Breed Prejudice

There was a sentence in a sidebar of Performance Editor John Strassburger?s May 2011 article, ?How Do You Know What Job Your Horse Will Do’?? that upset a number of Morgan lovers. The article itself, if you don’t subscribe, was about the challenge we face, as riders, in determining whether our horse is capable of, or more importantly, happy, working in our chosen discipline. For example, is your sluggish dressage horse trying to tell you he hates arenas and wishes he was a trail horse’ If you subscribe, you can download the article at If you don’t subscribe and want the article, full PDFs of every Horse Journal are available for $4.95 at It was a thought-provoking article, and the sidebar, aka the center of controversy, was about breed suitability. It urged readers to look at horses as individuals and not to typecast them by virtue of their breed or a stereotype.? The apparent problem paragraph in the sidebar said, ?But that doesn’t mean these breeds are limited to these disciplines. Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Arabs and most warmbloods can often do just about anything. (Well, a 100-mile endurance ride might be a bridge too far for many of them.) While Saddlebreds and Morgans have largely been bred into show-ring caricatures of their former type, you can still find ones that, by virtue of their willing brains, can step outside of their normal physical limitations.? You can start your look with a specific breed, but keep an open mind and don’t discard one breed based on a generality.? John was saying, correctly, that one shouldn’t discount a Morgan (or Saddlebred) just because you think the entire breed only does saddle-seat showing, as that’s far from the case. And, obviously, the “former type” John was referring to was Justin Morgan, a small strong horse?who was not a high-stepping show horse. Unfortunately, some?people were insulted by tHe’statement and?complained that we didn’t understand Morgans. When I said that one of our main contributors is a Morgan sport-horse breeder, I was told that the sport-horse Morgan?people weren’t true breeders of Morgans.?And there was more bashing, including of?Quarter Horses, a breed some people don’t find?as versatile as we do. All but one of the letter-writers settled down when we explained that the sentence was taken out of context and then sent them a copy of the entire article to read. And, ironically, one Morgan lover wrote a letter praising the exact same statement others took offense at. (It was the first comment I’d gotten on the article; boy, was I in for a surprise.) The letters reminded me of the dangers of the Internet and the speed with which it can spread?gossip and ugly rumors, which I despise. ?Folks were slamming us without knowing what they were talking about or, in several cases, without knowing anything about the article or?the publication itself. The letters also reminded me that people can be very narrow-minded. ?Fortunately, no one at Horse Journal can be called “narrow-minded.” For me, the hysteria made no sense at all. I love horses. Period. There isn?t a?breed on the planet I can’t say something good about, nor is there a breed I would ?refuse to own,? as one Morgan person told me about another breed. There may, however, be some horses that I don’t need or can’t use, but that’s different. So, if you?ve got a vaulting horse for sale, I’ll admire his talent and poise,?but don’t expect to purchase him.?The time of my life when I might actually be able to vault on and off of a horse is long gone.? But if you?ve got a quiet Zebra doing Grand Prix dressage at a price I can afford, I’ll take a look . . . you never know. He might have a passage to die for.

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