Question regarding inbred horses

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Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2002
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OK this is going to be hard to explain.....sigh.....I'll try.

There is a number of horses of various ages, some very young and some very old who were all inbred, starved for years, and unhandled, but not beaten to my knowledge etc. Now in proper care for a long time, each one seems to well...simply put, nuts.

It is much more than lack of training because each one has been handled very appropriately and the physical damage is being erased. However the mental state of the horses is just "not right".......They just

do very weird stuff, not normal stuff for a horse. They are whacky, do not respond to humans much at all, have attacked their trainers out of the clear blue, just explode for no real reason, flat out mean, and have very strange tendencies in general. It is not a feed "high" I do not's something else I just cannot put my finger on it.

I was faced with something like this a very long time ago and the horses did not have brain damage, but they were lacking in something. I cannot remember for the life of me what it was. I also know a blood panel was run, but it was a special test and I cannot think of the name of it now.

Does anyone out here have a clue as to what test that could have been?

Thank you so much.
I maybe needs some more coffee because I don't understand? A test for what?

Not knowing anything about the horses you're thinking about, could their really wierd behavior be more because they are unhandled and maybe never saw anything other than some little paddock in the middle of nowhere? Like, didn't know there was more in the world than a 50x40 pen? What is the exact history on the horses and are you sure their strangeness isn't attributable to life experience (or total lack thereof) vs. genetics?

And inbred / linebred... I guess it's the difference of if you start with two very physically nice and related horses, or two not so great and related horses? I have some double bred buckeroo that I wouldn't see anyone tossing out of their barn and a little "no names behind her" mare that is from two half siblings. This would be my mare, Lou, who I've owned since 2002. She's beautiful, halter champion, and you'd never, ever meet a more sane and willing horse. I could drive Lou down I95 and she'd just "drive on".
True, being very closely related can cause some physical (and/or mental) deficiences BUT if these horses are all closely related, is the common ancestor at fault? I have seen a bad attitude horse pass on these 'traits' to this a physical or a learned attitude, I don't know but it is there.

I would be more suspect of the wild way they were kept as a reason over a physical one.

This is, however, a question we will never have a true answer for.
I have found that unhandled horses (especially older un handled horses) take a long time to come around. Their flight instinct is so high!! I can normally bring one of those around in a couple months. But the last one that came here took a full year!! It takes a long time do undo say 3-5 years of running wild and never being handled.

How closely inbred are they?? I do think that makes a difference too. I know years ago we took in an inbred herd in cmhr and they were father/daughter brother/sister etc. They were fine mentally but their conformation faults were horrible and some had actual leg deformities
Incest doesn't work for people, dogs, cats or wild animals. Why would it work for horses? It's called line breeding when it works out occassionally and inbreeding when it doesn't. It has been known to wipe out herds, packs, prides in the wild. If mother nature says it ain't right what would possess humans to try to beat her at her own game? There are plenty of horses out there to "save a line".

Those poor horses. Depending on the amount of time most horses come around to some degree. They may not crawl in your lap ever but horses attacking humans is not normal. Euthanasia is sometimes the kindest thing when the soul & mind cannot recover. Has the group been split up? Totally split up? Isolated with a kind buddy or 2 in the barn as company and as near constant as possible human companionship?

I don't want to speculate on the feed high but you'd be surprised at what grains change attitudes. Is grain absolutely necessary?
Actually Marty there are certain lines in different breeds who have been known to do this. It is not unheard of and it usually is because the horse is closely inbred. I have seen this in large horses [and yes in a few small ones too]. pm me Linda
I think some horses are born that way. They say with dogs, some are born without the pack instinct. It is a code missing. Don't know if that is inheritable, or a simple birth defect. Horse breeders go for color, why wouldn't a bad attitude be passed on? And on.

I had a colt that was crazy. Because I was inexperienced and idealistic, I thought all it would take is love, time, and training. It did not work that way. He would be fine one minute, then the next he would act as though I was a ferocious lion after him. Some days he would wear the surcingle and walk along nicely. The next, he would throw a wild bronco act to dislodge it. He was dangerous. It had nothing to do with his enviornment. I had him for 2 1/2 years and finally admitted defeat. I also knew one of his full brothers who belonged to someone else and he was a wacko--also unpredictable. At least those two were gelded and it was the end of the line there.

My husband lived/loves to tell the story of being dragged across the pasture by that yearling.
That is to bad. I know I have one mare that has good bloodlines but was never handled. I bought her for the foal. I felt I could not sell her and just pass her on to someone else. She has been here two years and although we have to corral her for shots-teeth-farrier work she has beautiful sound-minded foals. She will allow me to lightly handle her but if these minis were never handled it could take a long long time. I wonder though cause the rescue minis that were here although I suspect inbreeding and they were barely handled...two months later they were loving the attention and brushings and now are pampered pets and very loving.
[SIZE=12pt]I've had many, many unhandled horses, including some we literally had to rope and wrestle down to get into a trailer. The vast majority of those came around quickly and again, most became LOVING, gentle, willing horses. [/SIZE]

It sounds like these horses have a combination of contributing factors, including the inbreeding and environment. Some of them may come out of it eventually, but some probably won't

Also, I have linebred many horses, producing amazing show and breeding horses. We are VERY careful and have produced ONE foal I wasn't happy with in the last 10 years since we started crossing "Magic" Sons & Daughters. They are all good minded and not only LOOK good, but perform and go on to produce quality horses.
That's probably it Laura. This is by no means any form of selective line breeding whatsoever. Everything from bad stifles to off bites, you name it but they are simply are VERY strange acting. Can't go into anymore details than that.
Hi Marty

While it is definately true that inbreeding can cause some unwelcome problems, I would also check to see if any of the horses has EPM (possum disease). I know of several situations where a horse went completely wacko and got very agressive for no obvious reason whatsoever - owner actually gelded a stunning stallion because it got so crazy -- but finally diagnosed the horse with EPM and after a extended treatment period the horse came around and is now back to his sweet self.

I would sure try to give the poor horses the benefit of the doubt (irregardless of the inbreeding issue), and check out other possibilities - the vet may also have some suggestions regarding lack of minerals that could cause this behavior.

The horses that I have taken on that were wild were never mean, scared absolutely, and would do just about anything to avoid being handled, but that is WAY different than mean - being scared is truly an instinct.

Poor horses - they didn't ask to end up this way - I hope you can find a solution.

There is a difference in line breeding and inbreeding.....

Could be a vitamin/mineral deficiency of some sort in regards to the behavior, and I agree- the horse has a strong FLIGHT instinct, not a FIGHT instinct to attack someone- unless they are wild and pressured and quickly crowded into a corner or something.

I also know of a couple of lines that were noted to be on the whacky side....

What a shame... and I agree with someone else, unfortunately euthanasia is sometimes a blessing. It doesnt sound like their life has ever been a good one.

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