Horse breeding laws were written to protect people and government agencies from unknowingly acquiring unsound or unhealthy horses. Horse breeders would need to be able to show some of the ancestry of any horse they were selling.
In 1905 Wisconsin took the initiative among the states of the nation in the control or regulation of stallions stood for public service within the state.
A law was passed requiring that pedigree and a statement as to soundness of the stallions and jacks stood for public service be submitted to the department of horse breeding of the College of Agriculture for examination. The department then issued a registry certificate setting forth the breeding and condition of soundness of the stallion or jack, a copy of which certificate was required on every bill, poster or other advertisement of said stallion or jack. A poster bearing a copy of this certificate was required to be posted on the inside and outside of the door of every barn in which the stallion was stood for service.
This law has been amended from time to time as occasion demanded until as it stands at present the Wisconsin law makes it an offense, punishable by fine or imprisonment, to use or offer to use for public service any stallion or jack until a certificate of enrollment in the department of horse breeding has been recorded with the register of deeds of the county in which the stallion or jack stands for service. It further disqualifies for service any stallion or jack affected with any one of the following named diseases:
Bog spavin, curb, with curby formation of hock.
Bone spavin, ringbone, sidebone, navicular disease.
Cataract, amaurosis (glass eye), periodic ophthalmia (moon blindness).
Chorea (St. Vitus' dance, crampiness, shivering, stringhalt).
Glanders, farcy, maladie du coit (equine syphilis), urethral gleet, mange, melanosis.
Laryngeal hemiplegia (roaring or whistling).
Pulmonary emphysema (heaves. broken wind).
It further authorizes the issuance of five different forms of certificates for stallions or jacks of varied breeding as follows: Pure bred, grade, cross bred, nonstandard bred, mongrel or scrub. Provision is made for the payment of a registration fee of $2, a renewal fee of $1 every two years and a transfer fee of 50 cents, monies accruing therefrom to be used in executing the law, which has been under the direction of Dr. A. S. Alexander, head of the department of horse breeding of the College of Agriculture.
The immediate effect of the law was to start a wave of agitation for the improvement of horses over the state. Horse breeding had been a haphazard business with a great majority of farmers of the state during the decade prior to 1900. The agitation was educational in that it "caused a discussion of the importance of soundness in stallions and mares used for breeding purposes, of the value pedigree, of the power and prepotency of pure blood, the foolishness of breeding horses of mixed breeding or of no known breeding, the fallacy of using horses of poor individual quality and character and the importance of knowing exactly what is the true breeding of each stallion standing for public service."
Moreover, it put the several thousand owners of stallions within the state into intimate contact with the horse breeding department of the College of Agriculture and put the department in a position to secure valuable information and wield influence that has done much toward improving horse breeding in Wisconsin.
Horse Breeding Gains In Five Years
The results that have been accomplished by the law during the five years it has been in force are well set forth by the following data: The percentage of grade and mongrel or scrub stallions to purebred stallions in Wisconsin in 1907 was 65 per cent, mongrel or grade to 35 percent purebred and in 1911 53.6 percent mongrel and grade to 46.4 percent purebred. The percentage of pure bred to grade and mongrel or scrub stallions licensed for the first time in 1911 was: Pure bred. 53; grade and scrub, 47. The effect has been and is at present the gradual elimination of the unsound, misfit, impotent stallions of grade and mongrel breeding by castration or removal to other states and the more frequent use of sound purebred stallions to the everlasting benefit of the horse breeding industry of the state.