Julie Templeton: Breeding is a mug’s game *H&H VIP*

Opinion

It’s that time of year when all the studs are frantically busy with foaling and covering. We have already had our first foal, with another two expected in the next few weeks.

I have always maintained that breeding is a mug’s game; there are so many factors to get right in order to breed a potential winner, let alone a superstar. I don’t think the average competitor takes into consideration the time, effort, cost and heartache that goes into breeding just one animal good enough for the county level circuit.

Not only do the breeders have to bear the cost of keeping the mare and covering her, they then have the cost of keeping and running the foal on in the hope that he will: a) stay alive; b) make the correct height (1cm over and you potentially have an animal with no class to contend); c) have correct conformation; and d) have a trainable temperament. On top of this we then expect a “look at me” quality as well.

Place value on good animals

During the past 10 years we have seen many renowned breeders give up as they have become disheartened by the falling value of stock. I believe it will come full circle; as quality youngstock becomes scarcer, we will see more value being placed on the animals available. Hopefully, in turn, this will encourage others to breed.

A word of caution to anyone thinking about breeding: assess your mare thoroughly. Look at her faults and gauge what elements could be improved and then seek a stallion who can complement her and hopefully improve the progeny.

Years ago I remember visiting a stud. The breeder told me that this one particular 13.2hh mare had been retired from her ridden career as she was too dangerous to be ridden by children. I did then ponder why they thought it would be a good idea to breed from her.

I take my hat off to breeders in Britain for the thankless task they are undertaking in trying to preserve our bloodlines. Any potential purchasers should be thoughtful and respectful when bidding on animals on which breeders have spent their time and money.

Time to introduce nominal fees

At our wash-up meeting of the Ponies UK Spring Classic, we highlighted an incident that occurred at our show, and which most likely has an impact on many fixtures throughout the year. This is the issue of competitors bringing animals for a ride round but not actually competing in the ring.

It can be valuable to allow them to become acclimatised without the pressure of going in the ring. However, from a show organiser’s perspective these competitors are on their showground, have not paid first aid and are not bound by the rules of the show as they have not paid an entry fee.

It is about time we followed the lead of British Showjumping in declaring that if you are bringing animals for this purpose you need to pay a nominal fee to cover any eventualities should they occur.

Show secretaries will be delighted by your honesty and appreciative of the additional small revenue. You can be sure that your ponies and jockeys are safe and insured while they are on the showground.

Ref Horse & Hound; 9 May 2019

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