Justifiably, stallions are scrutinized more heavily than mares. They do, in fact, contribute more to the gene pool because they sire multiple offspring each season.

However, savvy breeders don’t discount the quality of their mares. After all, one of the timeless horse breeding clichés is “Great mares make (produce) great sires.”

Leading breeder Jud Little’s program at his Bar Nothin Ranch is proof positive that black-type mares can make a program. Even though he started with a proven leading sire in Cash Not Credit, Little built his program around mares with proven performance records themselves or mares that were full sisters to horses that had extensive records. In the past 10 years alone, that formula has produced more than $1.4 million won in the barrel pen—and that barely includes the last two years of rodeo earnings!

Whether you’re raising horses for yourself or to market, every breeder should ask the question—Does my mare black type?

Black type

Black type is a means of pedigree assessment through the maternal line.

Top proven sires are easy to pick out, again due to the volume of their offspring. Mares, on the other, even with the prolificacy of embryo transfers, have limited number of offspring when compared to sires. Thus, the worth of the maternal line is what sets horses apart through pedigree analysis.

Black type itself refers to distinguishing great performers from average ones by highlighting their names in a pedigree. Back in the early days of printing, color wasn’t readily available, so bold print, uppercase letters, italics and the occasional symbol were used to give horses special emphasis.

Kelly Yates’ great Firewater Fiesta
Kelly Yates’ great Firewater Fiesta is an example of black type barrel racing pedigree at its finest.

Different industries have different criteria for black type.

With racehorses, stakes winners have their names typed with bold, ALL CAPS—for example, DASH TA FAME, winner of the Golden State Futurity. Horses that finish second and third in a stakes race are considered “stakes placed” and are written in bold proper case like Stoli My Heart, who placed third in the Longhorn Futurity.

With performance horses, black type is completely different. Horses with more than $10,000 in earnings, world champions and Congress champions in all divisions, AQHA, APHA and other breed champions, and Superior point earners are recognized in bold, all caps—MULBERRY CANYON MOON, with Equi-Stat earnings in excess of $330,000. Horses with more than $1,500 to $9,999, reserve world and Congress champions in all divisions and performance Register of Merit earners are written with bold, proper case—Miss JB 098, Mulberry Canyon Moon’s oldest foal that was a futurity horse in 2013.

For instance, in the Barrel Horse News Stallion Register, the stallions are black typed using performance horse standards.

Producing Lines

By black-typing your mares you can analyze performance-based production lines. What you’re looking for is proof to the old cliché “producers beget producers,” which means daughters of mares that produce several winners are more likely to produce multiple winners themselves.

The fact that Firewater Fiesta is now a leading producer should be no surprise. Her dam, Mighty Mindy was a great producer, and Fiesta’s older half-sister Slice Of Spice is also a producer.

In addition to Fiesta, Mighty Mindy produced Flits Friend, an AQHA World Champion and National Finals Rodeo qualifier in the heeling; futurity money earner Sugars Play Time and barrel-money earner Holidays Harmony. Slice Of Spice earned nearly $20,000 in Equi-Stat before producing professional rodeo and aged-event earners Mighty Awesome Fella and Bullys Hometown Hero.

Other leading broodmares such as Mistys Dash Of Fame, SX Frenchmans Vanila, Pie Sky Promises and My Easter Flame were out of proven barrel producing mares as well.

Proven production isn’t just limited to the arena. Take Juana Dinero and Disarray, whose black type came from the racetrack. Although it wasn’t in the arena, it still showed that their colts excelled in their specific discipline. When crossed on proven barrel studs, Juana Dinero produced $173,000 earner Miss JB 055 by Fire Water Flit, and Disarray produced $110,000 earner Guys Famous Girl by Frenchmans Guy.


Documentation is everything, which is why it’s been easier in the past to black-type racehorses and non-barrel racing performance lines. Those disciplines simply kept better records.

Now that Equi-Stat is tracking professional rodeo earnings and a handful of amateur rodeo associations, barrel horse records are becoming more and more complete, so black-typing by virtue of barrel racing earnings is becoming easier.

The best place to start your research, however, is with your horse’s breed association’s records. You can pull fabulous reports from the AQHA like four-generation dam reports, which gives you the performance summary of the dam requested. (This also includes some non-AQHA association earnings like NCHA and BFA earnings). It will list of her grandget and great grand-get and go back three generations to her fourth dam with the same information.

Equineline is a great tool if you are researching production records of mares with strong racing or Thoroughbred lines.

Of course, for barrel racing records, EquiStat is the gold standard. The staff at EquiStat can produce offspring reports much like AQHA except they can generate the money-earning foals in specific disciplines—mainly cutting, reining, reined cow horse and barrel racing, with a smattering of other events included.

The problem is that none of these resources are of much help if the mare in question or her offspring competed in rodeo events or jackpots where the horses’ registered names aren’t tracked. These horses end up with what’s referred to as a “white page” if they were to be cataloged for sale. This means an absence of black type.

Horses without black type still sell well if they’re the right kind of individual, but they generally take more marketing and often require more added value through training when selling as prospects. You can say every foal your mare has produced has been a winner, but can you prove it? Black type is your proof because it’s verifiable through outside sources.

Black type is what separates what a pedigree means to you and what it means to the rest of the world, so it’s always nice to have little in your stockpile—preferably in the first and second generations.


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