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                                                                    Introduction to the Bloodline Study

Over the years, very little has been done to document and analyse the pedigrees and bloodlines of the leading timed-event rodeo horses.

This includes horses competing in team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing.

Even though the talent and contribution of these horses are an incredibly important part of the success of the leading rodeo cowboys, little information about their roots is available.

One of the problems is that these horses compete under 'stable names' and as a result of this, researching their pedigree information is very difficult.

 Many rodeo competitors have identified bloodlines they feel to be successful. The study will try to confirm their opinions.

At Equine Bloodlines we have conducted this study to determine the major bloodlines that have contributed to the most successful rodeo mounts in recent years and to identify any lines that repeatedly produce top horses in rodeo events.

The selection of the horses to be included in the study was based on  the following criteria:

- the horses have competed successfully at the top level of rodeo competition

-  the horses have competed from 1995 to the present time to indicate bloodlines that are significant in today`s competition horses

- horses that ranked in the top three of the American Quarter Horse Association/Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (AQHA/PRCA) and AQHA/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association ( AQHA/WPRA) Horse of the Year awards in each of the events were included. These horses are determined each year through voting by the top 25 competitors in their respective event.

-  included are outstanding individual horses that have been multiple winners of major events in their discipline

The study consisted of 176 horses of which 130 are in the top three AQHA/PRCA and AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year in the five events.

Included in the study were 33 heading horses, 34 heeling horses, 35 tie-down horses, 9 steer wrestling horses and 45 barrel racing horses.

Most of the horses in the study were Quarter Horses, but horses of other breeds or crosses were included if they met the selection criteria.

To determine the bloodlines and the importance of the contribution of their ancestors, a 5 generation pedigree was generated and analysed for each of the rodeo horses.

To appraise current sire and mare lines, two generation pedigrees of each horse were also examined and evaluated.

As well as assessing the bloodlines of all the horses as a group, the horses were evaluated in 5 events, heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing, to determine the significance of the respective bloodlines in each and compare the contribution of their bloodlines in each of the disciplines.

Through a specially designed computer program, the pedigree data for each horse was analysed.

Some of the  questions  being investigated include:

- Which horses are the most successful timed event rodeo horses of the last 15 to 20 years?

- Are there specific sire lines that are superior producers of rodeo timed-event horses? 

 -What sire lines are they and how significant are these sires?

- Are there specific female lines producing superior competition horses?

- Are some sire or mare lines more influential and more important in particular events?

- What is the Thoroughbred influence in the timed event horses and are certain Thoroughbred sire lines more prominent?

- Are there specific sire line crosses that are more successfully productive and more important to the sport of rodeo?

 We have identified and examined the six leading sire lines found in today`s rodeo horses based on the 5 generation pedigrees of the competition horses.  These foundation sires include Three Bars xx, Leo, Top Deck xx, King, Driftwood and the Hancock Line. (xx denotes Thoroughbred )

Detailed information about these lines can be found under the appropriate link on the Articles page.

To determine the leading bloodlines, stallions and mares were ranked by the number of times they appear in the pedigrees of the horses that were in the study. Individual stallions and mares were ranked, not only in all events combined, but also in each of the five individual events allowing evaluation of their overall importance.

This allows us to compare the importance of individual horses found in the pedigrees of each event.

Mare families are often neglected in horse breeding. More emphasis is usually placed on the sire lines.

This is because a stallion has the ability to sire several hundred foals in his lifetime while mares producing more than 15 foals in their career are a rarity.

We examine the mare lines as well as the tail-female lines to determine which significant mare families exist in top rodeo mounts.

The tail-female line is the bottom line of a pedigree. It is the dam, 2nd dam, 3rd dam, 4th and beyond.

It is often the weakest part of any pedigree.

Finding a duplication of female ancestors in this portion of the pedigree can help to identify a significant female line.

Genetically, the female line is important in passing on certain genes found on the female chromosome, the X chromosome. The X chromosome is larger than the male Y chromosome and because of the size has more room to store genetic input.

The X Factor, the 'large heart factor', is a genetic trait passed on the X chromosome. It is responsible for a large heart in horses which has been shown to be directly proportional to increased athletic ability.

Also passed solely through the female is Mitochondrial DNA.

Identification of the X Factor and Mitochondrial DNA has created important genetic advancements that have been implemented in horse breeding and might well be further researched by those who are interested.

In the study, we also look for the existence of  'Blue Hen' mares.

Blue Hen mares are those females who are prolific producers and have contributed significantly to the sport through their foals and their offspring. A mare may be deemed 'Blue Hen' through her daughters and their offspring or through her sons and their offspring.

In subsequent articles we will continue to focus on factors that determine the most important families in the breeding of rodeo horses.