Pedigree vs No Pedigree


I had a friend recently come up to me asking me whether or not she should buy a horse with a pedigree or one that she really liked but had no papers at all. I thought I’d share my points of view on pedigrees for everyone in case some of you are also debating this.

In the world of horses, the pedigree of a horse seems to be mandatory when buying and selling these days. There is a good reasoning for this. If it’s a mare, or stallion, the progeny can be marketed and that famous dam or sire’s line can be flaunted even with foals many generations down the line (Think Three bars, Secretariat, and Ferro) It makes marketing the foal so much easier. You can also do studies with bloodlines to see which bloodlines are doing the best, or which bloodlines work well in specific areas (cutting vs trail, Dressage vs jumpers and so on) But with these blood lines usually comes a hefty price! The “better” (more famous) the horses in the pedigree, the higher the price tag!

What about the amateur rider looking for a horse?  Many of us, or the parents providing for their kids, don’t have a ton of money to throw around. That $30k dollar warmblood is just a dream. Don’t discount that horse with no pedigree or one with a pedigree thats not very remarkable! It may not be as fancy to talk about but sometimes these are the horses that end up being some of the best horses we can ask for, especially as we learn and grow. As an added bonus they are usually much nicer to the pocket book! Just because they don’t have an amazing pedigree doesn’t mean they are any less of a horse.

One of my favorite sayings I learned from my dad:

“It doesn’t matter what’s on the papers.

It’s what’s between the ears that counts.

I don’t ride the papers!” ~J.D. Bakke

The two best horses I have ever ridden were a grade horse named Miles and my wonderful (though unremarkably pedigreed) mare Shay.

Miles was my dads horse and he always said “When I got him he needed lots of miles, now he’s got lots of miles, so Miles is just a great name for him” This horse hauled me and my brother around and never put a hoof wrong.  He was a grade quarter horse. No papers to speak of but he was the kindest and calmest horse on the property. He would jump any jump, go down the trail, let us dress him up and even throw him in a parade without batting an eye. He was absolutely wonderful! And he tolerated all my blunders as I grew. Even the terror of my first cross country ride.I broke down n tears at one point… oh yes… and he just waited patiently until I had gathered my courage and continued on!

Shay was (and always will be) my best friend growing up. While she had papers there was nothing special about them. She hauled my butt around cross country and stadium courses, and suffered through dressage and gleefully went down the trail or up a mountain. I dressed her up for halloween and even shaved funny patterns in her coat. She taught me to be humble but confident. I never competed over novice with her but that was due to my own fears not her willingness to try (and eventually arthritis once I was ready)! She was my shoulder to cry own, and my comfort when I moved away from home (she went with me!) and finally she gave me Cash!

One of my acquaintances in California successfully competed a standardbred cross that had no papers at all. He was started late, and was picked up for the back board that was owed on him. He was a brave horse that would try his heart out for her! He just happened to be the back yard “oops” that caught her eye and turned into a dream! (He’s still going well last I heard)

These stories aren’t here to make you go out and get a grade horse. If you can find a well pedigreed horse that fits your budget and passes the vet check and your personalities match then by all means write that check! But don’t let the appeal of a well pedigreed horse make you over look the grade horse right in front of you, that is actually a better match for you.

Who wants to ride a horse with an amazing pedigree but every time you get on you wanna shoot it?

Registration papers are the absolute LAST thing I look at. Anyways this is my two cents on just one tiny aspect of buying a horse! More posts are in the works on what I look at when buying, or helping a friend buy, a horse.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns just shoot me a message or post below!



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