Two names which are synonymous with mega talent and stardom have now moved to a different arena: the foal evaluations at the North American KWPN keurings. We know the two are great, but now as breeding stallions - what do they pass on in their offspring? (Ravel – breeding stallion? Yes, he was an approved stallion. During quarantine for the trip to his new home difficulties arose which necessitated castration. His frozen semen would stand him in good stead for the future.)
Let’s set the stage for this new ‘head to head’. A final total of 117 foals and weanlings (127 entered) were brought for inspection to eleven locations in the USA and Canada during September. Dutch horse breeders sought feedback on the combinations of their mares with top stallions - were they on the right track? The jury evaluated and scored the foals on conformation needed for structural soundness and performance (by discipline) plus the movement quality required to meet the top international standards.
The breakdown, by discipline, of youngsters entered for evaluation was: Jumping – 34, Dressage – 64, Harness – 26 and Hunter – 3. The sires represented in those disciplines were both North American and European based, and included fresh and frozen semen breedings. As members of an open studbook, the KWPN and KWPN-NA breeders aggressively use the breadth of not only KWPN stallions, but also those of other studbooks which meet a similar strict selection standard.
For the purpose of this article we’ll focus on the Dressage foals.
Past and current international Champion stallions (KWPN and KWPN-NA Approved unless otherwise noted) were among those used by breeders for their 2011 foals/weanlings.
Dressage Sires represented:
Bugatti Hilltop (Han), Belissimo M (Rhld), Clavecimbel, Devon Heir (Han), Farrington, Florianus, For Compliment (Rhld), Harvard (Han), Lancet (Han), Kennedy, Jazz, Idocus, Labo (Old), 00 Seven, Nourejev, Ravel, Rousseau, Scandic, Schroeder (Han), Sir Sinclair, Soprano (Old), Totilas, UB 40, Uphill, Wynton
These stallion’s names are those we bandy about, and THEY are the ones that get the glossy color pages in the magazines. But the key ingredient in performance breeding is the quality of the mothers. The premiums (1st or 2nd) given to the foals/weanlings are for the ‘combination’ of the stallions with the mares. Even when one breeds the best to the best often the ‘genetic ingredients’ don’t blend/nick well, therefore readers of the results must be aware that it is not the stallion’s contribution that receives the premium, - or the mare’s, but that single specific combination of the two. The premiums assigned to these young horses are JUST FOR THAT DAY at that stage of growth.
The dams of this freshman class were laden with ‘predicates’ (terms that are indicators of varying levels of quality = ster, keur; performance = sport [Dressage, Jump, Eventing, Hunter, Harness]; soundness = PROK, elite, and, offspring of high quality = preferent, especially in the show arenas = prestatie). The breeders have learned to ratchet up their use of these wonder-girls in order to be progressive and secure. The toughest part is seeking/studying/trying stallions whose genetics may or will work best with their mares. That is why conscientious breeders make the trek to a keuring for the Jury’s scores and commentary. It is not a horse show – but a seeking of objective/educated input on their breeding combination. The breeders may also become aware of an interesting new option for next season’s stallion choice.
So back to Ravel and Totilas
The largest class of all locations for the current year foals was DG Bar Ranch in the central valley of California. Twenty six youngsters (23-dressage, 2-jumpers, 1-hunter) were presented at the sides of their dams, or in hand, for their evaluation. The preceding ninety-one were in the minds and notations of the Jury (Bart Henstra – Holland, Toine Hoefs - Holland, Dr. Deborah Harrison, Lana Sneddon and Faith Fessenden), who knew that historically this location proffered up horses who end in the Top Five of the tour.
The foals were divided into three groups. Those born after June 1st, and those born before June 1st which were split by catalog entry. As the scores began to be discussed and the numbers moved into the 70’s and 80’s the Jury decided to create a cut-off at 77.5 and above for the championship round. In numerical order those six dressage foals were: #270 - Gamebria DG (Belissimo M x Krack C), #271 - Gaspard de la Nuit DG (Ravel x Sir Donnerhall), #284 - Golimbria DG (Devon Heir x Farrington), #286 - Gee Ramiro MMW (Devon Heir x G.Ramiro Z), #288 - Geluvium (Totilas x Giorgio), #289 - Genius MVS (Uphill x Flemmingh).
These six were brought back for a rond-stappen (walk around) for a final once over, to see them and confirm initial impressions and scores. Working from 6th place to first the placings were: 284, 286, 270, 288, 289, and 271.
The first place dressage foal, Champion Young Horse for the keuring and overall Champion Dressage Young horse for the 2011 keuring tour was the son of Ravel.
Jury notes were: “strong, smoothly connected body – clean long legs, well shaped, slightly heavy neck with some under-muscle. His conformation score was a 78. In movement lifted off with power, suspension, suppleness throughout his body and with his good use of the top line creating concavity of the under neck. The canter technique was superb earning him a movement score of 88 for a final total score of 83.
Totilas’ son received a 78 for conformation and an 81 for movement – with notes of “attractive youngster, compact, in movement uphill with lift and activity in his joints and an easy canter with a good posture and suspension. This put him in 3rd place.
The Uphill son powered his way into second place, to separate the two sons of the famous fathers. He received an 80 for conformation and an 85 for movement. Remarks were about his elegance and athleticism, handsome silhouette and self-carriage, quick use of the hind leg.
All three of these boys will be exciting to watch as they grow up! They make their breeders, owners, and the KWPN-NA proud. In them we see the continuation of the two greats = Ravel and Totilas.