It’s not very often, in the publications that I read, that I stumble when I read a word. But I admit that I stumbled when I came upon ‘perspicacious.’ It was in a sentence about the history of the Thoroughbred. “But perspicacious breeding and the preservation of diverse mare bloodlines are only part of the story of the origin of the Thoroughbred.” (1) I find breeding a fascinating subject, and since the context of that sentence didn’t give me any clues, I had to find out what ‘perspicacious’ meant!
“Having keen mental perception” and “discerning” were the meanings that seemed to apply. So what would perspicacious breeding look like? I immediately thought of a breeder I know who has very few ponies but the ones they do have are universally admired by visitors. The ponies have been chosen with great care as are the matings the breeder conducts. In contrast, I know people who breed large numbers of ponies from whom a few show champions have resulted, more by luck than discernment it seems. I consider the former to have a perspicacious approach to breeding.
What might perspicacious breeding of Fell Ponies in particular look like? What comes to mind for me are the two themes that emerged from the minutes of the Fell Pony Breeders Association that I recently read. Those themes were loss of traditional movement and loss of fell breeding rights. Perspicacious breeding of Fell Ponies, then, in my view involves a breeding strategy that seeks to preserve proper movement and the traits required by fell living. Much easier said than done! A great opportunity is available this summer to explore these two topics at the Wellbrow Stud Open Day on August 30 in Lancashire (you can find out more by clicking here).
As breeding season approaches, and with the unwanted horse/horse overpopulation problem still an issue, it behooves all of us breeders to make sure we are approaching breeding thoughtfully. Can we be called perspicacious? That may be something best judged by others, but at least we can try!
- Bennett, Deb, PhD. “A Brief History of the Thoroughbred,” Equus #448, January 2015, p. 55.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
If stories about breeding also fascinate you, you might also find of interest the book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available internationally by clicking here.