Breeding Better Feet

When it comes to foot conformation, there are more questions than answers

Very little research has been done in relationship to the hereditary nature of foot problems in the horse.

Obviously stallion and mare owners would be reluctant to promote negative information about their horses’ feet. Plus, organizing a herd of horses to prove a particular genetic point would be very expensive.

Yet many European countries concentrated breeding programs are frequently controlled by the state and stallions can be potentially selected based on mandatory standards. By comparison, American stallion owners have the right to market and breed stallions as they see fit according to their particular discipline’s market waxes and wanes.

Since the 1950s, two important factors have influenced the breeding of horses in the United States:

  • The rapid increase of pleasure and performance horse interest, which is dominated by many new horse enthusiasts. Many of these owners have not had a detailed background in horse husbandry and health issues, as did owners during the previous half-century.
  • Much of the equine industry has changed its focus from enjoying equine sports to operating a business. In some areas, such as high-end racing and performance horses, it is a significant business.

These two influences have led to a shift from a relatively small number of popular sports such as rodeo, racing, foxhunting, and all breed horse shows to many breed and discipline exhibitions and competitions at local, regional and national levels. Each situation can command a significant financial commitment vs. sporting interest with the owner/rider.

These factors have not only influenced horse owners but…

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