Breeding could be entering a new era after a gelding passed a Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB (GB)) stallion grading last month.

The 8-year-old PSH Overture was classified grade one. The studbook committee was due to meet on 29 April to decide whether to formally accept him. The results of that meeting have not yet been released.

Gary Power, of Power Sport Horses, had 150 straws of frozen semen (library picture top) collected from the promising Rhodium colt before gelding him. The stud has already bred a colt, PSH Twilight, and a filly, PSH Encore, from PSH Overture. Gary hopes that any future offspring will be eligible for full studbook papers.

“In the modern world, we now clone horses, do embryo transfers and use frozen semen — this has to be the way forward,” said Mr Power, who bred 8 colts that year (2008) and “had to make a decision which to keep entire”.

“Many people can’t keep and run stallions, and it’s not practical to use fresh semen from a horse who is competing or they don’t know what job they are doing.”

Mr Power has collected semen for freezing from his competition stallions every
few years and believes this is no different.

Vin Jones, chairman of SHB (GB)’s breeding committee, said the policy on grading geldings will be announced after the meeting on 29 April.

“I think it would be a useful tool for people who wish to compete their horses as geldings, but maintain their breeding potential,” he said.

“This could be especially important in eventing to allow the genetics of successful geldings to be available.”

SHB (GB)’s Marian Eydmann confirmed that the gelding was allowed to come forward for assessment at the grading on 18 March at Bury Farm, “on the understanding that there was no guarantee that he would be accepted as ‘graded’”.

The jury is out among British breeders. Some say it could be useful, as the UK doesn’t tend to run colts on as stallions due to expense and practicality compared with abroad, meaning some excellent British bloodlines are lost.

But others believe “licensing a gelding is not a fair gauge of temperament and presence”.

Breeder Sue Shore questioned “why a potential sire would not have been graded while still entire”.

Lynn Al-Redha, of Lynaire Sports Horses, said for those superstars who have missed out on breeding due to being cut early, the “option of cloning is always there.

“A stallion should be the only horse that attends a ‘stallion grading’,” she said.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine, 24 April, 14 issue