Well - it is Autumn and that is the time of the year when the Warmblood and
Performance horse breed societies and Associations have their foal and breed class, Annual
events in order to show the approximately 6 month old foals from the previous breeding
season. It is a chance for the public to see what certain stallions are producing
and what types of mares seem to be the best to use for a good quality result.
Being a very keen performance enthusiast I am
very pleased to be a part of the era that has seen the most significant improvement in the
riding horse gene pool that we have seen in the long history of horse breeding in
Australia. I am sure that the trend will continue, but in the last 10 years there
has been a huge leap, made possible by the every day use of frozen semen and artificial
breeding techniques, which through widespread use have become cost effective and
affordable to almost anyone keen to breed a quality horse.
International Thoroughbred breeding program has not enjoyed the same 'percentage
improvement', as they have prohibited the use artificial insemination using chilled or
frozen semen - breeding is only possible through natural service. This means that
the on costs associated with breeding can be very high, transport, agistment, outside vets
and the costs involved in getting other people to do all of the work. Many thoroughbred
breeders are forced to take these costs into consideration when planning the mating for
their mare. And they may be forced to use their second third or lower down the list
stallion just because of the economics.
It is only the very wealthy who can afford to
send their mares to 'shuttle' stallions (these horses stand at stud in the Northern
Hemisphere Spring (our Autumn) and come to Australia and cover a full book of mares in the
Southern Hemisphere). Danehill is a notable example, and while he no longer stands
at public stud, his fee prior to retirement his fee was reported to be $200,000 and only
available to select mares, by invitation (I am not too sure whether they got the candlelit
dinner as part of the fee!!) The most expensive dual hemisphere stallion at present
is Giants Causway who stands at $135,000, plus the on costs. This means that the
hobby breeder or smaller trainer without access to wealthy owners will not be able to
breed horses with internationally proven bloodlines - they are just too expensive.
The yearling above is by Danehill and from a well performed rare mare called Cherry
Gardens. He is from the 2003 Collingrove Stud Yearling draft - he was sold at
the Adelaide yearling sales and leading trainer Gai Waterhouse paid $250,000 for him.
He certainly took my eye as a nice type for dressage (and I thought that I could go
to say $12,000!)
How fortunate we are that our sport has a
different approach - Breeders recognise that the more mares from all over the world will
mean a lower fee and this in turn attracts even more mares - it is an upward spiral and a
true win/win situation. This keeps the cost of using the good stallions to a
minimum, and almost everyone can afford to breed a riding horse with proven
qualities that make it a very worthwhile prospect for the job for which it is intended.
The AWHA 2003 Gala Day was a great day's fun and
a showcase for some beautifully bred, well raised and nicely presented youngstock that
would not be out of place at the top European Young stock competitions.
The Champion and Reserve Champion foals were
outstanding types - very different, but correct in conformation and already demonstrated
that lovely free flowing movement that has given the warmblood horse it's reputation for
being the breed for dressage. It was interesting to note that the Champion foal was
from a Thoroughbred mare by Consolidate - she was the dam of the 2002 AWHA Champion Foal.
Champion Foal was
Klassic Renomme - She is by the frozen semen stallion Regazzoni. who is by Rubinstein out of a Werther mare.
This foal is another example of the influence of
His dam is a beautiful quality Thoroughbred mare
by Consolidate, and he was bred by a very proud Willy Knauss
He is sure to mature into a very nice
Australia is uniquely place to have truly
outstanding thoroughbred mares - which is not the case in Europe. Only Australia,
England, New Zealand, the USA and Canada are know to have the wealth of thoroughbred blood
that has proven to be such a great asset in breeding performance horses.
Champion was Hollands Bend Radium and he is by Rotspon from a Larundel Gandalf mare.
Larundel Gandalf is a Queensland stallion that keeps on producing very nice riding horses.
The winner of the three year old class in the 2001 Queensland Young Horse Championships
was by this stallion. The tractable grey was later purchased by the riding judge
Claire Wickens, and is now called Rolex and having great success at Dressage.
It is fair to acknowledge that not ALL
thoroughbred are suitable for a performance horse breeding program Where the
European system that we have now adopted, shows its strength, is in the
classification/assessment process. Not only are the bloodlines looked at, but the
desirable physical and temperamental characteristics along with the results of matings.
The process is quite different to that of breeding racehorse, where there is only
ONE consideration - speed.
The Gala Day opted for the judging practice
which sees a panel of three hold up cards with a mark out of 10 for conformation, overall
type and movement in all three paces. There is not enough time for the judges to
discuss the marks before committing their thoughts to a number - rather like a dressage
judge. At the end of the round the scored are tallied and the winner of the class
announced. It is a very transparent way of judging and no one could complain that
they were a victim of bias or poor judgment - well done AWHA Committee.
The three judges were
well respected and knowledgeable and have a great deal of personal experience with
performance horses. They were Fred Hoevenaars (right) from the Bellarine Peninsula,
Caroling Coleby from the Berwick district and John Petty.
It was great to see a hard working committee,
who were also involved in showing. It is very good to look at an event as a
competitor would see it and I am sure that this is why the event went so smoothly.
There was a full program of Dressage events,
with 5 rings up to Medium level.