The Breeding Game


Show season is underway and I am so pleased with my group of 4-year-olds. I showed them for the first time at the Cactus Reining Classic and they all did well, earning good checks in their divisions.

We are heading to the National Reining Breeders Classic next week, which is one of my favorite shows of the year. I have had many requests asking for opinions on what mares Pale Face Dunnit crosses with the best, and what are the traits I see him stamp his babies with. Last year, I had three foals in the top eight in the NRHA Futurity Open all by Pale Face Dunnit, aka “Gold Digger.” One was out of a Smart Like Juice mare, one out of a Conquistador Whiz mare, and one out of a Rowdy Yankee mare. My wife and several other non-pros showed theirs successfully as well, all out of differently bred mares. So, this is a circumstance where I believe the stallion is heavily stamping his foals, and the mare does not seem to be the dominant factor. Of course, good-minded mares with talent are always beneficial!

The areas I see Gold Digger stamping his foals the most are in the stop and in their good minds. They are generally very good movers, and have a nice feel in the mouth and belly. I have another set of great 3-year-olds that I am excited to show this year. Many of them are Pale Face Dunnits, as well.

Read “What a 2-year-old Reining Horse Should Look Like”

One thing I do not get hung up on is how horses are bred. Even though we are partners on Pale Face Dunnit, I still encourage my clients to try different breedings, along with Pale Face Dunnit. You really never know what is going to be the magic cross. We have seen it time and time again: one sibling will be a superstar and another, bred exactly the same, will not be. If I had all of this figured out, I would be a wealthy guy! I think people should breed to stallions that appeal to them, because I will ride anything that someone wants to send me. Some of my best horses have been not the most famous bred.

Of course, I am partial to Pale Face Dunnit, he himself was such a fun horse to ride and train. But I also have a lot of respect for many of the other stallions out there. We are fortunate that we have many great horses to choose from in our industry! Breeding is a game – we never know the outcome, so it is important to find the best stallion for your mare based on what needs improvement.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions at [email protected]


 About Craig

Reining horse professional Craig Schmersal is the third-leading rider of all-time, with earnings of more than $3.2 million. Over the last decade, Craig has won almost all of the major reining events, often taking all three of his entries into the finals.

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