FASH­ION VER­SUS “US­ING ABIL­ITY”

EQUUS - - Conformati­on Insights -

By the re­mark­able gen­eros­ity of her owner and breeder who sent in the photo (A), we are per­mit­ted to present a 6-year-old Ara­bian mare with con­for­ma­tion that is not only dan­ger­ous to the on­go­ing vi­a­bil­ity of the Ara­bian breed, but un­for­tu­nately in­creas­ingly popular. Highly in­bred and se­lected for what is now com­monly called “type”—long neck, pretty head, high tail “set”—her owner re­ports that she has used the mare to pro­duce show horses even though she is aware that the an­i­mal’s use­ful­ness is limited un­der sad­dle due to the long, weak back and lack of bone sub­stance be­low the knees. An almost ex­clu­sive em­pha­sis on long necks topped by “dished” and “re­fined” heads has like­wise, es­pe­cially in the last three decades, re­sulted in cham­pi­onships be­ing con­ferred upon horses with no­tice­ably crooked fore­limbs or long, weak backs—pretty “pas­ture or­na­ments” un­suited to any real work. By con­trast, the old pho­tos show Ara­bian horses be­ing used on Western range un­der cli­matic and work con­di­tions closely re­sem­bling those found in the breed’s Asian home­land. Here are two ex­am­ples: Harara (B), with an un­known cow­hand up (born 1912; en­tirely Daven­port-bred, Harara is by *Deyr out of *Haf­fiah), and Rifage (C), with W. L. Van Vleet up (born 1936; Rifage is by *Mirage out of *Ri­fala, she a de­scen­dant of Skowronek, *Berk and Me­saoud).

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