Friday, May 15, 2015

Please Stop Showing Your Models as Appendix QHs



I’ve touched on this topic a bit in the past (you can read more here, here, and here), but I keep seeing it asked on Facebook often enough that I figured it deserved a post of its own.  This is really more a Showing 101 topic than a Don’t Eat the Paint topic, but it’s my blog and make the rules so there.


About once a week, I see someone ask if they should show their Carrick and/or Smarty as an Appendix QH.  I’m here to ask you to--please, for the love of Swaps—don’t do that.


Appendix QH does not make a good breed assignment because Appendix QH is not a breed.  Nor is it a type or an accurate of breeding or body type.

Wait, but I thought an Appendix QH was a QH/TB cross?

This is a common misconception.  Not all Appendix QHs have one QH and one TB parent and not all horses with one QH parent and one TB parent are Appendix QHs. 

So what is an Appendix QH then?

The appendix registry is a subset of the AQHA registry.  If I bred a QH (with regular papers) to a TB, the resulting foal would start in the appendix registry.  What happens from there is where things get…tricky.

If I own an Appendix QH, I can breed them back to a QH (again with regular papers) and the foal will also be registered Appendix.  I can also show or race my Appendix QH and if they’re fast enough or earn enough points showing, they then become a real boy…I mean QH.


In other words, talented Appendix QHs don't stay in the appendix registry for very long. Quality horses advance into the regular registry.  So when I see a model horse shown as an Appendix, my first question is "Does the shower mean to tell me that her model isn't good enough to earn full papers?"

The Appendix registry is like a filter--the idea is only to let in the best examples of a QH/TB cross and keep out the wonky ones.

But aren’t Appendix QHs lighter and more thoroughbred-y than regular QHs?  You know, because they have so much TB in them?

Sometimes, but not necessarily—which is why I don’t like “Appendix” as a breed assignment.  Seeing “appendix” on a horse’s papers isn’t a reliable indicator predictor of what he looks like.  Foundation bred QHs can be lean, tall, and leggy and Appendix QHs can be short, stout, and bulky.

For example, check out this long legged 16.2HH beauty:


He’s gotta have some TB up close…right?  Nope, check out this pedigree.  The closest TB I see is Three Bars five generations back. 

Next, let’s check out the 15HH cowy little mare:



Short, handy—she’s gotta be a foundation right?  Well, she’s close actually.  But she's also Appendix:



I think she’s only a percentage point or two away (I’m too lazy to do the math) from qualifying for Foundation QH registration, and there are horses out there that in fact qualify for Foundation papers with an Appendix certificate.

But my Smarty and/or Carrick is getting beat by the bulkier QH molds. 

That…happens.  Some judges just like a certain type of [fill in the blank] breed, and there’s no convincing them that another type is just as valid.  It’s part of the game--when you show you are asking for a judge’s opinion and you might not always like the answer.

One thing you can try is showing Carrick/Smarty as a race bred or hunter type QH.  Some judges respond favorably to showers who recognize that their model represents a particular type.  

But all Quarter Horses are judged on the same standard!  I shouldn't have to include a type to win a model horse class.

No model horse judge is expert in everything (although a few think they are.)  We all come from different breed backgrounds, and not every breed has types the way QHs, Appaloosa, Paints, Arabian, and Morgans all do.  A Morgan (or Arabian) that is great at reining is unlikely to look the same and one that excels in Saddleseat.  The Saddleseat Morgan/Arabian isn't inherently superior or inferior to the Reining Morgan/Arabian because he looks different--he's just specialized.  

A reining QH stallion

In my opinion, a judge should evaluate a horse in the context of what he is. As a judge, I don't want to make a value judgement about whether one type is both superior to another or a better representative of his breed.  For me, a heavy bodied QH who can rope steers all day isn't a better example of a QH than a QH who can run a quarter mile faster than any other horse on the planet.  He's just different.

A racing QH stallion

Having said all that, not every judge comes from a breed background with types.  A quality Friesian--more or less--always looks like a Friesian.  You don't have Friesians with high action and some with low action.  You don't have Dressage Friesians, Racing Friesians, and Cutting Friesians.  So if you have a judge who's only area of expertise is Friesians and ask them to evaluate a table full of equally nice QHs of all different types, it's highly likely they are going to throw out the types that don't look like what they consider to be a "real" QH.

 A hunter QH stallion

This is why I encourage people to use types--in some cases--for their models as a way to educate a judge and encourage them to leave their bias behind without being pedantic. It won't always work, but at least you tried, right?

But can’t I show an Appendix in the Other Stock class?  I really want to get my horse out of the QHs class.


It’s all still handled by the AQHA, so no.

But if you still want to get your Smarty/Carrick out of the QH class, you do have options!  You can try Australian Stock Horses for either of them, which seems to be the trendy new breed assignment of the moment.  Most hobbyists tend to respond favorably to Carrick in particular as a Australian Stock Horses.



I also like the new Polo version of Smarty as a TBxCriollo cross, which is popular real world polo horse cross.  You can also still show your Carrick/Smarty as TBs, but it’s a bit of a roll of the dice.  The TB class is tough as it’s the breed Breyer produces most often.

[/rant]

Post Script 

More than once while researching this article, I ran across people either arguing for the inherent superiority of Appendix QHs or condemning them as the ruin of the breed.  Everyone has a story about how the Appendix they rode once upon a time was the best horse ever and far superior to any of the full papered QHs they've met since.  Foundation people bemoan the recent introduction of TB blood as destroying the all-around horses of yesteryear.

I'm sorry to say it, but you're both wrong.  I'll spare y'all another lengthy rant about the history of the QH, but by and large they all go back to a bunch of TBs and TB-looking critters, a huge amount of mare who's pedigrees were lost to time (a large percentage of which I've been told were grade TBs anyway, but everyone has a different theory to fit their preferred stories), with a dash of Percheron, Morgan, and Arabian thrown in.  In other words, the QH has always been mostly TB in the past, so adding a little bit more now isn't going to fundamentally change the breed.

I'm sure that Appendix you rode years ago was lovely.  If you campaigned him, he probably was nice enough to earn him full papers.  But his lack of full papers and his thoroughbred parent didn't imbue him with magical properties.

Foundation people seem to forget the second half of the saying "jack of all trades, master of none."  The all around QH of yesteryear is still very much alive and well in barns across the country.  I'm an all around person myself, but it pays more these days to pick a discipline and devote all your energy to it.  I have a perfectly lovely little cutting horse who will in her life chase cattle, run barrels, show western pleasure, rope, fancy prance, drive, and jump--if I get around to everything I have planned.  However, just because she can technically do everything doesn't mean she'll beat horses that were born, bred, and trained to excel at one thing.

Truly all around stallions are a rare sight these days.  The closest one I can think of was super horse Rugged Lark.  His show record speaks for itself, and any foundation person would be thrilled to have a horse like him in their barn...oh, except Rugged Lark was born an Appendix (and earned full papers.)




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