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Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

Posted February 03, 2010 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Making a baby horse is easy, right? Take a mom and a dad and 11 months later, you get a foal. In today's age of artificial insemination, embryo transfer, surrogates, and cloning, it's not necessarily that simple. In this two-part blog series, I'll give an update of some famous Thoroughbred offspring and explain some techniques that the breeding industry is not allowed to use.

The Jockey Club

North America's official registry for the Thoroughbred, including racehorses, is The Jockey Club. Over 30,000 horses per year are added to The American Stud Book; there are 445,000 names in active use in the book.

According to The Jockey Club, in order to be eligible for registration, foals need to be "genetically typed and qualified by parentage verification." Only foals that were bred via live cover (the stallion bred the mare naturally) are eligible. The same mare that was bred must give birth to the foal. Cloning, artificial insemination, embryo transfer, or other forms of genetic manipulation are not allowed.

Every Thoroughbred's birthday is January 1st – so breeders make every effort to have foals born as close to, but after, that date as possible. What a nightmare it would be to have a foal born on December 31st and turn a year old the following day! (Thoroughbred races are run by age – this would be a major disadvantage.)

Famous Foals

Every year from January through late spring, announcements are made of new foals of racing champions. Here's a sampling of 2010's news so far:

  • Curlin (2008 and 2009 Horse of the Year) sired his first filly, born January 12, 2010 in Kentucky
  • Big Brown (Kentucky Derby winner) sired his first filly, born January 12, 2010 in Kentucky
  • Barbaro (Kentucky Derby winner; heroically fought tragic leg break but died) was going to have a full sister born this year, but she was aborted by her dam (mother) on December 24, 2009
  • See a gallery of more first foals

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_breeding#Advanced_Reproductive_Techniques

http://www.jockeyclub.com/

http://www.jockeyclub.com/registry.asp?section=3#one

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#1

Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/03/2010 8:50 AM

Only foals that were bred via live cover (the stallion bred the mare naturally) are eligible.

That was a heated issue and concern that it should go with Artificial Insemination (AI) is to protect these High priced, high profile studs against disease as well as disease control.

Quite an rare experience and a affair to see a birth, and if missed as usually is the case, it was entertaining to witness the first steps of the foal.

p911

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#2
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/03/2010 9:11 AM

If AI were allowed supply would likely go up - would demand also go up? Would price go down? I'm not sure how the economics of this would work out. I'm not sure if people would still pay $600,000 for a Storm Cat baby (were he still producing) if there were 100,000 Storm Cat babies per year vs. 100.

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#3
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/03/2010 10:02 AM

The was one of the reasons for not going (AI) by the breeders themselves. I believe the concern came from activists (all kinds) and used that to support their position.

Or even touching off on embryo transplants, which I believe you mentioned.

Horse values fluctuate like anything else, and its not like dairy cattle where it took 40-60 years of selective breeding (more if you included the generations of family farmer) to develop a high producing herd. They sell semen and embryos to other countries and these countries can do the same improvement in 10.

All comes down to control of the market valuations, imo.

p911

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#4
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/03/2010 10:07 AM

Part of the reason is also to control frauds. With live cover, at least one (usually more) person sees the breeding to help prove parentage. This person knows that stallion X actually covered mare Y.

This helps the owner get what he/she paid for. There's more opportunity for "mix-ups" with AI. Yes, a foal's lineage can be proved with DNA, but that can get expensive and paperwork can be falsified. Of course, forgery can occur at any level. It just seems less likely if a stallion can only cover X mares per year via live cover.

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#5
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/03/2010 3:08 PM

Fraud,

I don't believe so. Not with DNA testing depends on the value of the horse. And AI or embryo transplants are usually exchanged through a bonded or certified organization. Who as a business is reliable due to belonging to breed organization. And breeding would be certified with the papers, and since it would not be purchase out of the truck of a car from a shady character at an undisclosed....carwash? There would be no sense into it. More at the end......

Money can only really be made from a winning horse breeding fees. (oops....double edge sword.) Sure other money may be a winning horse, and only the race or competition, because do you not need registration papers as proof for entry?

Sure I'm sure there are people that will go the distance of covering up to get a champion horse in their stables........because there are certainly people around that are willing to pay for it above the table.

As far as AI, the most difficulty. It removed the stud from owners decisions and the company that buys the stud decides which are made more for profitability.

p911

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#6
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/03/2010 4:59 PM

There are more ways to make money in the industry than racing and stud fees. Ever hear of pinhooking? Yearlings and two-year-olds in training sell for millions of dollars at auction. They did not cost that much to breed or maintain to that point in their lives. Of course they are the exception at that price, not the rule.

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#7

Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/05/2010 1:36 AM

Why AI? - because it improves on natural selection.

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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/05/2010 8:29 AM

Why AI? - because it improves on natural selection.

For who's interpretation of improves?

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#9
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/08/2010 12:41 AM

Auctions, judges, scales (for at least cattle breeding)

With the current smaller units of farming natural selection do depend on the local available talent. With better talent available at a price one can cheat on the system.

In SA we had a free range system up to about 1935, after fencing grew the natural selection in our small antelope population could not continue naturally. In about 1960 I measured a size difference of about 50mm for the same age between the fenced an open space animals.

I thought of the reasons back then and realized that on the small units the strong rams were harvested for there meat while leaving the lesser rams to do the breeding. In the open the sons of the leader left the group and eventually join another group to take over the leadership.

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#11
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/08/2010 11:01 AM

yeah, Humans interpretation of improvement

But what this does, is limit diversity. even though its not AI, Dog breeding is what I was thinking of.

Because of Humans interpretation of improvement. It does not necessary help the breed (in the quality of life anyways)....does it?

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#12
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/08/2010 1:28 PM

Human intervention by dog breeders usually end in a fiasco. Maybe it is because a lot of people with dogs decide to act as breeders.

I bought a German Shepard bitch some time ago, The father and mother were both champions with a pedigree longer than my arms (the price champion²) it was a nice dog with a good temperament but the something went wrong with the bone structure.

I have seen the worth of natural selection as well. In about 1962 on a trip to Botswana I was offered 500 head of Nguni cattle. At that stage there were very few fences in the country. After inspection of the herd I declined the offer - It was a sad looking herd - not even consistent in appearance. Big mistake the production figures is amazing.

A friend of mine is a registered Nguni breeder and he did improve the herd using AI.

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#13
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/08/2010 5:39 PM

The German Shepperd was the dog I had in mind. But don't the breeders breed to the desired look set forward by the organizations.

Hip dysplasia I believe. Bull dogs have nasal or sinus problems. Great Danes-arthritis and short life spans. labradors...

About the cattle, just like the long horns of the southwest U.S. They lived on very arrid plains, but survived and lived.

When it came time to butcher, no excess fat. which is probably good. but like other feeder cattle and pigs they are purchase by the pound on the hoof.

And your friend, how did he improve the herd by AI? what characteristics? weight gain? Composition? Ability to each whats available?

I like to add about natural breeding. The wild mustangs some herds you can see are inbred and have a poor statue.

But it would only take a good strong stallion to improve it.

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#14
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Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/09/2010 5:37 AM

Hip dysplasia - yes that was it - I could not hear the Vet above my wife's crying.

The breeders should be forced to breed it out.

I cant remember his full policy but resistance to decease in wetter areas is one of them.

The Nguni is a small to medium carcas animal which produce more animals in a shorter time per unit area.

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#10

Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/08/2010 1:10 AM

Where gambling is involved nothing is natural any more.

Why demote a good foal to rubbish because he was born too early?

I have a solution - put the mares in chastity belts until the time is right.

We sponge sheep to obtain the result.

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#15

Re: Baby Showers – Thoroughbred Foal Announcements (Part 1)

02/10/2010 8:25 AM

As an update to this blog entry - news broke yesterday that champion Curlin's first foal, a filly, was euthanized on January 29. The 17 day old filly was involved in a paddock accident.

Part 2 of this blog series is now available. It discusses some of the artificial breeding methods that were touched upon in this blog entry and comments.

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