With Inspector Sabien Zwaga the third College Tour titled: How do I judge my mare? How can I make progress in my breeding? turned into a short edition of the Judging Course. Along with the distinctive breed characteristics of the Friesian horse she highlighted all functional elements of the exterior and drew attention to movement. ‘The use of the Friesian horse in the sport is steadily on the rise and that results in more attention for movement under saddle and in the harness’, Zwaga points out. ‘In the inspection ring the horses are presented in-hand and the data of the aptitude tests such as IBOP and ABFP also carry more weight.’
Including strong and weak points
Normally she would need four evenings to cover the theory of the Judging Course. Now that was squeezed together into just one inspiring hour. ‘In order to find out which stallion is the best mate for the mare you need to be aware of your mare’s strong and weak points’, she explained while discussing breeding type, conformation, legwork, movement and character of the ideal Friesian horse. ‘The Friesian horse distinguishes itself in breeding type: abundant feathers, socks, black coat colour and also a vertical stance of the neck. Those are not always functional aspects but they are reasons for people to choose a Friesian.’
Attention for character
Character has actually received too little attention according to Zwaga, who explained that character is subdivided into reliability and trainability in the breeding goal. ‘That trainability influences how far a horse can make it in the sport.’ Increasingly more reliable information for character is becoming available, she says. ‘That’s what you want to use for your stallion choice. If you own a laid-back mare then you don’t really want to use a laid-back stallion. So do consult the stallion reports because these contain information about character too.’ She also emphasised that every breeder basically has his/her own breeding goal. ‘One person wants a family horse, someone else a sport horse or an inspection topper. All that is possible.’
In what areas can we make headway?
At the end of her presentation Zwaga asked herself the question: where can we make headway with the Friesian horse? She also provided the answer: ‘with athletic capacity, especially suppleness and agility, or rather the way in which movement flows through the body.’ She drew extra focus to the walk. ‘If the mare’s walk is not that good then it’s fairly difficult to improve that. So the quality of the walk needs more emphasis in breeding.’