Strategic breeding | TSLN.com

Strategic breeding

Gayle Smith

Courtesy photoMR Junewood placed sixth in the open division junior aged horse AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City, OK in 2003.

Each spring, Colorado rancher Sam Shoultz eagerly awaits his band of mares to drop their new foals. Shoultz is excited to see if the carefully selected matings he has made have produced a foal which could eventually become a future equine champion.

An interest in equine genetics has led to a successful horse breeding program for Shoultz, who makes his home in Ault, CO.

Shoultz, who grew up in Casper, WY, became interested in equine genetics and breeding while attending Colorado State University. Some friends of his raised Driftwood horses, and he found the horses appealing, so he purchased some of his own.

“It was well-known that Blue Valentine horses were a popular cross with the Driftwood horses, so I decided to purchase some of each and put what I learned in college to work,” he explains.

The result was a very successful breeding operation. “By the early’90s, I really got into breeding and raising horses. I was very interested in line-breeding the Driftwood and Blue Valentine horses and I crossed them, too,” he explains. “I like the bloodlines of both horses so well, that is what I decided to concentrate on.”

Shoultz explains how his breeding operation works: “The breeding of our horses is carefully planned. Our program is three-pronged. We run line-bred Driftwoods, line-bred Blue Valentines, and the proven golden cross, Driftwood X Blue Valentine. We ‘weave’ these bloodlines back and forth utilizing our eight stallions and 50-60 mares, some line-bred, some utilizing the blended bloodlines. We feel that this gives us individuals that embody the best attributes of both bloodlines.”

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Almost 20 years later, Shoultz has successfully built up a group of nearly 200 horses. “We typically have over 50 babies every year,” he says. “One advantage I have found to having so many horses is that you have the opportunity to go through all of them and pick what works for you. I think that is a lot harder when you only have ten or so. I can evaluate them, and pick only the best ones to keep.

“I look at my breeding operation 15 years ahead,” Shoultz continues. “The foal I planned for this year will be available to breed in five years. It will take a year for this foal we are breeding for today to be born. It will take three years for the foal to be old enough to breed, and another year after she is bred to produce her foal. The foal of that breeding will be another five years before her foal will appear. So, the breeding cycle in my mind is a five-year cycle,” he explains.

“Even if you are riding the offspring,” he says, “you are still about the same time frame, but you still won’t know what that horse will be used for until it is four-years-old.”

All matings at the ranch are predetermined, Shoultz says. He has a purpose for the equine offspring before they are even conceived.

“I look at my horse breeding operation like a fort,” he explains. “I only mate certain stallions to certain mares to obtain offspring that will have a certain place in the herd. For example, I may decide to breed a certain stallion and mare in hopes of getting a horse colt that can be used as a new breeding stud. If it is a filly, I have a different purpose in mind. My goal is to create a type of horse that could be use for many purposes, and will keep the bloodlines going.”

Shoultz selects horses for their mind, and in a close second, their disposition and trainability. Then, he looks at their conformation.

“The most important thing I look for in a horse is its mind, because that determines how it will perform. I breed my horses very, very strongly to have good-minded offspring. I feel that is more important than looks or anything else,” he explains. “My goal has always been to produce horses people are going to like, and that are easy to work with. I want horses that are easy to train and will be happy with whatever job they are given.”

He also feels it is important to evaluate the conformation of the horse. “It is important to look at the physical conformation of a horse because about 60 percent of the weight is carried on the front of the horse, so correct leg conformation is important. My horses are bred primarily for arena events, so I only select horses with good conformation – I don’t want horses that develop physical problems later in life.”

Each spring, Colorado rancher Sam Shoultz eagerly awaits his band of mares to drop their new foals. Shoultz is excited to see if the carefully selected matings he has made have produced a foal which could eventually become a future equine champion.

An interest in equine genetics has led to a successful horse breeding program for Shoultz, who makes his home in Ault, CO.

Shoultz, who grew up in Casper, WY, became interested in equine genetics and breeding while attending Colorado State University. Some friends of his raised Driftwood horses, and he found the horses appealing, so he purchased some of his own.

“It was well-known that Blue Valentine horses were a popular cross with the Driftwood horses, so I decided to purchase some of each and put what I learned in college to work,” he explains.

The result was a very successful breeding operation. “By the early’90s, I really got into breeding and raising horses. I was very interested in line-breeding the Driftwood and Blue Valentine horses and I crossed them, too,” he explains. “I like the bloodlines of both horses so well, that is what I decided to concentrate on.”

Shoultz explains how his breeding operation works: “The breeding of our horses is carefully planned. Our program is three-pronged. We run line-bred Driftwoods, line-bred Blue Valentines, and the proven golden cross, Driftwood X Blue Valentine. We ‘weave’ these bloodlines back and forth utilizing our eight stallions and 50-60 mares, some line-bred, some utilizing the blended bloodlines. We feel that this gives us individuals that embody the best attributes of both bloodlines.”

Almost 20 years later, Shoultz has successfully built up a group of nearly 200 horses. “We typically have over 50 babies every year,” he says. “One advantage I have found to having so many horses is that you have the opportunity to go through all of them and pick what works for you. I think that is a lot harder when you only have ten or so. I can evaluate them, and pick only the best ones to keep.

“I look at my breeding operation 15 years ahead,” Shoultz continues. “The foal I planned for this year will be available to breed in five years. It will take a year for this foal we are breeding for today to be born. It will take three years for the foal to be old enough to breed, and another year after she is bred to produce her foal. The foal of that breeding will be another five years before her foal will appear. So, the breeding cycle in my mind is a five-year cycle,” he explains.

“Even if you are riding the offspring,” he says, “you are still about the same time frame, but you still won’t know what that horse will be used for until it is four-years-old.”

All matings at the ranch are predetermined, Shoultz says. He has a purpose for the equine offspring before they are even conceived.

“I look at my horse breeding operation like a fort,” he explains. “I only mate certain stallions to certain mares to obtain offspring that will have a certain place in the herd. For example, I may decide to breed a certain stallion and mare in hopes of getting a horse colt that can be used as a new breeding stud. If it is a filly, I have a different purpose in mind. My goal is to create a type of horse that could be use for many purposes, and will keep the bloodlines going.”

Shoultz selects horses for their mind, and in a close second, their disposition and trainability. Then, he looks at their conformation.

“The most important thing I look for in a horse is its mind, because that determines how it will perform. I breed my horses very, very strongly to have good-minded offspring. I feel that is more important than looks or anything else,” he explains. “My goal has always been to produce horses people are going to like, and that are easy to work with. I want horses that are easy to train and will be happy with whatever job they are given.”

He also feels it is important to evaluate the conformation of the horse. “It is important to look at the physical conformation of a horse because about 60 percent of the weight is carried on the front of the horse, so correct leg conformation is important. My horses are bred primarily for arena events, so I only select horses with good conformation – I don’t want horses that develop physical problems later in life.”

editor’s note: for more information about shoultz’s operation, visit kesaquarterhorses.com or cometothesource.com.

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