Breeding protocol--opening the RMHA booksgreenspun.com : LUSENET : ASD : One Thread
As more of a follower than an active participant in the Mountain horse growth, I have thought all along that the "books" were closed too soon . As a participant in the Paso Fino breed growth (from about 6000 horses to about 26,000), I could not see how the RMHA could have an adequte gene pool with such as small number of horses, especially when they all came from the same area and likely shared relatives just a few generations back.
In the Pasos, new and likely horses can be imported from South America. The Mountain horses do not have such a genetic reservoir to draw from. When new bloodlines are brought in and then mixed and remixed with the existing lines, desireable traits can be strengthened and less desirable ones weeded out through selective and responsible (there goes that word again) breeding.
Currently, Mountain horses not only have the vision problem, but they have a gaiting problem (too much paciness) and some have an attitude problem--too laid back. Annette Gerhardt has searched for years for her select group of Mountain horses. I am trying to cut corners and breed it through the Mountain Paso cross (I know that many Pasos, though well gaited, are way too hot for most horse people). Thus to me it makes no sense to close the door on the available genes and say this Mountain horse, as it is now, is as good as it gets. Open the books, and try to improve rather than standing still.
-- Becky gage (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 03, 1998
I would like to point out that lest people think Becky is the only one doing the Mountain Horse-Paso cross, the other person who has been doing that cross since the mid-80's is Grace Stuckert, yep, RMHA Board Member and author of the KMSHA News Question and Answer column (which is worth the price of the membership to get the magazine by itself). Her stallion Matastar is a double registered Paso Fino KMSHA Foundation stallion. I believe he is Pure Puerto Rican Paso, and I want to tell you, he is one gaiting machine. Grace has explained to me that she does the cross because it produces a horse with a "bright eye". They are alert with good strength of gait that comes from the Paso, and yet not as sensitive and reactive (read "spirited") as pure Pasos. I came out of Pasos after eight years (and two broken teeth and three ribs, Becky is right when she says they are too spirited for many people, including me!) when I went to Mountain Horses in 1990, and because of the temperament I have never regretted it for a minute. Becky finds the temperament to be "too laid back" in some cases, but I, like most Mountain Horse owners love that temperament because it is so safe. But, Becky is right that it has taken me that entire 7 years to breed and collect 1 stallion and 4 mares that I will match against any gaited horse of any breed for consistency, even timing, and speed in gait. I figured out very quickly after going into Mountain Horses that a good 80% of them would not meet my standards of gait, particularly after being used to what is typically available in Pasos. But I could breed for strength of gait using the genetic material published by Eldon Eadie as my guide, and that is exactly what I have been doing, and in the meantime while I was working toward strong gait, at least I wouldn't get hurt again! I have chosen to do that within the Mountain Horse bloodlines, although not within any one of the breed registries, but I have no problem with those that choose to take a "shortcut" and go out of the Mountain Horse bloodlines to pick up strength of gait and while they are at it, genetic diversity. I figure in a few generations, they will have horses that I like!
To bring this to some semblance of a point, I respect those that come out of or are doing Paso Mountain crosses. There breeding programs as legitimate and have advantages over the purebred breedeing of Mountain Horses, in terms of strength of gait and genetic diversity, and they bring a wealth of knowledge from their experience in Pasos. They have been working within KMSHA, because the KMSHA books are open to mares, they can register their foals in KMSHA, and some of the Paso stallions came in as KMSHA registered stallions when KMSHA reopened its books last year for three months. In fact, I personally paid for and registered three Paso stallions here in Arizona of the Coral LaCE line to have as possible breeding stock.
Another breed most of you are probably not aware of that can be tapped for outside blood that is probably more closely related to Mountain Horses than the Walkers they are usually crossed to, are the gaited Morgans. A lady came to my farm in maybe 1992, rode my horses, got off and said she wished her Morgans gaited. She about fell over when I told her I had run into several owners of gaited Morgans, over and over, in my promotions of Mountain Horses. About a year later I wrote to perhaps a half dozen of those people, including her, introduced them all to each other, and told them they ought to be talking to each other. She founded the Gaited Morgan News, for which I have written a regular column for three years. This is why I make the claim that I am one of the founders of the Gaited Morgan association, which became an affiliated Club under the AMHA on January 1, 1997. There are about 100 members, two breeders that I know of that have been established for a long time, quietly breeding gaited registered Morgans during all those years when it was not cool to have gaited Morgans, one in Washington, the other in Utah, which is where the Club is now headquartered as of late in 1997. I have tapes of some of their horses, and some are pretty darned good. They tend to be variable in their strength of gait, as are Mountain Horses, for the same reasons, they have not been bred for strength of gait in the kind of intensive and directed breeding programs that the Spanish gaited breeds have been subjected to for hundreds of years. But they have horses that have conformational and temperament characteristics that are very similar to Mountain Horses, especially the old line stock which dominates the gaited Morgans, and since they organized as a group, they have been guided by the genetic program for breeding for strength of gait laid out in Eldon Eadie's work. The first half dozen issues of their newsletter republished his work in full. So, their horses are improving in strength of gait at a faster rate than Mountain Horses, which have continued to be bred haphazardly for gait.
As a start, the Mountain Horses should be reunited as a breeding pool. If people want to go farther, there are other gaited horses of other breeds out there that could be brought in, Pasos and Gaited Morgans, Foxtrotters and Walkers, on a selected basis. People don't stop to think that the Foxtrotter books were open for (I think) 50 years, and the Appaloosa books were open for (I think) 75 years (I might have that reversed) yet those horses developed a specific type during the time their books were open, and were widely recognized as breeds. The Quarter Horse people allow the breeding to Thoroughbred stallions, which is where Appendix Quarter horse come from, to develop more of a racin type horse in some lines. We CAN develop our horses as a distinct breed with open or partially open books.
-- Annette L. Gerhardt (email@example.com), January 03, 1998.