The Derby Livestock Company has been breeding quality quarter horses for over 20 years. We have always had the goal of raising durable, athletic, good minded horses that can get the job done on the ranch, are handy enough to go to town and compete on, are a pleasure to ride and be around, and that will last.
We have achieved that goal by placing priority on balanced, correct confirmation with plenty of substance, good bone and hoof, cow sense and athleticism, and a likable disposition.
While those goals and priorities have remained the same, as our approach changed, (and we moved further towards the vaquero style of horsemanship, and a balance/signal/softness approach) our choice of breeding stock changed with it. I began to have more opportunities to ride, work and own Iberian horses (Portuguese Lusitanos and Spanish Andalusians). I was impressed with how our “new” approach to horsemanship obviously fit these horses so well. Balance matters to these horses, a lot, and it only makes sense. This style was developed on these breeds of horses, and these breeds were developed specifically for use in the foundation of this style.
We have for the past half dozen years bred only a few select mares, the very best of our program, and are now crossing these quality quarter horse mares on a Lusitano stallion. We have recently added several Iberian mares to our breeding program, as well.
We like this cross, of the old school Iberian on the ranch type quarter horse, for its natural elevation in the front, ease of collection, free lateral movement, mental and physical toughness, and willing disposition with a strong work ethic. The quarter horse half seems to settle the Lusitano a bit, and helps provide a larger, stronger hind end, that allows them to get in the ground a bit more, giving them harder stops, more power to pull from the saddle horn when roping, and better ability to travel up and down steep mountainous terrain. These Iberian-quarter horse crosses are referred to as Aztecas. We find them perfectly suited for our needs as modern, using, bridle horses.
So why buy a Derby Livestock Company horse?
For these reasons:
-Proven breeding for good dispositioned horses that we know! – We ride the mares, we likely owned her grand-dam, too, and we’ve raised, ridden, and still have a connection to a half dozen or more full siblings. We know them to be easy to get along with, and a pleasure to be around, and we know that they will be well-suited for the jobs they’ll be asked to perform.
-Physical attributes for athleticism and durability. - We start with a good hoof (No hoof, no horse.), then substance, especially of bone, and correct, balanced confirmation that offers smooth, easy movement. That leads to athleticism and durability.
-Handled with their future in mind. - Every little thing we do is consistent with our entire approach to interacting with horses. We raise our horses always with an eye towards their career as bridle horses. Siempre mañana.
Our typical rearing scenario: Our youngsters are allowed to grow up as horses. They are foaled out, pasture raised, and live in a herd. When they’re young, we choose quality over a quantity of interaction. We’ve found that less really is more, at this stage. We like to be around them, and scratched on them, just enough as foals that they associate the human with something good. We handle them as a weanling so that we can de-worm, give shots, and doctor if it becomes necessary. We introduce lead training and more handling as a yearling. We trim feet, trailer load, tie up, bathe, etc. We add ground work, ponying and preparation for riding as a two and three-year-old. They are started under saddle at four. If we still own them, they may go back out for a few months at a time. They then take a place in a string, and really go to work consistently, at five. We believe taking the time to let them mature, mentally and physically, more than pays off by trading a couple of years on the front end, early in their education, when they are not yet that strong or handy, for five or more years of additional usability later in their life when they are a mature, educated, seasoned ranch horse.
Again, they are handled in every step of their education in ways that are consistent with the manner of interaction that we will (would) use throughout their entire career. Our approach fits our horses, and our horses fit our approach.