At least a couple times a month I get emails or DMs from people asking me to help them find information on their horse’s pedigree or background. As you can probably tell from my extreme level of nerdiness about all things pedigree, I have spent a lot of time falling deep into rabbit holes on the internet looking for information. Especially when I’m doing spreadsheets for my “It’s in the Blood” series… you’d be amazed how freakin hard it can be to find information on even the most famous of horses sometimes (especially the Irish ones, omg). Names change, details don’t get entered… it’s a mess.
So I figured I would make a little reference post sharing what websites I use most when it comes to pedigree research or similar information. There are some really useful databases out there if you know where to look, although I have to say that none of them are totally complete – hence why I use several instead of just one.
Thoroughbreds are obviously the easiest, assuming you have their registered name. If you’re lucky the horse will be showing under their JC name and it’s as easy as making a trip to Equibase, where you can see their sale history, race history, and pedigree, all for free. You can watch race replays through Equibase too, if you have a subscription (or you can buy a day pass for $5.25).
However some tracks have race replays available for free, depending on how far back you need to go. If it’s a California track you can go to Cal Racing and search by date, track, and race (which you know from looking at the horse’s Equibase results tab). You have to have an account for that site, but it’s free. For other tracks just try googling the track’s name with “race replays” and see what you come up with, you might get lucky.
If you want to see if said horse has any siblings, you can go to the Dam’s Foal Search page and look for them that way. I usually then take that information to facebook and google and run a search to see if I can find pics or info about the siblings.
Another option for researching TB’s is Pedigree Query, although that database is not as complete and anyone can go in and edit anything, so I always prefer to use Equibase first. Sometimes there will be pictures of the horse or it’s parents or grandparents in PQ though, so it may be fun for a quick consult just to see (CANTER often puts pics in PQ if the horse comes through their program, so if it was a CANTER horse you might be lucky and find a fresh-of-the-track pic). You can also go in and put pics and info of your own horse into PQ if you want to, just in case anyone happens to come looking later. You just go to the horse’s pedigree page, hover over Maintenance, and then click Add/Edit Information.
If you don’t know the horse’s JC name then your options are slimmer.
For a horse competing at the national level you can look in USEF via their Horse Search and use the “All Aliases” option – sometimes you’ll get lucky and it’ll actually have the horse’s aliases (which might be the JC name) or at least list the parent’s names (and then you can use the Dam’s Foal Search combined with the birth year on Equibase to come up with a JC name) if the rider/owner put that information in. A lot of times they don’t, but… worth a shot. I think you need a USEF membership (even just at the “fan” level) to use this search function. However, you can pretty much always find a promo code for a free USEF fan membership. If you can’t, give me a holler and I’ll find one for you.
If it’s a lower level eventer you can look in the USEA Horse search database to see if they entered the parent’s names.
If you still come up empty, your final options are creative Googling – which is worth a shot because sometimes you can find a website or something and hit the jackpot – or facebook. If you’re super creepy (like me. Yes I’ve done this.), you can always try to find the owner, message them, and see if they know the information. There’s no shame in my game, and it’s paid off more than once. Worst thing they can do is ignore you (no skin off my back) or think you’re crazy (they’re probably right).
Things get a little more complicated on this side of the spectrum, mostly because there isn’t one centralized motherload database. So, bear with me here and I’ll run you through some options.
The first thing I usually do is go plug the horse’s name into Horsetelex and Hippomundo. Yes, I always do both. They’re both good databases, but each has their pros and cons (Hippomundo is sometimes missing horses that Horsetelex has, but Horsetelex often isn’t as up to date on performance results as Hippomundo). So I usually pop open two tabs and search for the horse in both sites. If all you want to do is look up a horse to view it’s basic pedigree, they’re both free for that function. Fun Fact: all 3 Belgian registries (BWP, sBs, Zangersheide) have a partnership with Hippomundo, so any horse registered with one of those 3 registries is automatically entered into Hippomundo (as of… 2012ish? I can’t remember when that started.). If you’re looking for a Belgian-registered horse, Hippomundo is your place. For example, Presto is registered sBs, so they entered him when he was issued his papers.
Ok, so… let’s say you want to do more than just view the horse’s pedigree. What if you want to find out if the horse has other siblings? You can use both of these sites to do that, however, keep in mind that they aren’t always complete. Especially if the sibling never did anything of note in sport, or wasn’t used as a breeding animal. If it’s sitting in someone’s backyard doing nothing, odds are that it won’t show up in your searching UNLESS it was Belgian-registered or it’s breeder/owner cared enough to enter it into the database themselves at some point. Fair warning. But, it’s still worth a look.
To find this on Horstelex, there are two steps: 1) go to the horse’s pedigree page. 2) Click on their dam (remember horses are only considered siblings or half siblings if they share a dam) 3) on the dam’s pedigree page click on Progeny
If you want to look at the sire’s production instead, you would use the same steps – click on his name in the pedigree, go to his page, and click on Progeny. Some stallions have hundreds and hundreds of progeny in there, and there’s a handy “Sport” column where it’ll show what level the horse has competed to. BEWARE though, this isn’t always up to date. And for the eventers, they haven’t yet switched over to the new star system (it’s coming) so… I wouldn’t totally trust what’s in there. If it says a horse has competed to 3* eventing for example, I’d go verify it myself by searching the horse’s FEI record.
Ok, so.. Hippomundo. This site is usually more complete and up to date, and has more fun features (plus is a lot faster, if you’re impatient like me). However, you do need a subscription to access a lot of the features. You can get a one month free trial of their Basic subscription with the code COTH21 or BIGTALK21 – that’ll give you access to the horse’s sport results, rankings, full pedigree, and a few other features. If you’re a supernerd or a breeder the Premium yearly subscription is worthwhile because you can add horses to track, get notified when they have sport results, get access to all kinds of reports, follow riders, use their foal planner feature, follow your homebreds, have a “my broodmares” database, etc etc. If you’re just doing a basic sibling search, though, do the free month subscription of the Basic plan and you’re golden.
For that function Hippomundo works similarly in that you just enter the horse in the search bar, click on it, and go to their pedigree. From there you’d click on the dam’s name, go to her pedigree, hover over Horse in the upper right, and click Offspring. That’ll show you whatever other horses are in their database that she has produced.
If you want to look up the sire, same steps. Hippomundo makes it easier to sort the stallion’s offspring though, like for instance I can go into Mighty Magic, get a list of his offspring and then say “Ok, I want to see how many have competed to X level in X sport” by using the dropdown
This is really handy if you’re looking to breed and want to research what a particular stallion has produced in what sport and on what kind of mares, obviously.
From my experience Hippomundo has tended to be more up to date with sport results, and Horsetelex has tended to include more horses. Hence me using both especially when I’m looking for offspring from a particular stallion or mare. If you’re a breeder Hippomundo also lets you create a Breeder page, so if someone is looking at one of your horses and clicks on your name, it’ll take them to a page with your contact info, where you’re located, a list of the best horses you’ve bred, etc. Pretty cool.
Ugh, the Irish
Ok, moving on to the bane of my existence: the Irish horses. OMfreakinG y’all, you’ve never seen such incomplete information in your life until you’ve gone searching for Irish horse pedigrees. The truth is that a lot of these horses, especially 20+ years ago, were bred by farmers who just did not prioritize putting information down when they sent in their registration paperwork. Because of that, there are huge gaps in just about every Irish pedigree, especially if it’s traditional ID/ISH vs Continental breeding. Not only is this frustrating for the sake of lineage, it also makes it really hard to get accurate blood percentages. Drives me batty.
Horsetelex and Hippomundo are especially lacking in the Irish horse pedigrees, probably because none of the aforementioned farmers have come along and put any of this information in, particularly further back down the line. So, if you have an Irish horse, my suggested database to use is the Irish Horse Register. You need an account but it’s free. You can go to their Horse Search page and search by any of the listed criteria. IF there is any pedigree data to be had for the horse, the IHR is the place that will have it.
When you find the horse you want, click into their info page
And then to get to their pedigree click on the Pedigree tab at the top. You can view by 4, 5, or 6 generations.
Seriously though, there are big gaps in their data that are unlikely to ever be filled and that’s just the way it is. Join me in my lament.
There are a few other features in IHR that you can play around with too… it’s a more simple tool without a lot of the bells and whistles of Horsetelex or Hippomundo, but it’s got the basics. It’s certainly your best bet if the horse in question is registered Irish.
Those are my main sites that I use, although a few others are worth a notable mention:
AllBreed – I have all the same complaints with this site as I do with Pedigree Query (same site just hits different databases) but for some reason American breeders love to use it. I wish they wouldn’t, Horsetelex or Hippomundo are both WAY BETTER, but alas here we are. So if I’m struggling to find info about a horse and I know it was US or Canadian bred, I might try searching AllBreed just in case. Sometimes you get lucky.
FEI horse lookup – I mentioned this one briefly earlier, but it’s come in handy other ways too. Assuming the horse you’re looking for has competed to the FEI level, sometimes you can find a horse’s sire or dam listed in their FEI info, or the name of their breeder. IF their rider/owner chose to put that information in, anyway.
A couple other European pedigree sites:
Sporthorse Data – I find this one to be less complete than the other two main ones, but I’ll use it if I’m desperate and grabbing at straws.
Rimondo – this one is more complete than the above but the vast majority of their info is behind a paid firewall and I don’t like the site enough to pay for yet another subscription. They have a lot of pics and video though.
Now, what about if a sporthorse/warmblood is registered under one name but shown under another? Same advice as far as looking in USEF for aliases, BUT worth nothing that Horsetelex and Hippomundo include any known aliases in their search results as well. For instance – Off the Record was originally known as Cooley Stateside. Luckily someone put this alias into the major databases, so searching for either name will return a result.
Breeders and riders, take note of this and enter any aliases that your horses may have! You can do it by editing the horse’s information from their pedigree page. (I’m always happy to help anyone with this if they need assistance navigating any of these sites)
I think I’ll stop there, this is already a massive information dump that a lot of people don’t care about. There are more hints and tricks and websites, so if you try all of this and still aren’t having any luck, ask me and I’ll see if I can help. For most horses this should be sufficient though. Wait, no – one more piece of advice: never underestimate the power of a facebook search. You’d be amazed what you can find just by poking around there.
I swear I’m done now. Many gold stars if you actually read all this.