It´s a bit like being torn between two ideas, the new Regulations for Preferent status of stallions. On the one hand the tendency to hold on to the familiar selection procedures based on the system of predicates and on the other hand being aware of the relativity and subjectivity inherent in predicates. In our quest for a more objective protocol for Preferent declaration the method of calculation thereof has become so complicated that few can still comprehend it all. Who will still be able to answer the question as to why a specific stallion has or has not been declared Preferent?
Predicates yield a limited insight into a horse´s genetic value. For instance a mare with fifteen inspected offspring, four of them with the Star predicate, will be declared Preferent. Still, this information shows that she is not a mare with terribly good breeding results. Should that be a reason to devise a system for mares that is just as complicated as the one for stallions? Possibly a system that takes the relevant mare´s total number of inspected offspring into account? Or maybe a system that considers the sires of the inspected offspring?
How big are the odds that the way we have organised our predicates is in some way subjective? In my opinion not that big. After all, to get an unbiased picture of the genetic value of our horses we already have the breeding value estimates at our disposal. This works as a corrective measure against all ‘disruptive factors’ and additionally integrates the quality of lineage into the calculations.
In earlier columns I have hinted at the fact that all studbooks ultimately abandoned their systems of predicates once they had introduced breeding value estimates. Personally, I would be very sorry to see that happen in our Studbook. After all, predicates such as Star, Crown, Model, Sport lend a certain charm to our breeding. In order to keep our predicates I don´t think we should shroud the system in a ‘scientific façade’ which would turn it into an obscure monstrosity. To uphold the system of predicates we must keep everything practical and straightforward.
And each with its own function. Predicates reflect a horse´s absolute performance in terms of exterior, sport or offspring. Breeding values yield an estimate in terms of genetic aptitude. Let´s not mix up these different functions. It takes a somewhat different angle of perspective, a transition.
Talking about transition…meanwhile we have seamlessly welcomed the third decade of the 21st century. A Happy New Year to everyone and do enjoy your breeding activities!