horse pedigree terms

What is a Sire and Dam Horse? Horse Pedigree Terms

Sire Dam Horse Pedigree Terms

Today were going to be going over some horse pedigree terms. This stuff can be pretty complicated, so pay close attention. If you don’t understand everything, that’s totally OK. We are going to try and explain everything in the simplest terms possible so that you can better understand the different horse pedigree terms. 

The first thing we’re going to be talking about is the father and mother of a particular horse. We will also talk a little about the grandparents of a horse, and all the different terms in between. Then we’ll get into how exactly you are supposed to read a horse’s pedigree. Let’s get started!

How To Read a Horse Pedigree Chart

As you are researching pedigrees or learning about the terminology it is important to have a baseline. The certificate itself establishes the horse’s identity and reads from left to right. the registry that issues the certificate has already verified the accuracy and will cite the stallions and the mares or dams. There should be 4 generations on the chart, which gives you a look at parents, grandparents, great grandparents and great-great-grandparents.

What is a Dam Sire in Horses?

The two most common terms you will hear when people are discussing a horse’s pedigree are going to be sire and dam. This simply refers to the parents of a particular horse. It’s the same thing as calling your own parents mom and dad or mother and father. But with a horse, the mom is referred to as a dam and the father is referred to as a sire. 

This is because horse breeding is insanely important. Horses aren’t like stray cats. They can’t just breed willy-nilly all over the place. People put a lot of money and a lot of time into ensuring the proper stallion is matched with the proper mare to get the best results in the new horse. A horse’s pedigree is incredibly important. And just like anything this important and worth this much money, there are going to be special terms.

Two other terms you might hear are grandsire and granddam, and this simply refers to the grandparents of a horse. It’s the exact same as how we would refer to our own grandparents. These are still very important terms because people who are serious about horses are going to be doing a lot of research on bloodlines before they do any breeding. The grandparents of a particular horse are just as important as the parents. It’s all about the bloodline! This is how you get the desired traits in any one horse.

What is a Dam Horse?

A dam horse simply refers to the mother of a horse. That is really all there is to it. When talking about a horse being from a particular dam (mother), you will often hear people say, “the horse is out of” or “the horse is from” whichever dam they’re talking about. This is different from how you explain which sire a horse comes from.

Another important term you should know is broodmare, and this refers to a female horse, also known as a mare, which is used in the process of breeding. Like we already said, not all horses are bred equally. One stallion is typically going to breed with only the best broodmares. To make it as simple as possible, a single stallion will only mate with the best female horses, also known as broodmares. 

What is a Sire Horse?

The sire horse is a little more important than the dam horse. A sire is the term used for describing the father of a horse. The sire is also sometimes referred to as the stud. If the horse is not going to be used for breeding, it will typically be castrated. But the sire is an uncastrated male horse that is used heavily for breeding. These are only the best of the best. And you can believe the sire horse is anything but monogamous. 

How it traditionally works is that one stallion gets to mate with all the best mares. It’s like the hottest guy at the party getting to go home with all the females in the room – or we should say the guy with the best genes. This is how horse breeding works. And the term to describe the male horse who fathers the foals is sire. You would say it like, “this horse is by that sire.”

For a fun fact, most sires come with a stud fee. A sire is such a desired horse that people actually pay money to breed their mares to him. You also sometimes hear the term standing stud, and that means that the male horse is available for breeding.

What Does Broodmare Sire Mean?

The term broodmare sire is specifically used for describing the sire of the dam. You would use this term if you wanted to know who the father of the horse’s mother is. Basically, you’re asking who the horse’s grandfather is on the mother’s side. Some people also use the term damsire interchangeably with broodmare sire.

The side of the family that the horse’s mother is on is referred to as the distaff. It refers to every horse on the dam’s side of the family. This includes horses that date back hundreds and hundreds of years.

How Do You Read a Horse’s Pedigree?

A horse’s pedigree refers to its full family tree. The father and mother, the grandparents on both sides, and even horses going back several generations. The blood of dozens and even hundreds of horses is read in the pedigree.

The pedigree is typically written in a chart. To read the pedigree, simply read the chart. The sire will have a line on the top and the dam will have a line on the bottom. You will read the pedigree from left to right, seeing all of the ancestors of the sire on the top and seeing all the ancestors of the dam on the bottom. 

With any horse, there should be a certificate that has the registration number, the birth date, the sex, the breeder, the owner, the colour, and even the names of the horse’s ancestors. 

What Does Black Type Pedigree Mean?

A black type pedigree means that the horse has been a winner or has placed in a black type race. This helps breeders and buyers understand which horses are winners and which horses aren’t. But it’s also a bit more complicated than this. 

If the horse has black pedigree, his name is going to be written in bold black type. If the horse was a winner in a black type race, its name is going to be in full uppercase letters. If the horse placed second or third in a black type race, its name will be written still in bold black type, but is going to have lowercase letters.

For clarification, a black-type race is the highest level of racing for thoroughbred horses. This is basically like the Olympics for horses. So, a horse with a black type pedigree is essentially an Olympic-level athlete with the best genes.

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