This last episode of the series Judging – the short version – is about the exterior inspection and the system of predicates of 3-year-old and older Friesian horses. How does the Jury determine the scores and which predicates are linked to that? When does a mare become Crown or Model? And when is the horse not accepted in the Studbook?
Friesian horses that are presented for acceptance in the Studbook or upgrading receive scores from the Exterior Jury for five characteristics: breeding type, conformation, legwork, walk and trot.
Movement counts double
Not all characteristics carry the same weight. It was agreed that the movement elements count double in relation to exterior elements, which is conform the breeding goal in which sport aptitude plays an important role. The Jury assesses each individual element on closeness to the ideal as described in the breeding goal, taking the age of the horse into account. Giving scores can be compared to applying a measuring rod to the horse. All characteristics are assessed on a scale that goes from 4 to 9, with a 9 representing the ideal in the breeding goal and a 4 representing not acceptable for the Studbook. The breed average is represented by the score 6.5.
Predicate equals reward
Getting an idea about the average image of the Friesian breed can only be achieved by assessing many horses on an annual basis. This average invariably moves up in the course of years because breeding is expected to advance over time. For example a 6.5 given twenty years ago no longer matches today’s 6.5 for quality. Horses that score well above the breed average are rewarded with predicates to show that these are the type of horses we want to use to take our breeding forward. But the added value of a horse is not necessarily represented by predicates only, it can also be a low kinship, good sport performances or doing well in breeding.
Correlation scores and premiums
There is a correlation between the scores given to a horse and the awarded premium. The higher the weighted average of the scores, the higher the awarded premium. The weighted average is calculated as follows: [score breeding type + score conformation + score legwork + (2x score walk) + (2x score trot)] divided by 7. Extra rules for awarding premiums: if a horse scores one 4 or has two scores of 5 then it will not be accepted in the Studbook and remains Foal Book. If a horse scores one 5 then it will not be declared Star. For Star declaration the horse needs at minimum a 6.5 average on walk and trot.
The impression now may be that the inspection of horses is a purely numerical affair. We want to emphasise that in the end it is the Jury who determines the inspection result and the scores are a means to achieve that.
It is self-evident that the scores have to be in accordance with the awarded premium.
Accept or reject
One of the Jury tasks is to safeguard the quality of the Friesian horse breed.
For acceptance in the Studbook and/or awarding premiums, horses therefore must at least meet certain requirements in terms of quality. If a horse scores a 4 on one or more characteristics then it will not be accepted. Horses with two or more 5s will not be accepted either.
Inclusion of ABFP/IBOP scores
For the inspection of horses the data concerning basic gaits in a performance test
(ABFP of IBOP) are positively included. This means that a less good in-hand presentation of movement in the inspection ring can be overruled by scores for walk and trot in a performance test, which is closer to the intended use. Obviously, the in-hand presentation of the horse must show regularity of movement and no incorrect motion sequence. Please take note: sport results such as dressage- and showdriving performances are not incorporated in the exterior assessment.
Mares entered at inspections can qualify for three predicates, namely the Star-, Crown- or
Model predicate, each of which has a preliminary version.
Mares can be eligible for the Star predicate from the year in which they turn three. Star declaration can take place simultaneously with acceptance in the Studbook or at an inspection for upgrading. To be eligible for the Star predicate the mare needs a first or second premium and must meet the requirements for height at withers (minimum 1.56).
Horses of four years and older that more than meet the requirements for exterior but fall a little short in movement, can be declared Preliminary Star. In that case the inspection result will be Studbook with a third premium with the annotation Preliminary Star. A performance test (ABFP or IBOP) with a minimum average score of 6.7 for walk and trot is then sufficient for Permanent Star declaration.
The second predicate that is available for mares with a minimum age of three and minimum height of 1.58m is the Crown predicate. These are the better-quality mares that have obtained a first premium at regular inspections and that have been selected by the Jury for a second assessment: the Crown declaration. Here sport aptitude also plays an important role: to become Permanent Crown the mare must complete a performance test: the IBOP or ABFP Test. The score for the test must be a minimum of 77 points (AA) with a minimum average of 7 for the three basic gaits walk, trot and canter and no score below 6 for any of the basic gaits.
The requirement for Crown declaration is that exterior (breeding type, conformation and legwork) must in principle, be worthy of a first premium (so a minimum average of 7.5). As opposed to the regular inspection, exterior and movement are now assessed separately. If no test result is available then the in-hand movement must also be worthy of a first premium. Only an AAA test result (82 points or higher) can compensate for a minor shortcoming
in exterior. This procedure therefore differs from awarding first premiums at Studbook inspections and on breeding days whereby in-hand movement (which then counts double) can compensate for a slightly less fine exterior. Until the moment of successful completion of either IBOP- or ABFP Test, mares selected by the Jury receive the title Preliminary Crown.
The best 7-year- and older Star- and Crown mares in the population are eligible for the
Model predicate, the highest predicate for exterior. Here too we are dealing with requirements for exterior, movement and sport aptitude. Another key factor for this predicate is durability. The minimum age for a mare to be eligible for Model is seven,
the mare must have nursed at least one foal and have height at withers of 1.60m or higher.
For permanent Model status mares must also successfully complete (minimum AA) an IBOP- or ABFP Test or acquire the Sport predicate.
Just as is the case with Crown declaration, the Model declaration too is a separate
assessment. Exterior and movement are assessed separately. As the Model predicate is the highest predicate for exterior, concessions for exterior are even far less likely. As pointed out, durability plays an essential role both in exterior and in movement. After all, the Model mares are the fine fleur of the Friesian mare population.