Don Blazer

"You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

       My mother told me that years ago, and while I've tried on occasion (intentionally or unintentionally) to prove her wrong, my efforts always proved her right.

       Every horse can do every movement of every exercise of every discipline!

       That is a fact!  While every horse can do everything, no horse does everything well…..proving, that if you want a silk purse, don't start with a sow's ear.

       I've started with a lot of sow's ears….for various reasons; bought her at an auction, she was cheap, she was pretty, needed another horse, looked athletic, was sure I could fix her problems.

       But a sow's ear is a sow's ear; it is what it is. 

       Thank goodness; knowing that makes your horse choices so much easier.

       What do you want?   Do you want a silk purse, a race horse, a jumper, a dressage horse, a western pleasure horse, a roping horse, a trail horse, a driving horse, a hunter under saddle or a racking horse?

       If you want a silk purse….start with silk.

       If you want a race horse, start with one bred to be a race horse.  If you want a western pleasure horse, start with one bred to be a western pleasure horse.  Want a jumper?  Start with a horse bred to be a jumper.  You getting the idea.?

       Today, there is a pedigree to suit every desire.  Examine the pedigree.  If the pedigree isn't filled with the "discipline" you want to pursue, skip the horse.  Keep looking until you find a horse with a pedigree that screams, "I'm bred to be the kind of silk purse you want."

       Okay, finding the right pedigree is a good start.  Now you have to be sure the horse is "built to do the job."  It's a funny thing about equine genetics (or genetics in general). Sire and dam don't always reproduce their most desirable traits.  And in some cases they don't reproduce a foal with the conformation traits necessary to perform well at the discipline the sire and dam found so easy.

       Start with "body type."  There is the draft horse, the sport horse, the endurance body type, the stock horse type, the hunter type, the dressage horse.  

       I don't care what anyone says, or how many exceptions there are to disprove the rule:  get the body type best suited to perform at the work and discipline you have in mind.  If the pedigree says, "Yes," and the body type says, "Yes" then you're in excellent position to take the next step.

       And the next step is "balance".  Balance is about the only conformation trait you'd like to see in any horse for any discipline.   (The forehand, back and hindquarters are each just about 33 per cent of the total body.)  After balance, you've got to start looking carefully at various proportions and angles-how long is the neck, how sloping the shoulder, how steep the croup, how short the cannons, how high the stifle, how low the hocks, how straight the hind leg, how are the front legs positioned, etc. etc.?

       Looking at each part of the horse, you must determine how the conformation you see is going to affect the horse's movement.  Knowing how he'll move, you can decide just how good his chances are of becoming the silk purse you seek.

       Know this:  start with the horse that has the best chance physically to be the kind of horse you want, and you've got about a 40 per cent chance of getting what you want. 

       Know this: the horse's mind is going to control about 50 per cent of your success at getting a horse to perform at the level you want.  A horse can have great conformation, great talent, great pedigree, but if he doesn't have a great mind you're going nowhere!

       Know this:  about 10 per cent of getting the silk purse you want so much is going to be in the training.  Training is not rocket science, but it does take some knowledge and talent. 
The more of both, the better.

       Just as you sought the silk for the purse, seek out a "purse maker"…not a "carpenter".  And if you are going to do it yourself, you better become an expert on silk purses.

       Finally, hope for a freak.  All champions are freaks; but that's another story.


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