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Saving the Thoroughbred

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There has been much said about the drugs that are used to medicate the racing horses that have been competing in various stake races. It seems that the breed is suffering a downturn in the ability to perform at the level expected by those who bet on and breed these animals. I have a great idea to remedy this phenomenon but it is directly forbidden by the breeders association by laws.

For those who don’t know, all Thoroughbred horses are able to trace their lineage to 4 “foundation sires“ of the breed. These horses were Arabian horses and their qualities of speed, stamina, intelligence, beauty, and most importantly, physical soundness are essential to the extraordinary abilities of the Thoroughbred breed. So any Thoroughbred can trace its heritage to the Darley Arabian (1704), the Godolphin Arabian (1729) or the Byerley Turk (1680’s). In addition there were 74 foundation mares of mixed blood (Arabian and English).

I am sure the loss of performance ability in the breed is a result of not renewing the traits that make the Arab horse the most desirable for cross breeding with other breeds. For example, breeding draft horses with Arabs has produced the Belgian draft horse. It is notably smaller than other breeds, but it is the most handsome of those breeds and is the strongest pound for pound by far. If the Thoroughbred can be infused with fresh pure blood. I’m sure it will reverse the undesirable tendencies in the modern Thoroughbred that have affected its health and performance abilities.

The loss of genetic diversity has obviously become a factor in the poor health that has manifest itself recently in racing horses. I hope that some serious thought is given to doing something about it.

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The Byerley Turk may not, in fact, have been an Arabian, but an Akhal-Teke. These tall, leggy horses from Turkmenistan are another taproot breed for hot-blooded horses and are raced in central Asia and Russia. Thoroughbreds could probably benefit from another infusion of this blood as well.

The problem with TB's is not genetic diversity, but short-sighted use of existing breeding stock. Stallions (and mares) with serious soundness/physical issues are used, which just passes on their problems. Horses are not being bred for long-term soundness/usefulness but to make quick $$ as yearlings or 2 year olds and fashionable bloodlines are more important than actual talent or durablility. Result? Horses that sell for amazing amounts of money as babies but break down under the stress of racing at an early age - which is the only way their owners can hope to make any money off of them. That, and retire them to the breeding shed as soon as possible to start the money-making machine all over again.
And if there is any Arab blood in Belgian draft horses, it has certainly not been introduced more recently than 150 years ago - the same goes for all the draft breeds. Belgians are not the shortest draft breed, you must be thinking of some other breed/type. Perhaps a Belgian warmblood? Just google any of the draft breeds and you will see that their stud books have been closed for a long time.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

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