Hmmmm. I think I have a bit of a quandary when it comes to the whole process of adding a second four-legged beastie to my little herd of one.... I can't quite decide what I want to do! I am perpetually going over the two most concrete options in my head – breed or buy? – and keep going back and forth between the two. Doing what I WANT to do and doing what I SHOULD do are possibly two different things. Or perhaps they’re the same thing. I don’t know!
First of all, I am conflicted as to WHAT exactly I want in my next horse. If we are talking in terms of buying my next horse instead of breeding it, I have two very differing desires, and can’t quite make up my mind about either of them. Part of me wants to find something goofy and fun to just toodle around on. Not something to replace or match Gogo in terms of talent and ability, but something that I can see how far I can take against whatever odds there are. Ideally, however, I don’t want to BUY that horse. I want to free lease it. I don’t think I want something nice enough to warrant paying a lot of money for a lease, and then ultimately having to give it back. Covering expenses for a lease horse, of course! But additional money on top of that, no.
The other half of me wants to find the nicest, most promising animal I can find for the best price that I can, and nurture it until it is ready to break and ride. The problem with this is that, realistically, I’m going to have to probably pick up a weanling for this to work. It’s not likely that that same quality horse will be available to me financially as a 3 year old. The slightly selfish part of me is grumbling about this – my current horse is unrideable, and I want to ride now! But I don’t want to BUY a cheap horse just so I can sit on it today, and then potentially be stuck with it later on down the road. You know I’ll get attached to it, and then when it breaks or maxes out somewhere, I’ll never be able to get rid of it because I am a bleeding heart. I already have one beautiful hayburning poopmaker in my field, I don’t need two!
So I guess it boils down to basically this: if I am going to BUY, I should buy the best horse that I can afford, and not just a cheap project. I refuse to let my emotions get involved when there isn’t even a real horse in question to think about yet. Speaking subjectively, investing in a young talent over a cheap project would possibly bring a higher emotional/financial payout for me in the end. I don’t mean to sound so cold about it, but I have to be rational. I’m already hopelessly in love with Gogo, and could never think about getting rid of her, even if it means she has to spend the next 25 years sitting in my backyard doing nothing beyond eating and and getting groomed. That’s already being a bit irrational from a financial point of view. Money is no object when it comes to Gogo, and I know it’s going to be the same with a new horse, so I need to make my choices wisely. Horses are expensive enough as it is.
But. If we are talking about investing in a young talent, then I need to seriously consider the breeding route. And of course I WANT to breed her! I think she’d be an excellent mother, and I think the offspring would be very nice. Even if that baby came out crooked and ugly, I would love it and keep it. But I have to keep all of the potential cons in mind too. That baby COULD come out wretchedly. I have no idea what it would capable of. It might not be capable of anything. Breeding is a gamble, and you never know what you’ll end up with until it arrives. If I were to find something already on the ground, I would at least be able to see what it looks like conformation-wise, and get an idea of an attitude. I think there is a large chance that the nicest horse I will be able to really afford is one that will come right out of her directly. But I can’t sugarcoat her faults: that terrible topline, her less than perfect front legs, her narrow chest. Nobody’s more aware of her faults than I am. And am I taking a major gamble by breeding a lame horse? Usually, lame horses make more lame horses. While the vets and I strongly believe that this is a matter of bad luck and an acute injury rather than a long-term, conformation-related issue, you still can’t help but wonder: is baby going to break at some point too? All horses can get hurt, and all horses probably will get hurt in one way or another in their life, but it doesn’t make it any easier. No matter what happens, I cannot guarantee the soundess of anything I breed, buy, or lease. If I breed a youngster, it might break at some point. If I buy a cheap project that may have inherited issues, it might break at some point. Hell, even if I buy the nicest horse on the planet, you know full well that it could break at some point too. You just don’t know. You never know. Look at Gogo… never so much as has a stone bruise for three years, and then bam! One day, it’s all over.
The other consideration I must make is Gogo’s comfort level and soundness. Currently, even with an acute injury, she is marching around as sound as ever at the walk, completely happy and comfortable. I don’t dare jog her out, but Jen did say that yesterday she was prancing around in her field in the morning of her own accord, and that afternoon her leg looked better than it ever has since the reinjury. Since she’s been on turnout, her attitude had improved 110% from when she was at the other barn. At the other barn, when I was riding her every day she was perfectly content to go about her daily business and be happy, but once she reinjured she was mopey and weirdly quiet. Now, she’s completely delighted and more than satisfied to go out and eat 10 hours a day. If we are thinking of a breeding, it would be in May or June, about six months out from the original injury. Baby wouldn’t hit the ground until the following April or May. That gives us well over a year before the foal would get big enough to put additional weight stress on her body. I don’t think at that point that her hind legs would be compromised in any way… mares are tough cookies. I remember a mare at the farm I interned at that had a pastern fusion from a career-ending broken pastern, and she was a tiny thing with a big colt. She kept tromping around like nobody’s business even though she wasn’t exactly what anyone would call sound. I also remember having not one but TWO mares at school who had DLSD and carried more than one foal to term without issue. (Now why you’d breed a mare with suspensories so degraded that their fetlocks pretty much were sitting on the ground is beyond me, but they did it anyway, year after year. And that’s a major genetic issue that is definitely inherited!) I think she’d be fine, but I can’t rule out her discomfort as a potential limiting issue. I’m not going to do anything that is going to hurt her. Although I guess you can argue that carrying and birthing a foal can be pretty painful….!
What I would LOVE to do is plan for a springtime breeding in 2011, and find something to lease in the area during the interim. Something I could have a blast with, but not have to invest in long-term in case it doesn’t end up being suitable for what I want to do in the end. Once baby hits the ground, or possibly in the year following when baby hits the ground, I could send back the lease and concentrate on the munchkin. Following weaning, I think it’s quite possible that I might be able to reevaluate Gogo’s riding career and see what I have. I’d really like to give her two years of as much turnout as I can possibly provide, and then seeing what we have at the end of it.
That’s in the ideal world. I could just as easily pick up a lease and NOT breed her, or pick up a young horse at a good price and bring it along instead of breeding her.
You know it can’t hurt to dream though. You know who I really, REALLY would love to breed her to? Catherston Dazzler. I had never considered him until recently because I was trying to stick to Holsteiners, but once I took a better look at him, I about died and went to heaven. If there ever was a dreamier dreamboat for eventing babydaddies, I’ll eat my helmet. And you know what they say about breeding like to like:
Catherston Dazzler has hundreds and hundreds of offspring competing in eventing, and many at the four star level. His son Midnight Dazzler is 18 and competing at the four star level, and has been for MANY years – so the soundness is there. Dazzler crosses REALLY well with TB-type mares like Gogo, and the resulting crosses are proven black/brown, flashy, uphill XC machines.
One problem. He’s dead. Frozen semen only. Yes, I know that first-cycle pregnancies in maiden mares are higher than any other type of mares (meaning foaling or barren mares), but still. That’s quite a risk. And it’s not cheap. There are less than 10 doses of his semen left in the US as we speak. So the chances of that happening are KIND of slim.
But it doesn’t hurt to dream. MAN what a foal that would be.
The very special Ridgeway weekend
3 days ago