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A Bit of History

26 July 2012
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Children meeting a Pintabian foal for the first time



These are some comments I wrote for those exhibiting Pintabians at the 2012 Minnesota Horse Expo; if you are in need of promotional writing for your advertising or event, or content for your website, please feel free contact me!



Did you know that Minnesota is the home of the Pintabian horse?  It’s true! The breed was founded and its Registry formed in Minnesota in 1992.  In 1996, the public debut of the breed took place right here at the Minnesota Horse Expo.

Since that time, Pintabians have spread across America and, indeed, across the globe.  It seems that while there may be oceans, political differences and language barriers which separate us, equestrians are united in their love for a unique, beautiful, athletic and intelligent horse.

The Pintabian is a breed of tobiano pleasure horse, separate and distinct from all others.  It carries over 99% Arabian blood as verified by the Pintabian Horse Registry, making it one of the most pure breeds in existence.  The Pintabian Horse Registry, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is charged with the task of verifying the eligibility of all horses registered and keeping accurate records in order to ensure breed purity.

The combination of its high percentage Arabian blood and tobiano markings make Pintabians stand out in a crowd, to be sure.  A Pintabian horse should have a pretty and well-shaped head, long arched neck, expressive eye, and a long and level croup with high tail carriage. Those physical traits, combined with tobiano spots, tend to catch the eye and attract attention.

What endears Pintabians to their owners, however, is something one may not expect from such a flashy horse.  Pintabians have become well-known for their docile temperaments and the ease in which they are trained, as well as the variety of disciplines in which they excel.  From dressage to cowboy mounted shooting, driving to endurance racing, Pintabians are finding their way into many different equine pursuits, even that of trick-horse.  Most important of all these roles would be that of beloved family horse.

Regardless of discipline or nationality, Pintabian owners will often tell you that their Pintabian horses are the easiest to handle and to train of any breed they have owned.  This is due in large part to the fact that the breed has been embraced, bred and promoted primarily by families and small farms which select not just for quality, color, conformation and pedigree, but also for disposition.  Those dedicated breeders have been richly rewarded with a unique, beautiful, versatile horse that is not only a pleasure to look at, but also to train, to ride, to show and to share one’s life with.

Pintabian horses are born and bred to bring pleasure to those who love them.  Their enthusiasts around the world would agree, these horses excel in doing exactly that… and it all started right here in Minnesota!


Regarding “Hardship”

15 May 2012
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It seems the big topic of discussion in the Pintabian world at the moment is Hardship Registration.

After giving it considerable thought, I will attempt to explain Hardship Registration and my thoughts in regard to the controversy surrounding it.

Just to clarify, while I am a proud Lifetime Member of the Pintabian Horse Registry, I am not a representative of the PHRI.  This post is based solely on my own experience as a Pintabian horse breeder for nearly twenty years, and is my own personal opinion.

So, let us begin.

Hardship registration was adopted by the Pintabian Horse Registry to allow for the introduction of new, yet eligible, (verifiably over 99% Arabian) tobiano horses into the breed.

The fee has always been higher than regular Colored Division and Breeding Stock (from birth to two years) or Arabian Outcross registration, and for good reason.  New bloodlines require research, documentation and verification, which can be a time-consuming process.  This process, however, is vitally important to the breed and ensures that these new introductions are indeed eligible to be considered “Pintabians”.

Recently the fee for Hardship Registration was increased, something which caused quite a furor… and one I find to be rather baffling.

Hardship Registration is an option intended to be used only in very rare circumstances.

The increase in this fee was long overdue, in my opinion.  More than once, I’ve observed complete disregard for proper registration protocol.  It is not appropriate for breeders to produce multiple generations of unregistered stock, expecting the buyer to pay a Hardship fee.  Nor is it appropriate to sell a horse “eligible by definition” to be registered Pintabian, counting on the fact it could be Hardship registered by the new owner.  This is an abuse of the Hardship option.

Horses should be registered by those who breed them. Registration papers are legal testament by the breeder to the fact the horse in question actually is the horse stated on the Registration Certificate, sired by the stallion and out of the mare indicated on said papers. An increase in the Hardship fee will, in my opinion, encourage proper registration and discourage the abuse of registration privileges.

As I stated earlier, Hardship registration was intended for the introduction of new lines, not as a loophole for those who wish to profit from the “Pintabian” designation while failing to submit stallion breeding reports and registration applications for the resulting foals (a whole $10 and $20, respectively, if completed in a timely manner).

“No, really… its eligible, I swear!”

I encourage those who take issue with this to contact the Arabian Registry and ask if they could skip a couple generations of registration, then “hardship register” a purebred Arabian.  Once the laughter on the other end of the line dies down, they would tell you, “Absolutely NOT.  To register a horse as a purebred Arabian, both sire and dam must be registered Arabians.”  To take someone’s word as to eligibility, as opposed to Registry documentation, would destroy the integrity of both the Registry and the breed.

Hardship Registration is a privilege to Pintabian enthusiasts, and one I consider it fortunate to have. It is intended to be used only rarely, when a truly new line is found, and not as a fall-back for those who do not register properly in the first place.

Keep in mind, however, that the PHRI has every right to discontinue Hardship Registration completely.

After twenty years, there are numerous “spot lines” within the breed, and Arabian Outcross horses would still provide a great variety of fresh genetics without the need to use Hardship Registration at all.

“But, I bought these horses believing they could be registered as “Pintabians”… it’s not fair!”

There also is the issue of those who have already purchased (possibly) eligible Pintabians and wish to gain Hardship Registration for them.  Information regarding Pintabians has been available globally via simple internet search for many years.  The Registry has always advised buyers to inspect registration papers BEFORE purchasing a Pintabian, or at least to check with the Registry regarding eligibility.

If a horse is purchased based on the fact it is represented by the seller as a Pintabian, the buyer expecting to have it registered and use it for breeding stock, it is the buyer’s responsibility to conduct proper research before making that purchase. If a horse is descended from registered Pintabian stock, one would then go back and question the breeder as to why they represented the horse as a Pintabian, and yet failed to register it as such.

Conversely, for a seller to represent a horse for sale as eligible for registration, when it is not, is at best irresponsible (or ignorant) and at worst, fraudulent and illegal.  The responsibility for any disappointment as a result of such a transaction lies with the seller and/or the purchaser and NOT the PHRI.  In no way is the Registry responsible for the claims made by anyone selling a horse without proper registration papers, or the risk any buyer chose to take in purchasing unregistered stock.

Ignorance is no valid reason or excuse. 


Hardship for Pintabians with one Arabian parent

With regard to Hardship Registration of Pintabian foals with one Arabian parent, it should never be a consideration.  Arabian Outcross Registration is available to all registered Arabian horses for a very reasonable $20 fee (or $40, for non-PHRI members).  Most stallion owners would pay that fee if approached by a Pintabian mare owner, in order to sell a stud fee.  It would be to their benefit, as it would open up the Pintabian market to that particular stallion, for life. If not, they may allow the mare owner to pay the fee.

If the stallion owner were opposed to either option, I would go elsewhere.  No matter how elite the stallion, if his owner thinks so little of Pintabians as to refuse his PHRI registration or deny support of the mare owner’s desire to breed a Pintabian from him, he’s not worth breeding to my precious Pintabian mares.  Surely there would be a stallion with similar bloodlines and accomplishments whose owner would be more than happy to register him in the Outcross Division and collect the stud fee.  The market is a competitive one, to be sure.

It is to your advantage as a mare owner and Pintabian breeder to work with stallion owners who are willing to support you.


Over the top fee?  Not from my perspective…

One of the roles of the Pintabian Horse Registry is to protect the integrity of the word “Pintabian” and its definition, as well as the huge investment of time and resources its loyal members have invested in their Pintabian herds over the years.  As for those who consider the hardship fee to be over the top, let me ask you this…

  • Did you intend to Hardship register horses as Pintabians, in order to capitalize from the “Pintabian” name and profit from the sale of those Pintabians or their foals?
  • Did you intend to enter the arena with other breeders like myself who have invested many years of our lives, tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars, blood, sweat and tears into their breeding programs?
  • Do you value these horses so little as to think you would not more than recoup that investment in the sale of one horse?
  • So… what you are saying is that you want to use the Pintabian definition, and the popularity of the breed which has come thanks to the loyal breeders and its Registry who have tirelessly promoted, protected and sacrificed for it for twenty years, for your own profit, with little risk or investment on your part?

I certainly hope not.


No one interested in becoming involved with Pintabians is forced to pay a Hardship Registration fee.

That fee is intended for the serious breeder who finds a new bloodline and feels it worthy to invest in.

There are myriad ways to get started with this fantastic, beautiful breed, most of them relatively inexpensive.   One may start with a registered Pintabian stallion (of which there are many lovely specimens available) and a few Arabian mares, as many of us did years ago.  Really, all a new breeder would need is one Arabian mare, as there are Pintabian stallions now available in many locations worldwide.  Yes, it would take more time to build a herd, and yes, one would pay their dues in doing so… as every single Foundation Breeder out there did.

I, as a breeder, would question the motives of anyone unwilling to pay the applicable Hardship fee.  The quality and uniqueness of pedigree, along with that of the actual horse, is something a good breeder takes pride in and is willing to attest to.  I feel the increased Hardship fee not only protects the PHRI’s dedicated breeders and their years of hard word and sacrifice, but aids in keeping the fox out of the hen house, so to speak.  Don’t believe for a moment there are not those who would enjoy nothing more than to slip an ineligible horse into the breed and profit from the hard work of those who have worked faithfully and honestly to promote the breed and its legitimate horses for many years.

There is great interest in and demand for quality, legitimate Pintabian horses, and for good reason.  These amazing creatures are not only breathtakingly beautiful, but beloved members of our families due to their intelligence, trainability and friendly demeanor.  They are also among the purest breeds of horses in the world.  It is important we keep it that way.

It is our duty as their stewards to remember, always, that Pintabian horses are truly rare, unique and special.

We need to  use wisdom and discretion in not only the care and breeding of these animals, but also in their promotion and the protection of their purity and legacy.







Synergy… And Why It Matters

17 January 2012

For years I struggled with attempting to describe what “it” is which makes the Pintabian horse so special, what sets the breed apart.  And finally, after twenty years, it dawned on me.

Synergy.  Synergy makes all the difference.

Synergy may be defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.  In other words, it means the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Think of a complex and beautiful musical piece, played by an orchestra.  Each musician’s instrument plays a part, and each can be very lovely on its own. But when you bring them together in numbers, in harmony… in a hall with great acoustics, directed by a talented conductor, you get music which can leap and soar and pirouette, moving an audience to tears and bringing it to its feet in thunderous applause.

Synergy is the reason it is sometimes rather difficult to explain the Pintabian horse to someone unfamiliar to the breed, and synergy is one of those things which set Pintabian horses apart from all others.  Pintabians are beautiful horses, to be sure; but there are lots of beautiful horses in the world.  They are tobiano, but tobiano horses and ponies are common.  Pintabian horses are intelligent and athletic, inquisitive and easy to train.  The fans of most other breeds would argue the same about their own horses.

Its when you bring all these traits together… the beauty, the brains, the tobiano spots, the beautiful carriage and movement, the sensitive nature, the high degree of Arabian blood and the paperwork to prove it… that’s when the magic, or the synergy, happens.  All those things work together to create a truly rare and spectacular, and some would argue “magical”, horse.

These are the horses which capture the attention of amateur and professional alike, the ones who convert non-horsey spouses into passionate equestrians.  The horses that dreams are made of… and yet also the ones which make dreams come true.

All because many independent traits work together in harmony, creating a spectacular creature… the Pintabian horse.



It’s NOT “All About The Color”

18 January 2011

*This is a post I wrote for my “Frostfire Journal” blog, February 2010

A few weeks ago, I came across an article about Pintabian horses entitled, “Its All About the Color”.  While the article was very well written and quite a good synopsis in regard to the development of the breed, its title missed the mark…. by a hundred miles.

If, in fact, the Pintabian were “all about the color”… the breed itself would be completely unnecessary and totally redundant.  One could buy a tobiano Paint horse, Gypsy Vanner, Shetland Pony, Spotted Draft, any type of Pinto (all wonderful breeds in their own right), or select from any other breed which carries the tobiano spotting gene.  The type, conformation, disposition and pedigree would matter not… only the color.

Fortunately, the opposite is true.

Here at Frostfire Farm, we require all our horses to be, first and foremost, of sound mind and temperament.  Nothing less than a docile, friendly, intelligent and willing horse will do.  Our children handle these horses; their safety is our first priority.  We also appreciate the fact that our farrier and vet enjoy coming out here to our farm, because our horses are easy to work with and pleasant to be around.  Our trainer tells us that if everyone bred horses like ours, he would be out of a job; he raves about their intelligence and train-ability. Pintabian horses were, and still are, selectively bred for intelligence and quiet disposition.

We select our breeding stock based on correct conformation, classic Arabian “type”, and athletic ability in addition to the aforementioned disposition.  The good news for us is that classic Arabian type, correct conformation and athletic ability all tend to go hand-in-hand.  When you start with good stock, you are richly rewarded in the generations that follow. Quality begets quality.

Knowing the pedigrees of your horses, and the assets and liabilities in those pedigrees, is vital.  One can make far more knowledgeable breeding decisions when you know the genetics with which you are dealing.  I, for one, will not purchase a horse “eligible for registration”… only animals from reputable breeders, which are already registered with the Pintabian Horse Registry (or Arabian Horse Association, in the case of our Arabians).  Does the deal seem too good to be true?  You know the rest.  If a breeder does not have the integrity or faith enough in their own program to sign on the dotted line, attesting to the fact the horse they are registering is, in fact, the product of Sire X and Dam Y… is this really someone with whom you wish to do business?

The importance of  purchasing foundation stock from reputable breeders, keeping accurate and up-to-date records, and registering your animals with the established registry or association for your particular breed cannot be overstated.  If either a breeder or a registry is willing to “look the other way” in regard to parentage, transfers of ownership, parentage verification or any other aspect of record-keeping in order to make a sale or collect a fee, it destroys their credibility and brings into question the integrity of all involved, horse included.   A breeder must have absolute faith that the horse they purchase is truly a product of the pedigree it is said to represent.  In the absence of that faith, one is dealing with the unknown… and breeding that horse is a crapshoot.  That said, representing a horse as something it is not, especially a breeding animal whose value depends heavily on the genetics it will pass along to the next generation, is not only irresponsible… it is also illegal.

You will notice that I leave “color” for last.  It truly is at the bottom of the priority list in terms of my selection of breeding stock.  No matter how flashy a coat a horse may wear… if it cannot stand up next to a top-quality solid-colored horse of the same breed and compete on equal terms… if it is handicapped by poor conformation or a sour temperament… it has little value as a representative of the breed.

That said, when you have a horse with a wonderful disposition, classic Arabian  type, good conformation, athleticism… and then add the glitz in the form of a wild, show-stopping coat pattern… then you truly have a “statement horse”, and one built on a quality foundation.  Quality and color are not mutually exclusive, it is possible to have both.  One just needs to make thoughtful and responsible breeding and buying decisions in order to get there.

To Win The Prize

17 January 2011

William James said, “He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.”

Years ago, I was presented with one of those unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.  Call it what you will, be it fate, destiny, or luck; whatever it was, the day I discovered the Pintabian horse was the day my life found its direction.

As a girl, I was horse-crazy as they come, and knew that no matter what direction life might lead me, that life must include horses.  Arabian horses, in particular.  In addition to being horse-crazy, I was also an independent thinker, not prone to following a crowd or to accepting other people’s opinions as fact.  Arabians graced my life from the age of twelve, and so I knew from personal experience that the stereotypes given them as “flighty”, “silly” or (my particular favorite) “obstinate” were way off the mark. The Arabian horses I knew were sensitive, intelligent, willing, and demonstrated great endurance.

So in 1994 when the opportunity arose to meet some Pintabian horses and visit with a foundation breeder, I jumped at the chance.  That day is forever etched in my memory.  The horses were breathtakingly beautiful and totally unique.  What sold me, however, were their temperaments. One could not walk through their pastures or pens without being followed and pestered for attention.  Those Pintabians were so regal in their bearing, yet humbly sought human companionship and seemed to truly enjoy it.

That day left me with a fire in my soul.  I went home, and as with every question or venture I pursue, did my homework.  Formed in 1992, the Pintabian Horse Registry was still in its infancy.  At the time, there were but a handful of horses and even fewer breeders.  The realization struck me that this was an opportunity second to none.  Pintabian horses were, in essence, the Arabians I so loved, but with the added interest of showy tobiano markings. They are not a cross-breed, as so many first assume; rather, the Pintabian is one of the more pure breeds in existence. Derived from the Arabian, with only a single outcross at least seven generations back to acquire the tobiano gene, they are over 99% Arabian in blood and breed true to type.

Moreover, Pintabians are quintessentially American.  They are the embodiment of a great and original idea, as well as an example of the creativity, dedication and tenacity required to pursue such an idea.  Pintabians are unique, rare, and the result of many years of careful selective breeding.  I wanted to be part of the action as this new breed grew and prospered.  In other words, I embraced this unique opportunity.

What a privilege, education and adventure it has been!  Pintabian horses have been part of my family’s life for over fifteen years now, and in that time we have watched the breed grow by leaps and bounds.  Pintabian horses are now spread across America from New York to California, Alaska to Texas; and also reside in such far-away lands as Australia, Africa, and a number of European countries as well as Canada and Mexico.  They compete against other breeds in events ranging from cutting to endurance to dressage and perform phenomenally well.  Pintabians are versatile athletes in addition to being intelligent and willing, and yet are also a gentle family horse second to none.  In fact, the trainer currently working with one of my young mares called recently to tell me that she is one of the smartest he’s ever trained. His opinion?  “If all horses were this easy to train, I’d be out of a job!” and better yet, “I could ride this horse all day!”

Never once have I regretted the decision to dedicate so much of myself to this breed; quite the contrary, in fact.  Through life’s many triumphs and tragedies, through two relocations, the birth and raising of my children, Pintabian horses have been a constant in my life.  I could not be more blessed or more grateful for what these horses give in return. Each day as I witness the poetry in motion they write by simply walking across their pasture, or their gentle patience with my young daughters as they learn to groom, feed, and ride, it is clear that by embracing the unique opportunity presented by the Pintabian horse, surely I’ve won the prize.

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