Sunday, November 3, 2013

Impressions of the October 2013 Stallion Licensing

The Hanoverian stallion licensing, Oct. 24--26, was a welcome upward trend for German breeders. I attended with a lovely tour group that included three Americans, including my assistant and our able driver, Stephanie Law, who lives in Germany, a Canadian and three women from Botswana, Africa. We immersed ourselves in the process of over 100 stallions being presented for licensing. The first day occurs outdoors on the triangle, where the stallions are walked and trotted in hand and posed in front of the judges for evaluation. Keep in mind that these stallions have already been selected for this phase by a pre-selection committee.
The second day, the stallions are presented in the arena loose and all are free jumped, even the dressage stallions, though they don't raise the bars as high for them. It's interesting that some of the dressage-bred stallions actually have quite good jumping form, but the poles are never raised as high as for the jumper bred stallions. They are jumped to give the judges another impression of their willingness and athletic ability.
The loose presentation of the dressage and jumping horses allows a look at their gaits, conformation and attitude to their handlers and surroundings. Most take it pretty well considering the excitement and noise level, but there's always at least one who tries to jump out of the jump chute or over the flower decorations.
They are brought back in groups of six to eight for a final walk ring in front of the judges for a last assessment of conformation and the walk (extremely important in the selection process). Then, it is announced which stallions are licensed and which are not. Even if not licensed, the stallion can still be auctioned, and in fact this is where many a good future gelding is purchased.  At the end of the day they determine the premium stallions from those which have been licensed.Those will be the first auctioned on the final day.
The next day the horses are presented on the lungeline which offers another impression of gaits, athleticism and shows suppleness and how well the stallion responds to the trainer.
Stallion licensings are an excellent opportunity to see what the stallions that I offer frozen semen from are siring. With a group of stallions by the same sire, it is possible to get a good impression of what that stallion is doing particularly well or where he is lacking a bit.
The auction itself was exciting and inspiring. After several years of downturn in the number of horses produced and falling prices, the 2013 licensing auction was a welcome reversal of that trend, as this auction summary shows.
I was extremely impressed by the Fuerstenballs. They were fantastic--elegant, refined, beautiful with three balanced gaits. They are quick behind with good reach under themselves, their trots are balanced with supple shoulders and reaching strides and their walks are long-strided with swing through the body. I cannot say enough how beautiful these horses are. I am wondering if he is homozygous for black as I don't recall seeing an offspring of his of another color. And based on what my clients say about his offspring, it seems they have exceptional temperaments to match their stunning good looks. Based on the uniformity of his offspring from a wide variety of mare bloodlines, I'd say he is a stamping sire. And he has excellent semen quality and conception rate.
Another stallion I was very impressed by was Diamond Hit. From a variety of mare bloodlines, he made beautiful, elegant, typey foals, usually of dark bay color. You just couldn't fault them on their gaits, presence, style or quality. I am very excited to have him on my 2014 roster, as his reputation for good conception precedes him.
The Danciers continue to be sought out and also sold very well. The are gorgeous, light footed horses with style, good gaits, lovely toplines and heads and incredible presence. You can always tell when a stallion is going bigtime, when every stallion station in Germany is adding one to their lineup, which seems to be the case with Dancier.
The De Niros were of course good, there just weren't many of them in the sale, which has to be because everyone is holding onto theirs. He bred over 800 mares in Germany last season.
The Fuerst Romanciers continued to impress with their size, conformation, light-footed movements and good presence and kind demeanors. They also sold very well.
The lone Totilas colt of the auction was booed by the crowd when he was licensed. A Verband official told me that though he has heard the crowd boo when certain stallions were not selected, he had never before heard booing when a stallion was licensed. The colt was knocked down for 100,000 euros to Edward Gal, so it will be quite interesting to see how he develops as a dressage horse.
From a wide selection of jumpers I preferred the Stolzenburgs. He sires horses more leggy and modern than his legendary sire, Stakkato. They are impressive jumpers: powerful, careful, scopey, with good techinique. The Valentinos were also on their games. And of course a high-priced Diarado was a highlight.

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