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Jan 7, 2018 | 0 comments

GaudiBy now, I’m sure you’ve heard our big news: We have purchased the AES approved, KWPN stallion, Gaudi (Totilas x DeNiro x Romancier x Troublemaker xx)! We are beyond excited both about Gaudi and the response the news of his coming to North America has generated. Not including our own girls, we’ve already booked almost 40 mares! So, a huge thank you for those of you who have already scored a date for your mare with Mr. Gaudi.

First and foremost, thank you to the Jansen family for agreeing to sell us this special stallion. We are thrilled that he will become a major influence on our breeding program, as well as the programs of many breeders in North America.

We’re in the middle of a big website overhaul, so if you have questions about Gaudi or breeding to him, give me a shout. Right now, the best place to find information is on his FB page, Gaudi at SSF. Our new site is gorgeous. Tami Johnson from Masterworks Creative has designed it. Scot’s Journal is moving back to shootingstarfarm.com, so be on the look out in the next couple weeks.

In short, he is Totilas x DeNiro x Romancier. Anyone who has read my journal over the years know how I feel about Totilas. He will go down in history as one of the most influential sires in Dutch breeding. Then DeNiro. Hard to beat that combination. DeNiro continues to lead the World Breeding Rankings for Grand Prix dressage horses. Add the R line and a dose of TB, and you get an unbeatable pedigree.

More importantly, this mareline is amazing. Gaudi’s dam, Annabel, is the leader of the KWPN index for dressage mares. She herself is elite, preferent, prestatie, and did a top performance evaluation. She’s produced the approved stallions, Bretton Woods and Chagall D&R (both of whom are schooling Grand Prix)–plus is grandmother to the KWPN stallion, Four Legends. She’s also produced multiple keur mares, NMK mares, and top, high-selling auction horses.

Gaudi himself made it through the first three steps of the KWPN approval process with much promise and praise, but was injured before he could attend the 70 Days Test. He was licensed AES, then received his full approval once the selection committee saw his offspring. Consequently, he’s not approved KWPN, but he’s approved AES, which is an erkend studbook. This makes all of his offspring out of KWPN mares or other erkend studbooks eligible for Register A papers. Gaudi is PROK, so he has completed all the requirements of an approved stallion except for the performance test. Due to breeder demand, the KWPN is in the process of adjusting the Register A requirements for entering the studbook–it now appears that only keur eligible mares will have to do the IBOP.

Gaudi brings the best pedigree possible, out of arguably the best contemporary KWPN mareline, and a super character and type, all wrapped up in a 16.2 hand, black-with-four-white-feet, supple, powerful dressage package. On top of this, he’s free of Jazz, Ferro, and Flemmingh, making him an important outcross for a huge percentage of the KWPN mare base. He is a “dreams come true” horse for the Tolman family and the SSF breeding program. You can thank my wife that he’s being made available to North American breeders—I wanted to keep him just for our program.

A Change in Focus

In keeping with the impetus for my recent journal entries, I’d like to share some of our thoughts, history, and long-range planning that have gone into this shift in the SSF breeding program. We have decided to build our program a bit, and, in doing so, try to fill a void that exists for KWPN dressage breeders in North America: Affordable access to quality younger stallions. Actually, we can’t “fill the void,” because we don’t have the facility or financial means to bring in the number of stallions we need, but we can at least begin to do our part.

KWPN-NA dressage breeders have relied on the generosity, good will, and good selection of Iron Spring for a long time. And thank god for them. We would be in significantly worse shape without their stallion offerings—and I mean “we”. Carol and I have bred to ISF stallions over 30 times. Their stallions have played a huge part in shaping our program. But, if we want to grow and meet the demands of the market, we need other people to come forward and take some of the risk, and the heat; we can’t rely on one farm to suffer the responsibility of providing the bulk of the quality stallion selection for our mare base.

Of course, ISF is not the only farm that stands quality stallions, but of the 10 dressage-bred stallions activated with the KWPN-NA, only one of them is under 10 years old, and only two of them under 15. If no one were to import a new stallion in the next three to five years, we would be down to three or four stallions available with fresh cooled semen. And, given that we see on average one new stallion made available every two years or so, the numbers are looking grim. Plus, the core of the KWPN’s breeding success has been early identification of top sires at a young age. Breeding programs make the fastest progress by breeding to the younger stallions. Of course, fastest and smartest progress are two different concepts, yet without our having access to younger stallions, we’re not only NOT keeping up with the demands of our growing market, we’re backsliding. Yes, the heart of a breeding program is the mares. I don’t have access to the KWPN-NA data base to back this up, but from my observations, the number of quality mares is steadily increasing. Still, a national breeding program has to have quality sires available. We can rely on frozen semen for some of our options, but until a fair method of purchase is put in place and we have a more reliable product, it can be an expensive and frustrating option. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, it’s easy to lose thousands of dollars per cycle. We need quality younger stallions available in North America.

We’re starting with Gaudi. We have a DeNiro x Santano x Biotop stallion prospect in Holland who will begin the selection process next year. We kept two colts from our 2018 crop as stallion prospects—I’m pretty sure we’ll send at least one of them to Holland. We will either keep or buy at least one stallion prospect each year for the next few years. These efforts are more self-serving and self-preserving than they are altruistic. We will breed a minimum of eight to ten mares again this year. For the past few years, I’ve bred almost exclusively with frozen semen. How much have I spent filling my tank with enough doses to breed eight to ten mares per year? How many of those doses might as well have been flushed down the toilet as put into a mare? How many of my mares decided they didn’t want to be pregnant no matter how many doses of frozen semen with no LFG I put into them? It doesn’t take long to get well into the tens of thousands of dollars and almost nothing to show for it. We will breed two or three of our mares with frozen this year, but the bulk of the girls are having a date with Gaudi.

The title of my next entry was “Backing up the Bitching”, but I think I’m going to hold off on that for just a bit. In the last couple days, we’ve had some inquiries about our 2018 and 2019 foals, so I need to do a journal entry that specifies our breeding and sales plans.

In closing, thanks again to the people who have already booked to Gaudi. We appreciate your enthusiasm about him and your trust in us.