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The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine

Reading Reflections A Series By Dawn Jones-Low

Sport Horse Breeding System Books have always been important to me. As a child, I spent countless hours reading at home and at the public library. Growing up in the suburbs in a non-horsey family, books were also my main entryway to the world of horses and provided fuel for my dreams. Several decades into adulthood, books are still a treasure to me as they continue to inspire and inform all areas of my life –including riding and horsemanship. Often, looking a bit “outside the box” can suggest solutions

edness of the roots of all these breeds and the ways in which

to what initially seem to be formidable challenges. For those of

the lineages diverged in response to regional circumstances and

us striving to breed Arabians for sport horse ability, the project

changing market needs is fascinating. The author makes a com-

can seem like entering uncharted territory since both perfor-

pelling argument that sport ability is present in the gene pools

mance records and breeding data relating directly to sport disci-

of these US based breeds and is available to be tapped by sport

plines are fragmented and incomplete in comparison to what is

horse breeders. The concept of tapping into the gene pool by sys-

available to Warmblood breeders. Kathleen Hiney Kirsan’s book,

tematic selection over generations to strengthen the sport horse

North American Sport Horse Breeder reveals a few tools that can

capability that already exists in a population is applicable to Ara-

be used as part of building a strong breeding program.

bian sport horse breeders.

The book covers two intersecting topics in three sections

The second core topic of the book discusses strategies for

and is an expansion of content originally published as articles.

breeding sport horses with a particular focus on applying the

The first section of the book is focused on examining the largely

pedigree building concepts developed by the Thoroughbred

overlooked continuous history of breeding for sporting horses

master breeder, Federico Tesio, to sport horse breeding. Tesio’s

(racing under sad-

method of breeding for “pedigree power” is a tool to developing

dle, harness racing,

prepotency in breeding programs. Tesio’s system is both com-



plex and nuanced, but the basic principles spring from patterns

that started in the

of linebreeding that he noticed in many of the top performers



and best producers. Linebreeding has long been understood to

times and how that

“fix” traits and establish pre-potency via increased homozygosity

breeding tradition is

in the gene pairs. Quite often when people think of linebreeding

directly tied to mod-

it is in regard to a single ancestor or perhaps a pair of ancestors.



ern breeds like the

What Tesio tapped into with his system was that the best

Morgan, the Saddle-

linebreeding practices balanced individual ancestral ele-

bred, the American

ments via inclusion of male and female direct offspring of that



line, included complementary lineages that were also pre-



sent in sex-balanced representations, and were built in lay-

the Quarter Horse.

ers throughout the pedigree. He also identified the 4th -6th


generations of a pedigree as the “engine room” because pat-


June/July 2014  

The June/July 2014 issue of The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine.

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