Reading A Pedigree

   Inbreeding ~ a chapter
    from the forthcoming book
    "Bloodlines N Pedigrees"


        A Lost Bloodline

   REY JAY  part 1  part 2

        The Legend of Unikia

   HARLAN ~ part 1  part 2
Dixie Beach's Last Foal

Triple Cutter Bill

Triple Cutter Bill in 2006

Triple Cutter Bill moves to Texas and his historic roots!


He has been leased from Larry by the Burgess-Herring Ranch of Stinnett, Texas. The Herring Ranch was founded by C. T. Herring.

It was Herring that turned Golden Chief over to R. L. Underwood. Golden Chief was the foundation sire for Underwood's Copperbottom breeding program. Thus the Herring Ranch is the original home of Golden Chief.

Triple will be used by C. C. Burgess, Burgess-Herring Ranch owner and Jim Scudday, Burgess-Herring Ranch manager to reintroduce the Golden Chief blood back into their breeding program.

FLASH! Larry's next book,
"Bloodlines N Pedigrees" is scheduled for printing SOON!  Watch for more information here.

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"The Working Lines" Volume I and Volume II can be purchased from Southern Publishing: 1-800-647-6672


Reading A Pedigree

by Larry Thornton

(c) Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

The pedigree is a selection tool that is like having a book, if you don't open it and read it, it is of no use to you. Or, as the old saying goes, "you can't judge a book by it's cover." Reading your horse's pedigree will tell you a lot about your horse.

Actually, the pedigree is like a history book of the horse's genetic past through his ancestors. We use the past to help us plan the future. We can use the pedigree to help us determine the type of performance a horse is best suited to, how well his ancestors may have performed at the desired tasks, what type of breeding systems were used to produce this horse and how we might want to breed the next generation. Thus the pedigree will provide systems that will enable you to make wise management decisions.

The late Humphrey Finney was a noted Thoroughbred breeder that provides us with an interesting philosophy on the use of the pedigree in an article he wrote called "Primer on the Pedigree," which appeared in The Horse and Horsemans Anthology

Finney stated, "It is the weakness of our pedigree keeping that we do not record more of the 'constitution, conformation and disposition' of our component animals." What Finney is trying to tell us is that if we don't know something about the animals in our horse's pedigree, we can't truly read the book and understand it.

This knowledge of the horses in a pedigree goes beyond the performance and race record. Thus, the more we know about the weaknesses and strengths of the horses in the pedigree, the better job we will do in raising the next generation.

Those of us in the Quarter Horse industry are familiar with the stallions King and Grey Badger II. This means that we should know that the King bred horses were noted for their disposition as well as their ability. We need to know that when we see the Grey Badger name, we have a line of horses that were known to be a little cold backed, but still considered outstanding performers on the track, at the ranch and in the arena.

This knowledge doesn't guarantee that all King bred horses have a good disposition and outstanding ability, or that all Grey Badger horses would buck you off before you rode them. It is information that will alert you to possible qualities in the individuals that we own, want to breed to or buy.

Leon Rasmussen, the Daily Racing Form's retired pedigree columnist, presented a speech at the Southeast Stud and Stable Seminar in 1973. The text of his speech appeared in the March 1974 Quarter Racing World. In his speech, Rasmussen called horse breeding an "inexact science." He goes on to explain that he bases his opinion on the fact that breeders do not agree on who is responsible for successfully producing a foal. He sees some breeders believing that stallions exert the stronger influence, some breeders believe that the mare is the greater influence, and so on down the line.

Rasmussen explained that he uses the family approach to successful breeding. Basically what this means is that when mares from one family are bred to stallions of another family or vice versa, you will get good runners or performers, if the cross tends to produce good runners or performers.

The point Rasmussen is bringing us to is that breeders have different philosophies. And that the progressive breeder needs to be familiar with these philosophies to better understand what he is reading in the pedigree.

You need to know that when you look at a Hank Wiescamp bred horse you will see linebreeding to such sires as Old Fred and Skipper W. This linebreeding is then reinforced by outcrosses to such stallions as Rukin String, Double Dancer and Three Bars on the mares in the program. But the foundation of Wiescamp's program was the mares he bought and bred for the program. He will readily tell you that his mares are the foundation of the program.

When you look at the King Ranch, you will see linebreeding to Old Sorrel. The focus of this linebreeding program is through the sons of Old Sorrel, including Solis, Little Richard, Cardenal, Macanudo and Babe Grande. Then the linebreeding shifted to an emphasis on Hired Hand, the last son of Old Sorrel in the program. The next phase was the use of mares sired by such stallions as Rey Del Rancho for the modern King Ranch Cutting Horse program. These mares were outcrossed by breeding to Mr San Peppy and his sons.

You will note that the foundation of Wiescamp's program was his mares. The emphasis at the King Ranch was through sires. This doesn't mean Wiescamp didn't try to secure the best stallions for his mares and that the Old Sorrel wasn't bred to the best mares possible on the King Ranch, but that the pattern for linebreeding came from different points of view.

Rasmussen brought out another point in his speech. He firmly believes that outstanding performance, especially in stallions, is a key to our success as breeders. He proves his point with the fact that successful runners make better sires. It goes back to the philosophy of "breeding the best to the best to get the best."

Thus outstanding individuals may be the key to the success of your foal. These outstanding individuals carry the desirable genes or gene combinations. Successful individuals in the pedigree do not guarantee success, but they tend to increase the odds of successfully producing the next generation.

Errors become a fact of life as you learn more about our Quarter Horse pedigrees. For whatever reason, it has been reported to me and others that some of the great stallions and mares have mistakes or errors in their pedigrees. For the most part, people are honest, but memories do fade and mistakes can take place. The confusion is fed because many of the early horses were known by more than one name.

Cutthroat was the dam of Oklahoma Star P-6. She was known as "May Matteson" during part of her racing days. She is often credited with three different pedigrees. The most widely used pedigree credits Bonnie Joe as her sire. Bonnie Joe was a Thoroughbred. Some pedigree sources give her sire as Gulliver. Gulliver was a Quarter Horse. This gives Cutthroat a Thoroughbred sire and a Quarter Horse sire.

The third version of her pedigree gives Peter McCue as her sire. This is an interesting connection because for many years Peter McCue was known as a Thoroughbred. He was registered as a Thoroughbred sired by Duke of Highlands. Today his accepted pedigree gives Dan Tucker, a Quarter Horse, as his sire. As you can see through Cutthroat and Peter McCue, it was a common practice to change the name and pedigree of their horses.

Of course there are horses with the same name. There were two prominent "Kings" in the Quarter Horse breed. King P-234 has become the registered horse. His registration number has become a part of his name to single him out as a special sire. King P-234 was sired by Zantanon by Little Joe and his dam was Jabalina by Strait Horse by Yellow Jacket.

But King P-234's grandsire, Little Joe, was a full brother to another King. This King was taken from Texas to Arizona and renamed Possum. When you see this stallion in a pedigree you will see him as King (Possum) or Possum (King). Little Joe and King (Possum) were sired by Traveler and out of Jenny by Sykes Rondo. King (Possum) was also known as King Cardwell in some circles.

We sometimes have the same problem with the famous Poco Bueno. Poco Bueno was sired by King P-234. His dam was a mare named Miss Taylor. Miss Taylor was sired by Poco Bueno. We now refer to the second [mentioned] Poco Bueno as (Old) Poco Bueno. The (Old) Poco Bueno was sired by Little Joe, the grandsire of King P-234 and the full brother to King (Possum). Some authorities show the Old Poco Bueno to be a horse called Ponco Bueno.

So as you can see, it can sometimes get very confusing when we look into the genetic history of our horses. But with today's modern computer systems, blood typing and genetic testing, we are able to eliminate some of the problems the early researchers had to deal with.

Where do we find pedigree information? The AQHA is the prime source of information as the publisher of the "Stud Book." The can provide you with a great deal of information on the pedigree, race and show records and produce records with reasonable fees. The AQHA system is augmented by such companies as Premier Pedigrees and Robin Glenn Pedigrees.

Sale catalogs are an important source of pedigree information. They are so valuable that catalogs produced for prominent breeders from the past sell as valuable collectibles. Robin Glenn Pedigrees specialize in sale catalogs. They have put together such important sale catalogs as the [AQHA] World Show Sale Catalog.

Another very good source of information for pedigree research comes from books written by historical writers. Bob Denhardt and Nelson Nye are two good examples. Denhardt was the first Secretary in the AQHA and he gathered a great deal of material as he toured the country registering horses. Nelson Nye is the author of a number of books, including The Complete Book of the Quarter Horse.

It must be noted that all the historical writers may not agree on the lineage of a horse. It all comes down to who they got their information from in writing the pedigree. These differences of opinion makes pedigree research very interesting and sometimes flustrating.

Premier Pedigrees has a number of books that they have put together that index hard-to-find foundation Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. These books include Roots: Foundation Quarter Horse Bloodlines; The Real American Quarter Horse ; Reference to Thoroughbred Roots of the Quarter Horse; and The Most Influential Quarter Horse Sires (out of print). Their list of books includes The Stallion Finder, a modern concise index of stallions currently standing at stud. Of course, the internet gives us easy access to The Stallion Finder Online.

Cow Horse Books has put together a series of books on the foundation bloodlines. The Cow Horse list of books includes The Foundation Quarter Horse Directory, Volumes I, II and III.

The need for information on the may famous stallions and mares lead me to start "The Working Lines" column that appears in such magazines as Southern Horseman and The Southwestern Horseman's Performance Horse. We not only delve into the personal history of famous horses, but we try to look at the nicking and breeding patterns that are found with the breeding history of these famous horses. We have our own reference book with The Working Lines. This is a compilation of stories on a number of prominent stallions, mares and breeders that have made significant contributions to the Quarter Horse. It is available through Southern Publishing, Cow Horse Books and the Quarter Horse Outfitters gift store at the AQHA Heritage Center and Museum.

Sometimes we can't depend on books or written pedigrees to learn about our horses. This calls for the owner, breeder or buyer to talk with people that have been associated with specific bloodlines. Learn the weaknesses and strengths of those lines.

As you can see, the pedigree is more than just a family tree, it is a book of information that you can use as a management tool. A management tool that you must open and read to improve the next generations of horses. ~End

Author Biography

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28322 Highway 64 West, London AR 72847    
Phone: 479-885-3144

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