Personality Traits by Dick Pieper
Photos Courtesy of Darrell Dodds
The horse’s personality develops from the combination of his genetic tendencies and his life experiences, the training and handling he receives throughout his life. A horse’s personality can be molded by schooling or conditioning, but the raw material is in the horse’s genetics when you start your train¬ing program. Those inherited characteristics affect your program results. That’s why bloodlines have become so important in the horse industry.
In our Pieper Ranch breeding program, my wife and I have been very careful to select bloodlines that we feel have strong mental characteristics that enhance the type of horses we’re interested in producing. Our horse’s genetic bloodlines come largely from the cutting and reining worlds. However, these also are the kind of bloodlines that fit well throughout the spectrum of all Western horse disciplines, as well as for both amateur and recreational riders.\
Texas Kicker, for example, is a son of Colonel Freckles. Colonel Freckles was a beautiful horse with nearly perfect physical conformation. He also had a quiet mind, and was a very docile, trainable kind of horse. He had won the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity but also was very suitable for many disciplines, including reining, Western pleasure, Western riding and roping, and he also sired wonderful recreational horses. He probably was one of the most popular sires of the 1980s and ‘90s.
The raw material for personality is in a young horse’s genes, but t
raining can help mold and shape it.
Texas Kicker’s mother was by Mister Gold 95, a son of Hollywood Gold, owned by the Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas. Many mares the ranch owns to this day trace back to Hollywood Gold. Mr Gold 95’s daughter, Miss Ginger Dee, was co-champion of the NCHA Futurity. Even though many of Hollywood Gold’s foals have been great performers, they also have been great ranch horses popular throughout the West.
These are the kinds of bloodlines that we feel are so important. These bloodlines have the ability to achieve our goal of producing all-around good horses that perform well in almost any discipline.
Our second stallion, Playgun, was a son of Freckles Playboy, a three-quarter brother to Colonel Freckles. Playgun’s dam was a daughter of Doc’s Hickory. Playgun was champion of both open and non-pro Augusta Cutting Horse Futurities and went on to win $184,000 in NCHA Competition. He remains number eight on the list of all-time leading sires of cutting horses and his get have won well over $7 million in the cutting arena. However, Playgun’s greatest contribution has been as a sire of roping and ranch horses. A great many ranches have sons of Playgun to breed ranch mares because those sires enable the ranches to produce superior working and roping horses.
The stallion, Real Gun, once owned by the Stuart Ranch of Waurika, Okla., was the 2004 American Quarter Horse Association Superhorse, being shown in reining, working cow horse, calf roping, heading and heel
ing. Although Real Gun has been a fabulous arena horse, his get are now the foundation of Stuart Ranch’s using-horse program and daily work any task required on the ranch.
Texas Kicker’s level-headed style of stopping was part of his genetic make-up, so I tried not to get in the way of that when training him.
So many times horses that excel in the show ring have offspring that quite often become the same good-minded, quiet, com¬pliant horses that are perfect for everyday ranch work or recreational riding. It’s important to realize, though, that you can start with a great horse mentally, but give him the wrong interaction and training, and cause the horse to become defensive and unreliable, overcoming his genetic makeup.
In the next issue we will discuss how to look for physical clues to a horse’s mental outlook.
Dick Pieper is internationally recognized as a horseman’s horseman and this iconic individual has influenced and developed the careers of riders and their trainers for decades. After fifty plus years in the horse industry, his name has come to stand for a special brand of arena excellence that never compromised the welfare of the horse.
For more information, go to dickpieper.com
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 11
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