Carole Mortimer: lazy advertisers and false siblings *H&H VIP*

  • Perusing adverts for horses makes for an interesting exercise — even though in my case it is now purely theoretical. Being interested in breeding means I always look for the bloodlines, which help give a picture of the horse. Yet it never ceases to disappoint a) how many do not always include the basic breeding or b) how many variations there are without actually giving the information. Phrases such as “bred on eventing lines”, “well bred” or “home-bred” appear but without mention of any pedigree — particularly frustrating.

    If I were looking for a horse bred on eventing lines then I would really want to know which lines before deciding whether to respond. And surely if a horse is “well bred” or “home-bred”, there is no excuse to omit the breeding.

    Another mystifying phrase that regularly pops up is “Ladykiller, Landgraf lines”, with no mention of dam or sire. Yes Landgraf (by Ladykiller) was an extremely valuable sire, who founded a dynasty of many hundred mares and sired more than a hundred stallion sons — meaning thousands of horses will carry his bloodline — so to state his name alone is, to my mind, meaningless.

    One interesting opener that caught my curious eye was: “half-brother to Badminton winner”. A bit of research revealed that it wasn’t a half-brother at all, but a young horse by a stallion that had sired a Badminton winner. Horses by the same sire are not siblings — no, never. Full- or half-brothers/sisters only ever share the same dam — otherwise the world would be full of half-siblings. Just think how many there would be by Landgraf for example; mind-bogglingly confusing just to think about it.

    Three-time Burghley winner Avebury was by Jumbo and one of hundreds by this leading British sire, including Headley Britannia, Allercombe Ellie and Mr Chunky. Yet none of these are half-brothers or sisters to Avebury. Avebury did have half-brothers and sisters as his dam Bairn Free had several offspring, including Avebury’s full brother Tristar and a full sister Speckles; a broodmare in Germany. Avebury also had two half-brothers by the thoroughbred Baryshnikov.

    Get verified breeding

    Some horses are still advertised as “breeding unknown”. I used to find it hard to believe, in this more enlightened age, that this was possible. Surely there can’t be that many accidents. It finally dawned that not all foals are fully registered — with verified breeding — even by breeders.

    Perhaps they are saving the cost of DNA verification, or maybe the thinking is that as they are males they are/will be castrated and won’t be part of any future breeding pool, so breeding doesn’t matter. Some simply get an identity passport without understanding that the breeding — although they have entered it — is not verified.

    All of these can have ramifications later; if it is a mare, she won’t be entitled to full studbook papers, which can be desperately disappointing for the new owners who bought her to breed from. If they are lucky and the dam is still alive or has a DNA profile they might be able to ascertain her breeding.

    An unverified young horse won’t be able to compete in some young horse classes and, if it did become successful, the FEI or World Breeding Federation breeding registration will be “unknown”. Frustrating for future breeders, stallion owners and the studbook with which the horse should have been registered.

    Surely a major reason for breeding of any horse is that someone has specifically selected the bloodlines for a reason and therefore any horse should have a fully verified passport. So if your horse is well-bred, home-bred or bred on eventing lines, then please let us know how.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 March

    Stallions at Stud