Breeding Like to Like

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceThursday 19 January 2012

If you have looked into breeding, you have likely heard the phrase “breed like to like”.  But what does this really mean?  How can you develop a breed if you only breed horses that are the same together?  How do you correct for issues that you might have in your mare if you breed her to a stallion who is just like her?

First of all, you need to understand what is meant by “like”.  Horses that are “like” each other are similar in build and type.  For example, a Percheron and a Thoroughbred are not “like” each other.  On the other hand, an Arabian and a Quarter Horse are quite similar.

But, many Percheron x Thoroughbreds are excellent horses.  Why would they not be considered a good cross?

Because the types are very dissimilar, draft crosses are very unpredictable.  For every nice looking draft cross you will find another one that has a draft head on a Thoroughbred body, or tiny Thoroughbred legs and a thick draft body.  It is impossible to be sure what you will get from this cross.

If you breed a Thoroughbred x Percheron back to a Thoroughbred, you have a better chance of getting a consistent offspring.  This is because the Thoroughbred genes are more similar in type, matching the genes in the draft cross.  ¾ Thoroughbreds are far more consistent crosses than the original draft cross.

Quarter Horses and Arabians are far more similar in type.  Most of these crosses turn out very consistently.  In fact, there is a fair bit of Arabian blood in Quarter Horses from many years back.

Knowing the genetic background of a breed is very helpful when choosing to crossbreed.  For example, Percherons have a lot of Arabian in their background, making an Arabian cross far more genetically alike than a Thoroughbred cross.

If you are looking to breed your mare, it is wise to select a stallion who corrects for her faults, but is alike in overall type.  If you make a cross that is too different, you run the risk of getting an offspring that does not mesh together, getting parts that do not quite match.

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