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