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Performance tests for British horses

The National Stallion Association (NaSta) was set up in 1981 “to maintain and improve stallion approval standards” when Ministry of Agriculture Licensing was abolished.

Since 1991, the NaSta performance system, open to all breeds, has been run annually, “giving breeders an indication of the performance ability of a particular stallion against a uniform standard”.

The performance test is designed mainly for young animals, and sets out to ascertain their athletic ability, predominantly under the saddle. Horses and ponies (stallions and mares only) are required to show their worth in:

  • dressage
  • show jumping
  • free jumping
  • cross-country
  • a test of basic paces
  • a judge’s ridden assessment
  • a gallop test

The stallion (or mare) will also undergo a veterinary examination immediately after its gallop, when its pulse rate and respiration rate will be noted, and its recovery rate will be observed.

Before the final days of the performance test, stallions (or mares) are required to qualify in three phases. They must be signed off by an AI or international rider as being able to competently complete a novice dressage test, jump a newcomers round and a pre-novice cross-country round.

Performance test director Victoria von Wachter explains: “This gives a very good indication of whether the horse is ready for the performance test, and we have as a result never had through a horse that was really not mature enough.”

The test is compulsory for all Arab and Trakehner stallions and recommended for coloured sports horses, Irish Draught, Hanoverians and Cleveland Bays. But above all, explains Victoria, it gives an indication, no matter what breed the horse is, of potential.

“The purpose of the test is to allow breeders to have an objective assessment of young sports horse stallions before he has had a chance to compete,” she says. “Some of the stallions do then go on to compete at top-level, but for many, this is their achievement label.”

  • Entries close 30 June. For more information see www.nationalstallion.org.uk or contact the performance test director (tel: 01869 277562).
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