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☛ Facts Behind Numbers 12-23-12




By Glen Nelson
Dec. 23, 2012

The cutting industry produces a lot of aggregate data measuring results by the highest winnings and produce of this or that. Some factor in the mean averages and some gender information, which is helpful but still far too general to make effective breeding and purchasing decisions. The data is accurate but can unintentionally be misleading to the average cutting horse owner or breeder. A little more knowledge can vastly improve the information you rely upon and reveal some “facts behind the numbers.”


My methodology uses statistical analysis. I often hear from individuals who have a mare or a show horse that had a lot of success, contrary to what one of my articles has said. Well, I know a guy who won the lottery and yet I remain steadfast in my conviction not to play. Playing the lottery may be a lot of fun, but it is statistically “fools gold.” I want to make real decisions based on real information that provides me the best chance of success. It is fun to play but it is more fun to play and win! Let’s discuss some lesser known facts.


Does gender matter?


Yes! But there exists an irrational bias in our industry in favor of fillies. This is largely supported by the fact that mares can breed and geldings cannot. While geldings cannot breed, the vast majority of mares should not. Embryo transplant technology has raised the standard of what is a breedable mare. The highest and best use of a vast majority of horses is to ride them and this must be factored into all of your decisions. Sure, owning a $100,000 money-winning mare is more valuable than the same gelding, but if you are showing or promoting a mare or a stud, it may not matter as much. Many stud colts/geldings are under-valued because of the exaggerated view of fillies. To make the best decision you have to evaluate more closely.


Consider this, the best cross for your horse can be extremely gender specific. For example, stud colts from Doc Stylish Oak mares crossed on Dual Rey are 7:1 favorites over the fillies to win over $30K. Wow! As you sit at the auction, this fact would be important to know. Filly bias could lead you to the wrong conclusion. Many other crosses also have strong gender correlations in favor of stud colts/geldings while others strongly support the fillies. It is important to set aside industry norms and personal bias and ask the questions: What is my objective? What gender factors apply to the horse I am buying, training, or breeding? Get the information before you make a decision.


Some sale reports show breakdowns between studs, fillies and geldings, but show results do not. Sale results lag behind show results. This gives you a chance to get out ahead of the market by tracking show winnings by gender and thus getting a statistical edge. It also lets you save an enormous amount of money by adding this statistical data to your culling decisions. My previous article, “Cutting Horses and Texas Hold ‘em” develops this point in greater detail.


Gender also correlates with proven mares. Amongst others, consider what three of our industry’s top producing mares had in common. One Time Soon, Laney Doc and The Smart Look all produced stud colts at a substantially higher percentage of winnings than fillies. Gender data for mares is obtained easily, yet often not given the consideration it deserves.


Who should I breed to?


After you answer the question, Should I breed my mare? The next question is With whom should I breed her? Here aggregate data can be very deceiving. For example, While Peptoboonsmal was an industry-leading stallion for many years, he was a very narrow breeder. If you owned a Smart Little Lena mare or the famous mare Stylish and Foxie, your decision was easy. Pepto was a great cross. If you did not, breeding to Pepto was a riskier venture. Looking at the aggregate data would not tell you this. You have to look deeper. How will a specific stud cross on my mare? Magic Cross reports are good but they only look at the winners. Ask more questions. How long ago did the stud produce the money winners? How strong were the mares that produced the winners? How many horses failed? Why did they fail? How strong is the stud being promoted? Successful stud selection takes a tremendous amount of thought.


I just completed some work on WR This Cats Smart. Several things jumped out that exemplify the points made above that may assist you in your stud consideration. First, WR bred a lot of non-cutting horse mares. This included many ranch horses. When I adjusted the numbers for this, the results were far better than what the industry aggregate numbers had shown. Second, no apparent strong crosses appeared. He produced winners from a broad selection of mares. If your mare does not have a proven cross or the stud fee for the best cross is out of your reach, a stud like WR may be worth considering. His stud fee as a ratio of money produced adjusting for age, divided by cutting horses bred is very strong compared to his contemporaries. The point is that with WR there is more to the story than has been told.


Early identification of statistical data creates opportunities Smooth as a Cat is outstanding with Dual Pep mares. This was apparent from his early foal crops. Those paying attention got some great early buys. It was very surprising but One Time Pepto has struggled in his cross on Smart Little Lena mares based on his first foal crop but did well on Highbrow Cat and Dual Rey mares. This is exiting news for Cat and Dual Rey mare owners as finding consistent crosses for them has been difficult.


The past is a predictor of the future. Adding statistical data to your decision-making process can improve your results. Having demonstrated this, I still wish you good luck!

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  1. Where is the best place to find the statistics and information to compile these records? Looking to purchasing a few prospects, and would love to be able to find more detailed info about the sires offspring performance, especially when crossed on certain mares.

  2. Randy
    I am interested in buying a mare that would cross good on high brow cat sons. My goal is to raise and sell the foals. Can you point me in a good direction to start my search. Your articles are very informative. I would love to learn more on understanding the statistics.

    Thanks for your help


  3. Do you offer breeding consulting services?

    • Sorry. I don’t do that.
      Glory Ann

  4. Glory Ann. This is brilliant and I’m appalled at what is being bred on many fronts. I have two WR horses out of the same mare…they could not be more different, and the legacy of blondeys dude mares us a great example. I carefully breed 1-2 horses a year that I ensure get a chance at the show pen. Where can I find more like reading? I have a Smoking prize mare that has been great for me, and I want to make an informed choice. Thank you.

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