Sunday, November 26, 2006

What are we hiding?

Doing some window shopping at Not in the market, believe me, but every once in a while I check Arabian prices to see how far the bubble has burst.

Sometimes the ads are just pitiful, like this one for a five year old untrained Stallion with an incomplete pedigree attached.

"Beau" is spunky with Parelli training. Has awesome movements, a quick study and very tolerant to "human error". Selling Ranch - Everything goes. Make us an offer we can't refuse. We may even take payments. $5,000.00

Are they completely insane?

No, probably just desperate. But $5,000.00? Holy cannoli. Offer eight hundred to one thousand and beat the meat market if you're desperate to sell. Also, um, if you're selling him as a breeding prospect, could you make him look a) well built and b) attractive? Forgot to add--his name is Dances with Wind. His brother, also in the clearance bin, is Dances with Thunder. Yeesh.

OK, so those ads are very common, and it's like shooting fish in a barrel to point out all the backyard errors. But then I came across this one. Oy yoi yoi.

Magnum Psyche Daughter
Maggie is truely beautiful, and a dream to live with. She is a push button halter horse with lovely motion and you just cant help but love to look at her. Awesome manners! Sweepstakes entered. Sells in foal to A-Jakarta for a spring 2007 foal.
In the details section of the ad she is listed as in the "Halter champion discipline"--unclear whether that means she could compete for halter championship or if she has already won one. Her sale price (Good God!) is $25,000.00.

I'll show you her pics in a second, but let me explain who Magnum Psyche is and how a horse could be sold on his name alone.

Magnum Psyche made an enormous splash on the show scene in the late nineties--in halter only. He was shown by two brothers who dominated every single show they entered. Magnum Psyche was also famous for having had plastic surgery on his throat, which should have disqualified him from competition, and then coming back into the show ring looking really bizarre. (Well, he looked a little bizarre beforehand too.)

My friend uncharitably, but accurately, describes this pose as the "startled goose look." To me he looks as if he's a plastic toy horse that someone has melted and then streeeetttched along the back and also where the head attaches to the body. Halter Arabians tend to have very straight toplines (between the neck and the tail) and very straight hind legs (Magnum's look OK, but they could be a lot shorter and beefier). His neck is just flat out weird. I'm sorry, but it is. And it contributed to a trend in Arabian breeding which is most unfortunate. I really dislike it.

Oh. By the way. Remember Michael Brown of Katrina fame? This was the horse, and these were the trainers/owners he was brought in to slap around when he was made head of Judges and Stewards for IAHA (International Arabian Horse Association). He was brought in *because* he had no connection to Arabians in the show ring, and he tried to get these owners banned for showing a surgically altered horse. The judges rioted against him, everyone sued the organization and him personally, and then he left, and the IAHA folded. During Brown's tenure, Magnum went to Argentina to show, but apparently he's back to the US. Let's take one more look at Magnum Psyche, just for perversity. This one's from 2003:

Yuck. Seriously, how does he breathe through that tiny throat? Furthermore his ears are minuscule. He's the Michael Jackson of the Arabian show world.

OK, so if you're really into fashionable showing, Magnum Psyche represents an ideal "type". He's known as being "typey."* So, while he's controversial, his get and grand-get are not. EXCEPT, and here's the problem with this scheme, there are a lot of Magnum Psyche children. Can ALL of them win the Nationals in Halter competition? Every year? Something like 300 have competed successfully. And he's still producing. Hmmm. Somewhat resembles a pyramid scheme if you ask me.

So if you go online and search horse ads, you find a lot like dear old Maggie. Remember Maggie? The one I said I'd show you pictures of before I went off on this long-assed tangent?

OK, here's one from the ad taken by a well-known professional photographer (I recognize the signature). She was probably a two year old, still in training at her Daddy's barn. (I hate these head on shots. They make the neck look crazily long and straight, even if they're not. These are not gun dogs or giraffes, people. They are riding horses. I've been brained by the back of a horse's head before. Don't like to be reminded, thanks.) This was probably part of a larger advertising campaign for Midwest Arabians, not a portrait of this mare in particular.

She looks sweet, but I can't tell a damn thing about her as a riding horse, or even as a halter horse. Her chest looks narrow, but if she's quite young, that wouldn't matter. She's up to her knees in flowers, so I can't tell if her legs are straight and clear and whether her cannon bone (lower leg) is thick and short. Also, it's probably a camera angle, but her back leg where the gaskin (upper hind) goes into the hock (back knee) looks like it's at a weird angle. Maybe her toe is pointed out? Anyway, nothing egregious, but I can learn nothing from this photo other than the barn had enough money to hire Sparagowski and that the horse is chestnut.

So. Let's see what other pictures the sellers include. This is where I start laughing:

You have all that lovely fenceline and you set her up UNDER A TREE??? (Thanks for grooming her though. She does look healthy and lovely.) But um, what's going on with her back end?

Her front legs are straight; they look decent where they aren't hidden by flowers. But you've got her "parked out" in this shot, with her hind legs angled behind her rather than under her. When "parked out" the hips drop, which can make the back look as if it dips. Carriage horses "park out" and have a straight topline because they tend to have big butts.** This mare don't have one.

Oh. Look. The seller put another photo in the ad:

You moved her out from the tree shadows and plonked her in a clump of flowers so that I STILL cannot see her hind legs. Um. Guys? Are you hiding something? Because, um, you know, for $25,000 I'd like to see the mare's legs.

She's not a bad looking horse, but she's definitely of a style that I don't like. (Arabian sport horse enthusiasts uncharitably call it the "sausage on toothpicks" body. She doesn't quite deserve that, but her neck in this second pose does not flow smoothly into her shoulders, her shoulder is small and upright, her back is a touch long, and her butt needs to be bigger. Overall, especially with the small shoulder and the poorly angled hind end, she'd be a sewing machine to ride. But I've definitely seen worse.

I just can't get past the idea that for a sale price of $25, 000 the owners could have spent the time to take proper pictures of her. Considering who her father is, and his troubled past, I wouldn't ever put up photos of a dark horse under a tree.

I kind of feel bad for Maggie's owners--they know not what they do, I think. But if they DO know what they are doing, posing her under a tree to lure in someone all bedazzled by the Magnum Psyche name, then a pox upon them.

Anyway, I enjoyed the chuckle just the same. Here's a pic from when she was a baby. Here's a pic where you can't see her entire hind end, and here's another where you can't see her legs. Want to spend a cool 25K on her. Do ya? Huh?


* This mare Namusca, is supposed to be typey too. I'd put her picture up, but it causes legal problems for people who use her image and then point out that she has a deformity known as "monkey jaw". You judge if she's an excellent example of horseflesh and should be used for a breeding program. I wouldn't euthanize her if she showed up, but I'd certainly never advertise her as "one of the most exotic Arabian mares of all time" as Midwest Arabians does.

** Here's a picture of a champion Morgan horse, HVK Radiant Flaire, "parked out".

And here's a picture of a different Morgan, Santa Fe Renegade, also a champion, showing the great big butt that you need to have in order to achieve a level topline if you were to show him "parked out". By the way. He's extra yummy. Check out how every contour flows into the next. Mmm. Check out his site above for some other lovely pics. (And there are Arabians who have this type of conformation--they're just not winning halter classes anymore.)


meljean brook said...

Okay, that second one of Magnum Psyche? I think I threw up a little.

And Namusca? Blerrrrgh.

Suisan said...

I have another friend who's much meaner. She calls Namusca "one of those sledgehammer horses", meaning that her face looks like it met up with a sledgehammer at some point.

Magnum Psyche is really gross. There. I said it.

Kate R said...

Yeah, I can see the goose neck, makes for a very strange horsey.

But a lot of what you mention reminds me of wine tasting--in that you're a connoiseur and you know what you're talking about and I'm clueless but am nodding along about the "walnut undertones" because it's Clear to me that it's supposed to be OBVIOUS.

Looks like brown horseys standing around to me, except that one that looks like someone's trying to turn into a horn-less unicorn

I'm going to bookmark this entry though, in case I have to have someone in the 19th century rant about bad points on horses.

Suisan said...

Kate, if you ever have a character "go off" on horses, let me know. The nineteenth century guys were rather particular about certain faults on the legs which we in the "modern era" don't care so much about. (I promise not to feed you arcane crap. Really.)

In modern day, we are much more concerned with the prettiness of the face--people who used horses were for the most part very interested in the "softness of the eye" which was considered an indicator of temperament, but other than that, prettiness of the face was barely considered.

It was all about action (how the horse moved) and conformation (how the joints and contours flowed together when the horse was standing still).

Also, if your character is a horse racer, then he's intrested in Thoroughbred conformation, which is as different from saddle horse conformation as greyhounds are from Rottweilers.

Just saying.

Suisan said...

And, you know, I wish it didn't look like a bunch of brown horsies to you. Because it all looks very different to me.


Oh well, I'd still take Santa Fe Renegade and bundle him up in my garage if given half a chance.

(Well, not really. I'm sure he's much happier where he is, being exercised and playing around with mares. But I do think he's awfully cute.)

Mailyn said...

Still catching up on my blogging so I haven't read this one yet but I did read your Thanksgiving one and I'm sorry that it's so bad for you. I hope it gets better and that you can enjoy it just a little, at least when you see the kiddies happy with their gifts and whatnot maybe that will help.


Nadia said...


I see that you linked to our webpage for a picture of Namusca and would just like to mention that we have a daughter of Namusca and are not only happy to use her in our breeding program but are very happy with the two sons she has produced for us, especially her 2006 *Nefison son. As you have likely noticed our Namusca daughter does not have her mother's head... however she does have great structure, in particular the hip that her double Nabeg breeding says she should.

Anyways, if you would like to see the results of using Namusca breeding in a breeding program please stay tuned to our website for updates on Riurik kgi, we think he is pretty special and are hoping his dam is back in foal for a full sibling.

We had no knowledge of Namusca's phenotype when we bought her daughter as a broodmare, however we have not questioned breeding our Namusca daughter since seeing her dam...

Suisan said...

Hello Nadia

I am glad that you enjoy your horses bred from Namusca.

I have to tell you that I have extremely unfavorable views of the Boggs brothers and do not think that Midwest is an ethical organization. That is my personal opinion--I own no horses and have nothing to gain or lose by stating my opinion on them and on their horses.

I am glad that you enjoy Namusca's daughter. I have acted as a stud manager for Arabians in the past, and have made a variety of breeding decisions, both for the farm I worked at and for friends who own Arabians. That being said, I personally would never continue breeding from a mare such as Namusca, not only because of her facial deformity, but because of her body type. She is not appealing to me, as you can probably tell from my gushing over a Morgan Stallion.

I wish you all the best and every success in your breeding endeavor. It is quite a commitment to house, breed, train, and sell horses. But I'm afraid that you will never convince me that Namusca's offspring are worthy of founding an entire program.

But that's just me. A person at a desk with no horse in the ring to compete against you.

Doe said...

Santa Fe Renegade is a little better than the HVK horse, but he still has a most un-Morgany neck. A Morgan neck is supposed to be twice as long on top as it is on the underside, to give that delicious powerful arch; Renegade is an example of the more Saddlebredy Morgans which dominate the breed shows now, unfortunately.

Suisan said...

Compared to the Saddlebredy Arabians which dominate the breed, I think Sante Fe Renegade's got a great body.

You clearly know more about the details of the Morgan breed standard than I do, and I'll take your opinion as being much more informed than mine. Thanks for the input.

As a riding horse (forgetting about breed standards for a sec), I still admire Santa Fe Renegade's overall structure, and would still gladly bundle him into my (hypothetical) barn.

As a side note here--my mother owned a Kennebec Morgan in the late 1970s, and she was bred to a Whipporwill stallion to produce my first "real horse" (not a pony). If I hadn't fallen totally in love with a small group of Arabians, I'd probably be involved with Lippitt Morgans in one way or another. Such a versatile and personable breed.

Thanks for commenting, doe.

Anonymous said...

You have no right bashing Namusca. I happen to own one of her older foals, and find it unlawful what you're saying. And bashing Magnum; who do you think you are? Just because you're not fortunate enough to actually own an Arabian, or probably any horse, does not give you the right to slander the breed. Grow up.

Suisan said...


I'm not slandering the breed. I think the older lines of Arabians are fantastic examples of all-around riding horses. They have excellent attitudes, wonderful athletic abilities and engaging personalities. Perhaps you noticed my link to the CMK Arabians on my sidebar. I fully support those bloodlines.

And yes, even within the "Preservation" bloodlines, there are examples of horses I do not like. There are some examples of Al Khamsa horses I do not like. I do not believe it is unlawful for me to say so.

It is not unlawful for me to post a picture of Magnum Psyche and say that to my eye he looks to be a victim of too much plastic surgery.

It is not unlawful for me to comment on Namusca. Certainly others have done so. She's the most discussed Arabian mare on internet message boards. About once a month another poster somewhere in the world posts a picture of her saying, "Oh my god. I can't believe this is real." To which the rest of the board says, "Oh not AGAIN! Please search the archives--we already did this dance." You do know this, right?

What I do not like in modern-day Arabian breeding is the attempt by Midwest Arabians (amongst many, many others) to promote horses which are useful ONLY for halter competitions. And I am not alone in that assessment. It's a fairly widely held view in the non-Arabian community. And it's even a widely held-view amongst Arabian owners. You know, those owners who enter their Arabians in open shows without disclosing that they are Arabians simply because they do not want to deal with the prejudice the larger horse community has against those "goose-necked, sickle-hocked Arabians"?

But you enjoy them. Excellent. Please go ahead and enjoy them. Please get them out in the public and compete them.

And in terms of who "I think I am" to make these statements. I am a person who grew up around Arabians, Quarter horses, and Welsh Ponies. I have owned Arabians (and a Morgan and a POA). I worked as a stud manager and I have researched pedigrees. I come from the "Preservation" movement, and am a supporter of Al Khamsa and CMK and Davenports. And I still have every right to write what my opinions are of David Boggs and Midwest Arabians. He was suspended for five years for entering animals who had had cosmetic surgery in competition. You do know this, right?

Here's a summary of the procedings if you are unaware: From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It's public knowledge. You do know this, right? Fat sucked from mare's croup to make her topline level, another horse (Ace of Bey) who had his tail nicked to correct a "wry-tail", etc. Seven horses were shown to have had surgery.

You do know this, right?

But really. I'm not competing. I'll never go into a halter class. I'm no threat to you or yours. Enjoy your horse. Nariadni and Musca (Namusca's parents) were good horses. Enjoy your program.

But don't ask me not to have an opinion about the horses I see in front of me, or about the way in which people choose to frame their "For Sale" ads.

Slinky said...

I'm right there with you regarding halter horses versus working horses. (I'm defining "working" as "bred to carry a rider for any task other than standing around looking pretty.") The snake-necked, banana headed arabians are the worst, but some of the stock breeds aren't far behind. Compare the following two quarter horses:

#1: Halter bred, all the way.
He's light on bone in front, upright and sickle-hocked behind, upright pasterns, small feet, and those little bitty pins are holding up a great big body. I personally find it extremely unattractive, and have to wonder with the upright legs and heavy body how sound he is under saddle. Upright and little is navicular conformation. Oh, and he's HYPP N/H on top of it all.

#2: Cutting and cow bred.
He's still a bit sickle hocked, he's definitely rump-high, and I'm not impressed with the picture...but compare the bone, pastern angle, and body size/bulk in proportion to the rest of him to the App above.

The real reason I am so bothered by breeding animals for halter is that we're not breeding horses for meat. Not every horse comes out of the "oven" with show-ring conformation, and when we breed for extremes of type (or colour) at the expense of performance we increase the chances of having a "useless" who is not riding sound, who may be on the edge of pasture sound, and who is more likely to meet a bad fate than a sound horse.

thehottruth said...

What about SCID & CA? Has Maggie been tested since Magnum carried both?!