Scot's Journalthoughtful musings about
KWPN breeding, philosophy and life
SHOOTING STAR FARM
Welcome to our new website! We are really excited about it. Thanks to Tami Johnson from Masterworks for designing and building it. Thanks to Michaela Tolman for working with Tami to flesh out the links, sort through our pictures, and add to the descriptions. And, a big thanks to Joe Tolman for designing and maintaining our original site over the last two decades. It’s so gratifying to see such a collection of incredible horses—and to know just how far our breeding program has come in nearly 30 years.
I have lots of ideas that will be added to the SSF store over the next few months, so check back.
Lucky Gaudi Breeders!
I spoke with John from Select Breeders Services today. His words: “Gaudi is a sperm-producing machine.” They have been able to make between 14 and 20 doses of frozen out of each collection. His post thaw progressive motility is consistently near 50%. His fresh cooled at 24 hours had lost virtually no motility and stayed at over 80%.
Gaudi should be making his way to Wim Cazemier’s place in the next week. Looking forward to lots of Gaudi babies in 2019!
I am super pleased to have been asked to participate in the Paardenkrant’s “Chain Letter” column. For those of us who don’t read Dutch as well as we’d like to, and know that Google Translate doesn’t always get the horse terms quite right, here’s the original I sent them:
A while ago you asked me to look out for a harness horse foal for your breeding program for dressage horses In America. I wonder what your plans are with this harness horse foal. In America, harness horses are ‘hot’. Especially under the saddle. Can you tell us more about that?
Thank you so much for including me in this conversation. I have a lot of respect for what you and Wim Cazemier have accomplished with harness horse breeding and training, and I am also very appreciative that, first, Wim, and, now, you, have taken such good care of our horses in Holland. It is difficult being so far away from them, but knowing my family can trust you and that you always doing your best for our horses makes it easier.
In answer to your question, there are a number of reasons I’m interested in adding some harness horse blood to my dressage-breeding program. Due in part to Verdades, but also due to a number of other harness-cross dressage horses, there is a growing demand in our market. Although, a horse like Verdades is usually a happy accident rather than a calculated breeding choice, there are enough harness horse crosses becoming successful at all levels of dressage sport it is creating an interest. That being said, market is not my primary driver as a breeder—I have to breed horses that inspire me. When I see the suppleness and athleticism of a horse like Ebert, I get inspired. The modern harness horses are modern athletes. I’m not ready to breed my top mares to a harness stallion, but I am ready to find the right harness filly to cross with dressage stallions and experiment. It is a fun idea! Maintaining a breeding farm is hard work. It’s long hours and lots of money spent, with often no rewards and multiple heart breaks. Sometimes, we have to make it fun. As Emmy mentioned, another important reason to consider using harness horses for dressage breeding is outcrossing. KWPN dressage breeding is relying heavily on a handful of bloodlines. We need to look at options.
For me, the harness horse brings both positives and negatives to the equation. On the positive side, the more modern harness horse brings expression, a good character, and a good physical constitution; they are generally healthy, sound horses. And, some of them can bring extreme athleticism. On the negative side, the wrong harness horses can bring short legs, not such a good canter, and big heads. I know you don’t ride the head, but it is always more difficult to sell a horse with an ugly head. Most importantly, however, as a dressage breeder, my biggest concern is losing the connection over the topline when crossing with a harness horse. We already see this problem in dressage horses who are too vertical in the neck without enough suppleness and athleticism to compensate and come over the back—I am afraid that this problem could be compounded by introducing the harness blood without really strict selection.
Selection is another topic to address. I don’t explain this well, but, in my eyes, there is a difference between selecting a stallion for breeding versus selecting a stallion for sport. Over the past few years, I think the KWPN Dressage Committee has not always made good decisions. It seems to me that they are selecting more sport horses than breeding horses. This year was better. Nonetheless, this is a difficult situation for breeders. They must have their own minds and trust their own decisions.
At the moment I look to using some German lines and some really specific Thoroughbred lines for outcrossing—in particular, German stallions with KWPN influence. We have foals coming from Vitalis, Don Olymbrio, Borsalino, Belantis, Just Wimphof, Governor, and UB-40 this year. For next year’s foals, we will breed many mares to Gaudi, but I have also already purchased frozen semen from both Foundation and Secret.
KWPN dressage breeders in America are in a bit of a crisis. We have almost no stallions available. We have one licensed stallion under 10 years old. We only have two stallions under 15. This is a problem. My family has bred to UB-40 over 20 times. I like UB-40, and he has produced well for our program, but we have mainly bred to him so much because we have so few options. This situation forces many breeders to use frozen semen from European stallions. However, breeding with frozen semen in North America is much different than breeding with frozen in Europe. We pay for our semen by the breeding dose–usually between $800 and $1500 for one dose. If the mare does not get pregnant, you have to pay that amount again. Shipping the frozen semen to your veterinarian costs between $200 and $400. Most veterinarians charge $500 to $1000 per breeding cycle with frozen. It is very easy to spend $2000-$3000 on one cycle. If a mare doesn’t get pregnant until the second or third cycle, how much money has a breeder spent? What price does he or she have to get for the resulting foal not to lose money? I have my own ultrasound machine, and do all my own breeding work, so it only costs me time, but most people are not in my situation.
To make matters worse, frozen semen from Holland has a very bad reputation in North America. Many Dutch stallion owners have sent poor quality frozen semen to us. They make money, but we get almost no pregnancies. Unfortunately, neither the KWPN nor the KWPN-NA have supported the breeders in solving this problem, so most of us turn to German stallions when we use frozen semen because the quality is more reliable. Of course, there are exceptions—VDL and Nijhof have been very good to American breeders.
Again, thanks to Klaas for asking me to respond. This format is an interesting idea, and I have had enjoyed answering. So now, I ask my friend Gerard Vervoorn a question!
You and I have been friends for many years now, and we have a good relationship of you selling me fillies that become top NMK mares…the next time I want to buy a filly, I think you should say no and keep her yourself! I have two related questions for you. We have talked a number of times about the difference between selecting a breeding stallion and a sport stallion. My first question to you is how do you explain this difference to someone? How do you explain the difference between selecting a stallion for breeding and selecting a sport horse? I don’t think most people understand this, and I’m not sure I do a good job explaining it. My second question relates more to the topic of both Emmy and Klaas’s letters. Where do you think the KWPN should be looking for new dressage blood?
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SHOOTING STAR FARM
The Tolman Family
Scot & Carol Tolman
Michaela Tolman & Cho Low
P.O. Box 589
Spofford, NH 03462
603-209-3243 Scot cell