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Date Posted: 13:03:32 01/11/09 Sun
Author: Alex
Subject: I think the breed is doomed!!!
In reply to: Helen 's message, "Doomed?" on 06:15:22 01/11/09 Sun

That's the problem - the approved stallions are not baroque and are long backed - I would not use any of the modern approved stallions on my mares- the FPS is trying to get rid of the baroque style as it is in their view making the breed look old fashioned - they want to keep up with the trend of horses being sport horse types. The stallion that won had very low scores compared to the other stallions - so why did it win - fashionable pedigree perhaps?? - Hmmm call me synical but are the judges and owners friends!!!!;) - there is alot of money at stake here - what do you think?

I would have no problem breeding along the lines of the breed standard and I stick to what is considered in all breeds a useful conformation for both riding and driving and temperament is very important - I would never breed from a nutty or nervous animal. But FPS's new interpretation of it is what you see winning in the show ring!
I would not want my stallion approved for all the world as they then dictate what I can and can't do with it and I would not put him through the stallion training in holland - do you know how they get them doing the high stepping trot and at what age?? - not something I would submit any of my horses too. Also the fact they would down grade my horses because they are baroque is not really an incentive to spend all that money either - they are more expensive than Wetherby's! - and put them through a keuring, why bother with baroque mares either as they will be poorly marked as is not what is fashionable so not really any point as no matter what stallion I put my mares to they will be baroque - so not wanted by the FPS. They either need to split the breed up into different types and thus narrow the gene pool further of they should embrace anything that has a useful conformation - but they are never going to! Do you know how hard it is to find baroque mares now - they are either not bred from or got rid of as the owners have all gone onto sport types - that is how we found one of our old mares - she was no longer fashionable. They are like hens teeth now, we have found 2 that would compliment our stallion so far that we have imported, but am so disheartened with breeding friesians as they are getting so much bad press we are cutting our numbers back and just having stallions - I have registered all of them with the sport horse society and hope to grade them in the future - far more useful than the FPS!!! - Thier loss genetically - but they don't exactly inspire anyone - ever wonder why there are no FPS approved stallions in the UK - do FHAGBI do much to promote the breed with all the money they get from membership - not really?!!!

As far as AI is concerned the majority of vets have little experience with inseminating friesians - as they do have this weird follicle problem, getting them AI'd for your average single mare owner is not really feasible and can be a really difficult to find a vet that knows the breed.

The reason the breed nearly went extinct was not because of crossbreeding - how do you think the breed first came about?!! - but because its use as an all round farm horse was no longer needed due to mechanisation, now the horse is a leisure animal and people want that particular look and temperament that they were once famous for they brought it back. Now it seems the friesian is just something to look pretty in the show ring and be a black horse but not be actually of any use - like the extreme show arab - so people who want a driving horse for the growing trend in carriage driving are not even considering the friesian as it is becoming renowned as being highly strung and severely lacking in stamina, the same goes for dressage as the new sport type cannot do the collected moves as it is not physically possible to do them well enough as thier back is so long they don't get the marks.

I went to a keuring and they described what the judges were looking for in a stallion - long, lean, swan necked, high stepping action in the front end and a rectangular profile, with long legs - they never looked at what the horse was like, or what kind of backend it had, what would be considered useful conformation in all other breeds was way down the list - oh and as long as it was black and had some feathering it was given a premie!!
You can see why I have nothing to do with the FPS - they knowingly use stallions that pass on numerous genetic faults but do they exclude them from the gene pool? - no - they are too valuable money wise! We had our stallion Wessel semen tested and x-rayed to make sure he was fit for breeding, I would not hesitate to geld him if he did not pass his conformation/temperament and action on to his offspring - it is my hobby not a money earner - I wish!!!!

Here are some of the main known genetic problems the breed sufferes from:

Hydrocephaly - can be fatal for mare as well as foal,
Dwarfism - fatal,
Retained placentas - 54% compared to 2-10% in ALL other breeds - most of our friesian mares have retained placentas at some point compared to 1 in our other breeds of horse!!,
Abnormally sized follicles in mares which would be considered cystic in all other breeds,
Poor fertility in mares and stallions in general - the majority of stallions fail on semen,
Most stallions semen cannot be frozen,
OCD - another common thing horses fail the keurings for,
Fewer adhesions of the gut and other organs to the intestinal wall leading to a predisposition to torsional collic,
Holes in the mesentry which loops of gut get stuck through and die- causing death or severe colic - have known 3 friesians to die of this,
Larger numbers of foal malpresentations,
A higher number of mares suffering from placentitis,
Sensativity to aneasthetic/sedation - you either need tons of it or very little for the size of horse - which obviously carries risks to those handling, and the animal!
Sweet itch - or predisposition to allergies - a thing the Fell pony has inherited from its friesian ancestors!!!
Scratches/dermatitis.

So quite a frightening list compared to other breeds, which the FPS are doing nothing about and continue to narrow the gene pool in order to produce these flashy trotting things - the wining stallion had an inbreeding % of 17% - I thought it had to be less than 5%!!!
I know several top classical dressage trainers and film horse trainers who wouldn't touch a friesian with a barge pole the reason they give - too highly strung and not built to do a days work!! - Not really the image the breed needs!!! - they would rather use Andalusians - which as everyone knows are very sensative high strung horses!!!

I think the dutch are a bit weird on the crossbreeding idea but crossbred friesians are really useful and popular horses in the US and Australia and have their own breed registries and are regulated, they are used as dressgae and event horses as it increases the breeds stamina, as long as the right crosses are done and from top quality mares from other breeds and with good conformation that are bred with a purpose in mind not just because they are cute!
If friesians hadn't been used for crossbreeding there would be no Shires, Fells, Dales, Groningens and modern warmblood types so crossbreeding has always gone on - why not use a good animal to improve the genetics of another breed? I do not agree with crossing them with anything that moves - we are picky what our stallions cover as the results are our advertising, but there are many that are not picky and are using poor quality friesian stallions in the first place, it is they that are giving a bad reputation to crossbreds - but that happens in most breeds. TB's are used on other breeds to give athleticism and speed etc to other breeds so why not use friesians - to give bone, temperament, looks etc to other breeds.
I think the breed will need new blood at some point, am not the only one who thinks so!, after all it is only a look/action/colour and temperament that we are talking about - adding a bit of say carefully selected spanish/percheron or arab blood in every few generations is not going to alter the characteristics that are so prized but will mean the horses themselves are more healthy and fewer die as a result of inbreeding - having had one youngster die from what was revealed on PM - a hole in the mesentry - and known others that have had the same problem and lost thier horse due to a genetic problem. I feel something needs to be done and would save other horses and owners from going through the same nightmare and heart ache. Why do you think I like the crossbred - same temperament etc but far less likely to die from genetic problems!

I enjoy a good debate and like to hear others views - can anyone give me a sensible answer why the genetic problems are not widely published - I had to do alot of digging, and why the stallion that won did - was that the best they had enter? - if so they really need to address thier breeding plan, it had pretty poor scores overall!
Where does every one else stand on all these problems?
Did you know about them when you bought your friesian - did the breeder/dealer tell you about them when you bought your horse?
Do you think it is acceptable to loose alot of horses just for a look?
Have you had any problems with your friesians but are scared to speak up/don't want your horses tainted by association?
Go on we need more petrol - I want answers!!!!;)

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