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There are two sisters at my yard who have been breeding and producing their own horses for years for eventing and showing. One of them is an equine vet and has worked on some very popular stallions over the years, so they have a very interesting ideas on stallion and breed choices.
Talking to one of them the other evening at the yard about ideal breed make up, she had a really interesting insight I haven’t heard before. She said she likes a good amount of thoroughbred in her horses as it’s what keeps them sound. She believes that Irish drafts and warmbloods break so easily. Whereas the thoroughbred has bad feet, but they tend to stay sound longer.
Now despite my love of thoroughbreds, my first thought was, “but they are so bloody accident prone.” But being accident prone doesn’t mean they are going to break due to workload. Based on how many top sports horses you hear of breaking down, you would expect to be a lot more race horses breaking down than there are.
And we all know a few ‘broken’ thoroughbreds. But when we sit down and think about it, how many of them are broken due to things such as field accidents? These incidents can’t really be used to judge how likely a horse is going to breakdown due to work. And of those thoroughbreds you have left, how many of them raced in early life? While they may have retired sound, this will have put strain on their bodies and could be a key factor as to why they have broken doing less strenuous things.
At the end of the day, thoroughbreds have been selectively bred for success. Horses with genetic soundness issues are unlikely to have made successful racehorses and are therefore unlikely to have passed on these genes. So when you consider these things, it makes sense that thoroughbreds could be sounder than warmbloods.