the mating of animals related to a common ancestor in the paternal and maternal side, in order to maintain or increase the characteristics of the same, in their descendants. This last method allows you to use the concentration, but the related animals between if you do not need to be so close, not to raise too much inbreeding, and with this, any possible undesirable effect.
Examples of pairings and coefficient of consanguinity of the product, expressed as coefficient of consanguinity (F: probability) and % of consanguinity.
CROSSINGS F %F
Father x Daughter .25 25%
Mother x Son .25 25%
Full Brothers .25 25%
Half brother x Half Sister .125 12.5%
Father x Grandaughter .125 12.5%
Son of a Father x Grandaughter of a Father .0625 6.25%
Grandson of a father x Grandaughter of a Father .0313 3.13%
In my particular experience , it is less risky if one comes as a result to not exceed the 6.25 % of consanguinity when you perform this type of crosses, knowing that the higher kinship appear many times, problems of growth and fertility, of which there is a need to be careful, having to be very discerning in the selection of this type of individuals resulting. We must analyze the offspring very well, noting the strength/weakness obtained and selecting which are who will contribute to enter in the breeding program features that have been liked to set and get.
Having said that, we will have to be very careful in practicing it, with a great knowledge and experience of genetic work, with the mares that one has and the players that you intend to use to make these attempts.
After the foregoing, I would like to stress that, as stated in the title of this article, the mares are the key to finally getting a good breeding program; without them, it would be very difficult to achieve the expected results. Already yourselves you will be able to verify that those good and great mothers will be formed the foundation, where will be born the branches that will in turn, good maternal lines through the good male children, future stallions of the breed; of the daughters, sisters of the daughters and so on. Drew the attention always saying that we have to be very careful to divest or letting go, one of these great mothers, because they are like the goose that lays the golden eggs and, in doing so, they must be completely sure that they are duly replaced within the breeding program through his progeny. If not, we commit a serious mistake which we may later regret.