Re-creating the Thoroughbred?

htobago

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I've always read about how the great English Thoroughbred was originally produced by breeding Arab stallions to the bigger, heavier, native English mares.

And yet, when I look at the current top racing Arabs (particularly the French-bred ones) I think: hang on, you wouldn't need the non-Arab mares; you can just breed the biggest, strongest, fastest Arabs to each other, with no regard for Arab type, just breeding for speed, and after a while - bingo! You get a Thoroughbred!

Or at least something that looks pretty much exactly like a Thoroughbred, and probably if bred purely for speed over another X generations, will run as fast as a Thoroughbred too. It will be interesting to see what happens to this new 'sub-breed' of TB-like Arabs in the future.

But then - isn't 're-creating' the TB a bit like re-inventing the wheel? We already have TBs. We don't need to re-create them - even if my 'theory' is correct, and we could eventually do so using only Arab blood. Just because it is possible to do something doesn't make it a good idea.

Unless the 'new TB' created using only Arab blood were to retain all the qualities of soundness and stamina for which Arabs are rightly famous. But if one breeds purely for speed, one will perhaps inevitably lose these qualities? Again.

Just a few sci-fi thoughts...
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reynold

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if you breed purely for speed and nothing else you will end up with a load of unsound rubbish imo. I recall a very fast racehorse from about 15 years ago - Arazi - won loads of races on the trot as a 2 yr old - ran a few times at 3 and then retired unsound - was crippled by 5 and wasn't that much of a brilliant success as a stallion - being shunted round the world a few times. - yep he was really really fast but ..........
the TB breeders - particularly in the USA - have focused on speed and more speed to the point where both UK and USA struggle to produce quality horses capable of running over 1.5 miles of the Derby - let alone the St. Ledger.- yet in times past there were quality horses running over 2 miles - stamina is known to be a forte of arabs which is the origin of the TB.

If you think back to Nijinsky winning the triple crown in the 70s - there hasn't been a horse since that was capable of doing that - everything is bred for mile/mile1/4 at the most.

so my response to your thoughts is that breeding for speed and nothing else - fast horse to fast horse - will end up with a load of arabs in the same mess that TBs are atm - fast inherently unsound junk chasing prize money with no thought to the future of the horses concerned.
 

alleycat

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A lot of this is relative:

[ QUOTE ]
Arazi - won loads of races on the trot as a 2 yr old - ran a few times at 3 and then retired unsound - was crippled by 5

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says it all, I think. Not many breeds would stand the abuse dished out to the TB, asked to perform at the top of their game at 2, when still imature. If you did this to an Arab, it, too, would be crippled, and probably before it reached 5. (If you did this to a trekking pony you would be prosecuted...)

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both UK and USA struggle to produce quality horses capable of running over 1.5 miles of the Derby - let alone the St. Ledger.-

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This too is relative. It isn't that modern TBs can't run the St Ledger course; its that if they are sprint bred they can't run it at their best racing pace; their musculature gears them for sprinting, not staying. This isn't to say they aren't good horses; only that they are specialists; and if you rode them round the course in the company of other breeds but without the challenge of TB stayers, I think you would still find, at these distances, that the TBs finished first.

If you breed for anything specifically, whether its sprinting speed or staying power or pretty heads, you are likely to sacrifice something else. I suppose its a question of choosing your niche.

On soundness; I wouldn't necessarily agree that the Arab IS sounder than the TB. Arabs aren't generally asked to perform at the same level except in top endurance contests, and are given time to mature. The legs, lungs and hearts of the unsound TBs that you meet have bourne more intense physical stress in their brief careers than the sound Arabs to which they are being compared will meet in a lifetime; given that TBs are also honed down for maximum power with minimum weight, their record is pretty good, IMO.
 

pocomoto

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It is a long held and simplistic view to assume that the thoroughbred descended from a simple cross of Arab on English Hunter types. For a start most of the oriental blood used to create this ultimate racing animal was of completely unknown origin. Many influential forefathers are actually Barbs and Turks, not Arabians and many Orientals were of dubious origins so as to make them incorrectly labelled.

If you take the pedigree of the modern Hackney back you will see that they too trace back to the influx of Orientals and are a much lighter more race worthy breed than would have been the thought. Hackneys are in fact a very old breed. They are first mentioned in the 1300’s and it is believed they were developed as a superior riding horse in those times in an effort to travel the appalling roads found in Britain then. They were at that time a general purpose working horse sure footed and of a much lighter type than a war horse. Hackney’s it seems were an important commodity and sought after in Europe, even the pope issued a tax called the “White Hackney” and Britain had been in the habit of selling them even when squabbling to Spain where they were called Hacas, and they were the breeding stock that formed the Spanish PRE (Andalucían) and of course the Portuguese Lusitano . Also the King of Spain in the mid 1500’s sent for an urgent delivery of Hacas from relatives in Italy to improve his fledgling PRE as they had trouble keeping the type, (he was not talking to Henry VIII at the time as he had divorced his aunty Cath!)

There are also records that suggest a number of “oriental” broodmares were gifted by Duke Fredrick II of Mantua (Italy) in 1533 to Henry VIII from a stock of racehorses of oriental blood The Spanish Duchess Catherine of Savoy in Turin (Italy), also at the same time sent horses from her stud. And in 1576 Queen Elizabeth I sent to Naples for assistance when her stock, presumably the descendants of Henry’s horses, began to deteriorate due to incompetent breeding by her stud manager. Frederico Tesio In his Book Breeding The Race Horse mentions that Italian racing of that time consisted of oriental horses many originating from Barbary.

So it was likely that this was the cross with the Hackney of that time that helped form the TB and since there were much more native mares than oriental stallions I think English breeding must have played a huge part. The height had to come from somewhere and the English have always been taller as a race than many of southern euopean / african descent so maybe it was our mares that were taller. But if you study the painting of the Byerley Turk and compare it to that of the Godolphin Arabian you will see that the groom looks the same, this horse is much taller and of a different stature to the Godolphin. Many early Orientals were sourced in France and have no further history, and France of course has strong links with Barbary which might suggest many were Barbs.

Tesio in his book written in the 40’s, is adamant that the influence of the Arab had waned significantly sighting the reason for this as the huge influence on the modern thoroughbred of Galopin and his sons notably St Simon , they heavily favoured the Barb in physique, most notably a sloping croup. He also mentions an attempt in the late 1800’s to reintroduce the Arab back into the breed to “improve” it. This was a total failure and the speed and stamina of those outcrosses were very inferior to that of the TB in its own environment, none of those horses passed on their genes!

In it’s environment the TB has evolved to be supreme in its own right you only have to look at US racing statistics to see the difference in speed and stamina over given distances to see that the best racing Arab is no match for even a low grade claiming TB. I use the US as an example as they keep superior track and workout statistics over the same track and conditions. A taller Arabian is a good 300 years behind the TB in development and lacks the impossible to recreate original gene pool mix that led to the TB of today.

Tesio also dispels the myth that racing over shorter distances results in an animal only capable of speed and will quickly result in a change of stature and an ability to stay. You only have to look at the ranks of high class chasers and virtually none of them result from a NH to NH mating, nearly all are from speed influenced families or Derby Horses. Red Rum was by a guineas winner Quorum, and most Queen Mother Ch Chase winners, notably Young Snugfit by Music Boy (Sprinter) and a more recent examples Call Equiname by Belfort (7f-1mile) and Newmill by Norwich (7f). Without the shorter distance influence they simply gallop and don’t have that killer finishing kick.

I am sure there are plenty of TB's out there fully capable of emanating the likes of Nijinsky, but why risk the career of your very valuable TB for a race of diminished influence over an elongated distance unpopular with breeders that will support your horse at stud. It was the St Ledger that ended Nijinsky’s brilliance, for he never again showed it and I believe it lost him an Arc. Then he went to stud in the USA so everybody lost out! The US triple crown has money incentives as well as kudos, distances 1 1/4 m Ky Derby, 1 mile 3/16 Preakness and 1 1/2 Belmont yet there are horses that have one the Preakness and Belmont when you consider that to win even two legs of this you will encounter specialists at each distance speed and stamina and a degree of will to win still exists in a country that have been racing principally over distances just over a mile for a very long time. I can't remember the last Guineas and Derby Winner (prob Nashwan).

I might add that the instances of injury in US racing Arabs is on a similar par to TB’s accounting for the lesser numbers in training. Don’t get me wrong Desert bred Arabs are superbly adapted for their extreme environment tough and sound, for the ones that aren’t are culled as one would expect from a people who use them for a purpose linked to their survival. But like any man made breed of animal take them away from that environment and breed them to be pretty or to do something else for a couple of generations and that environmental and cultural influence is gradually lost along with any advantage it held. This is probably what is happening with racing Arabs you need to be taller to what is to an Arab shorter distances at faster speed, but I don’t think they will ever catch the best TB, horses for courses!
 

custard

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I think alleycat and pocomoto have rasied some seriously valid points.

Arab people keep more horses entire than any other breed, a fact stated by the AHS some time ago (when I had a purebred of my own and showed to a good standard before anyone thinks otherwise) and I've seen some bloody awful animals bred from.

Over the years I've seen the breed evolve into the extreme of type it is today. Many of them will only ever see the inside of a show ring let alone anything else and this is part of the reason I never had another one, thank God I never bred from her.

Give me a horse with good feet and conformation that moves well and can do a job, I really don't care any more how it's bred or by whom!
 

the watcher

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I think, to be fair, only a small proportion of the Arabs out there actually hit the show ring. There are plenty more, many in endurance or racing, that are good quality working animals with none of the extremes sometimes seen in the showring.

Whether they could ever be bred to produce a rival to the TB is an interesting question, I agree that although something could be done in theory, whether it would be well advised to actually do it is another issue.

I like Arabs - I particularly like the heritage of breeding and the purity of the breed, for me it means that if you breed one you have a very fair idea of what you are going to get - unlike other breeds (I'm thinking especially warmbloods) where the background can be quite mixed.
 

magic104

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I knew someone in the 80's who thought WB's were heinz57's. Traks were just another version of a TB, so why not just ride a TB! Needless to say his opinions did not go down so well with most people.
 

pocomoto

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Sorry about this Arab fans but this did have me in stitches being an avid US racing fan.

Matt Chapman ATR channel, who is outspoken and very entertaining, re race 8 Delaware

his quote goes something like this

"I refuse to get excited about this one be warned it's an Arab race,... they break slowly don't speed up stick their tails in the air and one or two will run out on the final bend" then after the race, "It's like watching paint dry isn't it, it goes so slowly.. Be warned the next one from there is an Arab race as well we might miss that one".

He did also say a while ago re a Quarter Horse race in the preliminarys whilst in fits of laughter "This ones last right up says broke well, lacked stamina faded in the last 100 yds, how can you fade over 400 yards!!!!"

Guess making the Arab taller will never make them a TB. I cant understand why they race Arabs over TB distances when endurance and true staying is their forte, surely they would want at least 4 miles to warm up?
 

suebingham

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This thread made me giggle.
At Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ they sometimes have Appaloosa racing (basically just TBs with a coupla spots on their heinies). A friend who was a jockey there said after riding one, he then understood why the indians rode them... the only horses slow enough you could catch'em on foot!
 

alleycat

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I think Arab racing in this country started out as a real hands-on, DIY be-your-own breeder, owner, trainer, stable-lad and jockey type sport, where people who just didn't have the money to be as involved in TB racing as they would like (or maybe just felt with the professionalism of TB racing, there wasn't the scope to be really deeply involved in breeding, progressing and riding their own horses) could do it all. Then, like everything, it all got serious......

The people from whom I bought my original TB mare liked TB racing and rode out for the local trainer, etc., but they themselves bred and raced Arabs. It must have been a really exciting and fulfilling sport, and I can quite see why people did it, and as anyone knows who has been carted by a riding school pony (& for me a nasty experience on -temporarily- a misnamed brute by the name of Gentle Lad springs to mind-) the animal doesn't have to BE fast in thoroughbred terms in order to FEEL very fast indeed; so maybe its just that Arab racing over any distance is- or was- really a participants' sport. I did think Arabs raced over quite long distances though; 3 or 4 miles?

It was part-bred, or, latterly, Anglo Arab racing that never quite made sense to me; in breeding and racing Anglos there seemed to be the scope for breeding out the Arab entirely; it seemed almost a denial of the Arab, since the Arab element was going to be detrimental in the context of a race-track performance.

I must confess that I rather like those big French Arabs. It would be interesting to see how far their physique has moved towards that of the TB; they're obviously bigger with a lower head carriage, but has anything else changed?
 

reynold

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the french NH TB is also interesting in that their races over 'chase' fences - albeit not quite our NH fences - are for 5 and 6 yr olds whereas over here we put our horses over NH fences later in general.

Polish arabs are the ones I like - less 'tinkered with' than other varieties of arab.

and they look more like a horse than a poodle.....(sorry!!)

however coming back to original question - and someone else has said the same thing - if you breed too much of one aspect of any breed you will lose out to something else

and thereby end up with overall a lower quality animal

for a more obvious example of this just look at some of the dog breeds where humans have tried to breed to particular traits over and above the quality and welfare of the breed in general - especial example is the bulldog - bred and bred to get that front end - to the point where all bulldog puppies have to be born by caesarian as the heads won't go thru the bitches pelvis

similarly with one of the french breed of cow (limousin I think but someone into cattle will know) - where again the breed has been bred upwards to get more meat per animal - huge da*n things that again have problems in calving to the point where some cows die or have to have emergency caesarians to survive.

overall - humans tinkering with any breed or type of animal (or plant thinking about GM foods) generally think that they are sooooo clever and that what they produce 1st and 2nd generation is absolutely fabulous - it's 50 years down the line that people realise that they've created a camel designed by a committee..!!

interesting quesiton though
 

Wishful

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Cow breed is Belgian Blue. They have double muscles or something like that.

Not really into cattle, just have retentiev memory and an OH who mentions experience of extracting up to 80kg of calf from belly of cow and lifting it over his shoulder etc. If the calving call is to a Belgian Blue, always bring caesar kit and second vet.

Limousins would surprise me - the Limousin region is sufficiently wild that a breed that systematically needed help calving wouldn't be fun there. Think Dartmoor/Exmoor with unmaintained forests in places.
 
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