11 May 2010

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30 April 2010

Sometimes Even the Buddha Is Wrong

by Tom Reed
Horse International No. 4 2010

Since the late 1980s breeders in the southern hemisphere, North America, and Great Britain have been heavy users of imported semen from the most fashionable showjumping and dressage stallions in Europe. Most of this semen was used initially on thoroughbred and half-bred mares but in the 1990s and 2000s there was a great trade in mares purchased in Europe and imported into these countries. Today the semen is used on imported mares; daughters, grand-daughters, and great-grand-daughters of imported mares; and TB mares and their half-bred and quarter-bred descendants. This "natural experiment" has been costly as stud fees for imported semen are high (often euro 2,500 - 3,000) and the veterinary charges for using frozen semen in those counties are often astronomical.

What has been produced by these efforts at "remote" breeding? Not much at all. You would be hard pressed to find many international dressage horses and international showjumpers that were produced directly or indirectly by imported semen used in those countries.

The cases where breeders from outlying countries have been very successful can be counted on one hand. In these successful cases the foundation of the breeding program was good imported stallions bred to a large number of good imported mares. Imported semen played a much smaller role. "Soft knowledge" was created and used to breed athletes from later generations.

Why were these stud farms successful and so many breeders elsewhere unsuccessful?

There are two primary reasons. First, many mare owners had no or very little insight about what the stallions they used produced and what kind of mares best suited them. They made breeding decisions based on photos, rankings, indicies, and advice from people who understood the genetic characteristics of the mare population that the stallion served in Europe but did not know understand the genetic characteristics of the mare population in the outlying country.

The second reason is that within the outlying countries there were never enough foals produced by any given stallion, or there were never enough foals produced near enough to each other geographically, for learning to take place among the mare owners and soft knowledge to be created.

A development in the last few years is that several serious breeders of American Holsteiners have thrown in the towel and capitulated to the notion that they cannot breed world-class Holsteiners in the USA. These breeders came to this decision for a few reasons: (1) in the USA they cannot have access to the entire genetic pool of Holsteiner stallions so they are handicapped; (2) the Holsteiner mares they are able to buy and import often are not representative of the Holsteiner mares in Germany that are producing excellent athletes; and (3) they will never be able to replicate the soft knowledge and the learning community that is so vital for successful breeding. Yes, they read stallion books and stud farm catalogues and the Holsteiner Verband's (German language) magazine. Yes, they can visit the approvals and the gradings and the foal brandings in Germany. But they will never be able to access the soft unwritten knowledge, wisdom, and insights this community of German breeders has developed over many generations and share with each other.

So what have these several serious US breeders done? They now have their breeding operations in Germany! They visit their horses a few times a year but they let others give advice about mare selection, stallion selection, foal retention, producing youngster for sport, etc. So they have out-sourced many of the critical breeding decisions although they still see themselves as the "breeder". I suspect they will have success but the success will often be more attributable to their agents rather than to the principals.

What would have been the alternative to out-sourcing breeding decisions to the Germans? It would have been building a distinct American Holsteiner breed based on German Holsteiner genetics but contextualized for the realities of the USA. This idea was rejected by the American Holsteiner studbook in favor of a deeper commitment to "pure" German genetics. It will fail. But the Germans will make a lot of money selling them mares and frozen semen and the occasional stallion they no longer want.

In history there have been several instances where a breeding community or studbook has anointed stallions that they thought could make a profound contribution. Where would the Holsteiners be without Cor de la Bryere and Alme from France? Zangersheide leased Alme, Cor de la Bryere, and Ramiro and built a world-class breeding operation on their shoulders. After a leasing hiatus of a decade or more Zangersheide leased Coriano from the Holsteiner Verband. When the lease expired Zangersheide reluctantly sent Coriano back because the Verband wanted him back. Finally, a few years later, Zangersheide brought Coriano back to Belgium while still guaranteeing the Holsteiner Verband and its members access to his semen at an affordable price.

Why did the experiments with Cor de la Bryere, Alme, Ramiro and Coriano work? These were stallions with excellent genetics, the experts saw they had potential to make a huge contribution in the new environment (remember that Cor de la Bryere had failed in France), and each stallion was given the opportunity to service a large number of mares so that learning and upgrading of the mare base could take place. Soft knowledge was created and leveraged.

The idea that by using imported semen there can be a turn-around in breeding in a country like Ireland that has lost its way, or that an outlying country can build a world-class breeding program using imported semen from a multitude of famous stallions, is a notion that has failed everywhere it has been tried and there is nothing to suggest this strategy will work now. If the solution were that easy the countries noted above would all be breeding a lot of world-class athletes. But they are not. It would make more sense for breeders in these countries to use the good imported (and home-bred second and third generation) stallions they have at their disposal, to learn what these stallions can produce while simultaneously learning what their mares can produce, and to develop the soft knowledge that is so critical for breeding success.

Most recently we are seeing attempts to promote "armchair breeding" using frozen semen imported half-way around the world on mares located halfway around the world that the breeder has never seen (except by video link over the internet) and whose genetic endowment certainly cannot be understood. In the 1970s the priest/poet Daniel Berrigan wrote:

"Don't just do something," Buddha said. "Sit there."

In this case the advice of the Buddha is not helpful. Armchair breeding, like any kind of remote breeding, is doomed to fail.

Tom Reed can be contacted at tom@morningside-stud.com

10 December 2009

Keeping Trakehners on Track
by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 10 2009
This article will appear translated into German in Der Trakehner, the official magazine of the Trakehner Verband, March 2010 issue.

The Trakehner has a long and distinguished history as an all-purpose riding horse breed dating back to 1732 and as a source of top international athletes in all three Olympic disciplines.* In the annals of dressage the names of Biotop, Pepel, and Peron TSF will be inscribed forever as will Nurmi, Habicht, and Windfall in eventing and Abdullah, Almox Prints J, and Livius in showjumping. However in the latter part of the 20th century many Trakehner breeders turned away from a strong emphasis on sport and instead focused their attention on another breeding goal: the "Trakehner type". For many breeders, and the Verband, "pretty is" became much more important than "pretty does". In the 21st century Trakehner breeders and the Verband are once again committed to breeding athletes rather than simply beauty pageant queens (and kings) but the damaging legacy of these "lost years" will persist for several decades.

How can the Trakehner reclaim its past glory as a breed that consistently produced world-class athletes in all three Olympic disciplines? Unfortunately it is a lot easier to damage an outstanding genetic endowment than it is to re-build one, especially when the studbook is "closed". Warmblood studbooks permit stallions and mares from other populations to be incorporated into their gene pool to create improvement or to enhance genetic diversity. The two extreme examples of this are Studbook Zangersheide and the Trakehner Studbook. Studbook Zangersheide has an almost completely open policy in that it will register any foal that has been sired by any stallion that is approved or licensed by any member studbook of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses and is out of a mare registered by any WBFSH member studbook. On the other extreme we have the Trakehner Studbook, which will
only allow a select few thoroughbred, Arabian, Anglo-Arabian, and Shagya Arabian sires and mares to be entered into the studbook. Every other stallion and mare must be a pure Trakehner.

As an almost-closed studbook Trakehner faces an extraordinarily difficult task if it wants to improve athleticism in its population. If the Hannoverian or KWPN studbooks want to improve their members' ability to breed international showjumpers the stallion commissions will approve good Holsteiner jumping stallions. If Hannover or KWPN want to improve their members' ability to breed international dressage horses the stallion commissions will approve good Trakehner dressage stallions. And Dutch breeders also will look for excellent Trakehner mares to bring into their breeding program. But the Trakehner commission cannot look to the KWPN or Hannover or Holstein for improvement sires and the breeders likewise cannot look to other warmblood studbooks for outstanding mares.

So what is the Trakehner breeder to do?

Select and Cull
Two fundamental activities in any breeding program are selection and culling. For an almost-closed population such as Trakehner the duty to select carefully and to cull vigorously is paramount because it is highly unlikely that the source of great genetic improvement in the population, especially with respect to jumping ability, will emanate from an external source such as a thorougbred or Arabian sire: they just don't make them like they used to! It is more likely that that the source of athletic improvement will be internal to the Trakehner population but only if selection and culling of both stallions and mares are taken more seriously than they are taken now, and if selection and culling decisions are made on the basis of athleticism and not "type". If a characteristic (such as athleticism, elasticity, jumping ability) is not "selected on" in a breeding program that characteristic will not magically appear (or re-appear) in the population. Instead it will disappear. Trakehner breeders must select on athletic attributes if world-class athletes are going to be systematically produced.

Reduce the Number of Newly Approved Stallions
The Trakehner association is very small compared to many of its competitors: only 1,234 foals were registered by the Trakehner Verband in 2009. It does not enjoy economies of scale like other studbooks and its members probably expect the same level of service as that provided by much larger studbooks. But despite its small size each year the Trakehner Verband approves approximately the same number of stallions as the Holsteiner Verband, which register about five times more foals each year. And the Trakehner Verband approves approximately the same number of stallions as the KWPN, which is 11 or 12 times larger. Trakehners breeders must wrestle with the financial forces that motivate the Verband and its stallion commission to approve many more stallions than are worthy of approval. For such a small breeding
population even if 10 sub-par newly approved Trakehner stallions serviced just 24 mares each the resulting 240 foals would represent approximately 20% of the next year's entire foal crop. Trakehners cannot afford to risk that such a large percentage of their foal crop each year may be sired by less than outstanding young stallions. Further newly-approved Trakehner stallions must be required to come from mare families with outstanding sport performance. A damline that produced multitude approved stallions and winners in mare beauty pageants is simply not good enough.

Renew the Focus on Sport
I have already mentioned how the Trakehner breed lost its way for a period of time and for the Verband and many breeders "type" became more important than athleticism. In the most recent period the Verband's breeding policy has been focused on increasing the size and frame of the population. These are worthy goals -- the marketplace demands large horses even if most riders are women who are not tall and cannot easily ride large horses -- but these are not attributes that will help breeders produce excellent athletes for sport. On a fundamental level Trakehener breeders must decide whether their goal is to breed pretty, tall, and large-framed horses or world-class athletes. That is the stark choice. It is impossible to maximize on the latter goal while maximizing on the former goals.

Recommit to Jumping Ability
The Trakehner breed cannot become once again a reliable producer of world-class international showjumpers: too much of the genetics have been lost or destroyed in the last few decades and it is virtually impossible to expect a thoroughbred, Arabian, Anglo-Arabian, and Shagya Arabian sire to bring modern jumping ability to the Trakehener population. While we probably will never again see Trakehners like Abdullah, Poprad, and Topki competing in the Olympics in showjumping it is absolutely vital to the breed that the Verband and breeders recommit themselves to preserving their existing jumping genetics and building on that foundation.

Why is it vital to preserve jumping athleticism if we have capitulated to the idea that Trakehner breeders cannot systematically produce international showjumpers like they once did? One answer is easy to provide: Trakehners still produce a lot of top-class eventing horses and this should continue to be the case in the future if correct choices are made by all involved. The other reason is that small doses of excellent jumping genetics often help in dressage breeding programs. One of the reasons the Trakehner has made such a profound and positive contribution to Dutch warmblood dressage breeding is because the mare base in the KWPN, even within its dressage mares, has a large dose of jumping genes and the resulting excellent canter, power in the hindquarters, and elasticity that are associated with excellent
jumping genetics. Although a horse like the amazing Totilas is a surprise, it is not surprising to me that he comes from a cross between an excellent Trakehner sire and a KWPN mare with predominantly jumping genetics.

Preserve Jumping Genetics
Some of the most valuable jumping genetics in the Trakehener breed have been damaged in recent years by breeders diverting these mare families to dressage breeding. (Yes, such a diversion can produce a Totilas but if most breeders with jumping mares use them in dressage breeding then the population will suffer.) Even at the 2009 Trakehner stallion approval there were several instances where some of Trakehner's best jumping mare families had been crossed with dressage-bred stallions. In my frustration at this reality at one point I turned to a German friend and said that the stallion commission should require every breeder of a stallion candidate to stand up in public at the approvals and explain the reasoning and logic that produced that stallion candidate. Likewise it makes no sense to use a dressage-bred stallion with little "blood" in his pedigree (such as Grafenstolz TSF), that happened to be successful in eventing, on a jumping-bred mare if one hopes to breed a top-class showjumper or eventer.

Recently approximately 70 doses of high quality frozen semen from the world-class Olympic showjumper Abdullah were released for sale in Germany. This is probably the last semen from this great athlete and sire. I acquired 20 doses for my own breeding program within the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland. The Trakehner Verband should acquire every remaining straw and carefully dispense this genetic heritage to only the best jumping mares in its population. In addition to Abdullah among the showjumping stallions Trakehner breeders should be using whose genetics could help to rebuild jumping ability within the gene pool are Heops, Hirtentanz, Luecke, and Tzigane. The latter US-bred stallion was recently sent to Germany by his American owner to stand at stud following a successful career in both showjumping and eventing at the national level in the USA. And of course Trakehner breeders in Europe should be pounding on the stable door of the Olympic eventing horse Windfall and demanding that his owner make Windfall's frozen semen available in Europe. Windfall is proving to be a very valuable sire in the USA and it would be a shame if this great son of Habicht were forever lost to Trakehner breeders in Germany. With his athleticism and pedigree and "blood" Windfall is the type of eventing stallion that could make important contributions to both jumper breeding and eventing breeding within the Trakehner studbook.

Take Advantage of French Anglo-Arab Sires
There are some excellent Anglo-Arab stallions in France that have proven themselves in international showjumping and in breeding. Several of these stallions are closely related and descend from the great AA mare Yasmine. Although the cherished "Trakehner type" will likely be diminished by these AA showjumping stallions they provide exactly what Trakehner breeders need: full-blood sires that jump internationally and are producing successful showjumping progeny.

The Trakehener breed has a rich history and the potential to build upon its past accomplishments. It would be a tragedy if in this century the Trakehner became simply a supplier of genetics to other studbooks and diminished its ability to produce its own pure-bred international athletes. The Trakehner is on track to continued excellence but it could easily be derailed if the Verband and breeders do not think clearly and act decisively.

*For a highly informative living history of the Trakehner see

Tom Reed can be reached by email at tom@morningside-stud.com

Antoni Pacynski Interview
by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 10 2009

Antoni Pacynski was born in 1943 in Jaroslaw, Poland and competed Trakehners and part-Trakehners at the highest international level. He also managed one of the great Trakehner stud farms, the Polish State Stud Liski. Tom Reed and Maren Engelhardt sat down with Antoni at the Trakehner Stallion Approval in Neumuenster to discus his life, horses, and the Trakehner breed.

TR/ME: Antoni, perhaps you could tell us your history as a rider.

AP: I rode my first Senior Polish Championship in 1957. I was 14 years old, with a Trakehner, and I placed second. And then every year I rode in the European Championship for Junior Riders and Young Riders. In 1970 in Venice in the European individual championship the Italian rider Castellini was champion and I was second.

If you would like to read the rest of this article I invite you to join the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland (WSI) for only euro 75 and enjoy a free subscription to Horse International magazine and a free copy of L'Annee Hippique, the beautiful yearbook published by BCM in cooperation with the FEI, courtesy of WSI. Download the membership form here:

France's 2009 Circuit Future Elite
by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 10 2009

The Circuit Future Elite in France is an important series of international showjumping competitions for precocious 6- and 7-year-old showjumpers being groomed for top sport. This circuit is valuable because talented young showjumpers can be exposed to big arenas, colorful jumps, and age-appropriate heights and distances in a competition where, for many top riders, developing the equine athlete for a long international career is a primary goal.

If you would like to read the rest of this article I invite you to join the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland (WSI) for only euro 75 and enjoy a free subscription to Horse International magazine and a free copy of L'Annee Hippique, the beautiful yearbook published by BCM in cooperation with the FEI, courtesy of WSI. Download the membership form here:

29 November 2009

The following is an open letter to Johan Knaap (Director of the KWPN), the chair of the WBFSH committee with responsibility for producing, in collaboration with the FEI, the rankings of competition horses, sires, and studbooks.

If you would like to comment on my letter and/or contribute your own ideas on how to fix the rankings please visit
and post a comment.

I also invite you to write to Johan Knaap at
and encourage him to fix the rankings.

And please forward this message on to your friends and colleagues who will be interested to learn about these issues.

Dear Johan,

During the last eighteen months several of my columns for an international equestrian magazine have called upon the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) to improve the methodologies used to create its rankings so the final product is useful to sport horse breeders. In these articles I offered specific suggestions on how to improve the rankings.

The WBFSH recently released the rankings for the 2009 competition year (see www.wbfsh.org). Unfortunately the suggestions I and other breeders offered you and the WBFSH have been ignored. Nothing has changed in the way the rankings are computed and we breeders are once again left with a ranking system that is of little value but are nevertheless the source of self-promotion among the studbooks that are ranked at the top.

Below I offer you a number of concerns and suggestions about the rankings:

1. The studbook rankings do not reflect the true genetic contributions of the studbooks.

Under the current system for computing rankings the studbook a horse is born into earns all the credit for the horse's success in sport. This means that the genetic contributions that studbooks make to each other are not recognized.

Please allow me to offer a few examples to illustrate my point. Studbook Zangersheide is ranked as the 8th best studbook for producing international showjumpers and is less than one-half of one percentage point behind the Oldenburg Studbook, which is ranked 7th. This is a great accomplishment for a relatively young studbook.

However, not a single one of the six competition horses used to compute Zangersheide's ranking was sired by a stallion born into Studbook Zangersheide. Instead these showjumpers were sired by Holsteiner (in fact three were sired by Holsteiners), Oldenburg, Belgium Warmblood, and KWPN stallions.

Further not a single one of the six competition horses used to compute Zangersheide's ranking is out of a mare born into Studbook Zangersheide. Instead these showjumpers are out of mares born into the Selle Français (two mares, on fact), Hanoverian, TB, KWPN, and Belgian Warmblood studbooks.

So in the case of Studbook Zangersheide its 8th place ranking is based on not a single sire or dam that was born into that studbook. From a genetic perspective, is Zangersheide really the 8th best studbook in the world? Or does its very liberal and open registration policy allow it to free-ride in the rankings on the genetics found in other studbooks?

This is not an isolated case. In your own KWPN Studbook, which was ranked as the best studbook for producing international showjumpers, three of the six horses were sired by non-KWPN stallions (Oldenburg, Selle Français, and Holsteiner). In the case of the 2nd place Selle Français Studbook, one of the six horses was sired by a Hanoverian stallion. The 3rd place Holsteiner Studbook had one international showjumper sired by a Selle Français stallion. The 9th place Swedish Warmblood Studbook has five of its top six showjumpers sired by non-Swedish stallions and the 10th place Danish Warmblood Studbook has all six of their top showjumpers sired by non-Danish stallions.

And in case you think this anomaly is restricted to the showjumping rankings, please note that much of the Irish Sport Horse Studbook's success in the eventing rankings has been built for the last decade on the genetics of a Holsteiner stallion, Cavalier Royale, which the studbook refused to approve until shortly before his death despite standing at stud in Ireland for about a decade.

And in the dressage rankings, your own KWPN Studbook, which is ranked first, has a similar predicament. Five of the six dressage horses whose results contributed to the KWPN's top ranking were sired by non-KWPN stallions: Gribaldi (sire of two horses in the rankings) and Partout are Trakehner stallions and Contango and Amsterdam are Oldenburg stallions. Shouldn't the Trakehner Studbook, for example, enjoy some of the credit in the WBFSH rankings for the amazing success in top sport by Totilas, Painted Black, and Nadine? Shouldn’t the Oldenburg studbook enjoy some of the credit for Ravel and Pop Art? I think they should.

The WBFSH must come up with a methodology that takes into account the genetic contributions made by stallions (and mares) that were not born into the particular studbook. If not, then the true contribution each studbook makes to producing world-class athletes will remain distorted and the winners will be those studbooks that are most adept are buying-in, rather than breeding, world-class stallions and mares.

2. The studbook rankings do not give credit to TBs.

The studbook rankings exclude thoroughbreds (presumably because TB sport horses are not born into a studbook that is a member of the WBFSH) and, therefore, under-estimate their true impact on sport horse breeding and sport.

The WBFSH must create a studbook ranking where TB sport horses can be classified and where the contribution of TB sires to other studbooks can be measured. For example, although the TB showjumping stallion Favoritas xx appears in the 2009 ranking as the sire of a showjumper, a TB international showjumper like Favoritas xx could not appear in the studbook ranking because no classification exists for a TB studbook. And the great TB stallion Heraldik xx, which sired horses in all three Olympic disciplines (a truly amazing feat), should have his contributions to other studbooks credited to the TB studbook, as recommended above in point 1.

3. The studbook rankings penalize small studbooks.

The studbook rankings are computed by summing the points earned by the top six competition horses (in each discipline) born into each member studbook. The fact that some of the studbooks produce 10,000 – 15,000 foals each year while others produce much smaller numbers is not taken into account.

I have already pointed out the immense, but unrecognized, contribution the Trakehner Studbook has made to the KWPN's first place ranking in dressage. In 2009 the Trakener Studbook registered 1,234 foals. Let's assume the KWPN registered 12,000 foals – approximately 10 times as many foals. Now let's take the KWPN's 12,200 ranking points and divide that by its 12,000 foals: that gives us 1.02 points per foal. Now let's do the same for the Trakehner Studbook: 5,498 ranking points divided by 1,230 foals gives us 4.47 points per foal. So the Trakehner Studbook is producing 4.5 times as many points per foal as the KWPN Studbook. Which is the better studbook for dressage? Now the answer is not so clear.

Of course this is a rough and ready calculation but it does illustrate that we cannot understand the true genetic value of a studbook if the WBFSH ranking methodology does not adjust for the size of the population of each studbook.

The WBFSH must come up with a methodology that takes into account the size of the studbook and the number of chances it has to produce top athletes. If not, the rankings will remain biased in favor of big studbooks and biased against small studbooks. One solution could be to count the international results from every competition horse born into each studbook and adjust for studbook size by computing two rankings based on the average number of points earned (a) per international athlete and (b) per horse born into the studbook at some point in time (for example, ten years prior to the ranking year).

Until now in this letter I have focused on studbook rankings. Now I would like to turn our attention to the ranking of sires.

4. The sire rankings penalize younger sires.

The WBFSH ranking of competition horses only uses data from upper-level international competition so the rankings are skewed toward established sires whose progeny are old enough to compete at those levels. So for all practical purposes the highly-ranked sires will be 15 years or older and, in fact, many of the sires at the very top of the ranking will be aged, dead or have age-related fertility problems.

The WBFSH must change its methodology to include results from all international competitions so we can identify up-and-coming sires of international athletes. Further, two age bands should be created and sire rankings should be generated for each band: sires of international athletes 6 - 8 years of age and sires of international athletes age 9 and above.

5. The sire rankings over-reward popular and fashionable stallions.

The sire rankings are computed by summing all the points earned by all the progeny of each stallion. Stallions like Darco (ranked 1st as a sire), which sired a very large number of progeny, have a built-in advantage over sires like Mr. Blue (ranked 11th), which sired relatively few foals.

The ranking of sires must take into account the number of progeny produced by each stallion. A sire that has had 2,000 foals has had many more chances to produce international athletes than a stallion with 500 foals. Ideally this new ranking would take the total points earned by each sire (the basis for the conventional ranking produced now) and divide it by the number of progeny that are over six years of age. (I recommend six years of age because that is the youngest that we would normally see a horse competing in international sport.)

Along with this change to the rankings the WBFSH should also report the number of progeny age six and over; the average number of points earned by each progeny age six and older; and the strike rate, meaning the percentage of progeny age six and older that have become international competitors.

6. The sire rankings have no memory.

In years past, when the WBFSH rankings were published in book form, two rankings were computed: a current year ranking of sires and a ranking over the past ten years. As the WBFSH migrated from book to DVD to now online publication of the rankings we lost the longitudinal data and rankings. This is very unfortunate.

The WBFSH must publish rankings over a longer time period, such as the aforementioned ten-year period, so breeders can see the contributions of sires over time. These rankings should have the same corrections and adjustments as noted above.

7. Dam-sires are ignored.

It would take a computer programmer or statistical analyst less than one minute to write the code to create a ranking of dam-sires. The ranking should be based on the same methodologies noted above.

Finally, let us turn our attention to the ranking of breeders.

8. Breeders are ignored.

When the WBFSH rankings were published in book form the name of every sire and competition horse was accompanied by the name of its breeder. For the last few years we have had a bizarre state of affairs in the World "Breeding" Federation for Sport Horses: the breeder is no longer recognized in the rankings.

The WBFSH must print the name of the breeder of every sire and competition horse and once again rank breeders. It would be very helpful if the breeder ranking were for the current year and ten-year periods.

Johan, I now invite you to consider these points and to reply. I believe you have a fiduciary responsibility to the WBFSH and, by extension, to the members of every studbook that is a member of the WBFSH, to improve these rankings so they are useful tools for breeders. Until now that has not happened.

As I see it, you have three choices: (1) Fix the problems; or (2) Debate me and others on the problems and the solutions; or (3) Resign from your position of authority over these rankings. The one thing you cannot continue to do is ignore the problems.

I will gladly debate my points with you in any forum including the blog I have established specifically for this purpose:

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Reed, Ph.D.
Morningside Stud
Co. Clare

11 November 2009

by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 9 2009

During the week of 18 – 25 October I was fully immersed in the Trakehner breed – and I liked much of what I saw. In the first part of the week a group of us from the USA, Canada, Poland, Finland, and Ireland were led on our own long trek throughout western and eastern Germany by a true expert on the breed, my good friend Dr. Maren Engelhardt. We drove over twelve hundred kilometers and visited large and well-known stud farms, including a state stud, and several smaller farms whose horses were equally impressive. Although I have been a member of the Trakehner Verband for several years, have used a Trakehner mare in my breeding program, and there is Trakehner blood in several of my stallions' pedigrees, the Trakehners Breeders Tour was an excellent reintroduction to the breed and helped to sharpen my understanding of the breed and the direction of the studbook. (In the next issue of Horse International I will offer an assessment of the breed and what the Verband and breeders need to do so the Trakehner remains a vital force in both sport and breeding.)

Following the tour our group attended the Trakehner Verband's stallion approval and auction, which was held in Neumuenster. A collection of 21 two-year-old colts were approved out of 63 invited to the show (several colts were withdrawn due to injury, etc.). For me the approval was a disappointment in that I simply did not see 21 stallions worthy of approval; I believe the number should have been closer to a dozen....

If you would like to read the rest of this article I invite you to join the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland for only euro 50 and enjoy a free subscription to Horse International magazine courtesy of WSI. Download the membership form here:

14 October 2009

by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 8 2009

Now that the results are in from the two most widely followed young horse championships – the World Breeding Federation Championships (WBFC) and the Bundeschampionate (BuCha) – it is a good time to step back and gain some perspective on these events. I offer these thoughts as someone who has had horses I own and/or bred compete in these championships a total of four times and been invited to compete a total of five times. Breeders who look to the World Breeding Federation Championships and the Bundeschampionate for insights into what stallions to use in their breeding programs need to ask if they are seeing dazzling stars of the future or flashes in the pan.

WBFC versus BuCha
These two championships require very different types of training and development of young horses. That is why we see lower participation in the WBFC by the best German-bred horses than we would expect given the number of foals born into the German studbooks each year.

The German system for producing young horses resonates well with what is required to excel in the BuCha – this is to be expected, of course! – but it resonates very poorly with what is required to excel in the WBFC. In BuCha showjumping, for example, the horse should be easy to ride, exhibit excellent technique over the fence, provide appropriate scope given the size of the fence, and show a balanced and big canter that can be lengthened and shortened between the fences (as appropriate for the age class). Speed and going against the clock is not an issue: in the 6-year-old Bundeschampionate at Warendorf, for example, horses are not asked to go against the clock until the very last round on the very last day of the show. We usually do not see flapping of arms and reins or hooting and hollering in the horse's ear at the BuCha!

In contrast, a young horse can only do well in showjumping at the WBFC at Lanaken if it is very good against the clock. Jumping technique, rideability, and a good canter are not absolutely required for success in the WBFC or in the competitions used by most studbooks for selecting horses to compete in the WBFC. If the horse can jump clear and fast it will achieve success in the WBFC but that does not necessarily mean it is a good horse. Often horses that do well at the WBFC seem to be those that have been pushed in their development and training.

The Germans use the BuCha as the selection process for the WBFC: in showjumping, for example, the BuCha Finalists are selected for the WBFC. But very few Warendorf finalists are usually seen at Lanaken. Why? The very best young German equine athletes have been trained in a way that is antithetical to the training that is required for success at the WBFC. So the Germans – and their BuCha Finalists – often are not seen at Lanaken in the latter part of September.

A Means to an End or An End in Itself
One of the difficulties with both the WBFC and the BuCha is that success in these young horse championships has become an end in itself to some owners and riders. This is particularly the case when it comes to stallions competing in dressage (and, to a lesser extent, showjumping). Stallion owners know that a victory in dressage at Verden (or in showjumping at Lanaken) can result in potentially hundreds of extra breedings to the stallion over the next few years. So an industry has developed whereby very talented and, in some cases, gifted dressage riders have put aside careers in upper-level sport to produce dressage prodigy for the WBFC and the BuCha.

Sometimes these champion and vice-champion horses are allowed to continue in sport but many times we see these young stallions retired to the breeding shed so as not to tarnish the memory of their achievement or because some of these horses do not possess the complex set of attributes required for success in upper level sport.

What's a Breeder to Do?
My best advice is not to be swept up in the hype that surrounds either the BuCha or the WBFC. Many young horses, and especially stallions, are being produced specifically to excel in these championships. And particularly in the case of the WBFC, the results we see may not be truly indicative of the horse's true potential for sport. My gut instincts tell me that the BuCha has better predictive value than the WBFC.

The top-placed stallions in these championships should be examined by breeders: the spotlight that falls on them can be useful to us if we take the time to critically examine their genetic endowments and critically assess their athletic abilities. But the success of these young stallions in these particular championships should not cloud our vision. We should not be blinded by the light or burned by the flash in the pan.

Earlier articles by Tom Reed can be found in back issues of Horse International or by visiting the blog at www.morningside-stud.com/News

21 August 2009

by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 7 2009

Horse breeding is becoming more and more a victim of fads, and the latest fad is cloning. Everything from world-class sires to moderately successful international showjumping geldings is being cloned. Whether you are a studbook official or a hobby breeder or a professional breeder you are going to have to decide if this is a bandwagon you want on jump on.

You will not find me on the cloning bandwagon. I have problems with the idea of using clones in either sport or breeding. I see clone traps everywhere I look.

With respect to sport, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) at some time in the future must convene an expert panel to consider the eligibility of clones to compete under FEI rules. I question how it can be good for sport to have clones competing. Do we really want to see an Olympic Games or a World Championship or a European Championship where the entrants could include several clones of Quidam de Revel, a half dozen clones of Ratina Z, and a couple of clones of E.T.? The requirement for sport should be that each individual horse has unique DNA. Yes, most clones will never enter the competition arena because they have been manufactured to produce sperm or ova. This is not a trap set by the FEI but by the owners of clones themselves but to be fair to clone owners the FEI should take a stand on this issue before any of the clones reach the age where they can be started in sport.

With respect to breeding I have several concerns about using clones in a breeding program. On a fundamental and philosophical level we must decide if we are to breed horses or to Xerox horses, if we are to breed horses or to manufacture horses. These are two entirely different endeavors and neither breeders nor studbooks should confuse the two activities.

With cloning studbooks and breeders risk being caught in a time trap. Gem Twist xx, the Thoroughbred gelding that had an amazing career as an international showjumper and now has a clone that will soon stand at stud, was born in 1979 and was retired from sport in 1996. Yes, Gem Twist was a world-class showjumper (Individual Silver and Team Silver Medals in the 1998 Olympics, Individual and Team 4th place in the 1990 World Championship, etc.) but he retired in 1996 – 13 years ago! Certainly the sport has changed and we can only surmise if the Gem Twist clone, named Gemini, could be as successful in 2016 as Gem Twist was twenty-five years earlier. But we will never know because it is unlikely that Gemini will ever be started in sport. Gemini was not bred to be a showjumper; he was manufactured to produce sperm.

With cloning studbooks and breeders risk being caught in the gelding trap. Many people believe geldings that are international showjumpers were the victims of bad decisions at castration time: they should have been kept entire as stallions. This is nonsense. One only has to go on the Internet and look at the recent photos of the clone of the world-class showjumping gelding E.T. to see why the decision to castrate the original E.T. was the right decision. Unfortunately several studbooks have begun to approve as sires -- without inspection! -- clones of geldings that were top-class showjumpers. This is an unwise policy decision in my view and breeders considering the use of these "cloned geldings that are now stallions", especially if they have not been subjected to the same rigorous inspection regime as other stallions, are taking on an increased risk of failure.

With cloning studbooks and breeders risk being caught in the dam-line trap. Almost every single showjumping gelding (with the possible exception of Calvaro V) that has been cloned has at best a weak dam-line. If there is anything that we have learned about horse breeding it is that the dam-line is supreme. Yes, happy accidents do happen and sometimes a super showjumper comes from a weak – or, in fact, a useless – dam-line. But that is like winning the lottery and for both studbook officials and breeders gambling should not be part of a sound breeding strategy and program.

With cloning studbooks and breeders risk being caught in the dead-end trap. Success in breeding is based on careful selection and culling of stallions and mares with the goal of continuous improvement. How can better horses be bred if we are using genetics from ten, twenty or thirty years ago? Is cloning not an admission of failure?

Finally, with cloning studbooks and breeders risk being caught in the potential catastrophic failure trap. We know nothing about the long-term survivability, fertility, and soundness of clones and their progeny. What if the use of clones in sport horse breeding results in outcomes that are profoundly detrimental to the goals of studbooks and breeders? I am not predicting this outcome but the probability of a catastrophic failure is certainly greater than zero. Cloning may or may not be a high-risk activity but it is certainly not a no-risk activity.

From a benefit-cost perspective the likely financial winners from cloning will be the owners of clones that stand at stud and are marketed aggressively to breeders who are either ignorant of the risks or are willing to assume risk of anything from normal failure to catastrophic failure.

The guaranteed winners will be the careful, traditional breeders and studbooks that do not jump on bandwagons driven by commercial interests rather than sound principles of breeding. These studbooks and breeders will protect their genetic endowments from both catastrophic failure and the incremental failures produced by time traps, gelding traps, dam-line traps, and dead-end traps.

The almost certain losers will be the naïve breeders who want to be fashionable. They are likely to be found in the next decade or two as road kill with bandwagon tracks on their backs and empty pockets in their pants.

Earlier articles by Tom Reed can be found in back issues of Horse International magazine or by visiting the blog at www.morningside-stud.com/News

14 July 2009

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by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 6 2009

The goal we have set for ourselves of breeding and producing world-class athletes is a tough one. If we are to achieve this goal on a systematic basis we must use world-class stallions and mares in our breeding program and make informed, creative, and bold choices about which particular genetic endowments to combine each year to produce a foal. That's the fun part: analyzing bloodlines, genotypes, phenotypes, and the actual production of mares and stallions to decide which stallions and mares are paired each year.

The not-so-fun part is deciding which mares (and stallions) to remove from our breeding program. Morningside Stud culls a minimum of 10% of our female herd each year (in practice we have been culling 10 - 15% each year). How do we decide which mares and fillies to cull?

In my last article (Brother Can You Spare a Sigma?) I discussed how the bell curve -- the so-called normal distribution -- is a useful tool for understanding how traits such as jumping ability are distributed across a population of horses. I encouraged breeders to critically analyze each mare in his or her herd and to judge where each one falls on the bell curve.

If you do not have a culling policy a useful place to start is to do is to draw a bell curve like the one shown as Figure 2 in last month's article (issue 5, page 37) and write the names of your mares in the appropriate segment in the bell curve. The key is to be brutally honest with yourself about your mares' genetic endowments and their actual production. Does the mare have world-class genetics? (If not, how can one expect to have a realistic chance of breeding a world-class athlete?) Even if your mare has world-class genetics, has the mare been producing progeny that are excelling in sport? (If not, why should her lack of success change in the future?) Has the mare's damline been producing progeny that are excelling in sport? (If not, are you expecting the stallions you use to be miracle workers?)

The next step is to rank order your foals from the best to the worst. Assess each foal using any set of criteria and metrics you like but for me the most important variable is always athleticism.

If a mare produces a foal that is in the bottom 10% (10th percentile) of its cohort in terms of athleticism, movement, type and conformation the mare should be put on a "watch list".

The following year if the mare produces another foal that is in the bottom 10% of its cohort the mare should be culled. If she produces a foal that is between the 11th and 25th percentile of its cohort the mare should maintained on the "watch list" for another year.

The next year if the produces another foal that is below the 25th percentile she should be culled.

If a suspect mare produces an extraordinary filly -- and far superior to its dam in terms of athleticism, movement, type, and conformation -- consider repeating the breeding. Later on you may decide to cull the mare and keep one or more of her daughters for your breeding program.

If your breeding program is small and you do not have a cohort of five or more foals each year then you can visit other breeders, shows, breed inspections, auctions, etc. to create a virtual cohort of foals for the sake of comparing your foal(s) to others foals.

Once you have in place a system to evaluate each year's foal crop you should develop a system to track and evaluate those foals as they enter sport. Remember that our goal is to produce world-class athletes, not world-class foals. Mare that produce very good foals that simply turn out to be average or below average athletes should also be culled from the breeding program.

What does one do with mares culled from a breeding program?

Some breeders put the mare to other uses (such as riding, embryo transfer recipient, etc.).

Other breeders sell the culled mares to other breeders. Morningside Stud never sells mares to other breeders if the mare has been producing incorrect foals. If the mare serially produces incorrect foals she is removed from the breeding population through euthanasia. We have had a couple of mares like this over the years. These mares produced foals with terrible leg conformation despite using a variety of stallions that normally produce good leg conformation. We believe it is our duty to ensure that these mares are not bred again and we consider it our absolute duty not to sell these mares to an unsuspecting client.

If the mare produces correct foals but they are simply not good enough for Morningside Stud's breeding and competition program we give the mare to a good friend whose breeding aspirations are not as high as ours.

As a stallion owner the biggest mistake I see many mare owners make is that they spend a lot of time and intellectual energy analyzing stallions but very little time and brain power analyzing their mares. Just as a stallion has to prove himself worthy of the breeding shed each mare should be evaluated on an annual basis based on what she is producing and their subsequent success in sport.

04 June 2009

by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 5 2009

I often hear people say (and write on the internet) that horse breeding is like playing the lottery. It is a gamble. This sentiment in some ways is correct and these individuals have identified a very important aspect of breeding: randomness. Even if one uses a proven and highly successful sire on a proven and highly successful dam there is no guarantee that the resulting foal will be exceptional. (In fact, from a statistical point of view, it is more likely that the foal will be less successful than his sire and dam.)

But those people with the lottery view of horse breeding misunderstand several important features of randomness and the breeding process. When one plays the lottery, every ticket has an equal chance of winning. However in horse breeding not every matching of a particular sire with a particular dam has an equal chance of producing a winner. The skill of the breeder in matching a particular sire to a particular dam is critically important. This is where the "art" of breeding comes into play. But equally important is that fact that breeding is a probabilistic process, not a deterministic one. Breeding is influenced heavily by the laws of probability and statistics.

For the sake of this essay let's assume that we are all breeders of showjumpers. My arguments hold for dressage, eventing, and other breeders as well but I will use showjumping breeding as the example.

The first thing to recognize is that jumping ability -- and more important for us breeders, the genes in stallions and mares that transmit jumping ability to their progeny – is distributed across the population of horses. Some stallions and mares have great genetic endowments of genes associated with jumping ability and some stallions and mares have very small genetic endowments of genes associated with jumping ability. Most stallions and mares have average endowments.

Like so many things in life, "jumping genes" (as we will call it for this essay) is randomly distributed within the population of horses according to what statisticians call the Normal Distribution. The normal distribution looks like a bell curve (see Figure 1), and bell curves graphically describe a multitude of characteristics in life such as size, intelligence, weight, and, for our purposes, jumping ability. In the middle of the bell curve in Figure 1, in the middle of the two red segments, is a vertical line showing the mean (that is, the average) horse's jumping ability. Most horses can be found under the bell curve in the red area, which is made up of two segments: one red segment to the right of the mean (average and a little above average) and one red segment to the left of the mean (average and a little below average).

If you look further at Figure 1 you will see two green segments. The green segment on the right shows horses with better jumping ability than the horses in the red segments while the green segment on the left shows horses with worse jumping ability than the horses in the red segments. Further we have the two blue segments, where we find exceptionally good jumping ability on the right side of the bell curve and exceptionally bad jumping ability on the left side.

Let's look now at Figure 2. This graph shows another normal distribution (bell curve) but this time there are percentages and greek letters. This will help us better understand the bell curve shown in Figure 1.

In statistics the Greek letter µ is used to denote the mean (or average) of the population. So in this case µ represents the spot in the distribution where the average jumper can be found. Half of the horses in the population jump better than this horse, and they are found to the right of µ; half of the horses jump worse than this horse, and they are found on the left of µ.

In Figure 2 we see another Greek letter, s, called Sigma, which represents the characteristic of the distribution called the standard deviation. So on the right side of the bell curve 1s means one standard deviation above the average, 2s means two standard deviations above the average, etc. Likewise on the left side of the bell curve -1s means one standard deviation below the average, -2s means two standard deviations below the average, etc.

In Figure 2 look at the dark blue area under the bell curve. You will see two dark blue segments with 34.1% written in each. What this means is that 34.1% of the population of horses have jumping ability that is one standard deviation (1s) better than average and 34.1% of the population of horses have jumping ability that is one standard deviation (-1s) worse than average. In the lighter blue segments you will see that 13.6% of the population of horses have jumping ability that is between one and two standard deviations better than average and 13.6% of the population of horses have jumping ability that is between one and two standard deviations worse than average.

Now comes the question for breeders: be totally honest with ourselves and decide where each of our mares is located in these bell curves? Are they all within the red segments in Figure 1, where we know from Figure 2 that 68.2% of mares can be found? Do we have any mares that in the green segment on the left side of the bell curve?

The next question is where do we want our breeding program to be on the bell curve? Let's look at Figure 3 and the accompanying Table 1. Figure 3 is a graphical representation of the bell curve that shows the percentage of the curve that appears to the left of wherever we are on the bell curve. I will give an example. Let's say we have determined that one of our mares is an average mare for transmitting jumping ability. In Figure 3 and Table 1 we have set the mean (that is, the average) at zero. So look in Figure 3 at the bottom axis and find zero (in the middle between –4 and 4). Now go up to the graph from zero and you'll see that 0.5 is the value on the left side axis. This means that the average mare (with a mean of zero) has 50% (0.5) of mares worse than her.

Going to Table 1, look for the entry under the x column for 1.0 -- this means one standard deviation above the mean. The value to the right of x=1 is .8414 -- which means that if our mare is one standard deviation better than the average mare for transmitting jumping ability she will be better than 84% of all mares for transmitting jumping ability. A mare that is two standard deviations (2s) better than average will be better than 97% of all mares!

So let's say that we have bred or purchased a band of mares that are all one to two standard deviations better than average. In this case we would own a world-class band of mares. The mean (average) jumping ability within our herd would be much higher than the average for the entire population of mares and the standard deviation would be lower, meaning that we have a very good band of mares and there is less disparity between our best and worst mares than there would be between the best and worst mares in the entire population of mares. So if we drew a graph of our mare herd it would not look like a normal distribution; it would not look like a bell curve. The mean would be higher and the standard deviation would be lower so the curve would be higher and much less spread out. Can we now rest on our laurels?

No. Another important truth we can learn from statistics is called the Central Limit Theorem. This principle states that no matter what the underlying distribution is for a population if we take repeated samples from that population the samples will tend to approximate the shape of a bell curve. So our band of exceptional mares will, over time, tend to produce progeny that will form their own bell curve. Yes, the average product of our breeding program will be better than the average product of all breeding programs taken together, but over time our mini-population of horses will be represented by their own bell curve!

As a breeder who reads Horse International magazine I assume your goal is to breed international competitors in an FEI discipline. In my next article for HI I will discuss how we as breeders can engage in continuous improvement so we can fight against the tendency toward the bell curve. Unlike in Lake Wobegone, "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average", all of us cannot breed superior horses all the time. But we can engage in continuous improvement so that over time we are breeding better and better athletes. We can aspire to move one sigma to the right with dedication, attention to details, and grace bestowed by the breeding gods from above.

01 May 2009

by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 4 2009

In 1994 a bay filly is born in the Netherlands, and is named Melisimo. Four years later her first foal is born, a colt named Robin Hood. And eleven years later mother and son are reunited far from home – at the World Cup Final in Last Vegas.

The KWPN mare Melisimo was bred by D.J. Wijnands and S.H. van Heerde in the Netherlands. Her sire is the 1994 World Cup winner Libero H (Landgraf I x Ronald), a stallion that produced only 567 foals for the KWPN but had a very good strike rate for producing international showjumpers (see Horse International 2009 – 1 for my article on the WBFSH ranking of showjumping sires). Melismo's dam Hertogin was a 1.30 m. showjumper and as a broodmare received from the KWPN the predicates keur and prestatie. (Keur means that she was named a ster mare for her excellent conformation and movement and subsequently produced a good first foal; prestatie means that she produced at least three progeny that performed well in sport.) Hertogin was sired by Jasper (also known as Little One), who had an illustrious showjumping career with Hugo Simon that included winning the Hamburg Derby; her dam is Daisy (by the great sire Voltaire), a preferent prestatie mare (in the KWPN system, preferent means that she produced at last three daughters that become ster or keur mares).

Melisimo has not had a long career in sport because of her breeding activities but what she has done she has done well. With her USA rider Michelle Spadone in 2008 Melisimo was on the winning team in the 4-star Nations Cup of Buenos Aires (she had just one fence down over two rounds). In 2009 Melisimo placed 2nd in the 3-star Grand Prix at Wellington, 4th in the 3-star Grand Prix at Green Cove Springs, 6th in the CSI-A Grand Prix at Las Vegas, 8th at the 2-star Grand Prix at Tampa, and 9th in the 4-star Grand Prix at Wellington. At the World Cup Final Melisimo placed 32nd out of 44 competitors. I suspect the mare did not have enough experience to excel at this point in her development in a championship like the World Cup Final, which requires a showjumper to be in top form over several days and across a variety of types of classes.

As a filly Melisimo was sold by her breeders Wijnands and van Heerde to fellow Dutchman Bennie Wezenberg, who in 1997 bred the three-year-old to the very good stallion Animo (Alme x Amor), an international showjumper that competed in the 1992 Olympics with Norwegian rider Morten Aasen. Animo has produced many good international showjumpers for several studbooks including the KWPN.

The result of this breeding decision was Robin Hood, a bay gelding, ridden for Great Britain by the very talented rider Ben Maher. Over the last two years Robin Hood and Maher have produced excellent results that include being a member of the British team that was joint 2nd in the 4-star CSIO Nations Cup of Wellington (just one fence down), 4th in the 5-star Wellington Grand Prix, 7th in the 5-star Zurich Show 1.55 m. class, 1st in the 5-star Rotterdam Show 1.50 class, 2nd in the 5-star London – Olympia Grand Prix, and 3rd in the same show's 1.60 m. class. At the World Cup Final Robin Hood placed 7th and jumped very well.

Is this case of a mare and her son competing against one another in the World Cup Final a fluke or do their bloodlines suggest this is a somewhat predictable outcome? (When evaluating horses I always like to ask myself if their success in sport – or lack of success in sport – could have been predicted by the bloodlines or is it a freak occurrence?) Are there other notable horses in the damline of Melisimo and Robin Hood?

Recall Daisy, the preferent prestatie dam of Hertogin, the dam of Melisimo. Daisy has a full brother named Evoltaire (Voltaire x Narcos) that is an approved stallion in Italy and a full-sister name Charon that is a KWPN ster mare. Their dam is Utile (by Narcos).

Daisy also produced the ster mare Ischya (by Jasper), a full-sister of Hertogin, and the ster mare Jadalco (by Ladalco), a Z1 dressage competitor. Ischya is the dam of Lutina-H (by Wellington), a 1.20 m. showjumper. Lutina-H is the dam of Tiamo (by Lux Z), a 1.40 m. international showjumper.

Hertogin also produced Karina (by Wellington), a ster mare that has produced a number of progeny including the Swedish Warmblood Studbook approved stallion Ziezo (by Guidam). Another daughter Nikita (by Libero H), a keur mare and a full-sister to Melisimo, has produced a number of foals including Queen Nikita R&D Z (by Quite Easy), Champion Filly Foal at the Z-Festival 2003, and Volumia R&D (by Corland), an approved stallion in the Westfalen studbook in Germany. Other sisters of Melisimo include Olibero-D (also by Libero H), an international showjumping mare.

Melisimo was presented at the Belgian Warmblood Studbook-North America mare inspection in 2005 in the division of mares 7 years of age and older. With a score of 70 she was ranked 11th out of 37 mares. Melisimo's daughter Filigree (by Parco) was also presented and finished near the bottom, 27th out of 28 filly foals. Of course foal beauty pageants do not mean much when it comes to predicting success in sport.

Melisimo and Robin Hood being reunited at the World Cup Final was not a fluke: This is a good damline. We should expect to see more approved stallions and international showjumpers in future years from this damline if correct breeding choices are made. After all, in the final analysis, a good damline that has produced many athletes and correct breeding choices are the keys to success in breeding.

21 March 2009

By Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 3 2009

The WBFSH ranking of 2008 sires of international eventing horses raises a fundamental question about breeding for this discipline: Will international eventing horses of the future mostly be the product of conscious efforts by breeders or will they mostly be "happy accidents"?

Before we delve into this issue I first must acknowledge the brilliant breeders of eventing horses who have created successful programs designed specifically to produce top-class eventers. The most famous breeders in this category over the last decade or so include Patricia Nicholson of Ireland; Sam Barr of the UK; Mrs. Bud Hyem of Australia; the Polish Studs such as Nowielice, Janow Podlaski, and Ochaby; Victor Dockers of Belgium; and Friedrich Butts of Germany. These breeders knew how to produce successful international eventers.

Let's look at the rankings for 2008. The top 30 sires are ranked in the table along with three simple but I think important statistics gleaned from the FEI/WBFSH data: the number of horses in the Top 50 and Top 100 eventers in the world (a total of 1,009 competition horses appear in the database from which the sire rankings are derived), and each stallion's success as a damsire of horses in the ranking. Some of these statistics are not very impressive.

Eleven of the stallions in the top 30 have produced only one progeny in the current ranking of international eventers. I am beginning to wonder whether the WBFSH should amend its rules to reflect what used to be done when they produced rankings of breeders: the breeder had to have produced two or more horses in the rankings before the breeder himself or herself was ranked. In the case of a stallion like Brilliant Invader xx this is not an issue but there are other stallions on this list whose reputation is based on the success of one progeny. This is not good enough for me.

Breeders should also reflect on whether a sire passes the "duck test": if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it certainly must be a duck! Let's take the case of Cruising. Does it make sense that Cruising is the third best eventing sire in the world? I am a fan of Cruising and I own two of his daughters and several grand-daughters and great-grand-daughters. He has been one of Ireland's top sires for the last decade…showjumping sires, that is. But Cruising's progeny are usually not known for several attributes required in successful eventing horses.

I believe that Cruising's prominence on the WBFSH eventing sires list is more a statement about the crisis in Irish showjumping breeding than a statement of Cruising's value as an eventing sire. The uncreative destruction of genetic capital (with my apologies to Joseph Schumpeter) that has been going on in Ireland for the last two decades has left the country with an Irish Sport Horse mare base that is failing to produce international showjumpers like it once did but continues to produce international eventers. To me this makes absolute sense if one takes the view that many international eventers are "happy accidents": they don’t jump well enough to be international showjumpers; they don't move well enough to be international dressage horses; but they have the courage and extraordinary reflexes and heart required for success in the cross country.

Yes, the famous eventing breeders acknowledged above (some of whom have sadly passed on or are retired) did not create "happy accidents": they created breeding programs as rigorous, as disciplined, and as successful as the best showjumping breeding programs. But I predict that there will be fewer of these dedicated evening breeders in the future because of the changes in the format for top-level events that require a different type of eventer and the relative lack of financial reward compared to breeding showjumpers and dressage competitors.

In my articles for Horse International I have made a number of suggestions to the WBFSH on how to improve their rankings. I will add another suggestion to the list: why not include the name of the breeder in the list of competition horses that are used to produce the sire rankings? Would it not be great fun – and informative -- to look at the list of the top 100 eventing horses and see the names of the breeders? Are there any new Friedrich Butts out there in eventing breeding?

Rank / Name / Points / Progeny Ranked / In Top 50 / In Top 100 / Damsire of

1 / Cavalier Royale / 1,097 / 8 / 3 / 3 / 0
2 / Heraldik / 725 / 4 / 3 / 3 / 1
3 / Cruising / 559 / 5 / 1 / 1 / 2
4 / Master Imp / 556 / 8 / 0 / 1 / 0
5 / Highland King / 513 / 3 / 2 / 2 / 1
6 / Jumbo / 406 / 4 / 1 / 1 / 0
7 / Irish Enough / 400 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
8 / Brilliant Invader / 359 / 3 / 1 / 1 / 1
9 / Rock King / 353 / 4 / 1 / 1 / 0
10 / Pallas Digion / 335 / 3 / 0 / 1 / 0
11 / Jensens Man / 327 / 1 / 1 / 1 0
12 / Stan the Man / 325 / 2 / 1 / 1 / 0
13 / Hand in Glove / 308 / 4 / 0 0 / 0
14 / Amerigo Vespucci / 301 / 2 / 1 / 1 / 0
15 / Miners Lamp / 280 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
15 / Uri du Longbost / 280 /1 / 1 / 1 / 0
17 / Fleetwater Opposition / 268 / 2 / 1 / 1 / 0
18 / Condrieu / 251 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
19 / Fines / 240 / 2 / 0 / 1 / 0
20 / Parkmore Night / 239 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
21 / Koyuna Majestic Supreme / 236 / 2 / 0 / 1 / 0
22 / Puissance / 232 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 1
23 / Rustic Amber / 225 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
24 / Pintado Desperado / 224 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
25 / Eighty Eight Keys / 222 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0
26 / Faram / 222 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
27 / Stanford / 221 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0
28 / Voltaire / 214 /* /* /* /*
29 / Veloce de Favi / 213 / 2 / 0 / 1 / 0
30 / Tarnik / 211 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 0

*There are apparently several horses named Voltaire in the WBFSH rankings and it is impossible for me to differentiate among them with certainty.

Irish Minister of Agriculture Approves Warmblood Studbook of Ireland

Brendan Smith T.D., the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, yesterday approved the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland's application to operate, under EU and Irish legislation, the studbook for the Irish Warmblood horse. This historic action has ended the monopoly on sport horse breeding in Ireland previously exercised by the Irish Horse Board/Horse Sport Ireland.

The Warmblood Studbook of Ireland (WSI), a division of Irish Warmblood Studbook Ltd., was founded by Tom Reed and Dawn Kelly, owners of Morningside Stud, and Claire Wood, a horse breeder and trainer also from the Killaloe/Ogonnelloe area of County Clare.

WSI's mission is to help breeders produce international showjumpers that will compete in international Grand Prix, Nations Cup, World Cup, and Championship classes. The Studbook will conduct stallion and mare inspections and the focus is on breeding stock that has clear potential to produce international showjumpers. Each foal will be inspected and the results of those inspections will be fed back into the Studbook's ongoing stallion and mare evaluations. Strict limits have been put in place to restrict the percentage of Irish Draught blood in the stallions and mares approved by the WSI.

"We shall measure our success by how many foals we produce that later become international showjumpers, not by how many foals we register," said Dr. Thomas Reed, Managing Director and Breeding Director of the WSI. "By design we are committed to staying small and selective and to working with like-minded breeders with very good mares who are committed to our vision, goals and strategy for the Irish Warmblood. We also hope to build a community of breeders who generously share their knowledge and insights with each other."

The Studbook developed its rules and procedures based on Morningside Stud's own successful breeding program and the policies of the Holsteiner Verband and the KWPN. "We did not feel the need to reinvent the wheel, so we adopted many of the features of these two very successful studbooks" said Dr. Reed. "But at the same time we have definite views on what works well and what works here in Ireland. For example, we are adopting the Holsteiner's very important philosophy of concentrated genetics and the primacy of the damline while simultaneously adopting, and in fact expanding on, the KWPN's philosophy of ongoing evaluations of stallions before lifetime approval is granted. For our veterinary requirements we have been heavily influenced by the strict yet pragmatic philosophy of the KWPN and the University of Utrecht, a philosophy that resonates very well with the partners of Troytown Equine Hospital in Kildare, who comprise the Studbook's Veterinary Committee. Essentially what we have done is to make explicit for this new Studbook the formal and informal rules and rubrics we have been following at Morningside Stud for the last ten years as they apply to our own stallions, mares, and progeny."

The first foal to be registered by the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland was born on St. Patrick's day, the day before approval was granted: Aibhlinn Bella M2S (by Cornet Obolensky and out of Pandina Bella by Landino x Voltaire) bred by Morningside Stud. With her sire being an Olympic showjumper and her grand-dam Dorina Bella being a full-sister to an Olympic showjumper this Irish Warmblood filly has her career already mapped out.

More information about the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland is available at www.irish-warmblood.com

By Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 2 2009

If there is one certain fact to be found in the WBFSH ranking of dressage sires it is that Jazz (Cocktail x Ulster) is in tune with Dutch breeders and their mares. The best sire in 2008 not only has 14 progeny in the ranking of 516 international dressage horses but Jazz also has an amazing 6 progeny in the world's top 100 dressage athletes. We can contrast Jazz with the number two sire Donnerhall: with 13 ranked progeny he is only one behind Jazz but Donnerhall has only one progeny in the world's top 100.

Jazz is known for producing very sensitive progeny and, as in all breeding decisions, care must be taken to match the correct type of mare with him. With the undisputed success of his progeny in international sport and the value of his pedigree (no Donnerhall, Weltmeyer, Rubinstein, or Sandro Hit in his bloodlines) Jazz could serve a very important role as an outcross sire for other dressage breeding regions and studbooks.

Another interesting result in the table below is the Swedish Warmblood stallion Master (Ceylon x Iran). This bay stallion, which under Kyra Kyrklund had a successful career in sport before being retired to stud after an injury suffered while breeding, is ranked 7th by the WBFSH. Master was recently proclaimed Stallion of the Year by the Swedish Breeding Promotion Society (ASVHE) and rightly so with three out of four of his ranked progeny being in the world's top 100. Master's bloodlines may seem a bit exotic to breeders accustomed to German and Dutch names but like Jazz he could serve as a valuable outcross sire for many breeders.

Readers of this column will remember that I have chided and cajoled the WBFSH on several occasions to improve their ranking system. One suggestion I made is that a ranking of damsires should be made. I examined the top 30 dressage sires to see if they are also important damsires. Unlike in showjumping, where many top sires are also important damsires, among the top 30 dressage sires only Donnerhall, Rubinstein, Ferro, Warkant, Wanderer, Schwadroneur, and Espri are the damsire of a dressage athlete listed in the top 100: each of these stallions is the damsire of one athlete in the top 100. This result raises some interesting questions about the heritability of the three gaits, rideability, and trainability and to what extent an excellent education and a dose of luck versus genetics are critical in the breeding of upper-level dressage horses.

What are we to make of a top 30 dressage sire that has only a single progeny in the ranking of the world's top 100 dressage athletes? Fully 23 out of the top 30 dressage sires has either one or no progeny on the world's top 100.

And what are we to make of a top 30 dressage sire that has only one or two progeny in the ranking of the 516 international dressage competitors. Are these one-hit (or two-hit) wonders? Of course we would have a greater ability to assess this issue if the WBFSH went back to reporting longitudinal data such as rankings and progeny over a five-year or ten-year period.

Finally, we must return once again to the issue of the denominator: how many chances did each stallion have to produce an international dressage horse? Unfortunately the WBFSH does not present this critical variable and therefore erroneous assumptions and conclusions can be made about the rankings.

Rank / Stallion / Points / Ranked Progeny / In Top 100 / Average Points
1 / Jazz / 12,397 / 14 / 6 / 886
2 / Donnerhall / 10,294 / 13 / 1 / 792
3 / Weltmeyer / 8,827 / 8 / 2 / 1,103
4 / Rubinstein I / 5,146 / 8 / 1 / 643
5 / Ferro / 4,897 / 5 / 2 / 979
6 / Flemmingh / 4,660 / 7 / 0 / 666
7 / Master / 4,638 / 4 / 3 / 1,160
8 / Rohdiamant / 4,086 / 6 / 1 / 681
9 / Ehrentusch / 3,895 / 4 / 2 / 974
10 / Gribaldi / 3,746 / 2 / 1 / 1,873
11 / Lauries Crusador / 3,707 / 3 / 2 / 1,236
12 / Florestan I / 3,234 / 6 / 1 / 539
13 / Warkant / 3,202 / 5 / 1 / 640
14 / Contango / 3,172 / 3 / 1 / 1,057
15 / Wanderer / 2,835 / 3 / 1 / 945
16 / Jetset D / 2,835 / 2 / 2 / 1,418
17 / Schwadroneur / 2,805 / 5 / 0 / 561
18 / Quattro B / 2,792 / 1 / 1 / 2,792
19 / Goodwill / 2,469 / 3 / 0 / 823
20 / Welt Hit II / 2,336 / 2 / 1 / 1,168
21 / Donnerschlag 2,302 / 6 / 0 / 384
22 / Continue / 2,280 / 2 / 1 / 1,140
23 / Salieri / 2,234 / 1 / 1 / 2,234
24 / Gardez / 2,218 / 2 / 1 / 1,109
25 / Carpaccio / 2,214 / 2 / 1 / 1,107
26 / Wolkenstein II / 2,128 / 2 / 1 / 1,064
27 / Sao Paulo / 2,115 / 1 / 1 / 2,115
28 / Espri / 2,114 / 2 / 1 / 1,057
29 / Singular Joter / 2,014 / 2 / 1 / 1,007
30 / Herzruf / 1,919 / 2 / 1 / 960

18 January 2009

By Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 1 2009

In my recent article, "Every Man A Rembrandt! Every Breeder a Melchior!" (Horse International No. 5 – 2008), I discussed the pros and cons of several popular breeding indices and rankings and offered some concrete advice to the WBFSH on how to improve their rankings of sires. With the silly season now upon us and with studbooks and the WBFSH publishing their rankings and indices, I thought it would be valuable to return to this topic using the WBFSH 2008 Jumping Sires as an example.

Here are some problems that must be addressed by the WBFSH if their rankings are to have increased value to breeders:

1. The Number of Foals Sired by each Stallion Must be Disclosed.
The ranking of sires would be much more valuable if we knew how many foals each stallion has sired. It would be even more helpful if we also knew how many progeny each stallion has sired that has reached the age of six years. (For our purposes, the youngest a horse can be to earn points for his or her sire in international showjumping that will be included in the ranking is six years old).

It is possible to get an indication of the wide variation in the number of progeny by looking at data published by the KWPN and Holsteiner studbooks. Consider the differences in the number of progeny sired by these stallions:

Rank / Stallion / Number of Foals / As of
4 / Concorde / 2,727 / 2006
6 / Caretino / 1,485 / 2007
7 / Burggraaf / 3,446 / 2006
8 / Libero H / 567 / 2006
9 / Indoctro / 2,815 / 2006
11 / Cassini / 1,544 / 2007
13 / Calido / 776 / 2007
25 / Hamlet / 799 / 2006
27 / Mr. Blue / 126 / 2006

Note: The Number of Foals is only the number registered by the stallion's "main" studbook, either the KWPN or Holsteiner studbook.

If we are to make a clear and accurate assessment of the genetic worth of stallions we must be able to take into account the number of chances each stallion has had to produce international showjumpers. Burggraaf, for example, produced approximately 27 times as many progeny for the KWPN as did Mr. Blue. Yes, both stallions also sired progeny for other studbooks, but the numbers are striking and clearly have implications for the rankings.

2. The Average Number of Points Earned by Each Progeny Must be Disclosed.
I performed some easy but time-consuming calculations on several of the top 30 stallions. Darco, ranked 1st as a sire, has 58 progeny in the list of international showjumpers upon which the sire ranking is based. Darco's 8,411 points divided by 58 progeny equals 145 points per progeny.

Now let's compare the average number of points earned by each of several of stallions' progeny to Darco's progeny:

Stallion / Points / International Jumpers / Average Number Points
Hamlet / 2,230 / 1 / 2,230
Mr. Blue / 2,138 / 11 / 194
Libero H / 3,782 / 20 / 189
Caretino / 4,178 / 27 / 155
Burggraaf / 3,721 / 25 / 149
Darco /8,411 / 58 / 145
Indoctro / 3,567 / 26 / 137
Cassini I / 3,282 / 27 / 122
Calido / 3,120 / 26 / 120

To the casual observer Hamlet, ranked 25th, looks like a super sire. But by digging into the data we see that Hamlet has sired only one progeny contained in the WBFSH rankings of international showjumpers: the world's number one showjumper Hickstead (out of a mare by Ekstein). We also see that progeny of Mr. Blue and Libero H earn, on average, considerably more points than the other stallions on the above list.

Along with the average (mean) number of points it would also be useful if the standard deviation were published. Stallions with high averages and low standard deviations means that they tend to produce a lot of high-performing progeny and relatively few low-performing progeny. The current ranking system rewards stallions that produce a lot of low-level international showjumpers.

3. The Strike Rate of Each Stallion Must be Disclosed.
By "strike rate" I mean the percentage of progeny that become international showjumpers. The statistics I present below should be viewed with caution as they do not include all the progeny produced by these stallions (many of these stallions produce progeny for multiple studbooks) and they also include only the progeny jumping internationally in the 2008 season. But by limiting the analysis to the strike rate within each stallion's home or main studbook we can get a glimpse of their worth as a sire.

Stallion / Int'l Jumpers (Main Book) / Progeny (Main Book) / Strike Rate
Mr. Blue / 7 / 126 / 5.56 %
Calido / 16 / 776 / 2.06 %
Caretino / 26 / 1,485 / 1.75 %
Cassini I / 25 / 1,544 / 1.62 %
Libero H / 7 / 567 / 1.23 %
Indoctro / 23 / 2,815 / 0.82 %
Burggraaf / 23 / 3,446 / 0.67 %
Hamlet / 1 / 799 / 0.13 %

As noted above, the strike rate only includes data for the 2008 season. In earlier years, when the WBFSH pubished the rankings of sport horses and sires in book form, they also included 10-year rankings. It is unfortunate that these statistics have been dropped by the WBFSH as they would more easily allow us to compute a valid strike rate for each stallion.

I understand that breeders await the WBFSH rankings each year and these rankings influence the stallion choices of many breeders. I caution all of us to think carefully about the data and statistics and not to chase after the leaders in the rankings. Breeders should also recognize that many of these stallions serve as excellent sires in some studbooks and have much less success on other studbooks because of the differences in the mares. Indoctro, for example, appears to be more successful with KWPN mares (average number of points per progeny equals 153) than with mares in other studbooks (average number of points per progeny equals 137). In the case of Mr. Blue the results are even more striking: 263 points per progeny for the KWPN studbook versus 194 points per progeny for other studbooks. But again, caution is advised because some of the differences in average points earned may be attributable to the ages of the progeny.

11 November 2008

By Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 9 2008

During the last week of October the Holsteiner Verband's 2008 stallion inspection and auction of stallions and riding horses were held at the association's sales facility in Neumünster, Germany. The approval process started several months ago when 480 two-year-old stallion candidates were assessed in a variety of venues across the region. Ninety-nine candidates were invited to the final assessment in Neumünster and all but several appeared.

On Wednesday morning, the first day of the inspection, the stallions were assessed on hard ground in the open air. The approval commission stood at the top of a hard path lined by eager spectators on both sides, and the handlers walked and then trotted each stallion in hand. The purpose of this exercise is to assess the correctness and straightness of the walk and trot and to begin to form impressions of the athleticism and "type" of each horse, along with the intangible element "stallion presence".

On Wednesday afternoon the stallions' walk and trot were again assessed but this time in the indoor arena around a triangular course. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate the suppleness and elasticity of the stallion and his gaits. Whereas on hard ground many youngsters are fearful of showing an expressive trot due to the risk of slipping or skidding on the surface, the indoor arena at Neumünster has a lovely bouncy surface that encouraged each stallion to show his best expressive movement while walking and trotting (and sometimes cantering!) alongside the handler.

The entire day on Thursday was spent loose-jumping the stallion candidates. Along with assessing their athleticism, scope, technique, reactions, and mind for the job, this exercise also provided the first opportunity to properly evaluate the canter.

On Friday morning the stallions were shown individually once again to the commission and then paraded in lots of ten. The approved stallions were named by the commission -- eventually 30 stallions were approved -- and those that were awarded a premium -- 6 stallions -- were highlighted.

Later on Friday afternoon, following the presentation of the mares and geldings that were to be offered the next day in the elite riding horse auction, the six premium stallions were again presented in hand to the commission. The champion, reserve champion, and second reserve champion were named. In the early evening the auction of approved stallions was held; nineteen of the thirty approved stallions were offered for sale.

The Champion stallion Cantoblanco descends from stamm 4965 and has a world-class motherline. Cantoblanco was sired by the young stallion Canto (Canturo x Limbus) and is out of the mare G-Casablanca (Carolus I x Calypso II); she is a full-sister of the international showjumping stallion Clinton I and the stallion Clinton II. A full-sister of G-Casablanca is the dam of the international jumping stallion Levisto. Also from this motherline come the international jumping mare Padua and her approved son and international jumper Zandor, along with Padua's siblings Sonora la Silla and Poor Boy. Cantoblanco's genetics are outstanding.

The dark brown Cantoblanco is a beautiful modern stallion that jumped very well and is very elastic and athletic in his movement. Cantoblanco was bred by Mr. Hartmann and presented for approval by his owner and rearer, the international showjumping rider Dirk Ahlmann. One-third shares in the champion were sold by Ahlmann after the approval to Hengstation Böckmann (in Oldenburg) and Klosterhof Medingen (in Hanover). According to Ahlmann, Cantoblanco has already been started under saddle and after just one week of riding is showing an "unbelievably good mind – he wants to work". Based on the motherline, which Ahlmann knows very well as he owns the dam G-Casablanca (and her brother Clinton I) plus several daughters that are also in breeding, he believes that Cantoblanco will finish growing at 169 or 170 cm (approximately 16.3 hands) and "he will give blood to a big mare". He is a very exciting prospect for sport and breeding.

The Reserve Champion Lantano was sired by Landos (Lord x Calypso I) and is out of the mare Cindy V (Caretino x Latino); he descends from stamm 8774, a minor motherline. However the good news is that his grand-mother Unora I produced the Holsteiner stallion Close-Up and the international 1.40 m. jumping mare No Way. This good-looking, modern stallion has a fantastic trot for which the crowd voiced its appreciation at every opportunity.

The Second Reserve Champion Carlo was sired by Carlos DZ (Cantus x Lavallo) and is out of the mare Gini II (Salient xx x Ahorn Z). He descends from stamm 2004, which has produced the stallions Acord's Champion, Ariadus, Ratibor, Livingstone, the full-brothers Caronimo and Contec, Cool Man K, and Carnando. In the immediate motherline the third dam Rebecca, herself an advanced dressage competitor, produced the approved stallion and international dressage horse Chromatico. Carlo is an elastic modern stallion that jumped very well. He should bring "blood" and expressive movement to his foals.

The Premium stallion Nektos descends from the important stamm 730b that produced the world-class stallions Caletto I and II (and Caletto II), scores of other stallion, and international showjumping, dressage, and eventing horses. Nektos was sired by Nekton (Nimmerdor x Coriano) and is out of the mare Orinka (Liatos x Fasolt). Orinka, has a half-brother Cinnamon that showjumped internationally. Nektos jumped with a lot of talent and is a modern type.

The Premium stallion Chin Champ was sired by the international showjumper Chin Chin (Constant x Farnese) and is out of the mare Ravenna II (Carvallo x Contender). Chin Champ descends from the important stamm 18b1, which produced notable sires such as Constant (the sire of Chin Chin), Farn (the sire of Nimmerdor), and the international jumping stallion Silvestre (who is creating his own dynasty at the Joter studfarm in Brazil with his son Singular Joter and his son Singulord Joter (the newly approved Singulaer, a son of Singulord Joter, is listed below). Chin Champ jumped in a very convincing manner.

The Premium stallion Cassito decends from stamm 104a and is royally bred with a world-class motherline. Cassito was sired by Cassiano (Cassini I x Calypso II) and is out of the mare Bravo (Reichsgraf x Rasputin). Cassito's mother Bravo is also the dam of the international jumper Caretana, the international jumper and approved stallion Caretano, and the approved stallions Contendro I and II. Bravo's full-sister Catania IV is dam of the international showjumpers Candiro and Cortland, and her daughter Pialottai is dam of the approved stallion Coppenroth. Bravo is also half-sister of the approved stallion Conteur. In other branches of stamm 104a we find the stallion Capitano, the recently deceased international jumping stallion Celano, the international showjumper and very good sire Corland, and the international jumpers Retina, Athlet 90, Athletico and Corlanda. Cassito jumped very well and he is a good-looking modern stallion.

Among the other approved stallions there is one that stands out with an exceptional motherline. Connor is by Casall (Caretino x Lavall I) and is out of the mare Korrada S (Cor de la Bryere x Capitol I), a full-sister to the international jumping star and progenitor Corrado I. Korrado S is also a full-sister of Fayence, the dam of the deceased international showjumping stallion Chellano, and Corrado II. They all descend from the small but outstanding stamm 6879. Connor showed exceptional jumping talent.

Several other approved stallions impressed me with their exceptional jumping ability: Classe, Contodo, Coco Jambo (both his sire and dam are by Contender so the apple did not fall far from the tree!), Cris, and For Ever Jump (who put on a fantastic display of scope and use of his back and hind legs over the jumps).

Table 1
(if offered for sale)

NAME (Bloodlines): Price if Sold at Auction (Country of Purchaser).

Champion Stallion:
CANTOBLANCO (Canto - Carolus I - Calypso II - Royal Wash xx).
Reserve Champion:
LANTANO (Landos - Caretino - Latino – Farnese): €75,000 (Netherlands).
Second Reserve Champion:
CARLO (Carlos DZ - Salient xx - Ahorn Z HAN - Calypso II): €70,000 (Poland).
NEKTOS (Nekton - Liatos - Fasolt – Lagos): €77,000 (Switzerland).
CHIN CHAMP (Chin Chin - Carvallo - Contender – Latino).
CASSITO (Cassiano - Reichsgraf - Rasputin - Tin Rod xx).
ESQUIRE (Esteban xx - Leandro - Rio Negro – Fangball): €35,000 (Belgium).
CICKDOWN (Candillo - Limbus - Constant – Lagano): €52,000 (Germany).
CANON (Canto - Quinar - Corofino I – Lenz): €55,000 (Germany).
CANTOLINO (Canto - Acorado - Lord – Ronald).
CANTIANOS (Canturo - Fier de Lui Z A.N - Sorgenbrecher xx – Markgraf): €110,000 (United Arab Emirates).
CARIANO (Caretino - Carano - Cabinett I - Tin Rod xx).
CAROLINO (Caretino - Calido I - Calando I - Landgraf I): €46,000 (Germany).
CANDIRO (Caretino - Libertino I - Rin Rocco - Polarfürst TRA): €35,000 (Germany).
CASSITANO (Casado - Briscar - Carthago – Ladalco).
CONNOR (Casall - Cor de la Bryere - Capitol I - Maestose xx).
CI CI SENJOR (Cassini I - Contender - Lord - Landgraf I): €270,000 (Denmark).
CANNAVARO (Cassini I - Contender - Landgraf I - Cor de la Bryere): €180,000 (Denmark).
CANZERO (Cassini II - Caretino - Lilian – Lombrad): €140,000 (Germany).
CLASSE (Chin Chin - Acobat II - Alasca – Farnese).
CONTODO (Contender - Calido - Corleone – Lorenz): €70,000 (Germany).
CONTADOS (Contender - Mytens xx - Ahorn Z HAN - Calypso I): €50,000 (Germany).
COCO JAMBO (Contendro I - Contender - Lorenz - Cor de la Bryere): €195,000 (Netherlands).
CORIANOS ASS (Coriano - Landgraf I - Coriolan – Lido): €65,000 (Poland).
CRIS (Cristo - Cicero - Calypso I - Sable Skinflint xx): €170,000 (Denmark).
FOR EVER JUMP (For Pleasure HAN - Chambertin - Carneval – Convent).
QUISSINI (Quidam de Revel - Cassini I - Landgraf I - Calypso I): €110,000 (Germany).
QUASAR (Quidam de Revel - Corofino I - Landgraf I – Fabulus): €150,000. (Poland)
QUARZ (Quintero - Caretino - Coriander – Fernando).
SINGULAER (Singulord Joter AUS - Contender - Silvester – Mephisto).

Average price: €102,895

Table 2

NAME (Bloodlines): Price (Country).

LEROY (Lucio Silla xx - Cor de la Bryere - Ladalco – Farnese): €8,000 (Germany).
ALL IN (Acodetto - Lux Z Han - Capitol I - Capitol I): €17,000 (Germany).
ACOPITOL (Acodetto - Capitol I - Landmeister - Sherry Netherland xx): €77,000 (Finland).
ALANT (Acolino - Chambertin - Corofino I - Athlet Z Han): €33,000 (Czech Republic).
ALESSANDRO (Aljano - Laurenz - Romino - Ladykiller xx): €9,500 (Germany).
CENTON (C-Trenton Z - Caletto I - Raimond - Sable Skinflint xx): €9,500 (Germany).
CANETTI (Calato - Loutano - Capitano - Ladykiller xx): €12,000 (Italy).
CALMINO (Calido I - Romino - Lester - Anblick xx): €24,000 (Germany).
CAPTAN (Canto - Raimondo - Calypso II – Losander): €11,000 (Germany).
CANTISSIMO (Canto - Corland - Lordano – Mowgli): €9,000 (Netherlands).
CANTORI (Canto - Calippo - Lagos – Lord): €18,000 (Austria).
CARRASCO (Caretino - Capitol I - Thuswin xx – Gallwitz): €13,500 (Hungary).
CARLOW (Caretino - Contender - Fier de Lui Z A.N - Sorgenbrecher xx): €60,000 (Denmark).
CALYDON (Caretino - Painter´s Row xx - Capitol I - Landgraf I): €19,000 (Germany).
CASILIUS (Casall - Cambridge - Carthago - Latus II): €13,000 (Denmark).
CONDITION (Casiro I - Barnaul xx - Alcatraz – Credo): €15,000 (Germany).
CASSANO (Cassiano - Edelmann - Landgraf I – Aladin): €13,000 (Germany).
CASSILIO (Cassini I - Heraldik xx - Capitano – Farnese): €45,000 (Poland).
CASSINGER (Cassini I - Contender - Lancer I - Silbersee A.N): €62,000 (Slovakia).
CALEO (Cassini I - Caretino - Lord – Raimond): €68,000 (Germany).
CASSIONATO (Cassini I - Exorbitant xx - Ahorn Z HAN - Calypso II): €35,000 (Germany).
CARAMBOLE (Cassini I - Concerto II - Sir Shostakovich xx – Lincoln): €13,000 (Slovakia).
CHORUS LINE (Cassini II - Salient xx - Rasputin – Laertes): €25,000 (Germany).
CANTOR (Cassini II - Lacapo - Follywise xx – Goldschmied): €15,000 (Germany).
CATOUSH (Catoki - Landego - Roman - Sawara xx): €8,000 (Belgium).
CAPPO (Cesano II - Paramount - Caletto I - Marlon xx): €17,500 (USA).
CHIN CHINOH (Chin Chin - Lord - Landgraf I – Colt): €45,000 (Germany).
COMPANIERO (Con Air - Sir Shostakovich xx - Calypso I – Capitano): €30,000 (Slovakia).
CRONPRINZ (Con Air - Carvallo - Lagos - Monometer xx): €9,000 (Unknown).
CALMANDO (Contender - Noble Roi xx - Athlet Z HAN – Lord): €22,000 (Germany).
CASALANO (Contender - Capitol I - Sacramento Song xx - Tin Rod xx): withdrawn.
CUSTER (Contender - Anthonys Dream xx - Sable Skinflint xx – Logger): €15,000 (Hungary).
CONNECT ME (Contender - Le Grand I - Kosak – Cromwell): €35,000 (Brazil).
CHLODWIG (Coriano - Heraldik xx - Lavall I – Ladalco): €10,500 (Germany).
CURANO (Coriano - Lancer II - Coriander - Cor de la Bryere): €60,000 (France)
COLDPLAY (Cormint - Exorbitant xx - Caletto I - Capitol I): €18,000 (Slovakia).
CRESENT (Cristo - Heraldik xx - Landgraf I - Cor de la Bryere): €25,000 (Netherlands).
DELAURIER (Diament de Semilly - Counter - Acord II – Rasputin): €80,000 (Unknown).
EMPIRE (Ephebe for Ever - Contender - Merlin - Manometer xx: €35,000 (Ukraine).
LADRO (Lavall II - Lagos - Ramiro - Marlon xx): €30,000 (Germany).
LEVISTANO (Levisto - Caletto I - Calypso II - Marlon xx): €23,000 (Germany).
LUBINUS (Limotas - Linos - Grundyman xx – Roman): €27,000 (Germany).
LEGANO (Lorentin I - Coriander - Cor de la Bryere – Lincoln): €29,500 (Germany).
LOTTO CHAMP (Lucky Champ - Coriander - Rocco - Caletto II): €13,500 (Germany).
NERRADO (Nekton - Carvallo - Calypso II – Cantares): €17,000 (Poland).
QUINTANER (Quidam de Revel - Candillo - Aloube Z HAN - Calypso I): €21,000 (Mexico).
QUEMPAS (Quidam de Revel - Candillo - Alcatraz - Landgraf I): €30,000 (France).
QUIDO (Quinar - Landlord - Capitano - Ladykiller xx): €12,000 (Italy).
QUDO (Quintero - Coronado - Silbersee A.N – Fridericus): €21,000 (Belgium).
QURAGE (Quite Capitol - Latouro - Lord - Tumbled xx): withdrawn.

Average price: €26,219

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