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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Ism's"

By now most of us know that a word that ends in "ism" is generally something bad. Racism, sexism, ageism... But there is an ism that affects a LOT of horse people, breedism.
No matter what discipline a horseperson is involved in there seems to be breedism. From the backyard horse owner to the hunter princess. From the roper/cutter/can chaser to the Olympic jumpers. From dressage to combined driving.
Now I understand that certain breeds are better suited to some disciplines than others. What I don't understand is why (in some people's opinions) that makes any other breed useless. Or even certain breeds useless. For example, I personally ride Western. I trail ride and barrel race. For my needs a stock type horse is best. That doesn't mean that I think anything not bred to handle my needs is a crap horse. I appreciate a good horse of any breed doing its job and doing it well. And in my opinion there are good and bad horses in every breed. (just like I know good and bad people from a variety of economic/racial/religious/cultural backgrounds)
There are some breeds that seem to be commonly disliked by those that aren't aficionados. Arabs are the first that come to mind. Saddlebreds too. Thoroughbreds are often mentioned in the negative if not out-right disliked. Colour breeds like Appies & Paints and gaited breeds seem to be a love or hate.
Arabs, yup... they get a lot of haters. Which is kinda amusing when you consider they are one of the oldest breeds and have had an influence on a LOT of other breeds. Quick, how many can you list of the top of your head? Percheron, Thoroughbred, Welsh, Friesian, Morgan, Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Paint, Saddlebred, Trakehner. That's it for my "top of the head" list. I'm sure I could find more.
I will admit that I wouldn't want an Appy with a little stick tail. I know, pretty is as pretty does, but I feel SO sorry for them during fly season. So when/if I were to shop for an Appaloosa I would stay away from the bloodlines that tend toward the "stick tail" trait. Other than that I like Appaloosas.
I would have to say that I can't think of a breed that I hate, or even strongly dislike. Yeah "my" little Appy will never be a Grand Prix dressage horse. But I have a feeling those GP dressage horses aren't exactly going to burn around the barrel pattern. My (beautiful) thoroughbred mare isn't going to be out there winning a horse pull. But those Shires, Belgians, et al aren't setting any speed records. It all comes down to a good horse is a good horse.

My favourite personal story of breedism:
The horse I happened to have when the following happened is my dear Cessa. I didn't have a lot of money and was lucky to have one horse, any horse, and not about to be picky. I was working in a small town store (my home town) when a girl (let's call her Cindy) came in and we started talking about horses. She was local, although I didn't know her that well. I'm not 100% sure what started the conversation. I kind of think that perhaps Kimfer had just been in the store and Cindy overheard us planning a ride.
So Cindy and I are talking horses. We talk riding, where we like to go etc etc. Gets around to more specifics and she's telling me about her wonderful quarter horse. Then she asks me what kind of horse I have. Oh the snitty look on her face when she hears the word Thoroughbred come out of my mouth! She tries to make reason with it... asks me if I ride English as well as Western.
Nope, just Western I tell her.
Then, in a really bitchy voice, says "Why don't you get a REAL western horse? Like a Paint or a Quarter Horse."
Now I was a very shy, timid girl at the time. And I was at work, and it had always been drilled in to me 'be nice to customers'. But I couldn't help it. I spit back as 'friendly' as I could "Go home and do a little research on your papered Quarter Horse. Then come back and tell me how much thoroughbred he has in him."
I will give Cindy this much credit. A week or two later she came in and sort of apologized. She also said that she didn't realize how much thoroughbred blood was in a modern Quarter Horse.

8 comments:

  1. I think arabs get the bad rap they get because for some reason beginners flock to them because of their beauty*rolls eyes. They are pretty, but not generally the best breed for beginners- cuz the ones that's buy just for looks have to have a young one to boot...
    I think it's awesome that you have a TB you ride Western and in a parade!

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  2. Good post - that does happen alot. I'm so fascinated by every breed - if I had my own barn and tons of money, I'd buy one horse from a bunch of breeds!

    The big bias around here is for warmbloods. There are kids (kids!)at local schooling shows with $50 000 horses... Most kids on a local message forum *have* to have a warmblood to compete at schooling shows! Yikes.

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  3. It's everywhere and happens all the time. My old trainer was nto thrilled when I purchased my Appy... she basically said she would useless in the show ring (I was riding English at the time).

    Imagine her shock when I showed up at a local 4-H show and swept up with my App. Took Champion Mare in conformation (over my trainer's daughter warmblood), Grand Champion in Halter, Grand Champion in Showmanship and Reserve champion overall. Not bad for a horse that was "useless."

    I encountered it another time when my friend was looking to lease her Haflinger gelding. I mentioned it to a lady who's daughter rides and she gasped that she would NEVER put a child on a Haflinger, the things were pyscho- every one of them!! I was speechless at her disgust for Halfingers... my friend's horse is very level headed and a bit on the slow side. Perfect for a less confident rider as he is content to plod along, hardly pyscho.

    Her comment was the only thing ppl wanted for their kids were "packer ponies" the ones to pack their kids around the show ring and get that blue ribbon and Haflingers weren't it, plain and simple. All this w/o ever seeing the horse! What ever happened to having FUN on horseback? Why does everything have to be about a blue ribbon?

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  4. "What ever happened to having FUN on horseback? Why does everything have to be about a blue ribbon?"
    ===================================
    That sums things up for me. My barrel racing is a hobby. Of foremost importance to me is enjoying my horses. :)
    I can understand if horses are your CAREER but that is not the case for most people.

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  5. squirrelgirl: Congrats on your success with your "useless" Appy! :)
    As for Haflingers, I don't know much about them but Kimfer & I are going on a riding vacay next year and the place we're going has Haffies for us "tourists" to ride while we're there. Through mountains and stuff. I'm thinking they can't be too much horse for novices.

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  6. I think my friend's Haflinger is absolutely adorable. He's small but sturdy and is very level headed... she was a green rider and purchased him as a 3 year old from a auction for $500. He has been good to her.

    They are popular for driving as well as riding. I've never seen a "pyscho" one, doesn't mean there isn't one out there (there are in every breed) but overall the Haflinger's I've encountered have been very steady.

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  7. I am guilty myself but confess there is no breed I hate - just ones that I wouldn't recommend to some people.

    At times I get irritated when advocates of certain breeds insist there is no problem and its basically in everyones head. Which obliviously is not the case - those stereo types are there usually for a reason. Its best to admit that every breed has its strengths and weaknesses be open minded to your own breed's weaknesses.

    You can show me a super good calm near perfect horse out of every breed - that doesn't mean the rest are all like that.

    I get tired of the whining I hear from arab folks who have a hard time competing in NRHA events and beating the stock breeds. Its way easier for them to say that the judges are bias rather than admit that QHs, Paints, and Appy's have like 100 years of breeding for such an events on them. Those horses just aren't as good - doesn't mean they are bad. And who wants an arab bred looking just like a QH anyway?

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  8. Hey, good post! I wrote a draft of one similar in concept and have yet to post it. My sister has a half-Arab and we joke about Arabs all the time, but she can, because she owns and loves one. Before I got my Appy, I really wanted a QH, but he fell into my lap and I loved him so I didn't get my QH (although my App is still a stock breed.) And he doesn't have a sitck-tail, LOL! I prefer them w/tails, too.

    I read your comment on my site about the chiro work, thanks! The vet did do a poll adjustment, I think? She put her head under/up against the underside of his, then reached up. Is that what you meant? In fact, I was dying to take a picture because it looked so cool, but I felt silly doing it and my camera was in my fanny pack.

    Thanks for reading all of my blog, wow! You deserve some kind of reward for that. Hope you weren't too bored or fell asleep! And I'll always be a friend if ya need one! ;)

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