The Importance of Bloodlines When Choosing Your Western Performance Partner

Western Performance Horse Bloodlines

The Importance of Bloodlines When Choosing a Western Performance Partner

By Jess Hallas-Kilcoyne

“Tried and true bloodlines are your best starting point for selecting a prospect, but then you have to go with the horse as an individual because you can have great bloodlines but the horse isn’t always going to live up to the standard of those bloodlines,” says Canadian reining trainer, coach, and competitor Cheryl Mitchell. “Once in a while, you’ll get one without the bloodlines that ends up being a superstar, but that’s less common.”

“Everything is getting more specialized, the envelope is being pushed, and what was once good enough is no longer good enough,” comments certified Equine Canada coach and AQHA specialized judge Lindsay Grice. “Just as in any area of sport, it’s getting tougher.” And with that comes breeding more selectively for a specific purpose.

“The cutters have always bred for cutting horses,” points out Dee Butterfield of Butterfield Performance Horses. “You wouldn’t try to go to the World [Championships] in cutting without a horse whose bloodlines run very close to world championships on the top and the bottom.”

Before she started breeding performance Quarter Horses specifically for barrel racing some 15 years ago, Butterfield admits, “We used to just pick what might work conformation wise. We weren’t breeding to be event-specific.” Now, she says, bloodlines are carefully selected with winners in the pedigree.

“For a barrel horse,” she continues, “it can be a reining-bred or cow-bred horse, or a race-bred horse, because both can excel, but he has to have bloodlines where the winners are a rule rather than the exception.”

Main Photo: Courtesy of Frank Holmes, - With life time earnings of $743,275, the #2 All Time Leading Cutting Sire and one of only three horses ever to win the National Cutting Horse Association Triple Crown, Smart Little Lena is found in the pedigrees of many successful cutting, reining, and working cow performance horses.


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Canadian Quarter Horse Association

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