Sunday, July 31, 2016

Shock and Ahhhh.. Our Breeding Program--A Fork In The Road

The brunt of the work of breed conservation that we have done over the years is embodied in the Corolla offsite breeding program that we began. This effort, which seeks to place Corollas in the hands of families that will agree to breed a small number of foals and seek to place them in the hands of other breeders who will do the same, has been successful on a small scale.

Of course, we are a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program so strategic decisions may be made with a focus on effectiveness instead of profit. At the same time, funds are limited so strategies for preventing the extinction of the Corollas cannot be made without considering our long term viability as an organization.

We can pursue more than one strategy at a time. I see no hope in trying to convert the established horse world or to seek their acceptance though competition in their shows and other events (with the possible exception of endurance racing).

In looking at the future of our  program I have several factors to consider. I have to look at our assets:

The diversity of our Colonial Spanish horse strains that we seek to preserve and promote. Although our primary emphasis is on the Corollas, we also work to preserve and promote Choctaws, Grand Canyons, Marsh Tacky's, Galicenos, and Baccas.

Our unique physical environment.  We demonstrate the effectiveness of natural horse care. We demonstrate proper use of the round pen. Our obstacle course that we use to build horse and rider confidence, the Amusement Park, is a tremendous asset. The colonial livestock that wander around the horse lot put our horses in their proper historical setting. All of this  sits alongside our replica 1650's era settler's farm.

Our capacity to provide entertaining educational programs. Our round pen demos are first rate and often have large segments of them presented by people who not only are too young to drive, but only recently became too old to order off of the children's menu. We have done living history programs and have had many speakers come in and present extraordinary programs for our riders. As we get more into use of permaculture techniques we have an interesting environmental story to tell. Lastly, our unique music program that teaches ancient songs being played on ancient, and often homemade, instruments allows us to do programs that not only are tremendous fun, but provide significant cultural education.

Our capacity to produce foals for Corolla preservation is unique in the nation. We have assembled a sufficient foundation herd of Corollas along with closely related strains for strain crossing which will provide genetic diversity to breed for many generations to come.  The result will be larger Corollas--not tall and without type--but taller than they are in the wild. Doing so will reduce a significant part of the resistance to these horses--the belief that they are too small to be ridden by adults.

With all of these assets in mind I am carefully considering a major change in the focus of our efforts at breed conservation. I am continuing to think out loud and will be putting up some ideas for a change in direction soon.

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