As the foal crop of 2020 emerges into the world, breeders are left in a difficult position with many questions on their minds about the future. Breeders are asking themselves ‘Can I afford to run on my animals that make up my breeding herd until demand picks up? How many mares should I put in foal while the future market is uncertain?’
A mixture of young and old caught the eye in the eventing section at Addington. Any British breeders looking to breed an eventer would find a stallion with the genetic talent to breed a top level performer, without having to sacrifice ridability from the selection presented.
The 2020 Stallion Event was held again at Addington, on a crisp and clear February day. With more stallions than ever taking part, entrants were housed across two barns, and audience numbers appeared on the increase too. In particular the eventing and show jumping stallions were popular, the crowd noticeably thinned later in the day when the dressage stallions were presented. Whether this is a reflection that many dressage breeders in the UK have already decided they are using Continental stallions or that there are less dressage breeders in this country, is an item for further discussion.
In both the UK and in Germany, Autumn is a time for stallion licensing and breeders start to analyse the newly approved colts to see if they will use them in their breeding programmes the following Spring. I try and attend these when I can as seeing the young horses in the flesh and over a number of days allows a strong insight into their characters, strengths and weaknesses and also gives good feedback on what their sires are producing.
The 2019 running of the British Breeding Futurity series saw 41 Elite awards made across 13 venues that covered the length and breadth of the country. 20 Elites were in dressage, 9 to the show jumpers, 9 in the eventing section and 3 to ponies. For the first time in many years this included assessments for 4 and 5 year old young prospects who were hoping to qualify for the newly relaunched Equine Bridge.
This year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials was one of the most dramatic and challenging in recent years. There were thrills and spills but importantly for the sport every horse and rider got up and walked away. As a breeder, of course I am most fascinated by the pedigree make up behind the horses that excelled at the pinnacle of modern three day eventing.
Cross Country day saw a tough course as to be expected at Badminton and from a breeding point of view the Irish Sport Horse rose to the top. Oliver Townend retained his overnight lead, although on his second placed dressage ride – Ballaghmor Class, son of the Holstein stallion Courage II.