In order to look at the modern pedigree process, first we must be educated as to how we started the formal pedigree documentation in our Miniature Horses.
The first “formal” Registry was The American Miniature Horse Registry. In March 1971, Executive Secretary Burt Zuege and President T.R. Huston of the American Shet-land Pony Club met with several breeders of miniature equine at the A.S.P.C. office in Lafayette, Indiana, to discuss starting a registry for these small horses. The same group met again in August 1971 at the same location to formulate rules and regulations. Any animal measuring 34: or less from the ground to the base of the last hair on the mane would be accepted. In January 1972, the first horse was registered. The Registry remained open for one year and closed its books on December 31, 1973 with approximately 1,200 registered animals. With the closing, the only way that one could own a Miniature Horse was through the foals of registered horses or the actual registered horses themselves.
Not long after this, in 1974, approximately forty horses were flown into Roebuck, South Carolina from Belgium. Despite the fact that these horses more than met the requirements for registration, with the books closed no amount of bargaining would allow these new little imports to gain entry into registered status. This was only one of the occurrences that initiated the creation of several more registries, the next one being the International Miniature Horse Registry.
The I.M.H.R. was initiated in about 1977. This registry was California-based and a wonderful concept, but still not the final answer. There was rumor of internal rumblings and one might see the problems that could arise just from the geographical location alone.
It was not easily accessible to the rest of the country.
Next to enter the scene in July 1978 was the American Miniature Horse Association. The A.M.H.A. came into being through the guidance of Leon Blair, B.V. Thompson, Michelle Jones, and Charles Palmer.
For whatever reasons, yet another registry broke onto the scene and was known as Equuleus Miniature Horse Association. It was based in Ocala, Florida and the president was Don Matthews. Started in November of 1982, Equuleus was, to the best of my knowledge, rather short lived.
So, in less than a ten-year span, we have four registries for Miniature Horses. Horses changed hands, changed prefixes, pedigrees and crossed registries. One could only wonder which registry to use, which would survive, and which would serve the best interests of the breeder and the general public.
We would later see A.M.H.A. become a strong force, as it absorbed the I.M.H.R. and Equuleus into the books. This was a model of organization, promotion, and professional
Image based out of Texas. The American Miniature Horse Registry would not be bought out and so remained a competitor.
As I have tracked horses from registry to registry, I have come to believe that we have fewer registered horses than one would expect. This is my opinion only, but spending hours studying pedigrees as I do; it appears that with four registries in place, horses were double and triple registered. Consider that the horses may have been registered with varying degrees of information and, at times, with different name changes. This is totally possible in an open registry. What you put in is what gets registered. As one breeder told me, “When you obtain a really nice little horse, why would you want to advertise anything but your own stock”? And, the business of the day for many was to place a horse in a registry with ones own prefix: that was just the way it was done, with no harm intended. Who would have guessed that A.M.H.A. would join together at least three registries to produce a studbook that would allow the researcher to do real “research”? Now, with some idea of what one has to go through to get some semblance of order out of the pedigrees on our little horses, let me mention just a few of the older breeders of the day.
Just like the owners of Miniature Horses today, the breeders in the earlier years had that disease with the symptoms of not being able to own just one! This was fun, this was a hobby, and the fact of the matter was the small equine was worth more. They made money. A great deal of trading, swapping, and searching far and wide went on for what the old breeders called the “midget pony”. Europe has always been known for the royal breeding of small horses, but we really have to pay much tribute to our American Miniature Horse. The crofters in Europe realized that we Americans would pay a good penny for the little horses and so they sent us their best. Time after time during my reading, I came across the statement that the American breeders were ingenious at adding refinement, elegance, and action into the blood of the small horse. We must also give credit to the Hope Sisters in England, whose bloodlines carried on into some of the Verhaeghe imports. We must give credit to the wonderful man, Mr. Moorman Fields, who imported three truckloads of Miniature Horses from Holland and had a passion for the small horse. Much credit must be given to Smith McCoy, who disbursed the largest herd of the day in the late sixties, with many buyers in attendance. Many of these horses
Scattered all over the country to become some of our foundation stock. Another important mention is Alton V. Freeman, the man who imported, sold, and purchased little horses. It was not uncommon to find his sales lists all over the country, with many of his dealings connected with zoos.
We are right now on the brink of losing touch with our pedigrees, as many of the remembered backgrounds of our horses are in the mental data banks of our old breeders. It has been our loss not to have carefully documented the beginnings and history of these little horses, since the backgrounds were somewhat known at point of transfer. Again, the custom of the day was for the new owner to attach their prefix, causing many of the horses to become “unknown/unknown.”
I owe my own enthusiasm for research to the discovery and documentation of a background horse represented in my herd. It took me over a year and a very large telephone bill, but with perseverance, it was attained. My excitement grew with every story learned over the phone and through meetings and letters with such wonderful breeders as the Stouts, Verhaeghe, Kegley, Evans, and J.C. Williams, Jr. My meeting with Mr. Robert Kegley was particularly interesting. He related to me that he had, at one time, sold his little horses through the Sears catalog! Danny Dalton, son of the late William Dalton, has enlightened me to old backgrounds with the Dalton-bred horses and where many of them ended up.
We have to remember breeders like Delmer Moody, who had a passion for breeding the little horses, and was involved in the first inception of the registered horse. The following is a small, partial list of some of the old breeders from the 40’s through the 70’s, many of whom I have studied. The list is not complete; however, it is not my intention to have left anyone out.
James K. Murphy
Joel R. Bridges
Allen R. Goforth
Ray W. Lee
J.C. Williams, Jr.
Robert I. Kinsel, Jr.
Billy M. Howell
Audrey M. Barratt
Dixie S. Blasingame
Lloyd T. Wilson
Kermit G. Hancock
Norman E. Fuller
Damon M. Parr
Although far from complete, this list represents a group of breeders or suppliers, each known for a certain quality that has been handed down to us. Be it color, conformation, size or type-without these breeders we would not be where we are today-on the threshold of breeding some of the finest quality Miniature Horses in the world.
To add another aspect to pedigrees and breeding, one must consider the art of breeding for a quality horse itself. Some of the old breeders have chuckled when I say that a pedigree matters. But, for the most part, we are still thinking in the same terms. They wanted the very best quality that their money could buy and, today, when I look at a horse, I see the colors and qualities that they put together. A foal is the product of a dam and a sire that carry the genes of ancestors from both those parents. When a breeder can’t understand how they got a white horse from two blacks, they need to understand that history has repeated itself. True pedigrees are important to serious breeding programs, since your proposed dam and sire carry a history book of genes that will pull forth some surprising foals-right out of their ancestry. When you look at an exquisite animal and look into the background, you see that this has been reproduced over and over again in color, height, conformation, temperament and soundness. You have money in the bank. This is a guarantee in your pocket that your chances for producing what you see is what you will get. “The best to the best” is how our breed will survive and bring about credibility. Start with a goal for what you want to breed and then keep in mind that half your herd is your stallion. One mare will produce one foal per year, but your stallion will produce a foal by every mare. You must purchase the very best stallion in selection that you can afford for a breeding program.
You must also keep in mind your market and those who want a loving, kind, reliable horse. This is the gelding market. This is the Future. Not every buyer wishes to breed, nor do they want to pay the price. (No pun intended.)
If you have an animal with an unknown background, you may be lucky. You may be able to make some phone calls to track your horse’s history. You can purchase Get and Produce Lists or extended pedigrees as they are registered with A.M.H.A. or A.M.H.R.-and I would certainly recommend that you never give up hope. When I see horses, I see backgrounds based on type, color, markings, and height, and even breeders and prefixes conjure up pictures in my mind.
On a final note, a friend of mine, Judy Schweitzer in Wisconsin, always reminds me, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If your stallion is producing nice foals-and he has no background that you can track-just remember what J.C. Williams always says, “A good horse is still a good horse.” If that is what you are producing, don’t try to change it.
Always strive for the Best to the Best.
For information on Pedigree Searches for your stock, write to:
Pedigrees by Carolyn
1822 Monterey Rd.
Abbeville, S.C. 29620
This article is subject to error and or omission and was published in the Eastern Miniature Magazine July 1991. All rights are reserved and may not be reproduced without permission.