Monday, November 23, 2009

Breeding For Behavior In The Hybrid Thoroughbred

Thomas Herding Technique Founder Kerry Thomas, in his essay Breeding for Behavior in the Hybrid Thoroughbred, says that Emotional Conformation and reapplying natural selection in breeding practices is important for the improvement of the breed.

“You cannot continually remove the natural selection element from the process and expect great results without weakening the breed itself. …Emotional Conformation and Psychological Profiling of the individual horse being proposed for mating can provide the extra information needed to increase the probability of a more successful outcome. Just because you mate two incredibly talented athletes with outstanding pedigrees doesn’t mean that their progeny will be as outstanding. Because this is true, the result is over-breeding and a saturation of the industry with far too many trash-can horses, deemed unworthy of financial support because they don’t win, or are unsound and breakdown.”

For the entire essay please click here.


  1. Crap. Now psychologists have invaded horse racing. Next thing you know Quality Road will be required to tell the starter how he feels.

    The biggest swindlers in history played mind games. This is an open door to touchy, feely animal rights=loss of human rights, property, freedom. Might be wise to shut this door.

  2. I would totally agree with this statement "You cannot continually remove the natural selection element from the process and expect great results without weakening the breed itself."

    There is a design to all things and obviously the natural selection is significant. I might be bias, since that is how I arrive to be!

    Somethings are best never to be tamper with, especially if you have nothing to do with the order of natural things at all. Let the CREATOR have his way! PLEASE!

    Barry R. Mitchell

  3. Anonymous,

    I have interviewed Mr. Thomas and he is not a wacko animal-rights activist:

    I believe that Thomas' Emotional Conformation is on the cutting edge of what most breeders will eventually include in their mating selections.

  4. I never said HE was Mr. Carter.

    We have ideas on how to build durability back into the breed, few want to abandon winning to do it. I can't see many going too far out of the way for mind over body. Still, hopeful for any healthy advances. Jumping waaaay ahead . . radio legend Paul Harvey had envisioned a future where we could talk with animals. 'I don't feel like racing today' . . .


  5. Anonymous,

    Your musing of the racehorse lamenting “I don’t feel like racing today” to his trainer reminded me of a story from the immortal breeder and trainer Federico Tesio – the Wizard of Dormello.

    “Faced with a choice, a horse can theoretically choose the course of action which he prefers. If he is opposed in his choice he will obey or rebel. Usually he obeys. Occasionally, however, one encounters an individual who will disobey. Stubborn and rebellious, most men will call him, but the more thoughtful will say, instead, that he is a horse who uses his head.

    “Habitual race-goers will have seen at least one of these rebels, who will line up for the start and then be left at the post, refusing to move a step. They are generally five- or six-year-olds, veterans of the race-tracks. They have observed that every time they start in a race they must make a grueling effort, and that often they are cruelly whipped just when they are most exhausted. They have also observed that if they refuse to start they will get the whipping, but they will at least have spared themselves the exhaustion. Faced with a choice of alternatives they have chose that which will result in only one suffering instead of two – and they refuse to start.

    “Then the trainer says to the owner: ‘This miserable animal is getting old and tricky. You had better stop running him or you will just be wasting your money and causing yourself bad feeling.’ The stewards also step in and as a punishment they suspend him for a restful month or two, so by his simple logic the horse has won his argument and come out on top in this particular battle of wits.” – Breeding The Racehorse, page 106.

    Tesio was a master of matings. He bred the great Ribot, Donatello and Nearco as well as 21 Italiano Derby winners and Tesio went to great lengths to understand the psychology, or as Mr. Thomas aptly states, the Emotional Conformation of the Thoroughbred.

  6. Mr. Carter,

    I so believe in the more the info the better.
    Why not? In matings? Don't a husband and wife seek by natural matings and not a forced mating?


  7. Oh! someone bring me popcorn. I'm learning.

    Wasn't the first thoroughbred a product of breeding of two independent species ?

    Since the history of the thoroughbred is rooted in classic breeding, is there such a thing as "over breeding" ? or under breeding ? which no one seems to speak about these days.

    Breeders are always in pursuit of the "PERFECT BREED CHAMPION"

    Common sense would be that the failure rate is extremely high! "YES"

    Then, I begged to ask the question, does breeding on top of failure, have the same future results?

    Breeding information is only as good, as the individual that knows what to do with it!

    Here is the real question, do they really know what they are doing ?

    Every so often, they seem to hit the mark with an exceptional breed champion.

    But I will contend, they are missing the mark more often, and thus, have no knowledge concerning what they are doing.

    Breeders are guessing as to what will produce a favorable result, and when they finally hit the mark, they try to repeated the occurrence, again and again.

    That is not knowledge, that is consider luck!

  8. Well said LarryK, Barry. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Happy Thanksgiving Calvin, best wishes to you and family.

  10. Learn from this gentleman all that you can I say. But be advised that on his Facebook page he has a link titled "Fight For Animal Rights"- halfway down the page you'll read "show jumping is horrific", "the only way to stop horse racing is to boycott betting" and "welcoming announcement that ends jump racing in Victoria".

    150+ law schools now offer animal law curriculum. Not animal welfare, but legal rights for animals. Anyone who works in the racing industry and entertains animal rights should be given a second look over. On the other hand, if Mr. Thomas is the author of the paper "He Who Writes The Rules"- than we can breathe easier. You might want to tell Mr. Thomas to remove that link on his Facebook page, maybe he is unaware that it leads to a hate racing site.

  11. Thanks Anonymous.

    I'll pass that information on to Mr. Thomas.