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A Breeders Point Of View: The importance of first time crosses



By David Williams • Special to the WHR

As breeders, one of our main activities is planning which stallion we shall choose for our mares. With all the many variables in raising horses this is one thing we can be in full control of. The only limiting factors in our decisions may be the stallions availability and our lack of finances to pay the stud fee for the stallion; which for our breed none are too outrageous.

We study bloodlines and conformation. We study show ring production and recorded (if only by word of mouth) sales of the top young horses. We choose a stallion and he produces us a fine foal, we think, “Great, Let’s do it again” and we breed to the same stallion over and over again. Many times that’s a good process but historically, considering the top show horses of our breed, we may be limiting our broodmares full potential.

As we dig deeper what we did see trending is that a mare’s first foal by a specific stallion is the overwhelming evidence that lead to the first theory. Out of the 71 World Grand Champions 47 (66%) were the first foal from a dams first time bred to a certain stallion. This shows where a breeder has kept searching for the right stallion and finally hit on it.

In addition, we knew the sex of a foal had to be a factor, many times a stud from a stallion mare cross is built physically different than the fillies of the same cross. An additional 10 World Grand Champions were either the first stallion, or in one case of Oakwood’s City Girl, the first filly of a specific broodmare and stallion cross.

So with the added 10 World Grand Champions from a first time cross of either sex to the first 48 that were the first time cross of a sire and dam that’s 57 (80%) of the 71 World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horses that were either the first time cross of a certain sire or dam or the first stallion or mare of a certain cross.

This data as it pertains to producing a horse to win the “Big Stake” leads a breeder to “mix it up” when breeding their mare. Look at the attributes of your foal and see where you can improve and seek a stallion to improve those attributes. Raising great horses are a work in progress, many say “Aw, it’s a crap shoot.” Well it really isn’t. There are many successful breeders that know their mare’s best assets and even more so know their mare’s discrepancies. These are the folks that will choose different stallions and produce very nice horses until they finally hit the “Sweet Spot.”

The spreadsheet provided shows, in chronological order, every World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse. Their sire and dam are listed along with their birth order of foals from their dam. It is noted whether they were a first time cross or the first stud or filly of a specific cross. Also for information’s sake how many Full and Half siblings (by dam) they have.

Some interesting items from the chart is the case of Setting Sun and Ebony’s True Grit. Those breeders like what they had and stuck with it. Both have nine full siblings each. Another is the dam of the great Gen’s Armed And Dangerous, Melana Ebony, who was bred to six different stallions, some multiple times, before she was finally bred to Prides Generator. Armed was her 11th foal out of the 13 foals she produced. At the other end of the spectrum are two “One of A Kind” World Grand Champions.

Sensational Shadow was the only offspring of his sire Shadow’s Shadow; and to the same effect World Champion mare Cash’s For Roses, had one foal before she died sired by Gen’s Black Gin which became 2017 World Grand Champion Gen’s Black Maverick.

Proof the stars can align for one first shot, but the overwhelming proof they align only once; except in the case of the great Merry Walker who when bred to Merry Go Boy produced Go Boy’s Shadow and when bred to Midnight Mack K produced Rodger’s Perfection. And to also be noted Merry Walker’s daughter also sired by Merry Go Boy, Shadow’s Sis W, went on to produce Mark Of Carbon.

So breeders reach out try different stallions. There are many different stallions from many different bloodlines. You’ll never know what can happen until it does.

Click here to view the chart referenced in the March 11 edition of Walking Horse Report.

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