Foal Friday: Genetics are Weird

I am convinced that what we currently understand of genetics is just the very tip of the iceburg. I mean, it’s easy to understand or measure heritability when it comes to certain traits, like coat color or conformation. What I’m dying to know is what part of the genetic code is responsible for the weirder, more “niche” attributes. Like, for instance… Henry’s tongue thing. I found photos with his sire doing the exact same weird thing. Or how Sadie and all of her foals all have the instinct to want to sit on things (water troughs, trees, other horse’s heads, they’re not picky, but they all come out of the womb wanting to tackle problems butt-first and smash it…). Like, someone please explain whatever genes are responsible for those kind of idiosyncrasies, because I’m 100% certain there’s a “weird tongue thing” gene and a “just smash it with your butt” gene. One day we’ll find them.

And part of the fun of watching the foals start to develop their little personalities is seeing what traits come through, especially compared to their dams or their siblings. Teddy, for example, has been interesting, because we definitely all remember Ollie from last year. He was not lacking in character, that’s for sure. At first Teddy seemed like maybe she wasn’t going to be Mischief on Hooves the way he was, but little things are starting to come out that make me go “Oh yeah, there’s Ollie.”

I mean, the most obvious thing is the sass level. But then again, she’s a pony, and I’m relatively certain that sass has been bred into them since the actual dawn of time. Is there a pony in the world that isn’t sassy? Probably not.

We’re starting to see a little bit of a comedian start to show, too. Teddy’s got some jokes. I mean, usually they’re at Stormie’s expense (I think Stormie’s already got a “days til weaning” countdown on the wall of her stall), but she’s definitely got them.


But there’s one thing in particular that Teddy’s started doing that made me go “oh my god, it’s freaking genetic”. Remember how Ollie made a game out of climbing over the top of round bales? You’ll never guess who else has adopted the exact same game.

gathering speed…

Her technique is slightly different, so far she seems more inclined to attack it from a gallop rather than just climb straight up it, but the end result is the same. Thank goodness the round bale is so small for now, while she’s learning the game and figuring out the moves. I have a feeling that by the time a new round bale comes in she will have totally mastered it and we’ll be getting some truly impressive leaps, just like Ollie. This little filly is a powerhouse, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her scale a whole round bale.

taking off for her next lap as Stormie wonders what she ever did to deserve this

None of the other foals show the same “gallop and leap into the round bale” proclivity, they prefer to nap in them more than anything else. It’s so bizarre the traits that siblings share sometimes, I swear.

Champion of the Round Bale Leap (no one tell her Ollie held the title last year)

When somebody finds the genetic markers for Round Bale Leaping, let me know.

Happy Friday!

12 thoughts on “Foal Friday: Genetics are Weird

  1. OMG, you are SO right on the pony sass! I have a yearling Chincoteague pony and his sass is STRONG these days! He’s really been pretty chill up until now and I thought we had dodged that bullet. Not so. He was a complete turd for the farrier today. He’s had like 4 previous and very non-dramatic farrier visits. Today was all about leaps and bounds and bites. Ponies!
    Will Teddy stay grulla or turn grey? I REALLY hope she stays grulla!!!!


  2. It’s been really fun having Cinder with a trainer who worked with her sire. There’s definitely a “doesn’t give a shit about what lead they’re on and will toss in random flying changes” gene, a “hates getting their hind legs wet” gene, and a “goody surfer boy attitude” gene.


  3. Had a mare that ate with one front leg curled up underneath her. All of her daughters did it. Now both grandkids that live with me eat that way too. It’s kind of the weirdest thing. There are other similarities but the curled leg (usually the right front) is super odd to me.


  4. Now if we can find the ‘spook’ gene … especially the ‘I spook at sunshine’ and the ‘I spook for fun’ genes …


  5. The mouthiness on the Mighty Magic line is interesting. It’s definitely one of those where you can’t say it was learned from the dam. I wonder if his sire/dam are also mouthy?


  6. My horse has 69 “siblings” by the same site (quotes because I know that’s not the proper term), and at least 2 full siblings. There’s even a Facebook group for those of us who own one because there’s so many of us…

    And it’s so interesting! Literally every single one of them will lay down in water on a hot day: regardless of presence of a rider. They’re all fairly non-affectionate (they’ll not mind being groomed, but they don’t want to be pet/hugged/kissed/etc). They all have a healthy dose of “stranger danger”: they like their familiar humans and are just wary of those they don’t know, and no amount of training gets them over that initial reaction of “oh I don’t know about you!”

    I have a friend with one and I’ve spent a bit of time with the horse: and every time I’ll just start randomly laughing because she did something so in line with what mine would do! It’s been a fun study in the “lesser known genetics”, having a horse with so many siblings out there.


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