Which dressage stallion will you pick for your mare this year? Will you opt for a young, promising stallion or do you prefer a sire that has already earned his stripes in breeding and/or sport? And how do you reach that, often rather difficult, decision? We asked Floor Dröge, inspector at the KWPN, how to determine whether a stallion is a good match for your mare.
“First, you start by defining your breeding goal, before taking a critical look at your mare. How is the mare built, is she tall enough, does she have a sufficiently rectangular frame? Would you like to improve or change something? Which qualities of your mare would you like to preserve? If you come up with two or three points, that is already quite a lot. Do the same for the elements of the mare you would like to improve.”
What’s next? “Then you search for a stallion that complements your mare in terms of her the strong suits. When you would like to retain the strong hindleg of the mare, you do not want to pair her to a stallion with a poor hindleg. You do not wish it to vanish from the dam line. So, you keep checking in which aspect a stallion could make a positive contribution and if that corresponds with your wish list.”
Always making concessions
That seems easier said than done. “Correct, you must always make concessions. You will never find a stallion that can maintain all the good features and improve all the flaws. It is therefore essential to establish your priorities, what will you focus on?” In your opinion, are there concessions someone should never make? “If a mare is truly difficult under saddle, or if that seems to be a common trait in the lineage, you must contemplate the choice of breeding at all. Of course, one not-so-easy offspring can be mere coincidence, but if you notice a mare passes it on, you must sincerely ask yourself if you should continue with such a mare.”
A matter of instinct
Floor states that you end up with a list of three or four stallions that could theoretically suit your mare well. “And then it is a matter of instinct. Which stallion appeals the most to you? Go and have a look at the stallions, try to gain a clear picture of them. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal taste and preference. Will you choose a young stallion, an acclaimed sire? These considerations differ from person to person.”
What tip would you give the breeders? “Stay critical and take an honest look at your horse. If you find that hard, ask for help. If you have one or two horses at home, that is your truth. If you have more horses or if you see a lot of horses, your views may change.” What could be another helpful tool for a breeder? “Inspections could be of aid since you get an objective picture of your mare’s conformation.”
More than conformation
However, the matter is about more than just conformation. How you determine what to preserve or improve in a mare’s character or disposition? “For that precise reason, it is so important that mares are ridden. That breeders make the effort to invest in training under saddle, for ability tests such as an IBOP or EPTM for example. They give you a great first impression. Is a mare willing to work, what is her mindset like? How does she respond when the work gets more challenging, is she trainable under saddle and above all, how functional is her body? That’s the key. The old days of simply a beautiful horse in the field have passed.
“Harmony will only become more important”
Ask Floor for a few tips, and you receive ten. Floor is a dressage horse breeder herself, albeit on a small scale, and welcomes several foals a year. What is the focal point of the experienced mare inspector who views hundreds of mares and foals every year and closely monitors the top levels of sport? “I think it is crucial that a horse has a durable body. So that he or she remains healthy.” What features do you pay attention to? “Good, equal feet, no recurrent or new injury every so often, nor issues on the x-rays and that they do the work in an effortless manner. The ease, the harmony with which a horse performs the dressage test, will only become more important in the future.”
Introduce your breeding products to the world
Would you like to sell your foal this year? Via Global Dressage Auction you reach a wide international audience that is interested in dressage breeding. You do not have to load your foal on the lorry four times, and you are nevertheless featured in the world’s most interesting collections. Sign up your foal for the photo and video day of Friday, the 30th of June. Our selector Koos Poppelaars is already hard at work selecting the first foals and gladly views your foal too.
Interested? Let us know and fill out the digital form here.
Any questions or interested in getting more information about the auction? Koos Poppelaars is happy to help: 00316 52 46 64 47