Katrina Routson: ‘Stallion with breeding permit a necessity for the future of Friesian horse breeding in Australia’

August 3, 2021

Bastiaan 510 is back on his way to his home country Australia. Back in the day he started his career as stallion with a breeding permit down under. For a small-scale breeding country like Australia such a stallion is of great importance for breeding, says his owner Katrina Routson, who in the shape of Dirk T van Sessing (Uldrik 457 x Thorben 466) – see photo above – now has another stallion with a breeding permit. Dirk was bred by the Tanck brothers, who are portrayed in an extensive feature in the August Phryso. ‘We hope this helps to boost numbers of new-born foals.’

Search for a stallion with breeding permit

Breeding Friesian horses in Australia is not as straightforward as in the Netherlands. The total of pure-bred Friesian horses now fluctuates around 500 and every foal season around thirty new foals are born. ‘That means that every stallion with a breeding permit sires between four to eight offspring.’ There’s no profit in bringing stallions over here, but we consider it a necessity for the future of Friesian horse breeding in Australia.’

Routson explains how different the search for Dirk was compared to the purchase of Bastiaan 510 in 2013. ‘The Dutch horse market has undergone a complete change over the past seven years. When on the lookout for Bastiaan I had an agent who assisted me in my search for a stallion that meets all requirements for a breeding permit. They could offer me a number of options, which made it all relatively easy. In 2020 that was a completely different story. Because of the increased export to countries like Mexico the young stallions from the Central Examinations are soon sold off, so they never get a chance to complete an ABFP- or IBOP Test, which is very important for a breeding permit.’ At that time there was also an outbreak of Influenza in the Netherlands, and Australia does not accept any stallion who has these anti-bodies in his blood. ‘That caused many stallions to be crossed off the list and made the search for Dirk really difficult.

Looking for the perfect horse

Routson figured that the only way to buy a stallion with good bloodlines and the qualities she had in mind, would be to buy a stallion straight out of the Central Examination. ‘I had to take the risk of letting the stallion complete the ABFP Test after purchasing him,’ she explains. Together with a fellow Aussie, Nadeen Davis, they spent hours looking for her perfect horse. ‘Together we checked out numerous bloodlines and painstakingly followed the livestreams of all CE test days. That produced a list with favourites that could potentially complement the mares here in Australia and at the same time are different from the current stud stallions here. At the end of the Central Examination we would then find out if any of our options came up for sale.’ Routson secured the assistance of Joey Lems from Stud farm Galloper, who had purchased a few young stallions. ‘Luckily I had a Dutch friend, Carin Paalman, who earlier spent some time working on our farm. She was willing to assess the stallions for me and subsequently gave me her unbiased opinion. It would have been impossible to do this myself because of all the Corona restrictions.’

ABFP Test of 84 points

Lems had a few stallions of Routson’s preference, among them Dirk T van Sessing. ‘Right from the start Dirk had been my first choice. Carin’s interaction with Dirk was all recorded on video and from that moment I knew for sure that he would be the perfect horse for me. He has amazing movement with great rhythm. Along with that he has a gentle, calm personality, something which I highly value in a stallion.’ Routson decided to buy the stallion but still, was pretty nervous about the blood tests and the veterinary checks needed for approval. ‘Before him there were two stallions that both failed at this stage, so the waiting was a nervous affair. But Dirk passed every test. Next, he was admitted to the ABFP Test in November where five weeks later his 84 points were the highest in the saddle test.’

Focus on sport career

After his quarantine period and long flight Dirk arrived at his new stud farm in Warrnambool shortly before Christmas. ‘He’ll be available for stud services in January and after that we’ll put him in training somewhere to begin his sport career. I believe it to be very important for stallions to take part in competitions, especially in a country where the higher echelons of the sport are dominated by Warmbloods. Initially, we are planning to get him ready for the Sport predicate and after that we’ll wait and see what he is going to achieve.’ Routson hopes Dirk is going down the same road as Bastiaan 510 did. ‘I believe he has the potential to tread in Bastiaan’s footsteps and can also progress to becoming an approved stallion.’

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