The Mare Search Continues – Part 2

New Focus

Last time, on Lantern Farm, disappointed with my search for a mare thus far and inspired by the work of the Livestock Conservancy organization I have decided to align my goals of breeding, raising, and training horses with my goals of conserving at risk native and heirloom breeds and species by switching to a horse breed that doesn’t number in the millions worldwide and instead is at risk of going extinct. There were three such horse breeds under consideration: Akhal-tekes, Canadians, and Cleveland Bays.

Step one was to talk over the new plan with Nate and get his opinion, and yes, his opinion does matter. He was not a big fan of the Akhal-tekes and to be fair they have a very distinct and unique look which doesn’t appeal to everyone. He also pointed out that they were literally born and bred for life in the desert and Minnesota ≠ desert. And if we’re being totally honest, I’m vain enough to want to look good while riding a horse and words that I would use to describe Akhal-tekes include ones like “delicate” and “refined” and those two words have never, in my life, been used to describe me.

That got it narrowed down to Canadians and Cleveland Bays.

Step two was talking with an acquaintance of mine who has spent her entire life working in a wide variety of horse related fields and endeavors with a wide variety of breeds. She has a breadth and depth of knowledge regarding horses that few people have. She said the Cleveland Bays she’s worked with have been very athletic horses who were beautiful movers, but she never liked the personality of a single one and would never choose to work with them if given the choice. She has also had the opportunity to work with Canadian horses and had a friend who raised Canadian horses back in the day and they were also athletic horses and good movers, but had the extra bonus of being likeable. She said she liked every Canadian horse she ever worked with. Therefore, her recommendation was to search for a Canadian mare.

She and I also had a long talk about conformation and breeding. After all my research on horse conformation I have gotten pretty good at identifying faults and flaws with a horse but I don’t necessary know how to rank those faults in terms of importance. I liken it to grading. Students make all sorts of mistakes, but some mistakes are minor, and the student has clearly done A or B work, but other mistakes are worse and indicate C or D level work, then of course there are the “you have literally no clue what you are doing, here is your F” mistakes. I felt confident in my ability to distinguish “A” or “F” horses, but not as confident in my ability to distinguish between the vast majority that fall somewhere in the middle. The reality is that finding a horse with “perfect” conformation was always rare but has become even rarer now that society no longer literally runs on horse power and people have lost touch with what makes a horse not just good looking but also healthy and sound for the long haul. The “A” horses are now rarer than ever and the ones that are out there are totally out of my budget. This means I need to instead be focusing my efforts on identifying the “B’s” (which is still a really good grade) from the “C’s” and “D’s.” I’m optimistic that now, after having spent some time working with her, I can do that. Hopefully.

Thus my search for a mare worth breeding has begun again but with the new focus on finding a solid, but not perfect, Canadian mare. As of right I have found four possibilities and two of them have a great deal of potential. I’m just waiting on more pictures, videos, and information. Fingers crossed I find this mare soon!

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