Stout necked, long backed and thick legged, with a narrow face and slightly convex nose, this mare wears the ranginess of her clan, the American mustang.
But what does that mean? The mustang is not a breed, but the name given to all members of the feral horses in the western US. They are a diverse group that carry the blood of as many breeds as have trotted across this country's history.
It's commonly know that horses were re-introduced to North America in the late 1400s by the Spanish. But the blood of these tough little Spanish horses was later mixed with such breeds as American Saddlebreds, Arabians, Tennessee walkers, Morgans, ponies, thoroughbreds and draft horses. These were horses that settlers either deliberately released to improve the wild herds, or accidentally released.
So, what to make of my redheaded mare that was rounded up in Nevada with her dam, when she was just a couple months old, and taken to a Bureau of Land Management holding facility, eventually making her way across the country to an auction at Cornell?
I had my guesses, and so did other people, but I didn't think I would ever really know.
Then I heard an interview with Elisa Wallace, a horse trainer who recently gained prominence by exhibiting the skills of her highly trained eventing mustangs at an international competition. She mentioned she had learned the mix of horse breeds that make up one of her mustangs, after she sent some of its hairs to Dr. E Gus Cothran, Director of the Animal Genetics Laboratory at Texas A&M. Dr. Cothran studies mustang genetics.
I was on the scent immediately, and soon I was annoying the horse by yanking out enough hairs of her mane and tail for the DNA test, and I sent them along, with a form and a check for $25, to Dr. Gus.
Well, today the mystery is solved! I now know what breeds predominate DeCato's DNA. But no, I'm not going to tell you here. I want you to guess!
It's a contest!
Take a look at the pictures and see if you can pick out the three breeds identified as being the main types of horses that went into producing DeCato Copper. For reference, she is about 13.2 hands high.
The person who comes closest to guessing the three breeds/types, in order, will win a Mustang Heritage hat!
You can put your guess here, in the comments area, or on the Twin Tiers Horse facebook page. Do it by the end of the day on by April 19. I'll do the big reveal on Sunday, April 20, and announce the winner.
Look at the bottom of this post for possible categories. She has three hits on the DNA report, marked "first," "second," and "third." Take your best guess, and in the order you think they should be. Good luck!
|Once you learn the breeds in her DNA, you'll say, "Oh, YEAH! I see that!"|
Pick the three breeds/types that make up DeCato -- in order of predominance – from the list below. The person who comes closest will win a Mustang Heritage Foundation cap! Submit your answers here, in the comments, or on The Twin Tiers Horse Facebook, page by the end of the day on April 19.
Write them out as "1. [Breed/type from the list], 2. [Breed/type from the list], 3. [Breed/type from the list]." You may submit up to three guesses.
In case of a tie, I’ll draw a name from the matching entries to find the winner of the cap.
Types, as grouped by the A&M Animal Lab:
- Pony 1 -- New Forest, Highland
- Non-Arabian Oriental -- Akhal Teke, Caspian, etc
- South American Criollo
- Welsh Pony
- Carriage Horse -- Hackney, Cleveland Bay
- Paso Fino breeds
- Pony 2 -- Dales/Fell
- Warmblood 1 -- Western Europe
- Quarter Horse
- Irish Breeds
- North American 1 -- Rocky Mountain, Mountain Pleasure
- North American 2 -- Morgan, Saddlebred
- Brazilian Breeds
- Tennessee Walker
- Warmblood 2 -- Eastern Europe
- Nordic -- Fjord, Icelandic
- Heavy Draft 1 -- Belgian, etc.
- Heavy Draft 2 -- Shire, Clydesdale
- Pony 3 -- Shetland, Hackney, etc.