Date: August 2002
Q: Who defines the type, how do we maintain type?
A: The twin conundrums. First we have a breed that has an extraordinary
history of excellent horsemen stewarding the breed's development, and as
a consequence many examples of the breed are capable of excelling at
many disciplines. Second we have the dedication of very few people, each
with their own very strong and very valid approach to recovering the
breed from drowning in a now relatively tiny gene pool.
How on earth does one decide on what is "typey" for the breed?
Look at the huge type range in the TB and QH, each type has their
champions who say their type is genuinely representative of the breed.
And they are speaking the truth for that part of the gene pool, which in
the case of those "breeds" is large enough that different types can
exist as reproduceable and definable categories within the breed.
In the microcosm of the Teke, these differences are painfully obvious as
the limited total number of animals so often places the different types
cheek-by-jowl in the same picture.
Sound principles of gene pool maintenance place a single stallion at the
head of a family of animals with those animals that are to breed being
selected for excellence in conformation and health. The stallion
determines the type thread. The breeder determines the quality of the
individual selected to continue being woven into the type tapestry.
That part, in spite of its requirement for top-class horsemanship on the
part of the breeder, is the easy part.
The hard part comes when a stallion crosses type pools. This is where
the rare individuals who are able to look at an animal and see the
balance of light and dark threads (or different coloured threads if you
prefer) which may complement each other, need to get together and, in
spite of their own egos, work toward convincing we lesser mortals that
specific combinations are good, others less preferred.
Oh, and provide as much explanation to us as possible, to help in
convincing us, even though explaining horsemanship and the stewardship
of breeding is near enough to impossible.
This is the active stud book, not the static repository of dry
information, but the very future existance of the breed. The actual
mechanics of maintaining the mother stud book are the same regardless of
the breed and are relatively simple. It's the people that are difficult
If managing the people controlling the actual documents becomes too
diffcult, the next step must be managing the type pools (read stallion
pools) to ensure that at least some well conformed and healthy animals
can be identifiably carried forward. Not as an act of bloody-mindedness
against a part of the community, but as part of the strategic long term
view of continuing the breed's existance. In this context, debates on
the relative qualities of type are secondary to maintaining the
existance of the type in representative healthy animals.
Lack of diversity of strong types will kill the breed as effectively as
willy-nilly dilution of the types in the direction of a single type,
through misunderstanding of the specifics needed in a breeding program
to ensure the longevity of the breed.
So there's the goal for individual breeders, strong, well conformed,
healthy animals down a single stallion line. And selection of type
characteristics when there is a nice little surplus of those strong,
well conformed, healthy animals.
The rules for this part can come from anyone who cares passionately
about the overall directions of any breed.
Then, once you have proved to the world that you are completely mad and
happy to dedicate every minute of the day and every dollar of your
income to your horses, use this forum to argue the relative merits of
the stallion lines, and why you believe specific crosses should occur.
Like wildfire, these discussions will spread and the definition of the
Teke type must surely flow from there. It may well be different from the
type a thousand years ago, but everthing changes regardless of how we
may rail against the changes.
As you said Jessica, many people may not be comfortable with a lack of
well defined boundaries, but those people are the ones who follow the
explorers and set up the farms once the boundaries have been surveyed
and the hostiles civilised. You, and many others in this community are
working every day on the frontiers of humanity. Not an easy task, but
one that provides incomparable satisfaction.
Well, that's it for me, hope I didn't upset anyone too much.
Peter Edmunds, NZ.