When choosing a mare...TrueNicks or conformation?

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Ridan_Remembered
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:42 pm

I'm trying to decide between three mares to go in on a soon-to-be-born foal, all sired by the same stallion.

The mare with the best TrueNicks (B+) rating with the stallion has weak back pasterns, a flat croup, and withers that are a bit too prominent.

The mare with the best conformation has only a C+ TrueNicks rating with the stallion.

The third mare has an F TrueNicks rating although her conformation is decent.

These are what might be characterized as mid-level mares in terms of value, and they are carrying foals from the stallion's first crop.

Which would you choose. (This is a genuine question...really would value your opinions.) Would you place more value on the TrueNicks ratings or the conformation, or some other criteria?
BaroqueAgain1
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:02 pm

Speaking from a boundless amount of no experience as a bloodstock agent :P, I think I'd go with the C+ mare with the best conformation.
As I understand it, a TrueNicks rating creates stats by pooling results from a bunch of mares of a certain bloodline who have been bred to this stallion or his bloodline. So, for an individual mare, it may indicate how the odds stack up, but it doesn't know how this particular mare will do.
But her conformation is known to you. It's not guesswork when it comes to how she's put together. Maybe her odds are better.
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serenassong
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:22 pm

BaroqueAgain1 wrote:Speaking from a boundless amount of no experience as a bloodstock agent :P, I think I'd go with the C+ mare with the best conformation.
As I understand it, a TrueNicks rating creates stats by pooling results from a bunch of mares of a certain bloodline who have been bred to this stallion or his bloodline. So, for an individual mare, it may indicate how the odds stack up, but it doesn't know how this particular mare will do.
But her conformation is known to you. It's not guesswork when it comes to how she's put together. Maybe her odds are better.
I agree to this. Nicks should be looked at as additional info. You should look for a stallion that will build on the mare's weakness as far as conformation goes. Nicks can and do change with more additional info, conformation is a constant on a horse.
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Ridan_Remembered
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:10 pm

Thanks to you both and am glad you are in agreement. The mare with the better TrueNicks score has really bad rear pasterns that sink downward rather alarmingly as she walks and moves around. I like the C+ mare much better but the low-ish TrueNicks score was a little worrying. She is by Munnings out of an Unbridled Song mare. This will be her 2nd foal. Her first is a nice-looking just-turned yearling colt by Tiznow.
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Flanders
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:33 pm

As others have said, Nicks are just a tool to use. I wouldn't put much stock into them in your situation. There isn't a lot of data to use on that particular stallion or his sire(his sons at stud have not had starters yet). Use the same mare and another stallion from that line and you will get a different rating for nearly every single one.

I think you need to look at which mare has the conformation that compliments the stallion the best, showed ability on the racetrack and has the strongest female family.
lurkey mclurker
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:51 pm

I agree with Flanders re ability & female family in addition to conformation. But (and I don't know, I'm just throwing this out there) are the mares all roughly the same age, or might the worrisome pasterns have been exacerbated by being older and having carried foals before?

Either way, I think you'd be happier going with your gut feeling/s. :mrgreen:
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Honor Code
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Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:25 am

For what little it's worth, I'd like to second Flanders.

My reasoning is more from the sport horse world though. A foal with decent conformation will yield a foal which, even if they can't run, will be easier to re-home from an aftercare perspective.

From another perspective: take all TrueNicks with a huge grain of salt. Majority of the ratings are based off data pools that are so small as to be statistically insignificant. If I recall correctly, zenyatta's nick was rated a D- prior to her G1 victories. Last I hear, her nick is now magically an A. So, grain of salt is definitely in order.
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Flanders
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Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:38 am

Honor Code wrote:For what little it's worth, I'd like to second Flanders.

My reasoning is more from the sport horse world though. A foal with decent conformation will yield a foal which, even if they can't run, will be easier to re-home from an aftercare perspective.

From a different perspective: take all TrueNicks with a huge grain of salt. Majority of the ratings are based off data pools that are so small as to be statistically insignificant. If I recall correctly, zenyatta's nick was rated a D- prior to her G1 victories. Last I hear, her nick is now magically an A. So, grain of salt is definitely in order.
In Zenyatta's case, she was from Street Cry's first crop and his sire had never stood in the US. Zenyatta is one of the reasons that nick is an A now. As more horses are bred on the cross it will change the results.
One thing I do not like about Truenicks is that it doesn't calculate stuff based on Foals of Racing Age but rather starters. So a Nick could have 100 foals of racing age, 20 starters, 2 Stakes Winners and it would get a high rating because that nick producers 10% SWs according to how they rate it.
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Treve
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Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:20 pm

My internet crapped out and ate my post... but in a nutshell I wouldn't really worry about Truenicks as others have pointed out.
Regarding conformation however, there's several factors to consider. Is the foal being bred to race, or bred to sell? Will you have a stake in the foal after its racing career should it be a filly or will the long term plan be to sell into a breeding career with someone else? From an old school pov I'd look at the dam's family and prioritize bloodlines over conformation. You can improve confo with the right stallion, it's much harder to improve a family from scratch if there's no foundation to go off of. From a commercial pov a correct, aesthetically pleasing horse will usually be a hit. So depends on what the aim is too :)

The other thing to consider with conformation is that certain flaws are purely aesthetic and don't affect biomechanics or a horse's performance (prominent withers aren't a biomechanical flaw). Some good horses, even great horses have overcome some pretty surprising physical flaws. Other flaws are the results of injuries or wear and tear from life taking its toll, and if they're not congenital, then chances are it wouldn't affect the foal's conformation either. One should if possible try to look at the mare's relatives. Finally, you might have a mare with great confo but just one flaw or a correct/decent trait, but that won't complement or improve on the stallion very well and vice versa. So I wouldn't just look at the mares individually, but also how they match up with the stud. I might be more inclined to go with the less correct mare if her flaws complement or enhance the stallion's qualities while making up for the stud's flaws, more than the very correct mare but that might have a flaw that is similar to the stud.


ETA: I think you'll be interested in these if you haven't already ;)
https://vimeo.com/245664771
https://vimeo.com/244670014
https://vimeo.com/244552632
As a gut thing I instantly liked Sea Mona. Colerful Bride is nice too but I seem to recall Chrome doesn't have the straightest legs from the front so if she's a little toed out may not be the best match. I liked the analysis of Sixtyfivenorth and how he explained her flaws and how they complemented Chrome's.
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Ridan_Remembered
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Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:21 am

Treve wrote:ETA: I think you'll be interested in these if you haven't already ;)
https://vimeo.com/245664771
https://vimeo.com/244670014
https://vimeo.com/244552632
As a gut thing I instantly liked Sea Mona. Colerful Bride is nice too but I seem to recall Chrome doesn't have the straightest legs from the front so if she's a little toed out may not be the best match. I liked the analysis of Sixtyfivenorth and how he explained her flaws and how they complemented Chrome's.
Treve, thanks for the videos. Much appreciated. Re those three mares, the video doesn't let us really see Sea Mona's conformation, but she has a very sweet temperament, which I like. I'm not crazy about Sixty's conformation at all. Colerful is a chunky, strong-looking mare with nice bone. She does have a sleepy eyed look thanks to her long white eyelashes, but that's meaningless. She does toe out slightly on the right front, but slight toeing out is common and I don't even see it as a fault.

Here is one of the best head-on photos of Chrome. He is walking, so bear that in mind. But this pic shows that Chrome is not badly conformed in front. He is actually well within the norm for Thoroughbred stallions. Compare his front with that of Man o' War in the second image. Except that Man o' War is standing and facing squarely to the front, while Chrome has one foot up because he's walking and his body is at a slight angle to the camera, the photos are very similar. Perfect for comparison purposes. There's almost no difference. If anything, Man o' War toed out more obviously than Chrome does, while one might want a bit more width on Chrome at the bottom front of his chest between his front legs. Since no horse has 100% perfect conformation, I don't sweat the small stuff.

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Ballerina
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Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:43 am

I think a lot of things have to be brought into consideration. Understanding the faults of the mare and the stud - not doubling up on mutual problems. If mare is a maiden, breed to an experienced stallion with a record of producing sound get who get to the race tracks. If the breeder likes the type embodied in the mare, look for a stallion to complement that type. Surely take into consideration nicking, but not necessarily make it gospel, but it should factor into the decision. To me, soundness and health would be my top priority. I'd be wary of a lot stallions rushed off to the breeding shed before they could finish their 3 year old year. I've never bred a horse. My experience which is a great deal comes from 40 years of breeding dogs. These are the lessons I've learned over the years. I can't see where it would be any different in breeding horses. My mantra has always been, first make them sound; then make them pretty. I know pretty doesn't count in making a good race horse, so lets say - first make them sound; then make them runners.
Cladan
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Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:37 pm

Breed the best to the best and hope for the best. That said, confirmation is key, stats and algorithms, not so much :)
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Treve
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:02 am

There was an informal photo of Chrome standing square in the shedrow head on and it definitely showed him as nearly knock-kneed. I was quite surprised when I saw it, it was posted from sometime around his retirement on this here forum. :P
I do like Colerful Bride's overall confo, I'm just not a fan of her topline (Sea Mona's was better, I just wish we'd gotten clearer confo shots of her entire body). The sleepy eyes really is of no concern to me, that's just aesthetic.
Looking at all of these mare's dams, the production records are similar though I think Sixtyfivenorth's dam Lady Heroine has the edge due to a larger sample size and having produced a multiple stakes winner. CB is in between and Sea Mona's is similar but slightly smaller sample. I'm too tired to look past that but it could give you more things to pour over and study.
You should go with your gut, when it comes down to it, once you've got all the other information on hand.
A filly named Ruffian...

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Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


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Diver52
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:23 am

FWIW a friend who is in the Chrome fan group asked my opinion and I loved Sea Mona's pedigree as a fan, plus her gentle temper--Storm Cat 3x3 and Seattle Slew 3x4, and from the Man o' War male line. Fanwise, that did it for me!
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Ridan_Remembered
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:03 am

Treve wrote:There was an informal photo of Chrome standing square in the shed row head on and it definitely showed him as nearly knock-kneed.
Here is a knock-kneed horse (not a Thoroughbred).
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Here is the 3-year-old Chrome after he won the Hollywood Derby.
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This is my favorite video of Chrome because is shows his action close up, including a segment when he is coming straight toward the camera. It also has slow motion segments. From the front, the viewer can compare Chrome to other horses racing right next to him. Chrome's action is as straight and true as they come. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr6QDRJGUBE

As a final point of comparison, here is a photo of Secretariat and his groom, Eddie Sweat. Red had about the straightest front legs you'd ever want in a horse, and yet just the way he's standing at that moment, one might say he looks "nearly" knock-kneed. Photos never tell the whole story. They merely freeze a small fraction of a second.
Image
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Treve
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:21 pm

Ridan_Remembered wrote:
Treve wrote:There was an informal photo of Chrome standing square in the shed row head on and it definitely showed him as nearly knock-kneed.
Here is a knock-kneed horse (not a Thoroughbred).
Image

Here is the 3-year-old Chrome after he won the Hollywood Derby.
Image

This is my favorite video of Chrome because is shows his action close up, including a segment when he is coming straight toward the camera. It also has slow motion segments. From the front, the viewer can compare Chrome to other horses racing right next to him. Chrome's action is as straight and true as they come. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr6QDRJGUBE

As a final point of comparison, here is a photo of Secretariat and his groom, Eddie Sweat. Red had about the straightest front legs you'd ever want in a horse, and yet just the way he's standing at that moment, one might say he looks "nearly" knock-kneed. Photos never tell the whole story. They merely freeze a small fraction of a second.
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Your initial post asked for a sincere opinion, I gave you mine... you seem to have made up your mind, and I'm not here to change it, if this shared characteristic between the mare and the stallion don't bother you, as I said before, go with your gut :)
And furthermore... I did say I personally would prioritize bloodlines over conformation in my first response to this thread if the foal was being bred to race, rather than commercially - I expressed the very notion that good horses, even great horses have overcome conformational and biomechanical flaws which is why I do not think it is the end of the world. And it is easier to improve on conformation than to improve a bad family or questionable bloodlines. Much harder. But if conformation is the end goal, then in my opinion when you've got a horse like Chrome that is mostly well conformed wouldn't you want to maximize your chances by avoiding a mare with a similar issue? He could improve a mare on virtually any other aspect, it seems odd to pick a mare that has the one lone similar flaw if you're breeding for confo.

Neither of those photos depict a horse standing square, or on even ground but that photo post hollywood derby does show a little bit what I'm thinking of. His front left especially, and googling pictures of him yields that same odd angle with his front left over and over again, including pictures of him as a foal and a yearling. For comparison here is Secretariat as a weanling (notice that while Secretariat could give the slight impression of toeing out, his knees don't angle in or seem tied together). And neither of the photos you posted would be held against either horse. But it is interesting to me that the photo you posted the first time happens to be one where his front left is in movement and you therefore cannot see it.

Regarding the video, there isn't a single shot of him standing square where his legs are visible, and while I was the first to point out during his 3yo campaign that he had an incredible stride, towards the end of the video when they show him trotting in slow motion, he has a bit of... I'm not sure what it is called in English in French we say "le cheval billarde" likely due to his knees.

And that photo you showed as an example of knock-kneed is exactly the kind of angulation I was thinking of in that Chrome photo that I'm thinking of. My initial reaction when I saw it was something along the lines of "holy sh*t, no wonder he twisted his knee in the Pegasus, it's a testament to the horse that it hasn't happened more often". I'm not knocking Chrome, Ridan, he's a beautiful horse with wonderful conformation overall, he was talented and I wish him much success in the shed.

ETA: I found the discussion and the photo I was thinking of. I did not see Chrome in person so I can't attest to Retrospectiv's comments, and I don't recall the video Izvestia is talking about... but I knew I wasn't the only one who had noticed.
A filly named Ruffian...

Eine Stute namens Danedream...

Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


And a Queen named Beholder
TBird
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:24 pm

In all the conversations I've heard about California Chrome this is the first time I've heard anyone argue vehemently about how correct he is.
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:55 pm

Confirmation 101 with long time trainer Bruce Headley

https://twitter.com/K_Headley/status/952581010234908674
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Ridan_Remembered
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:09 pm

@Treve, I'm truly sorry to have offended you. That was not my intent. My original question had to do with what value to place on the TrueNicks score vs. a mare's conformation. Somehow the conversation turned to Chrome's conformation which, overall, is really very good. Here is a link to where you can see Chrome's conformation video from the Taylor Made Stallions website. Make up your own mind. http://www.taylormadestallions.com/hors ... 24702.html

@TBird, I have not been "arguing" that Chrome is correct. Only that he is not as badly conformed in front as some have claimed. This is why I posted multiple pics to provide points of comparision, and vids to enable people to see for themselves rather than take anyone's word.
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Retrospectiv
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Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:28 pm

Agreed with others. Chrome is built like Daffy Duck. He's crooked from his knees down. Always has been.
Take it for good or bad, it's just how he is. Knocking other horses won't change that fact.
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