In this series of articles, Francesca Newman shares the highs and lows of her first-time journey to get her stallion licensed for breeding in Germany

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Once Velvet Dancer (Peanuts) had arrived in Germany, he needed to be x-rayed and to have the quality of his semen tested before his training began.

I will never forget the call I received from the German veterinary clinic nurse.

Firstly she announced that his x-rays were good, then, and sounding flabbergasted, she described how Peanuts refused to jump on the Phantom.

“He just gave it to us,” she kept saying, “We attached it to him and he gave it to us, as many times as we liked!”

Taking a call like that in an open plan office was rather startling for many of my colleagues.

Disaster strikes

Initially, we were aiming for the 70-day test in September 2015, which was while they were still using the old testing system. So Peanuts needed to learn to jump, go cross-country and gallop, as well as do dressage.

We had to build his fitness and stamina and felt that seven months was a realistic time-frame in which to do this, but the process was slow. Peanuts had a big growth spurt and was standing close to 17hh.

Then, just two weeks before he was due to start the 70-day test, he injured himself jumping. We had to withdraw from the performance test, and I had to wave goodbye to €800 entry fees just like that.

So we waited until he was better and re-focused our efforts on the 50-day test in January 2016.

It was the very first 50-day test, so nobody really knew what to expect or how it would be judged.

Trying to find any information was virtually impossible and immensely frustrating for an owner in the UK, let alone for Christian Baune, who was producing him for me.

As Peanuts turned five in early 2016, he was required to be working at a level close to medium (but without the half-pass) for this test. So we had two months to teach him a few more advanced dressage movements such as walk to canter, counter-canter, collection and walk pirouettes.

Follow Francesca’s journey:

Shortly before the test closing date I paid an additional €800 entry fee, plus the €2,300 fee for the 50-days of testing and stabling.

Then on 6 January he went to the testing centre. The journey took over six hours in an unfortunate ice blizzard – more than twice as long as normal.

He was stabled overnight and, the following day, he was presented for the vet check, lunged and ridden in front of the testing station riders. Peanuts passed all these stages, and was assigned his rider, Nadine Rudiger. So the 50 days started.