Chapter 3

What Breed?

Oooh he must be Welsh, they’re such little characters.”

That sort of statement sends me nuts, and does pretty much the same for Simon who refuses to answer any questions about breed on the grounds the whole subject of breed is racist. He quotes Todorov on Racialism endlessly, and he is right.

It isn’t just racist, the whole breed nonsense is offensive on so many levels, to so many ponies, that even humans ought to be able to see it is wrong. Steve Jones in “Language of the Genes” states that the invention of the bicycle has had the biggest effect of any invention, on human health. Breed societies have done the same for ponies, in pretty much the same time scale, but has totally reversed the process. Breeds are all about making ponies mate with ponies they wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, mate with. The effects on pony and horse health are deeply damaging, and pretty disgusting.

Thoroughbreds have it the worst, their mother can be their half sister and probably a cousin as well. The old adage is “the sire of the sire should be the grandsire of the dam.” Sounds all olde worlde and cute doesn’t it. Prince Charles should mate with Zara Philips. Sounds disgusting, mating with his sister’s kid, what a pervert. But the sire of the sire (Prince Charles) is Prince Philip, who is grandsire of Zara Philips, so that’s OK then.

Of course it bloody isn’t. Anybody can see it is sick, disgusting, perverted and stupid, unless you belong to a breed society that is, then it becomes a skill, an art. And ponies and horses are forced to mate with close relatives with whom, in the wild, they would deliberately avoid mating. Check out the work done on Przewalskis horses, which found horses are more unrelated than a random mating pattern would suggest. Mice abort babies born to closely related males if an unrelated male appears on the scene. Even humans have moral codes which prohibit mating with close relatives, and in England, if the sire of the sire, is the grandsire of the dam, it is illegal. It is illegal under Sharia law, it is illegal under the Hindu Marriage act, and the breed societies force us to do it, well not me because some bastard cut my balls off, see earlier pages, but the principle is there. We are forced to do something we find disgusting and which all the friends and neighbours of the breed society people would find disgusting.

It isn’t just disgusting on a weirdo pervert basis, it has disgusting results. Fell Foal Syndrome, first identified in 1998, now condemns around 10% of Fell Pony Foals to an early death mostly before they reach 3 months of age. The Fell Pony Society has campaigned, apparently successfully to rename the disease, and in 2009 they proudly announced

The other pleasing aspect is that it is proposed to rename the condition: Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome (FIS) thereby dropping the association with any particular breed.”

1% of Dales foals get it, from crossbreeding with the closely related Fell, and no other breed seems particularly prone, so the Breed Society get it renamed to protect Fell sales. That is impressive.

The society’s dedication to eliminating the disease, rather than just renaming it can be seen in this paragraph,

Similarly, it is important to reassure Breeders that, whilst it is possible that your mare or stallion may carry the defective gene, there is a strong possibility that you may breed a healthy foal. On the other hand, you may be one of the unlucky ones and breed a syndrome foal, but by using a different stallion/mare combination, or even the same one, you may breed a healthy foal at a future attempt.”

So if you produce a foal that dies of the syndrome, try again with the same mare and stallion, you may produce a healthy foal. The odds are 1 in 4. 1 in 2 gives you the chances of producing a carrier of the condition and 1 in 4 gives the chances of another foal dying at 3 months of diarrhoea, pneumonia and other assorted problems, all progressive, all incurable. Why do you think wild horses deliberately avoid breeding with close relatives? Why do humans make laws to ensure the same, and why do the bloody breed societies force us to commit incest?

Stuff the racist element, we don’t want our foals dying in front of us. OK the racist element is pretty disgusting. The 2011 Fell Pony rules say that any white marking on any foal MUST be reported. You don’t have to report or mention the Fell Foal syndrome deaths, in fact, I think they would rather you kept them quiet, while making damn sure that no foal with a touch of the whitewash is allowed to sully the bloodlines.

Next time you want a nice opening comment when you meet a pony, skip the “were your parents forced to commit incest? Are your children (assuming they haven’t cut your balls off) going to die a revolting and totally avoidable death?” and consider asking “what does he, or she, or it (see previous comments about balls) like?” A nice scratch never goes amiss and you don’t have to ask any embarrassing questions. Just say, “would he like a scratch” and look at my expression.

You see nice is really easy, so skip the breed nonsense.

©Simon Mulholland 2012

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