Stallion selection: in four steps , what are the selection criteria?

De presentatie van de jonge hengsten aan de hand (Foto: Digishots)

The KFPS stallion selection is a rigorous selection process aiming to select the best stallions from the breed and use them for breeding in order to advance the Friesian breed. Central to this selection is the breeding goal with all its included characteristics and traits. The breeding goal is described as follows:

A functionally-built utility horse possessing the Friesian breed characteristics, that is healthy and vital, has the aptitude to perform in the sport, has a reliable character and good trainability.

The KFPS stallion selection consists of three phases: The First- and Second Viewings and the Presentation Days. After that, a select group of stallions will be subjected to an all-embracing test during the 70-day Central Examination.

Phase 1: The First Viewing on the street and in the cage

The First Viewing of the stallions begins with a presentation on the ‘street’. The Jury examines the horse at the halt and assesses the stallion in walk and trot on a street, made of brick paving. The horse has to move away from and toward the Jury in a straight line, with extra attention being paid to the correctness of foreleg and hind leg as well as rhythm.
At the halt the Jury assesses three elements: breeding type, conformation and legwork and completes a linear score form of the stallion.
As the Friesian horse is a specific breed, the first element to be assessed is breeding type. This includes the horse’s feathers, the head, shape of the neck and build of the neck. The horse is also checked for solid blackness of coat colour, with a small, white marking on the head being allowed. Next, the stallion’s conformation is examined. Does the stallion have a well-connected or weak top line? Does the stallion have a sloping or a straight croup? The stallion must have a correct foundation, which is expressed in the legwork. The Jury checks, for instance, if the horse has leg defects.
After the street the stallions progress to the ‘cage’. Here the stallion is assessed for quality of the basic gaits. Also considered are the horse’s capacity for smooth transitions, good use of the foreleg and hind leg, if he moves with an uphill frame and supple use of the body. The stallion is given scores for walk, trot and canter.
With a positive assessment for the above elements the stallion receives the Star predicate and with that, also a ticket for the Second Viewing. Stallions that are extra interesting for breeding in terms of dam line or low kinship also have to meet these basic requirements.

Phase 2: The Second Viewing in the triangle

During the Second Viewing the Star stallion is assessed in the triangle, being led in-hand by the handler. Exterior as well as walk and trot are examined again. To move up another notch in the stallion inspection trajectory, a satisfactory semen- and X-ray test must be handed in for every stallion. During this round the Jury is on the look-out for the better stallions. Here, dam line, kinship and other findings play a role in order to receive a referral to the next phase: the Presentation Days.

Phase 3: The Presentation Days

After the First- and Second Viewings there are three Presentation Days. On these days the stallions are assessed for their suitability as a dressage-, driving- and/or showdriving horse, so under saddle and possibly in front of the carriage. Riding a horse under saddle presents a different picture in terms of for example functional movement, as compared to an in-hand presentation. Therefore this assessment is closer to the intended use of the Friesian horse as described in the breeding goal.
The aim of the Presentation Days is to show the stallion when he moves on his own legs in a relaxed manner, so that his natural aptitude comes to the surface. In addition to the three basic gaits, also examined are posture and balance, suppleness, capacity for transitions and impulsion.
In the walk the first priority is regularity of movement. The Jury also likes to see an active and spacious walk. The hind leg has to send away the foreleg, the stallion must show good bend in the hock and step over with good scope. Use of the body is also important.
In trot the stallion has to display an uphill outline and move with rhythm and good use of the hind leg. The stallion must demonstrate good capacity for transitions and place the foreleg generously forward.
In canter the three-beat rhythm is essential. The canter needs to be uphill and active. Also important is that the stallion moves with good self-carriage without the need for speed.
Capacity for transitions is key in all gaits. The Stallion Inspection Committee also examines if the stallion can perform the required exercises with ease and considers the stallion’s development in the course of the three Presentation Days.
The stallion’s performance must present a relaxed picture. So it is necessary to ride the stallion with a bit of length, preferably with the nose on or slightly in front of the vertical. Obviously, the fact that these are all young horses is taken into consideration by the Jury.

Step 4: the Central Examination

After the First- and Second Viewings and the Presentation Days, the final word is to the Stallion Inspection Committee. They weigh up all aspects and decide which promising stallions are finally invited to check in for the Central Examination in Exloo.

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