What is Nicking?

What is Nicking?

When you are breeding a horse, use the nicking technique to select the perfect cross.

Two young horses stand in a grass pasture.

text size

By Andrea Caudill

A horse’s bloodlines are the recording of its past, its present and its future. The parentage that produced it each have their own specific strengths and skills, and when they’re blended together, they can produce further greatness.
When the specific cross of one bloodline onto another specific bloodline consistently produces champions, that phenomenon is known as a “nick.” This shouldn’t be confused with the crossing of two individual horses that produce successful offspring, as that is too specific to the general practice of nicking.
One of the most famous nicks in American Quarter Horse history is the cross of Doc Bar (Lightning Bar-Dandy Doll by Texas Dandy) on the daughters of Poco Tivio (Poco Bueno-Sheilwin by Pretty Boy). Fully 22 percent of Doc Bar’s progeny earnings come from foals out of Poco Tivio daughters. Think of Doc’s Starlight, Doc’s Oak, Boon Bar, Doc’s Lynx and Doc’s Prescription, all of whom were among a group of superior performance horses and producers from this cross.

Using nicking tools when you’re preparing your breeding plans increases the chances of finding bloodlines that complement each other to produce successful performers. 

How to Find a Nick 

When you’re searching for the ideal cross on your mare, QData offers powerful tools to assist you in making your decision. Let’s take a look at how you can use these tools to your advantage, using an example of the 2003 sorrel mare Smart Like Cow, owned by Stephanie K. Campbell of Winters, Texas.

Smart Like Cow is a performing mare, with AQHA points and earnings in both National Reined Cow Horse and National Reining Horse association competition. 

She is by Smart Like Juice (Smart Little Lena-Jessies Oak by Doc’s Oak) and out of the mare Begin With A Spin (Hold That Cow-Ima Slow Zipper by Zippo Pine Bar). Both these horses are also performers. 

Using the QData Website 

Let’s begin at the QData website, where once you log in you can click “Online Performance and Pedigree Research.” Scroll down to the nicking options, which include options of proven crosses by sire or by dam sire. There is also a selection that allows a detailed breeding cross of a specific stallion on a specific mare. 

We are interested in narrowing down what bloodlines have been most successful in the past when crossing on our mare’s bloodlines, so we’re going to select the N151C Nicking (Proven Crosses) Report by Dam’s Sire.

When this report is pulled up, we can see the stallions that have been bred to daughters of Smart Like Juice, and how the resulting progeny have performed. 

This information can be used in several different ways. When examining the top 10 crosses on these mares, for example, several bloodlines jump out: stallions that carry the blood of Topsail Cody, Shining Spark and Colonels Smoking Gun have repeatedly been very successful. However, the Nicking Report makes it clear that Wimpys Little Step is the most consistently successful cross on Smart Like Juice daughters.

This can help you narrow down the pool of stallions for you to research more closely. At this time, you might want to run a Nicking (Breeding Cross) Detail Report with a detailed listing of all the money earners produced by a specific cross.

You can also use a Nicking Report as a jumping off point to further analyze the crosses, comparing them to your bloodlines or learning the type of events they were successful in and how they compare to your interests (for example, was the cross successful in limited-age events?). 

There are other charts available at QData for broodmares, sires and dam sires that explore these options. 

Using QStallions.com 

When you’re ready to go stallion shopping, the No. 1 stop on the web is QStallions.com, AQHA’s online stallion directory. 

There, you will find an updated stallion directory that includes vital information, photos, video and breeding tools, as well as free Nicking Reports.

The selection of the perfect stallion is a complicated issue that depends on many factors, but nicking can be one such factor. 

When we visit one of these QStallions pages, such as that of Shining Spark, we can find toward the bottom of the page an option to view this stallion’s nicking report and a hypothetical mating.

Shining Spark’s nicking report shows us that the bloodlines of Smart Little Lena, which is Smart Like Juice’s sire, is the second-most successful cross on the stallion. 

The game of breeding is a complicated one with countless elements involved, but selecting the winning combination is priceless. Using the right tools can make the challenge easier. 

About QStallions.com 

AQHA's online stallion directory, QStallions.com, is a trusted source of data for both mare and stallion owners. Marketing and researching an American Quarter Horse stallion online can be challenging. QStallions.com delivers all of the information mare owners are looking for in one place, and the data is the most current in the industry. Learn about the benefits of AQHA’s premier American Quarter Horse directory and breeder resource, QStallions.com.