Katie Jerram-Hunnable: loving your mare isn’t reason to breed from her *H&H Plus*


  • Those of us who produce and ride show horses owe a huge debt to breeders. If it wasn’t for the time, effort and money they put into rearing potential stars, we would be lost.

    So has Covid-19 put a dampener on the stud industry, as it has with just about everything else?

    Hopefully not, if recent conversations I’ve had are typical.

    Chatting to David Dixon – who is the current chairman of Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB(GB)) and has a wealth of knowledge on breeding top-quality horses and ponies for all disciplines – I was heartened to hear that many studs and stallion owners are getting lots of inquiries from people who think now could be the time to breed.

    It’s pleasing that in these uncertain times, people are still continuing to breed top-quality British animals.

    However, breed societies will always stress that breeding from a mare must be a choice made because she has a good temperament as well as quality conformation and movement. Advice on this and the choice of stallion is always available from the societies and organisations such as SHB(GB) and the British Horse Foundation.

    The fact that you love your mare is not always enough to justify breeding from her, even if you intend to keep the foal permanently. Things do not always go to plan and a good youngster will always find a good home more easily than one with less potential. Although horse sales are proving buoyant at the moment, this might not always be the case.

    In hindsight, I wish I had put my own lovely hunter mare in foal last year. She would hopefully have produced a beautiful foal during 2021, without missing too many shows. I am now hoping for a partial season later this year, organised in a safe way, even if we have to see some format changes in order to get going. This will give societies and members something to look forward to.

    Staying safe

    Several organisations and individuals have run shows during the pandemic and we have enjoyed competitions while staying within Government regulations.

    I am planning to run a training show in June if it is permitted. This will be a two-day fixture, with one day comprising training and grading and the second day for competition.

    I have already received tremendous support from sponsors and helpers and have had an incredibly generous offer to provide a venue. All proceeds will go to SHB(GB) and to the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

    Off-the-track stars

    Soaring horse prices have made the idea of buying an ex-racehorse attractive to those on a tighter budget, as they can be purchased relatively cheaply when they finish their racing career and are in need of a new job in a different discipline.

    It is true that there is a job for every horse but we must all be aware that the transformation from racehorse to a different career can be challenging. It is so rewarding to see these great athletes enjoying a new future in their retirement from the racetrack. The classes for retrained racehorses are a great spectacle and continue to grow in popularity.

    Please get as much history and detail of the horse’s soundness and temperament as you can before you embark on your new project. Trainers and owners are passionate to see their horses go on to new things, so they will be only too helpful.

    I have had much success and pleasure retraining ex-racehorses and have only had one that did not make it into the ring. I felt that he would not be suitable for a ride judge, which is so important in showing. The most important advice I can give is to be patient and take your time.

    Also published in H&H magazine, Thursday 25 February 2021


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