Monday, August 30, 2010

Breed Study by the PHAOA: Percheron Action Described

Percheron Type Study
By: Ellis McFarland, collaborating with 44 leading judges and breeders in the USA and Canada. 1938. This work is a subsequent publication to clarify an earlier publication on the Ideal Percheron Horse "How to Select Percherons," 1936.

At the same time, Ross Butler was commissioned to illustrate the perfect Percheron and to sculpt a model of it. Prints and these models can sometimes still be found. Examples of these wonderful pieces of art are copied above from the Ross Butler gallery site for educational purposes.

The text below comes from the study written in 1939

True Action Desired:

"In an effort to focus attention on the importance of correct type for Percherons, it is not the intention to disregard the subject of action. Good action is recognized generally as one of the outstanding qualities of the Percheron breed.

...The breed is noted for its light-stepping horses. Farmers no longer want the extra big, clumsy-footed, thick headed draft horse. They prefer the up-headed, smart-eared type with a comparativey long neck and a trim throatlatch that can step lively if necessary.

...True action for all practical purposes is essential in a good work horse. True action combined with high action is ideal for a show horse..

Those at the Chicago International Livestock Exposition who saw Damascus and Encanter at the time they were made grand champions in 1935 and 1937, respectively, saw draft horse action that no other draft breed has equalled in many years, perhaps never. These horses picked their feet up with a mechanical like precision that gave real distinction. They were ton horses, but they could walk, trot and turn around with great ease. Breeders and judges should keep these two in mind as the ideal of superb action...

Quickness of step, coupled with a good disposition, is characteristic of the breed. Percherons are noted for their good dispositions and a quick step indicates as unusual degree of intelligence. Because of these qualities and the added advantage of the Percheron high-headedness, men on the lead-strap on show day claim less fatigue than those with other draft breeds. Percherons have the enviable reputation as the the smartest-headed of all the draft breeds."

Another section of the study concentrates of height. This is what the study concludes about height:

The popularity of the Percheron continues because it come in all sizes for the various needs of prospective users. The big, heavy horse is not as popular in America as in the past due principally to the slight demand in cities for extra heavy geldings for big truck hauling. However, the big ones are still preferred in England. Breeders in that country want extra heavy-boned, large framed animals.

In the French shows two classes are provided, namely, one the big and one for the medium sized Percheron."

To end:

There is always something new to learn in exploring the Percheron breed in times past. The 1920s to the 1940s favored heavy animals, with a lot of bone. But it turns out, that even in the period when a very bulky horse was desired, action was still paramount. What comes around, goes around.

Lady Roxy 210562 and Lady's Carpo (231485). First prize mare and foal, 1938 National Percheron Show.

Registered Percherons working at Monocacy Farms, Frederick, MD. Photo from 1937.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Slight Course Adjustment

After much thought, Robert and I have made the big leap and purchased a black, 100% pure Veiga Lusitano colt. With luck, in a few years, he will be used for breeding. His name is JP Zarathustra and we think he is very special. As with many Veiga colts, he is line bred and so will be very prepotent. Zara is very typey, with a dry convex head, a great top line, clean legs and a baroque head set.

We chose the ancient Iberian horse breed for a number of reasons. The number one reason is their tractability and their native intelligence. They simply excel at learning. We also appreciate their strength, athleticism, baroque form and the Veiga line's natural ability to collect. Finally, we appreciate the history of the world's most ancient breed. The Lusitano is truly an ancient treasure.

We wanted a horse that could be able to be used to create a crossbred (in our case the Spanish Norman) that will excel in driven sports. That includes dressage, pleasure driving and CDEs. The linebred Lusitano is an excellent horse to crossbreed because he passes his strong traits to the next generation. We chose an elegant, refined Veiga horse; that should pass down that wonderful headset, temperament and croup. With our black Percherons, we wanted a black stallion. This way, we can rapidly breed a pair of matched horses for the show ring. So, we went and and searched for the best darn horse that we could find. Unfortunately, that meant getting a colt. The price of a stallion of the quality we desire was just out of our price range.

But beyond the breeding, we wanted a horse that can be used for dressage and driven dressage. A horse that Robert can train and that can take him to the next level in his quest for his own personal growth in horsemanship.

I think we found all that we were looking for and more in our little colt. We purchased him from JP Giacomini, who had not intended to sell him. JP had been planning this breeding for many years, and sees the potential of this cross to be his replacement one day for Hipogrifo, our colt's sire. He has retained rights to a certain number of breedings and we are very happy to have a partner in our new journey with JP.

Hipogrifo is an amazing horse. He exudes the Veiga bloodlines through his every pore; from his convex head, elegance and down to his work ethic. Hipo is now a venerable old stallion, still eager to please and just amazing to watch.

Finally, I wish to quote the Interagro site and their wonderful write-up of the Veiga blood:

the symbol Veiga Veiga

"The Veiga bloodline produced the most genuine war horse of Ancient Lusitania. 'Veigas' are extremely functional and smaller than the other lineages - excellent for bullfighting.

They have the typical convex head known as the "Veiga head", flat thin legs with prominent hocks, fantastic impulsion and proud flexible necks.

Manuel Veiga describes his horses as follows: "Nervous, full of gallantry, so obedient they seem to outguess the rider's intentions; high thin head, long free-flowing manes, elevated movements and a striking agility challenging all threats and dangers with indomitable courage"

The Veiga is a true race within the Lusitano breed and the stallions when used on mares of any other lineage have the power to transmit to the offspring the most typical characteristics of the Lusitanian race.

The selection criterion was based entirely on the functional qualities, as explained by Alfredo Baptista Coelho:

"not the height, nor the academic morphology, not the color, nor the form of the head. Everything was offered by the race itself: wonderful fine slightly convex heads today known as "Veiga head", ancient rare colors, fine flat legs with strong hocks, flexible backs, uncommon impulsion, beautiful malleable necks... in short, the race offered him [Mr Veiga] a horse that makes our horse loving people vibrate.""

JP Zarathurstra