Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Function Over Form













16 comments:

shadowlake2005 said...

I'm generally ignorant about babies because I've acquired all my dogs and horses as adults. I thought the Border collie and guard puppy were impressive as well as cute. I don't know how a Western horse should move but I guess that was a great stop. The "English type" babies moved beautifully for their disciplines and the paint obviously can jump. What I couldn't get past was the idea of asking foals to perform the stopping and jumping on immature muscles, tendons and bones. Obviously they'd already been schooled and practiced, it wasn't a one-time effort. I'll be glad to be educated on this, but to me it seemed all kinds of wrong. Maybe I missed the point.

mugwump said...

There isn't much of a point...yet. I'm looking at animals bred for function...not form. Period.

Anonymous said...

Function vs. form is a loaded question. What, exactly, counts as "function"? A cutting horse, a western pleasure horse, an eventer, and a halter Arab that spooks on the end of a rope all serve a function. When it comes right down to it, the vast majority of horses are toys. Some of them are toys that look a certain way, and some are toys that are good at a certain sport. But all of them have been bred for generations for the sole purpose of providing entertainment for humans. The fact that some of these forms of entertainment seem completely insane to me doesn't make my own choices any less about personal enjoyment. And it doesn't change anything that some of these practices have their roots in human necessity. After all, I'm sure the original Arab halter classes were supposed to identify horses whose characteristics best exemplified the sound, tough desert animal who could go for miles. And I know exactly what a rancher acquaintance of mine would say if you told him he had to bring in his cattle or go through a branding on the back of a champion cutting horse, and it would contain a lot of profanity.

I think the question we really need to be asking ourselves is when does our entertainment begin to cause too much harm to the animals? If your pleasure means halter QHs that are lame at 7 and suffering from HYPP attacks, then it's gone too far. If your show-bred bulldog can't breathe, that's too much. If an instinct has been bred up to the point of crippling neurosis that handicaps the animal in the non-sporting parts of its life, that's too much. But if you're prancing a pointless but healthy fluffy dog in front of the judges, or shuffling around a ring on a sound, sane peanut roller, then who am I to judge? Just because one person's form of entertainment has a longer line of tradition, or requires more skill, money, or bravery does not make it any less of a game than someone else's. As long as the animals aren't suffering for people's fun or fashion, I'm not going to get too upset because their toy won't do what mine will.

mugwump said...

Anon:
func·tion [fuhngk-shuhn] Show IPA
noun
1.
the kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution; the purpose for which something is designed or exists; role.

form
fôrm/Submit
noun
1.
the visible shape or configuration of something.

Does that help?

battleshipdestroyer said...

I'm wondering about that stop on the first foal. I get that cutters or whoever does that might like that, and it looked great up to a point, but I couldn't stop watching him overextend and crush his tailbone. Aiiieee! All the others it was fine, but him... Arg all I could think was ouch! Poor lil guy better learn to either hold his tail up or wait until he grows. Bit more. Lol

Anonymous said...

But the purpose for which a halter horse or a show dog exists and was designed is to be led round in a circle and catch the eye of a certain subset of humanity. I might think it's silly, but is it really any sillier than jumping over a bunch of elevated poles while catching the eye of a different subset of humanity? The ultimate function is to please humans. That's why I just can't get too upset until the animals start suffering. And that's a problem that, unfortunately, isn't just limited to the ones bred for looks.

Cindy D. said...

Ya know the car commercial....."And is better than or"

Why can't we have both? Why can't we breed for both?

It just makes sense to me.

Cindy D. said...

Can you hear that little paint baby saying, "Hey mom watch this, I can jump super high! Did you see mom, did you see? Moooommmm Watch me! WHEEEEEEEEEEE! I can fly!"

Anonymous said...

I don't feel like that Chihuahua mom's behavior is normal. Her pups seem too young.

Anonymous said...

I feel like the Chihuahua bitch's posture looked like she was playing with the puppy - posture alert but I didn't think she looked stiff, tail wagging and not in a stiff, tight way. Not sure the puppy got that that was what she was doing, but I think that was play behaviour from her.

Russinka said...



I think the problem is not with form at all, it’s with function. Form is one of the indicators of the horse’s potential to perform function (temperament and training being two of the others). It’s just that function has got so messed up that form stood no chance.
If the function of the horse changes, the form will change to match. The fact that we have halter horses, eventing horses, draft horses and racing horses is proof of that.

LadyFarrier said...


Mugs, I don't understand your response to the first Anon poster. Their thoughts seemed logical and well presented. Your response seemed snarky and pointed. Am I misinterpreting things, or do you have a problem with what they wrote? If so, what is it? Thanks.

mugwump said...

Lady Farrier - Broad sweeping statements always annoy me.

DeeNZ said...

A know of farmers that will see how their heading dog pups work chickens or ducks when they are selecting who goes where. (Heading dogs are a NZ dog type, aka eye dogs the name says the function, they work the 'head' whereas the huntaways push with noise from behind. The test for huntaways is always who has a good voice - even as a pup! I do see more and more failed heading dogs and huntaways as pets - you can normally hear when a huntaway is at the beach or the park - the bark carries for miles and they have a tendancy to bark while chasing/retrieving things. Heading dogs are normally trying to round up things - from other dogs to people.

If you wanted my dog to do what his breed profile says he should - he'd possibly fail! He's a Rhodesian Ridgeback. he has the sighthound instinct to chase, but I'm not sure how good he's be at bailing up a lion, even in a pack as he won't stand up to a stroppy domestic cat!
He's beautifully put together - however he has a minor tail kink that rules him out from breeding and breed showing, which I don't care about as I want him to be my hiking, mountain biking and running dog. Which is why I got a RR - they happily will go all day, however when you're working to pay for the weekend adventures (and the dog food!) provided they get a couple of decent exercise periods per day, they are happy to lounge around.

DeeNZ said...

Not sure if this link will play outside of NZ - but this is the 1981 final of a quite long running TV series in NZ - "A Dog's Show" - telivised dog trials - the huntaways are up first, then the heading dogs follow. http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/a-dogs-show-1981

Jan Blawat said...

No wonder so many chihuahuas are grouchy, if their mamas treat them like that. I guess that's how a tiny squirt learns to survive.

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