Horses too inbred to race

kayleigh_and_rocky

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That is really really interesting!!Never really thought about it before as i dont know a lot about genetics, but i have even in the last few years iv been interested in racing, that the average number of horses breaking down and breaking legs etc has increased, horses these days seem so much more fragile
 

kildalton

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I know it's not inbreeding as such, but the old fashioned type of NH store horse is becoming rarer. After all, why buy a 4yo from Ireland and keep it for a couple of years, when you can buy a less than succesful 3yo off the flat and start it hurdling straight away, who cares if it will only stand up to racing for a couple of seasons.
 

weevil

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Hmm, it is interesting. The problem with breeding for one trait is that you can often also select for less desirable traits. In this case it seems that while people have been breeeding to produce horses capable of more speed they are also selecting for horses with more fragile bones...
 

Sugarplum Furry

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Interesting article.

At a stud management course I was on last year, we learned that flat racing TB's are being bred ;lighter; to produce faster horses. Unfortunately, lighter also means narrower, and within the mares this means a narrow pelvis, resulting in birthing difficulties. Apparently the mortality rate for mares and foals has shot up.
 

MissDeMeena

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Couldn't agree more with that article!!

I remember Jenny Pittman always used to say, "if you can find a TB that looks like it should be pulling a cart, you've probably found a winner" (or at least a strong & sound horse)
 

WishfulThinker

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I would say thats true!! I mean look at Barbaro - a smashed fetlock just from being caught behind by another horse! Obviously his bones were not strong enough, adn then he developed laminitus (which his grand sire struggled with I think)
My boy is quite possibly the result of an accident from 2 gypsies horses, adn he had never had anything seriously wrong with him.
I am surprised though that they havent been introducing sport horse blood back into TB's (yes I know SH's are not a breed). But a nice medium weight ID type blood could be helpful could it not?

You would think that they would have learnt the lesson from what had happened to dogs. I mean my old dog was bred from 2 very good parents, who in turn had healthy perfect kennel club parents, but our girl had an over bite and so we were told that no dogs from her woul dbe accepted by the kennel club, and she had weak vertebrae and developed cushings.
 

vicijp

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I think the article is right in theory, but goes totally overboard and to me, loses all credit.
A lot of what is wrong with the racing industry, is in fact caused by the poor state of the breeding industry. Until the powers that be introduce a grading system for mares, and refuse to register the progeny from useless/lame ones, it isnt going to get any better.
Our line that we have bred stem from an unregistered mare (I think The Cheekster is 3rd generation) and they are so different from the majority of TBs. All have legs like welsh cobs, manes and tails like friesians. None ever get any sign of mud fever or rainscald. Most were foaled in the field, typically on the coldest night of that year. The first generation all won between 15 -25 races each. The second generation were the same, the 3rd generation produced a Champion hurdle winner. We have some 4th generation knocking about, and the introduction of more and more tb blood have taken the fight out of them. They are not unsound, all have been remarkable in that department despite having a tendency to be over at the knee - just not as good.
The problem is that if Britain tried to do anything about it the Paddys would play up. Their whole industry is baced on stock from unraced half sisters to good things.
 

sallyf

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Fragile they may be,
But if you put any breed through the same training etc would they be any sounder.
Its alright saying put this blood in , put that blood in but as ID's etc are not raced there is nothing to prove whether they would cope with the same regime.
After all there few activities as strenuous as racing and the training that goes with it.
Look at the injury rate in eventing and even that isnt quite the same.
 

SillyMare

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Hear here, TBs get a bad name for being fragile and unsound but that needs to be viewed in context of which breed does the most serious hard work.

It is only high level eventing that comes anywhere close to the fitness requirement for racing. It is simply not a fair comparison to make between horses doing 'normal' riding club things or lower level BE and racing TBs.

In high level eventing lameness problems are very common across all the breeds. Less TB blood = heavier horse = more stress on legs so even if those legs are more substantial they are probably under relatively the same amount of pressure.

The ideal horse would have strong legs with a little lightweight body on top but how often do you get that?

The risk in cross breeding is that you can always end up with little TB legs under a heavy body!
 

Lucy_Ally

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Mmm, interesting article - mre intersting that they quote animal aid who are very keen to get racing banned
smirk.gif
. I think the reason there is so much wastage in the racing industry is more that there are lots of horses bred that are not up to much. Broken down mares or stallions whose racing careers have been cut short due to injury, go to stud and here lies some of the problems. Breeding from poor parents with a history of injury may lead to an inheritance of predisposition to tendon breakdown/fracture etc. I don't think this is due to inbreeding, more down to not selective breeding. Obviously not all injury has an inherited origin, poor training methods or ground conditions have a part to play, but surely breeding for desirable traits (such as strong bones/tendons as well as speed/endurance) should be encouraged?
The TB genepool is not particularly wide so this may well lead to inherited problems, but the same can be said for some of the native breeds whose numbers have declined and thus only a few bloodlines remain. Racehorses just work very close to the failure limit of the major tendons in the leg, to minimise risk of breakdown horses must be optimally trained and produced and breeding of failed horses should be discouraged.
Interesting topic
smile.gif
 

weevil

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Yes, I did take the statements by animal aid with a pinch of salt....
I don't really know much about the racing industry but it does seem as you said that it's not so much the "inbreeding" that is the problem, rather the breeding stock may net be the most desirable.
Training methods do play a large part though, I know one group who get very well funded by people in newmarket to do research into the best training methods to improve bone strength...
 

Mithras

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I too think the article sensationalises it somewhat. Equally you can say the trend over past few years has been positive in that more and more top racehorses have been kept in training until 5 or 6 years old on the flat and have reams of impressive top level performances year after year to their credit. Horses like Falbrav, Ouija Board, Soviet Song and Alexander Goldrun spring to mind, and there are several top sprinters (who are not built particularly light) still in there at the age of 9 and 10. Having all started racing as 2 year olds. Thats quite impressive compared to say eventing or showjumping.

I think the racing industry is waking up to the dangers of breeding from a stallion that has won 1 top class race at 3 then packed off to stud never to be seen on a racecourse again. Shareef Dancer for instance was a failure as a sire. True, there is a lot of wastage of horses that never make the racecourse or break down and there is also a trend to breed more for high prices in the sales ring for yearlings from the quicker maturing more commercial sires, not the stamina based ones. But even these sires often pass on unsuspected stamina to their offspring - Danehill never won over more than 6 furlings but sired the Derby winner North Light and this year's Irish Derby winner Dylan Thomas.

I think the arguement that the gene pool is depleted can be used for a lot of breeds - don't Trakehners all descend from just a few lines as the breed was nearly lost once? I do think its a shame though that the Byerley Turk and Godolphin male lines are dying out, shame Ahonoora died so early. And yes, mares with poor conformation will be bred from and put to good stallions if they have a good racing record or are well bred. There was that 1000 Guineas winner a couple of seasons ago who had the most awful forelegs, actually looked deformed, mind you she did win quite a whole host of races at the top level so she must have been reasonably sound.

In the States I think the situation is more worrying as they allow the use of medications to get the horses to the racecourse which are banned here. Except in New York I think which is stricter.
 
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