Mucking Out the Stalls
Dear G4BB: You couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you? …from Society Slim and his faithful horse, Saddlesore
98.1 Dear Guys: Yup…busted! Enquiring minds, and all that, right? So here’s the thing: I got to thinking about the clumsy way in which Uncle Wiki defined “three-quarter siblings” for horses. They cited references from books, none of which could be found at my local library…altho one author’s name did pop up…M.E. Ensminger…”Doc E.” as he was called…who died in 1998 at age 90. He wrote 22 books on animal husbandry…horses, cows, sheep, fowl, you name it…and they did have a copy of his The Complete Encyclopedia Of Horses, A.S. Barnes & Co., 1977. Well, if that doesn’t qualify as an expert, I can’t image what would. Alongside it on the reference shelf was Summerhays Encyclopaedia for Horsemen, R.S. Summerhays & Stella A. Walker, Fredrick Warner, 1975.
98.2 So…2 prominent experts…books not blogs, real old-fashioned “dead tree” stuff. Can we settle this equine terminology business once and for all? (Spoiler: of course not, but still fun to try!) But first, to standardize my “Tentative System” (TS).
98.3 The letter designations I’d been using for various kinship relationships were assigned pretty much as they came up…”ad hoc”… so I decided to organize them as simply A, full siblings…B, three-quarter siblings…and C, half-siblings. An X indicates an in blood relationship, which for full means sharing 4 grandparents but not the same 2 parents…and for three-quarter and half means sharing a common sire, but different dams. i think it’s significant that I couldn’t find on the net a simple explanation, as opposed to examples, of the term “in blood.” Perhaps that’s because it really does mean different things in different contexts…but we’ll see what happens when the experts weigh in.
98.4 Chart 334 reorganizes and re-letters the different cases….shared grandparents are numbered in green. What I have chosen to call “half-siblings in blood”…CX…are almost universally called by the same sire…the alternate terms sire-side siblings and half-siblings in blood together account for less than a dozen Google hits. Still, to me the symmetry was irresistible: fractional siblings are thru the mare…fractional siblings in blood are thru the sire…this really helps explain what’s going on, I think. Aaaaaaand they’re off!!!
98.5 Full Siblings…Both Ensminger and Summerhays define this as “having the same sire and dam.” Good start! Ensminger lists all of these “closer-than-1st cousin” relationships under the entry for “Brothers or Sisters” which he defines as “having the same parents or one parent in common.” This caught me off guard at first…I tend to think of “brothers” as meaning “full brothers”…not “full or half brothers”…thus “brothers” wouldn’t share just one parent, but his point of view is perfectly acceptable. Just different ways of looking at it…altho he will very soon contradict himself, as we shall see.
98.6 And BTW…Summerhays gives “own sibling” as a synonym for “full sibling.” I have so far purposely refrained from mentioning this term, as again there is disagreement as to precisely what it means. Some horsy folks say it simply means “full.” Others attach the further meaning of “raised together”…as an “own” daughter raised with its mother, or “own siblings” raised together. The implication is that as much as a horse’s nature may come from its “blood,” many behavioral traits may be learned during its upbringing. So I’ll just mention that, for what it’s worth.
98.7 Half-Siblings…Summerhays says “same dam, different sires.” Ensminger agrees, and points out: “This is one of the most frequently misused terms.” No kidding! And this was written, what, 35 years ago? It hasn’t gotten any better, has it? He dutifully uses by the same sire to mean “same sire, different dams” and goes on to say: “This distinction is for a definite purpose, for only a few horses can be [half-siblings] to a famous horse, but hundreds can be by the same sire.” That’s the story we’ve been hearing all along.
98.8 Summerhays does not address this “opposite” of half-siblings as Ensminger does, but so far, our experts are conforming pretty much to TS categories A, C, and CX.
98.9 Full Siblings in Blood…AX…which Ensminger calls simply “siblings in blood,” and Summerhays doesn’t address. But what Ensminger says is interesting: “By the same sire out of full sisters…or by full brothers out of the same dam”…that would be cases AX1 and AX2…but then he goes on to add: “or any combination of exactly the same blood.” That certainly sounds like another way of saying “all 4 grandparents are the same”…cases AX3 and AX4. Still, in these latter 2 cases, horses X and Y do not share even one parent…so “brothers in blood” would strictly speaking sometimes be “brothers” (AX1 and AX2) and sometimes not (AX3 and AX4.) Hate to to get picky, but words mean something…at least once upon a time… 😉 😉
98.10 So that’s a small contradiction on Ensminger’s part. Mind you, as important as having the same 4 grandparents appears to be, the concept still pre-dates modern genetic understanding, since “brothers in blood” who are brothers have a CR of 5/16, slightly more than “brothers in blood” who are non-brothers with 1/4 = 4/16.
98.11 Three-Quarter Siblings…Ensminger: “For example, horses having the same dams and whose sires have identical sires but different dams”…he is referencing case B2 only. And I am gritting my teeth…because he gives an example, instead of an explanation. Now strictly speaking, when you say “for example,” I take that to mean there are other examples…that the one you cited isn’t the only one. But is that what he intended? And if so, what are the other examples? Probably B1, since along with B2, horses X and Y are at the very least half-siblings…they have the same dam…altho they are more than that…”enhanced half-siblings” is the term used in human genealogy. But does he mean to also include non-half-sibling (i.e. by the same sire) cases BX1 and BX2? We simply don’t know. Grrrrrrrrr. And he doesn’t break it down any further…no mention of “three-quarter siblings in blood”…so we’re left hanging.
98.12 On the other hand, for “three-quarter siblings”…which he alternately calls “three parts siblings”…Summerhays says: “Same dam, sires who are half-brothers or by the same sire.” So he is explicitly including both B1 and B2. No mention of the “in blood” versions, BX1 and BX2 so we simply don’t know where they belong. And that’s what our “experts” have to say. Is it any wonder, given the general “dumbing down” of the populace over the past 2 decades, that there appears today to be no consensus.
98.13 But wait for it…there is one final definition, from Ensminger…and dear friends, it’s a doozie! “Seven-eighth siblings: The progeny of a horse and his son produced by the same mare, or similar combinations of lineage.” Recall, many horsey folk refer to “skipping a generation on one side” as three-quarter siblings, in contrast to the “other” definition, that of 3 common grandparents. Presumably, “similar combinations” would encompass “the progeny of a horse and her daughter by the same sire.” Trouble is, yet again, we simply don’t know what exactly he has in mind…
98.14 …and what’s more, in such a case, as you can see in Chart 345, there is no way that 7 of 8 great grandparents are shared by horses X and Y…4 ancestors are shared as great grandparents of both, and 2 other ancestors are shared grandparents of X and great grandparents of Y. That’s a total of 6 shared ancestors…is it possible that the fact that 2 of these ancestors are one generation closer to X than to Y somehow constitutes the equivalent of a “7th great grandparent”? I need a vacation…
98.15 But I know what you’re thinking…before I go on vacation, I ought to at least show you what real seven-eighth siblings look like…and you’re right…in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.
98.16 This is taken from a catalog of bulls from last year…7 of the 8 great grandparent slots match…the only difference is at the bottom of each pedigree, Miss Lady versus Miss Nadine. And the bull Eaton’s Assert appears twice in each lineage…here’s how it looks in tree form…
98.17 FF = thru father’s father, FM = thru father’s mother, MF = thru mother’s father, MM = thru mother’s mother. Eaton’s Assert is a great grandfather to both 70 and 71 in 2 different ways (thru cow LT A3 and thru bull LT A), so he counts as 2 of the 7 shared great grandparents…and these seven-eighth brothers are related how? Answer next week…
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