A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Friday, April 13, 2012

C'mon Jinx, I'm tired of waiting!

Doesn't she know the rules?  She's supposed to have that baby when it's convenient for me! 

She's a few days over her "due" date now.  I say "due" date, because (for those who don't know) a horse's gestation is from 320 days to around 370 days.  342 days is the average, and Jinx has always foaled on day 343 before, but this doesn't exactly make the foal "over due"... unless you're as excited to meet it as I am.

I was just reading a comment from long ago, about someone correcting me in saying that she has no more chance of having a colt then a filly this time.  Well, that's kinda true, and kinda not.  See, there's a 50% chance that this foal will be a boy, and a 50% chance that it could be a filly.  BUT, with that said, the odds of having 3 girls in a row is signficantly less then that of her finally having a boy.

Let me dork out for a second (because I'm a bit short on sleep, and not enough coffee).  See, if we think of this like the odds of flipping a coin, it makes more sense.  Sure, there's a heads, and a tails side.  That means that in theory there's a 50% chance of the coin landing on a specified side, right?  But, there's only a 25% chance of it landing on the same side twice in a row (.5 x .5 = .25 = 25%).  But, that is what she's done so far... 2 girls in a row is only a 25% chance of happening.  Not bad, but not great.

So, for this baby to be yet another girl, would be 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.125, or 12.5% chance.  Now, a 12.5% chance is dramatically less then a 50% chance, right?  It's not that her uterus says "oh no, we can't allow any of those GIRL genes in here!" or anything.  It's just that over time, a run of odds tends to even out.

But, let me dork out even MORE on you!  It's not just the stallion that determines the gender. What?  You think I've lost my mind?  I haven't... not yet.  Let me explain:

A mare's overall pH is affected by her diet.  If you've ever heard people talking about giving apple cider vinegar to increase the chances of a filly, well, they have some science behind them.  You see a higher pH, or more acidic body conditions makes the vaginal and uterine environment less hospitable to Y chromosome semen.  A lower or more alkaline body is more favorable to those y chromosomes. 

See, the sperm is made up of amino acids formed into proteins.  These proteins can "denature" or change shape if the environment isn't ideal.  Think of cooking an egg.  When you add heat the 'clear' part turns white.  That is because the protein is altered because of the heat.  When this happens to a sperm, most often, it loses mobility.  In some cases it loses it's casing, or other changes that make it unable to fertilize the egg.  The sperm is made up of half a strand of DNA, and DNA is just a really fancy protein molecule.

So, why do I mention this?  Because last year, we had a drought.  The mares were bred just after the grasses started to wilt a bit.  This means that the protein and sugar contents in the grass were lower, and hence lowered the pH levels of the mare, making her body conditions more alkaline.  This increases my chances of getting boys. 

Does that mean I'm guaranteed to have a colt?  Nope!  I could stack all the scientific odds in my favor, and still never get a 100% chance of either gender.  It just doesn't work like that.  But, you have to admire the beauty of the system a bit.  It's made in such a way so that in less bountiful times, boys (who spread their genetics easier) are more prolific, and in time when the environment is most favorable, the mothers produce those precious baby girls, who spread their genetics slower.  I think it's amazing how it works... brilliance from a non sentient system!

So, ironically, I have some adorable names picked out for the baby if it's a girl.  I'm still stuck on boy names though.  Odds say it'll be a boy, and I'm baffled on what to call him.

As to what I WANT it to be?  Happy, healthy, with 4 legs, and a sweet personality.  And here.... now.  I'm tired of waiting!

But... there's rain in the forecast.  C'mon Jinx, you can do it!

4 comments:

  1. I love genetics, just as soon as you think you know something, it throws something weird in.  I had a friend whos stallion had all fillies for 7 years!  Not sure why, but was kinda interesting when a colt was finally born

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  2. The closer the mare is bred to ovulation, the greater your chance of getting a colt.  The y chromosomes swim faster, but they are shorter lived.  So if she's bred a couple of days before she ovulates, that increases the likelihood that the only sperm surviving are x ones.  That's why so many pasture breeding stallions with established mare harems have have higher percentage of fillies than the average. 

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  3. I have taken enough classes in statistical astrology to be convinced it's ALL just random.

    Bill

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  4.  I have a mare who had 7 boys in a row.  Hmm...that's just funny.  I wonder if the 2 traded out.

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