Breeding blog: From mare gradings to grand prix in Germany

  • A lot seems to have happened in the two weeks since my last blog. With regard to our own horses, Volatis Casiphia (Casi) has been confirmed in foal to Furst Romanicer, and has now moved to a nearby livery yard to start being backed.

    Our mares back in the UK are producing a clutch of beautiful filly foals for their loan families, so plans are under way for them to be covered again. Although I spend much of my spare time thinking about and planning breedings, it is still a nail-biting time when you make the final decision and then have to wait 11 months to see if your calculations were correct.

    Talking of broodmares, I managed to attend one of the regional Oldenburg mare gradings, for three and four-year-olds. The standard across the board was consistently high, with my particular favourite being a Florestan-Lord Sinclair-Grannus mare from an Elite mare line, who combined plenty of modern attributes, such as elegance and a good uphill frame, without losing the power and good bone.

    As these events are regional, there are often decent size groups by local stallions, so it’s a great opportunity to compare and contrast a number of offspring from the same stallion.

    Here both San Amour and Sir Donnerhall had good numbers of daughters forward, and it was fascinating to see the way the stallions stamped their offspring. Even though it was a weekday, there were a decent number of spectators and a number of professional handlers available to present the mares to the judges.

    The format is for each mare to be walked straight towards the judges (who are seated at the apex of the triangular arena). The mare is stood up so the judges can inspect her conformation side on, and then trotted around the very large triangle with helpers with lunge whips to encourage the mare to really move forward. After six or so mares have been presented, the whole group returns to walk around the triangle. The judges come into the centre and make their final decisions. The grading status of each mare is then announced and the next group is evaluated.

    From young prospects to established grand prix horses, for our next trip I went to Hagen and the Horses and Dreams show. Competitors from all around Europe were competing in the grand prix kur qualifier class, and I was lucky enough to see Laura Bechtolsheimer secure a British win on Andretti.

    Of interest to me as a Trakehner enthusiast was to see the graded stallions Axis TSF and Kaiserkult TSF both give good solid performances, especially as Axis is British owned (Bluewood Stud).

    Of course I had half an eye on every horse’s pedigree, always watching to see what distinctive traits I could spot that could be associated with the sire or dam sire. To spend a whole morning watching really top horses and riders, plus some good shopping, made me appreciate how lucky I am to have access to such sport on the doorstep.

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