I’ve always been vaguely interested in my horses’ ancestry, especially since it’s easy to find information on Thoroughbred pedigrees and on the horses that show up multiple times in a standard 5-generation pedigree. Back in 2014, Eventing Nation ran a fascinating article on the data-driven process Wits End Eventing uses to select stallions to breed to their mares. They’re proponents of linebreeding, a mild form of inbreeding; the theory goes that balanced linebreeding will produce whatever traits you’re hoping to pass on within four to six generations. There are a variety of opinions on what the optimal pedigree looks like. Some pedigree specialists believe that the 4×4 position- that is, the ancestor appears twice in the fourth generation, is best, while others assert that 5×5 (twice in the five generation pedigree) is superior.
Moe is linebred to Turn-To, a stallion who appears in the pedigrees of many top event horses (including 2016 Olympic competitor Blackfoot Mystery). Turn-To is found three times in Moe’s pedigree: once in the fourth generation, and twice in the fifth. I don’t know what Moe’s breeders were aiming to produce when he was conceived, as his sire and dam were not successful on the track and their pedigrees are sort of a mixed bag of bloodlines. Regardless of what they were attempting to get, they managed to create a marvelous sporthorse (most recent show notwithstanding, ha). Moe is a tough, hardy horse who has stamina, a great gallop, and a good jump. What didn’t Moe get? Size, for starters. Moe is a diminutive 15.2 hands and extremely narrow. He also looks like he’s been assembled from spare horse parts that someone had lying around: small head, ewe neck, enormous withers, relatively high stifles and somewhat steep hips. But the resemblance is there, even diluted through several generations. Moe has a similar neck tie-in, shoulder angle, and short back.
Gina’s bloodlines feature Raise A Native (4×5) and Nearctic (also 4×5). Raise A Native is known as a sire of sires, mostly due to his influential son Mr. Prospector (who Gina can also claim as a relative). He is not a popular sporthorse sire, per se; his descendants are pegged as being unsound. However, he’s an ancestor of many Thoroughbred sporthorses simply because he has an overwhelming amount of offspring. Nearctic is a hugely influential sire through his son Northern Dancer (another of Gina’s distant cousins). Nearctic was a short, compact horse who was allegedly a mean, hot-tempered creature. Like Raise A Native, he is an ancestor of many Thoroughbred and Throughbred-cross sporthorses because his offspring have been prolific producers. I’d guess Gina’s breeders were actually attempting to produce something that could win on the track, as her pedigree is peppered with big names like Danzig, Affirmed, and of course, the aforementioned stallions. What has Gina inherited from these horses? She’s a big-bodied mare (for a Thoroughbred) with a conformation similar to Raise A Native, while her temperament sounds reminiscent of Nearctic’s. Thankfully, the bad hooves and joints associated with the Raise A Native line don’t seem to be present in her.
Candy is a 4×4 descendent of Bold Ruler. Bold Ruler was another influential Thoroughbred sire; his descendants are typically very good as two year olds running short distances. Candy bears this out, as she raced best at short distances and was very good as a two year old (and a three year old). Many Thoroughbred sporthorse enthusiasts look for Bold Ruler in pedigrees. His son Bold Bidder is especially popular. Bold Ruler offspring are purported to have big hearts, lots of courage, and a smart, sensitive personality. They also have a reputation for having fragile legs. What has Candy inherited from Bold Ruler? She’s put together similar to the way he is- they have similar stifle angles, similar shoulder angles, and similarly powerful hindquarters. She raced 34 times across three years without lameness issues, and doesn’t appear to have gotten the flimsy legs.
Of course, a horse is more than its pedigree, but much can be learned by studying its ancestry.
Are you interested in pedigrees? Does your horse share many characteristics with its progenitors?