Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Foundation Curse

When you take your animal to a show, you expect to hear a few words from the other exhibitors. You know, words like "Great to have you here!" or "Glad you could make it to the show!" or even "I've not met you, so glad you are participating!"

You don't expect to hear nasty remarks muttered purposefully within earshot.

But that is how Casper and I were "welcomed" at our first breed show in Spokane. I had heard there was prejudice in the ApHC, well now I had experienced it. You know what, I didn't care! I took my boy out and we had fun, he was behaved and that was all that mattered late that summer of his yearling year.

The term "Foundation" really has several meanings where horse breeding is concerned. The die hard foundation breeders are a varied lot, some good, some not so good, some honest and some not so honest. That statement can be applied to just about any horse breeders and I have found within the Appaloosa breed you really need to do your homework. Outcrossing is looked down upon by the foundation breeders, so for me, I was stuck in the middle of the two factions of the Appaloosa family, Modern and Foundation. I loved my little foundation horse, he was ever so easy to work with and I had plans to outcross him along with plans to breed him to regular Appaloosa mares. But in our world, you have to fit the square peg into the square hole and we just weren't going to fit that well!

Yearlings are such funny little horses, they grow up so awkwardly! Sometimes the front grows and they look like a moose and sometimes the back grows and they look like an anteater! Casper never grew seesaw like, he grew evenly, always slightly uphill, he always knew where his feet were and his movement never changed.

As a sport horse stallion Casper had huge potential, but some members of the ApHC just didn't "get it". The term Sport Horse always seems to conjure up visions of "big", whereas in my little circle of breeders, Sport Horse meant athletic and bold! Conformation must be of the type to allow the horse to engage power from behind and carry the rider forward but still be light and agile. As Casper filled out and matured, I continued to see in him the mind and movement required to produce Sport Horses.

So what is the Foundation Curse? My interpretation is your horse is judged by that title before he is judged by what he can do. And within the Appaloosa Foundation ranks, there are only a handful of those horses being competed when compared to the multitudes of National/World Appaloosa Show competitors. Maybe it is because the foundation breeders don't feel their horse is competitive in the App show scene, maybe it is money, training, prejudice or apathy........whatever it is, you are hard pressed to fill any FPD classes at an App Show. Mostly I feel it comes from the negativity surrounding the QH. Good QH breeding is also a hot topic, but the foundation breeders feel the QH has had far too much influence on the Appaloosa horse and the Modern breeders continue to outcross to the QH, regardless of the genetic defects found in that breed.

We did not want to take any chances on HYPP, HERDA or breeding Halter body types. We decided to cross on Thoroughbreds and use stallions that had very little QH in their bloodlines. Some folks can accept that, some can not. Some feel to win, you need that QH. If you think the Appaloosa horse is a stock breed, then I can see the need to breed out to the QH. But I don't believe the Appaloosa is a stock horse, I believe the Appaloosa is a "type" unto it's own. History shows us that there were plenty of areas in this country with Appaloosa horses before the breed registry was formed. Horses from all areas were registered in the late 30's and early 40's, regardless of whether they actually fit any conformation criteria or breed standard. This was also how the QH registry was started. And there are more than a handful of loud Appaloosas produced by breeders of registered AQHA horses.

So, whatever your "body type" criteria is, there is probably an Appaloosa horse out there to fit your taste. Here at Formula One Farms the original ApHC Breed Standard is alive and well, regardless of the Foundation Curse from either side of the argument!

next blog...........The First Ride

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