I’m a Responsible Breeder, or So I Thought…

I’m a responsible breeder.  Or, I was… I quit breeding for many reasons.  The foremost being that there are too many homeless horses in the world. I feel that if you are going to bring a horse into this world, you’d better have a good reason, provide for it throughout its life or be responsible during the re-homing process. (That’s me, standing on my soapbox.)

But, as I sit here today, I realize I failed myself and my youngest colt.  I bred with my blinders on.


My mare, Tess, has had 6 foals. I know where all of them live, I know what they are doing and everyone is in a fine home.  I have kept to my own word of placing them responsibly.  So far, so good. (Remaining true to my self-righteousness.)


Today, I have Tess’ last foal, Wrigley, who is coming 2.  I decided to breed for him three years ago for all the right reasons.  This was an incredible opportunity to breed to this outstanding stud for free (complicated story).  The stud had a flawless producing record and his bloodlines contained some of the Old Style Morgan that I wanted.  I felt his conformation would be a great balance with Tess’ and she was already there at the breeding facility so the transaction would be simple.  Since I knew, absolutely, I wanted to keep her last foal forever, this sounded really good.   Great!  And, the creme de la creme, I figured that my trail horse, Aladdin, would be needing to retire just about when this foal would be starting, so it was perfect.  Let’s do it!  So, we did.


Now, maybe you didn’t notice all the blah blah in the above paragraph, but it’s there.  First of all, my mare throws show horses, not trail horses.  Now, many of you say that all show horses could be trail horses.  And, sometimes you are right.  But, not my mare.  She throws show horses that might turn into trail horses when they settle down at 13 or so.  I know this.  OK, the next bit of blah blah is the stud.  Again, he has never sired a trail horse.  My thinking that the Old Style Morgans in the woodpile would fix the intense show horse quality of all of the previous total show babies makes no sense because it never worked before. ( I think you see where this is going…)  The last blah blah was what I said to myself.  I told myself that Tess couldn’t possibly produce a show foal every time.  What are the odds of that?  This one will be the trail horse, for sure.  Uh huh.

What I never said out loud was that I didn’t want another show horse.  Not only didn’t I want one, but I REALLY DIDN’T WANT ONE.  I was never going to go through all that show stuff again.  Never.  I was done.  Hmmmmm.  Where was this side of my brain when I was deciding to breed my mare with this stud?  Why didn’t I listen to what I KNEW?  Where was my head?


Baby came on April 30, 2008.  A colt!  Yeah!  I wanted another gelding as a trail horse.  Perfect!  He was quick to stand, quick to nurse and very hearty.  At the time, I ignored that he was huge, totally upheaded and could not walk — he pranced — everywhere.  Naw, he’ll settle down.  I even told myself how cute it was that he flagged his tail whenever anything at all happened… anything at all.  A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G at all.

I named him Wrigley, again defying a show name, so that he would have an easy trail friendly moniker.  Usually, I spent days agonizing over the show name for the papers.  What would sound good rolling off the tongue?  What type of name would be easily understood over the loud speaker?  What would fit his/her personality?  What would play off of the parent’s names?  But, not with Wrigley.  I even forget how we decided on that name…

At 18 months old, Wrigley was as large as his mother.  OK, I said to myself, no worries.  So what… He will stop growing and he will be small enough that I can mount from the ground while on the trail.  After all, his Dam is 14’3 and his Sire is only 15′.  How big could he get?…  C’mon, this is just good nutrition or an unusual growth spurt. (Again, I was the Jewel of Denial…)

All along, I have been haltering and working with little huge Wrigley.  It is true that I cannot get the halter over his head unless he practically goes down on his knees.  And, it is true that he learns very quickly, even if his excitement is a bit larger than the task.  And, yes, he clears the trailer entrance when he jumps in by about 2 feet.  Still, he would just be a very alert trail horse.  He just has juvenile energy.  MmmmHmmmm.  Deny. Deny. Deny.


But today, I am forced to see the error of my ways.  As I brought him to the arena to work on some Parelli stuff, I just couldn’t lie to myself any more.  He’s no trail horse.  In fact, there is no part of his huge and precise body that even hints at trail horse.  This guy is all show.  Not even a little show.  All.  He cannot parade to the arena without asking all of the other woodland creatures to look at him.  He enters as if he has never seen this place before but knows he can conquer it.  He bounds on the end of my white Parelli lead as if he is just about ready to rocket to the moon.  That carrot stick is just another excuse to prove his expertise in dance.  He has never considered that there is no audience.  He has never considered that he isn’t all that.  He is.  Ain’t nobody gonna convince him otherwise.  He is EXACTLY what he was bred to be.


And now, I have to figure out what to do with my very talented and hairy protege. I feel as though I’m that parent who always wanted a son and got a daughter.  Or the stage Mom who wants her math whiz to dance.  I want a trail horse and I don’t have that.

What I find conflicting about this situation is that I have plenty of horses around here with no jobs.  They are rescues and they have their own issues which makes them unrideable and some even untouchable.  Yet, I never require them to do or be anything.  And that works for them.  They are happy to just be in the field living their lives.  This isn’t the case with Wrigley.  He wants to BE SOMETHING.  He wants to GO!  So, what do I do when I have no interest in moving the whole family to Seattle so my kid can learn to speed skate…  (That’s an Anton Ohno reference which basically is saying that I really don’t have the interest or the means to bring this boy to the top of the Morgan Show Circuit.)  Do I leave him in the field and wait until all his boyhood spunk and passion turns into middle age?

I know what you are thinking… why not sell him into a show home.  Yup.  Easier said than done.  He doesn’t have any formal training so he is out of the loop with trainers and the scuttlebutt of “up and comers”.  So, that leaves him to the market of people I don’t know.  As a responsible breeder, I cannot guarantee his lifestyle.  He’s a square in the round of horse society and will only fit comfortably in certain settings.  He shouldn’t go into an average household because he cannot conform to everyday horseness.  His passion could very easily be misunderstood as defiance and beaten out of him.  He may as well stay here where at least I can give him manners without crushing his soul.


So, I stand before you totally devastated at what I have done.  I’ve brought another horse into the world that cannot fulfill his purpose and doesn’t fit.  I look at him and I’m overcome with disappointment.  I’m disappointed in myself and I’m disappointed in him —  which is so unfair of me.  He is just being himself.  Exactly what I bred him to be.

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