What about Pedigrees, Bloodlines, and All of That?
What is a pedigree?
A horse's pedigree is a portion of its family tree. In its simplest form, it identifies a horse's sire and dam, grandsires and granddams, great-grandsires and great-granddams, and so forth, extending back as many generations as the ancestors can be traced.
Why is a pedigree significant?
As a renowned breeder of Arabian horses said, "Whatever is in the pedigree will come out. Nothing else can." (This quote appears in an article on the importance of pedigrees from the perspective of the Arabian horse, written by Arlene Magid.)
What does this mean?
Every creature is influenced in virtually every respect by its genetic makeup. Every physical trait, from coat color to hoof quality, is governed by a horse's genes. To varying degrees, a horse's genetics also impact its movement, aptitude for a given discipline, disposition, and mental attributes.
For a horse to have a specific trait, such as a blue eye, it has to have the genetic programming for that characteristic in its background, either expressed or carried by one or more horses in its pedigree. However, a horse with a blue eye may not necessarily sire or give birth to a foal with a blue eye, or any other specific trait, due to the fact that some traits are recessive and some are dominant.
From basic biology, we know that genes are carried on chromosomes. In any particular mating, there are literally billions of ways in which the chromosomes (and thus, the genes) of the sire and dam may combine to produce the wonderful creation that is a foal.
For this reason, predicting with certainty the characteristics of a foal is no easy task. In fact, it is impossible!
So is breeding just a "crap-shoot"? Is an excellent foal the result of "dumb luck"?
Not at all. Through careful research of pedigrees, the conscientious breeder can have greater certainty in the outcome of a given mating, and the well-informed owner will have information about the likely usefulness of a particular horse for a given discipline.
Some horses have the ability to consistently reproduce themselves in breeding, with their offspring bearing close resemblance to them. These horses are said to "stamp" their foals. They are considered "prepotent" for some, or many, characteristics. These characteristics may be positive, as in the case of a horse which consistently produces straight and strong legs. However, the characteristics may be unfavorable, as when a horse consistently passes on to its get a weak back.
Why are some horses prepotent and some not? This may be a fluke of nature or the product of human intervention.
Some bloodlines are known for producing certain traits, such as the innate jumping ability seen in the Trakehner bloodlines of Donauwind, Hartung, and to a degree, Flaneur. Some bloodlines are known for traits expressed only in the female line. One example of this is the consistent ability of the daughters of Impuls and Ibikus to produce foals of exceptional quality. Of course, whenever there is a generalization made about the characteristics of a bloodline, there will be some horses of that line which do not breed true. Conversely, there can always be a standout from bloodlines which do not have any recognized attributes.
Long ago, breeders discovered that breeding a stallion and mare which are related to each other can often cause the resultant horse to be "prepotent." While this sort of intensive mating to concentrate a bloodline can produce an outstanding animal, it can also produce one which is inferior. The breeder undertaking such a program must diligently assess the outcome of those matings, and often the progeny of the resulting foal, and ruthlessly cull from the program individuals which do not measure up to the desired standard.
Through research of the conformation and performance capabilities of an individual horse and horses appearing in its pedigree, the breeder can make informed decisions about which stallions and mares may combine to produce an outstanding foal. Similarly, a person seeking a horse for a given performance discipline or for breeding can use pedigree research to determine which animal is most likely to meet their expectations.
The Bloodlines of Tannenwald Trakehner
Below is a sort of "family tree" of the horses bred by or currently owned by Tannenwald Trakehner, showing the sire lines and the mare lines beginning with our foundation mares.
View Our Horses' Pedigrees
Every horse that we own or have bred has a detailed four generation pedigree online. Click on the links below to view the pedigree or other information for each horse:
•2006 GUARANTEED GOLD xx-TANZELFE FOAL PEDIGREE
•2006 GUY LAROCHE-TARIANA FOAL PEDIGREE
•2006 SONSET'S SIEGER-TARIKA FOAL PEDIGREE
•2006 WINDFALL-TARA FOAL PEDIGREE
•2006 GUARANTEED GOLD xx-ITANIKA FOAL PEDIGREE