Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Brego Identity

I have had a couple of people ask me recently if Brego is pure bred Percheron. The truth is, I honestly don't know. Given certain clues, however, it's pretty safe to say that he is, and is actually probably registered somewhere.

His Past

I purchased Brego in July of 2005 from a couple in Houston, Texas. They had Brego, then named Hobo, and another Percheron together in a paddock. They told me they purchased both of them from another local barn in November 2004, but that originally, they were from Canada. They were pretty adamant that neither horse was from the PMU industry. That was the extent of the background information.

Percheron Traits

I suspect Brego is purebred, despite his seemingly random coloring, which is very unusual for the breed, because he displays many "typey" characteristics. His exaggerated action while trotting is very typical for a Percheron as is his single white star. He also has heavy draft characteristics such as big bones, big head, and big feet. So there's no question he's at least mostly draft, and the other common draft breeds have coloring characteristics that Brego lacks. Belgians are sorrel with flaxen mane and tail, Clydesdales are feathered and tend to be sabino, Suffolks are chestnut, etc.

No Tail

But the most conclusive evidence is his docked tail. For those who don't know, when a horse's tail is docked, it is cut through the bone and tissue to the desired length, usually at birth. The docking of tails is a breed characteristic of Percherons and, what's more, it is usually only performed by the bigger show barns who intend to show their Percherons as part of a big hitch. Horses who are docked for heavy work tend to get a longer dock to encourage at least some hair growth to offer protection from the flies. Horses bred for show hitches or conformation classes tend to get a very short dock. Brego's tail is very closely docked, with approximately 6 inches of tail remaining. You can see in the picture above where the bone ends and the rest of the hair continues. The practice is increasingly under scrutiny and has fallen out of favor somewhat from the working horse communities, including the Amish. However, it remains a largely cosmetic practice among the purebred Percheron breeders. Cross bred horses are almost never docked.

I do not know why he was culled and sold, but I am darn lucky he was. He does truly hate driving, so perhaps he wasn't conducive to it. I allow his tail hairs to grow as much as they can, and thankfully he has enough tail to help him in the summer months. His tail will never regrow however, and those that see how short it really is are often confused and ask me why I cut it off and how long it take to regrow. I don't have a need for a docked tail, so I would never perform the operation on my horses. It's just one of the mysterious clues I have about Brego.

Eventing Percheron?

So, there's the story. It is not my intent to mislead anyone by representing Brego as something he is not. Every indicator points to him being purebred, or purpose bred at least. And I do not show him in breed shows, obviously without papers, so he is not competing in anything that registration is important. Anyone can look at him and see he is not a warmblood or other light breed, thereby granting me some advantage. I would love to find out his true identity and find his papers, but since he is once again a gelding, his pedigree is somewhat irrelevant to his performance.

A couple of months ago, I toyed with the idea of taking him to the World Percheron Congress and having a go on a "level playing field". When I made my inquiries as to whether they would accept a grade horse in classes, I was understandably denied. It makes sense, since I guess some unscrupulous person could masquerade a thick Thoroughbred as a Percheron and clean up. But then, it's not like winning a hack class at the World Percheron Congress is going to light the world on fire with your magnificent talent. :)

I reached a dead end tracking down his past. Maybe someday I will unearth another clue and restart the quest.


Funder said...

Good call on the docked tail indicating "show" breeding! I agree, he's definitely a Percheron. I suspect they all bleach funny colors in the sun, and the pretty black show horses are either stalled all day or dyed black ;)

I think I will steal your idea and do a post on my "grade" horses' ancestry.

Daun said...

Funder! I didn't even know you had a blog, but I've been reading it and I love it. Post more about Poppy!!

You are very funny and I am happy I get more of your humor more often.