"Bad Size" Large Pony Mares - Do You Breed Up or Down?
I promise I ran a search before posting this thread, but I couldn't find exactly the answer I was looking for.
I have a very nice 2007 filly who is starting to look like she wants to go to the hunter ring. At 31 months, she is 13.3 1/2 at the withers and just under 14.1 at the hip. The vet says her growth plates, at least in the knees, are nearly closed. So, it looks like she will probably mature around 14 hands or a little over that, but she probably won't make a full 14.1. She'll be pleny big enough for me - at 5'1" - to ride and show locally. I don't have the aspirations or money to do the big shows, so we should be fine in the 2'6" modified type divisions. (This is all assuming that she will jump, which remains to be seen!)
I am sure that, IF this filly continues to come along the way she has so far and IF my finances allow it, I will want to breed her at some point. This filly has the most incredible mind and temperament I have ever been around, and I would want another just like her to bring along. The question is, do you breed a mare like this shooting for a medium or large pony? She is a purebred Arabian, but she is very round and "Welsh-like" in type. Her sire is 14.3, and her dam was around 14.2. Her full brother is 14.3. Phenotypically, I think this filly would cross really well with Wederlie Mardi Gras, but I'm not sure what I might end up with size-wise with that cross - top of the line medium or even smaller large? Although any breeding I did would be for "keeps" (I get attached so easily to the babies!), it is my opinion that future marketability should always be part of any breeding decision.
I am not a pony hunter breeder, so I thought I would come here for advice from more experienced pony people. When I bought this filly, I thought that she might be a fun prospect to bring up for the breed show ring, maybe in Western or hunter pleasure. Now she is making me rethink my plans - maybe I won't have to leave the hunter ring after all!
How big were her grand parents? I would say that with horse genetics behind her, rather than pony, it would be easier to breed taller. Less chance of not getting the height range that you're aiming for.
Thanks for the input. I'm not completely sure how tall her grandparents were, but as some of them were very well-known, it probably wouldn't be difficult to get that information on at least a couple of them.
All of this is just a lot of "what if" right now, but we were discussing it at the barn a couple of days ago, and the wheels started turning in my brain.
Arabians tend to be late to mature, and her sireline in particular is known for being extremely slow to mature. So there is the possibility that we may get a little more height from her than the vet predicted, but I don't see any way she will get to or over 14.2. Mainly, she has a lot of growing "out" to do. My partbred gelding grew from 14.3 to almost 15.1 between 5 and 7 - he also went from a size 42 girth to a 48 and from a size 68 blanket to a 76!
I would suggest finding a stallion no more than 14HH, with a genetic history of 'pony', unless you are able to market well to the Arabian show circuit.
The problem is that once you hit 14.2HH, you have a horse and a small horse cannot do the lines well enough, generally speaking, that were designed for a 16HH+ horse.
I had a great 14.3HH horse that I loved, but other than the schooling shows, there was no market for her. She ended up in a great trail home, but that tends to be a lot harder to find - and she sold for about $1500, which was fine for me. She was a gift, so no breeding fees to think about to 'break even'.
So, unless your market now, and in the future, can afford a small horse, try for a pony. An inch or two smaller is not going to hurt your ability to ride the pony.
That is kind of what I was thinking. I do have some connections to the Arabian breed circuit, so that outlet would be available to me, no matter what size horse/pony I ended up with. I'd rather stick with the ponies, though, because I think this mare is a better type for that market than the breed show ring. Like you said, size is not a major issue for me - I look fine on anything around 13 hands and up, as long as it has some substance and a decent length of neck - and I really, really like riding the ponies! I have no desire to own anything over 15.2. My partbred is just under 15.1, and we showed successfully at 2'6" and 3' on the local circuit and at some competitive B and C rated shows. I enjoyed that atmosphere and would love to have another just like him!
My foundation brood mare was 1/2 arab breeding, but not arab in type and was successful in the Pony Hunter shows in her day. Her success was putting that great head, eyes and lovely hunter type trot on her babies. Plus she was a 10 o/f's. I am very proud of her, so do not discount any arabian breeding. Check on some of the VA Bred ponies and you will see Arab breeding in tons of the pedigrees.
This is the most recent conformation picture I have of her (it's not great because her head is stuck through the fence and the shadow is kind of weird, but it's the best I have). She was 30 months old here:
She has a very round, hunter pony body type. She is incredibly quiet and kind and is the fastest learner I have ever worked with. She has a lovely trot, but she canters, well....like a stereotypical Arab, unfortunately. I'm hoping that will improve some as she learns how to better balance and use herself. It's too soon to know if she will jump and if she will have any talent for it, but I'm hoping that she will.