By Robert M. Miller, D.V.M.
“It’s a shame,” I said to Walt.
“Her conformation's filled with fault.
Her head is plain. Her neck is ewe.
Her back is long. Her tail askew.
Her shoulder straight, back at the knees;
She toes out in front, you'll notice please.
Offset cannons and you see.
This mare, I fear, will never be
A racing prospect, or good for show;
Brittle feet with seedy toe.
Four years old, already lame
In both forelegs; in back the same.
Problems to worsen eventually
Because she's built inadequately.
Her hip is short. Her croup is low.
The right fore tendon's begun to bow.
She cribs, you know, and lolls her tongue--
Too many vices in a mare so young.
And when she's worked to desperation,
She wheezes with each respiration.
Her teeth are bad. She overbites.
With other mares she always fights.
When she trots she'll weave and bobble.
Her hind end has a definite wobble.
Now melanoma in horses gray
Is very commonplace I'd say.
But these masses 'neath her tail are bad.
In a mare so young it makes me sad.
I hate to bear such tragic news:
You might as well just pull her shoes.
And stop her training as of now.
You cannot ride her anyhow.”
Walt looked at me and then replied,
“The guy who sold her surely lied.
He told me that she was so great,
And I so eager, could hardly wait,
To load her up and take her home,
To pay for her, make her my own.
Well, no matter,”said Walt aloud,
“She’ll make a broodmare fine and proud.
We'll breed her soon and get repaid
For the investment that I made.
I know a stallion with a fee so low
He's laid up for a year or so.
He's got navicular disease they say.
But his stud fee I guess I'll pay;
And raise a foal so this young mare
Will pay her way and earn her fare.
Don't you agree, Doc, with my plan?”
I answered him ... I told the man:
“Like begets like. You've heard that said?
This foal you're planning, in your head,
Is good for business-mine, I mean.
Foals like this, I have seen,
Are useful to support a vet.
Because of many defects, yet
Our voice is often heard alone
Warning breeders, ‘Do not condone
The breeding of inferior sire
To inferior mare if you desire
To produce foals to improve the breed
Breed best to best, that's all you need.’”
Now listen you breeders of puppy dogs
And cats and sheep and cows and hogs,
For your own species just change the name.
The principles are still the same.
Like begets like. It's in the genes,
Controlled by DNA it seems.
Breed best to best, it's your only chance
For offspring that will the breed enhance.
Originally published in The American Quarter