December 19, 2003
Topic: It’s That Time of Year Again!!!!!
Yup. You got it. It’s that time of year during which each member of my
family rolls his or her eyes every time I open my mouth….
”What do you think? All the mares to Contango this year? No. We’ve
got to breed at least a couple of the mares to Donatelli–especially the
Michelangelo granddaughters. Facet, man. Can you believe he’s here?
Maybe Thea. Hmmm. That double Pretendent…I just don’t know.”
You get the idea. We’re still in the early stages, so my family is
still humoring me, maintaining partial eye contact, and pretending to
listen. Soon, there will be no pretense. And, me? I can’t imagine how
anyone can be thinking about anything else but planning breedings for
next year. Sure, I will go out and buy a few Christmas presents, but
I’ll keep my Chronicle of the Horse Stallion Issue with me in the truck
so I can reread a few ads at traffic lights. (As far as the COTH
Stallion Issue goes, I don’t let it out of my sight anymore–Carol had
put it into the recycling bin three days ago…..people have died for
less. I am married to her, however; there has to be some spirit of
forgiveness in a long term relationship.) I missed handing back all of
the pre-holiday assignments to my students before they left for
Christmas break today because I just couldn’t bring myself to grade
papers when the KWPNStallions.com site is most easily accessed from my
school computer. My already dangerously piled desk has my scribbled
pedigrees of unborn foals and potential matches counter-balanced with
the cool posters of Whitman and three different editions of The Scarlet
Letter. Isn’t this all normal behavior? Don’t you all find yourselves
so preoccupied with stallion choices and the strengths and weaknesses of
your mares that you forget to pick up your children at the bus stop? It
can’t be just me.
So, who am I thinking about? I thought you’d never ask! First off, I’m
only allowing myself three purchased breedings because we have
Donatelli, Iroko, and frozen from Farrington…it’s really hard to spend
money anywhere else when we’ve got access to these boys. However, not
only do I think it’s a mistake for stallion owners not to have the
foresight that they need to breed to outside stallions consistently,
but, also, if I didn’t breed to outside stallions, what would I obsess
over for months on end? So….CONTANGO!!!! He’s always at the top of my
list. I just love this horse, and I love his offspring. On top of
this, it absolutely thrills me that KWPN breeders are dying to breed to
him and can’t because of his EVA status. Facet. Oh, my God. How long
have we fans of van Norel’s breeding program been screaming for
Cabochon, Vincent, Vanitas, or Facet? One of my mares is definitely
getting little vials from California this year. Then, my friend’s at
Iron Spring Farm have had to go and import one of the most exciting
young dressage stallions to be approved in the last few years, Sir
Sinclair. I recently watched a video of his offspring inspection, and
have to tell you that few stallions so consistently lengthen the neck,
add suppleness to the movement, and add length to the leg like Sir
Sinclair. And, then, there’s Fürst Heinrich. I’m willing to try frozen
on one mare this year–this is young stallion is really interesting.
Plus, if Freestyle (Florestan x Parademarsch) has crossed so well on our
Jazz mare, then Mr. Heinrich (Florestan x Donnerhall) ought to be
brilliant. So, today (and you all know that I mean, “today”) here is my
Oladaula: Donatelli (seeing the Donnerhall x Kennedy, have to go for the niche!)
Pioendaula: Iroko (this foal is already sold–it is a breeding request)
Orchis: Fürst Heinrich
Kirona: Sir Sinclair or Facet
Urona SSF: Donatelli or Facet or Sir Sinclair
November 19, 2003
Topic: Poetry, Horses, and Internet Forums
Would that horses were flowers in a field,
in colors vibrant
and shapes diverse.
Transcend the pavement
and the path,
and dive into what’s left of life.
Roll and kick;
Scream and play.
Don’t let weeds invade the day.
Grab a bunch
and hope and pray
that buried noses
in summer stay.
Would that horses were flowers in a field.
That’s not the best poem I’ve ever written, but I’m in too good of a
mood to recount the day I discovered a dead logger trapped in the snow.
Why did I say that?
Life blows me away. Last night, the kids and I went to see Maynard
Ferguson and his Bebob Jazz band. Wow. Absolutely amazing. There were
complaints in the audience that Maynard himself barely played, but, who the hell
cares? When he did play, it lifted you out of the fricking seat and
catapulted you into the rafters of possibilities and artistic incredulity. I’ll
take two notes of amazing over a sonata of mediocre any time.
Donatelli is coming to North America. That’s cool in my book. I have
followed the threads on the various boards about the positives and negatives
of his being here–about my stupidity–about my good intentions. You
know, every stallion has positive contributions to make and negative
contributions that he can’t help. There has never been a transmitter of only
positive traits. My move to bring in Donatelli is completely self centered; I
don’t breed horses with the idea that I’m going to make a lot of money or
somehow raise myself above the level of absolution. I breed horses
because I have an insatiable desire to learn and to grow and to see my breeding
program blossom into a mecca of dressage potential. Donatelli will
contribute positively to my current goals in my own breeding program–he will
improve ridability and he will improve conformation. I have hot mares who need
longer shoulders and more sloping croups. If there are people out there
who find Donatelli interesting, then great. He’s a cool horse who produces
well. Nonetheless, I’m really excited about him. As far as studbooks,
I do think that it is absolutely ridiculous that he has to be represented
to the AHS when he is already approved in Germany and his offspring via
frozen are eligible for full registration, but, if enough AHS breeders express
interest, then I will present him. If they don’t, then his foals will be
eligible Oldenburg/Gov., West., Rhineland, and Register A with the NA/WPN.
Unfortunately, Donatelli’s arrival is going to overshadow a really super
horse that is now standing as an SSF stallion, Iroko. I’ve stood him
for DBNA for three years. I’ve bred close to a dozen mares to him. This
is a good stallion who consistently throws exceptional conformation, great
temperaments, and the most beautiful faces you’ve ever seen. I don’t
know how long Iroko will stay with us, but he’s welcome as long as he does.
The only problem I have with him is that his offspring tend to jump in and
out of my fences at will. Fortunately, we live out in the boonies, so it
hasn’t been a major issue, but, as a dressage breeder, it does make me
For those of you who have followed the amazing and rapid success of DBNA,
know that we are closing the books as of December 31st, 2003. I will take
some of the credit for its success and much of the blame for its demise.
We’ve had a dedicated workforce of incredible people, namely Susan Duncan
and Stephen Barkaszi, who have been with me every step of the way in
implementing and managing DBNA–but (and here comes the blame part), I’m the
eternal idealist and visionary–details not only bore me, but limit the
possibilities I imagine. I was the wrong person to be the primary manager of
DBNA. Fortunately, out of the ashes, has come a new organization, called
WBNA, Warmblood Breeders of North America. This organization is the result of
hours and weeks and months of work by a committee of DBNA members. It
will begin as everything that I had imagined DBNA to become. Membership is
cheap; benefits are great; risks are minimal. And, most importantly, it will
have far reaching, positive effects on Warmblood breeding in North America.
So, I’ve been busy. I miss my wife. “Would that horses were flowers
in a field.” I’d grab a bunch, bury my nose deeply within the bouquet,
and run wildly across the field, frozen in time and lifted etherally into
October 9, 2003
Topic: Exciting News for SSF!!!
I can’t reveal the name of the stallion until all of the details are
worked out, but it looks like Shooting Star Farm is going to have a new
stallion for the upcoming breeding season. I’ll tell you this much… his
blood lines are impeccable, his performance results impressive, his offspring
exciting and well respected by the best breeders and riders in both Europe
and North America, and the registration possibilities multiple. Hopefully,
we’ll be able to make an official announcement in the next week or so.
Keep your fingers crossed for us!
September 10, 2003
Topic: Keuring Season Is Under Way!!
“A mixed group of horses was presented at Valley View this year. Although in
several cases we saw horses of beautiful type and good conformation, we
would have liked to have seen better movement and more power in the gaits.
As many of you know, this is one of my favorite times of year…keurings!
Of course, I’ve chosen to temporarily return to the non-horse work force and
be subjected to the insane rigidity of a public high school’s schedule, so
one keuring is my limit this year–no jetting to DG Bar or road tripping to
ISF. (huge sigh–I’m starting to depress myself) Well, that means I’ll
just have to live via the jury’s “Reports from the Road”.
The quote with which I started this entry delights me–not that I would want
to hear this if I had brought my horses to this keuring, but this is THE
message that we all need to hear; TYPE CANNOT TAKE PRECEDENCE
OVER POWER AND MOVEMENT.
This has been a growing issue with the concerned public of the
NA/WPN. It immediately makes me revisit one of my favorite van Norel
quotes, “It is much easier to keep a good hind leg in your breeding program
than it is to get it back once you’ve lost it.” (I’d probably have many
more favorite van Norel quotes if I could hear Dutch as fast as he speaks it!)
Now, I’d really like to take this conversation further, but I have to get my
butt in gear and have my lessons plan ready for the day!
July 16, 2003
Topic: Friends, Keurings, and Life in General
It’s a sad day for me. I just heard that my friend, Anna van Sergae,
died on Sunday. She was only 54. Anna and I were email and phone
friends; we’d never met in person. She first emailed me after reading
one of my “recognize the mares” crusade articles. Honestly, at first I
thought she was a crack pot–her writing was brilliant, alive, so full
of images and literary references that you had to as much close your
eyes and breath it in as to read it–at the same time, it could border
on the unintelligible and silly. It really touched me and I knew that
we were akin. Months of correspondence and shared dreams resulted in me
agreeing to part with Viva Vita, LaVita’s Hierarch filly. Anna bought
Viva for herself for her 54th birthday present. Anna’s birthday was in
June–she had a month with Viva. She called me every few days to report
on their bonding and her plans for her. It was a nice month. You know,
none of us knows what is around the corner; live life while you
can–celebrate wherever you can and take the time to make connections
with people who reach out to you.
Of course, since I’m in an emotional and reflective state, why not start
talking about this year’s keuring….as you all know, I love keurings
and I hate keurings. I understand the philosophy, intention,
importance, and history or them, the process, the studbook, and the
Dutch horse. OK. Does this mean that I can just let them happen
without stressing the hell out over the whole process? Does this mean
that on the rare occasion my breeding program garners less than a first
premium ribbon that I’ll take it in stride and stay objective? Does
this mean that I will let either the stress or my compulsive competitive
nature stop me from learning important lessons within the
process…eventually? Absolutely not on all three accounts. After all,
I am a card carrying member of the Dutch system, for better or worse (of
course, I am thinking about breeding LaVita to a Tuigpaard next year so
I can get a huge motha saddle seat horse to show in the local benefit
horse show series…this would be a departure from the breeding goals of
the studbook…not an abandonment, but a departure–have they approved
any pinto Tuigpaards? Homozygous would be great.) I have the first
premium orange sun glasses–and, I have other proofs of allegiance yet
to be revealed….somebody will have to get me really drunk at the DG
Bar annual meeting , though (not that that should be difficult! Given
my affinity for parties and DG Bar’s ability to throw them.) Back on
topic here, I’m getting ready for this year’s keuring. I’ve cut down on
the number of horses going just because I don’t want to deal with the
hassle of getting them all there and then getting them all home. Orchis
and Pioendaula will do their IBOPs to complete their keur; we’ll present
Willioso and Werites–Wendy can’t go because her breeding certificate is
in Holland and I’m barely going to get the other two organized and in
the mail on time; and Houdini is going for his two year old stallion
evaluation. That has us presenting five horses and taking six
instead of ten, but I’m feeling like it’s enough to keep the SSF crew
(I’m not done with the keuring thing yet–but am having difficulty
Time folds. When did my kids get this big? When did I get to the point
at which I have more hair on my legs than on my head? I swear that 1977
was only yesterday and I was standing in my parents’ kitchen ardently
defending my decision to spend $2500. on my first Appaloosa mare so that
I could breed the best Appaloosas in the country. Fate. You get up
in the morning and put one planned foot in front of the other planned
foot only to stub your fricking toe on the faux brick planter of
somebody else’s plan.
June 1, 2003
Topic: Pregnancy and Breeding Update
I started breeding our mares at the end of March. Friday morning, the
last Friday in May, is the first time that I’ve been able to get a vet
out here to either palpate or scan. Unbelievable. At any rate, I am
delighted to report the following:
Orchis is foal to Freestyle on her nine day heat. This will be the
third edition of this magic cross.
Oladaula is in foal to Farrington on her nine day heat. Double Doruto
here we go!
Thea is 45 days in foal to Iroko.
Two outside mares are both pregnant.
LaVita….was not pregnant to Diamond Hit and was bred to Contango this
weekend. Perfect heat, perfect semen, perfect timing. It best be a
Kirona has been leased by our friend Dayna Gant–of course, I’d already
bred Kirona to Freestyle, so Dayna gets a mare with a pregnancy with no
shipping, collection, or vet fees! Pretty good deal.
Now, knock on wood, if Pioendaula is in foal to Freestyle and LaVita is
in foal to Contango–we may be just about done breeding this year and
it’s only June 1st!
May 26, 2003
Topic: Why I love my wife.
OK. It’s been raining so long and so much here in the past couple of
months that we’ve started working on the plans for the ark and have
equipped the horses with life vests and permanent tow harnesses to get
them out of the mud. Today, we emptied my father’s barn of the last 50
bales of hay which he has donated to the cause–this is a three and a
half day supply–after that, I’m filling grain bags with grass along the
highway after school. Hay season has to start soon….anyway: Why I
love my wife–two reasons really. One, she carried the fifty bales of
hay through the pouring rain while I stacked it in the trailer. She
didn’t carry it through the rain because I wouldn’t; she carried it
through the rain because she’d much rather be moving and carrying than
standing and stacking. Two, she actually humored me and participated in
an SSF breeding discussion AND appeared genuinely interested (and you
all thought I was the actor in the family….). Normally, all I have to
do to elicit the familiar, “Who is it this time? LaVita? Oladaula? I
know it’s not Orchis because you have no choice; she’s being bred to
Freestyle.” is stand in front of the stove stirring the spaghetti sauce
distractedly. Tonight, after the initial, “No. I know you don’t want
to hear it,” she actually encouraged further discussion. Now, I could
psychoanalyze this and start looking for hidden motives and spousal
agendas–but, let me enjoy the moment.
You all know that this is my very favorite topic: breeding choices. Of
course, Carol knows (and endures) this, as well. It’s just not often
that I let her talk about Stephen Tyler (I’ve told you about her plan to
have “ST” tattooed on her body–she thinks I think that it stands for
“Scot Tolman”, yeah. Got it.) or she lets me talk about stallion picks
for my mares. Well, we even seem to be in agreement. Here goes the
most recent round of stallion picks, derived from a pleasant spousal
conversation that has done wonders for solidifying my marital status,
for the SSF mare band:
-LaVita, if she’s not pregnant to Diamond Hit (it looks doubtful to me,
but I could be wrong) will go to Contango!!!! Yeah! Happy Scot.
-Oladaula will go to Farrington unless she doesn’t conceive by the third
dose and then we will use one of our DBNA breedings and go with
-Orchis (disturbingly, we just discovered that “Orchis” means “testicle”
in Latin…) has already been bred back to Freestyle.
-Pioendaula didn’t conceive to Rhodium, so she has also been bred to
-Thea is already pregnant to Iroko (knock on wood).
-Tilena has a date with some very cold Jazz semen.
May 12, 2003
Topic: No more people for me–only horses.
My first pony was named Beauty. He was a very round, bay pulling pony for
which my father paid $50. (Have I told you all this story before?) He had
a roached mane, a big head, almost no tail, and a temperament and character
which would not have make the first round selection of the KWPN system–he
used to lie down and roll (with me on him) if I asked him to canter. We
were able to buy him so cheaply because he also used to lie down and refuse
to pull during pulling competitions. But, I was eight years old, equally
round, and I loved him. One night, we found him stuck half way through the
wall of the chicken coop which my Dad had converted into his barn. Another
day, he got loose and my mother tried to catch him for me. He kicked her
in the stomach and left two black and blues in the shape of horse shoes.
My next horse was named Sugar. My Dad paid $100. for her rather than have
her shipped to the killers. She was a palomino and white, half starved
creature who arrived for my twelfth birthday. Sugar was in such bad shape that
we didn’t even know she was a pinto until she shed out that spring. We
kept her in a neighbor’s barn with their calves, and one of the calves
sucked her tail off. The next couple dozen horses fit basically into this
pattern of hand-me-downs and tragic rescues. I was kicked, bitten, dumped,
trampled, and, surprisingly, rarely discouraged. I couldn’t have enough
horses, spend enough time talking and thinking about horses, or cultivate
enough relationships with other horse people. Well, after all of these years,
I still can’t get enough of horses, but I’ve about had it with most
Is now the time I’m supposed to be carrying a plastic cup of cheap wine
around with me while I do chores? Should I be at the stage at which it’s
perfectly acceptable to squeeze into the breeches that I would have worn
when I was in my late twenties? I’m waiting for the time at which it’s
humorous for me to publicly swear at people and smile–knowing that they
think I’m simply incorrigible and slightly batty. I did go to FEDEX
yesterday dressed in my favorite chore attire: Shit-covered, J. Crew, flannel
lined chino’s, hanging off my ass, with only two buttons left and the white
of the right hand pocket jutting out of a rip in the hip of the pants.
My hay covered, zip front, thinsulate vest. No shirt. Goatee. My first
premium orange Oakley’s….standing in line of business people and
grandmother’s shipping off cookies at 6:05 with a box of semen balanced on my
fingertips at my right shoulder as if it were a waiter’s tray, I doubt that
many people found me humorous or incorrigible–rather, intimidating and
smelly. I can live with that.
So, you know, we all have personality traits of which we are completely
and blissfully unaware–no one spoke to me while I was standing in line at
FEDEX. Even Lucy, my FEDEX buddy, seemed purposefully preoccupied. Of
course, there were about seven people standing in line; she could have been
busy. I’m not sure, though, I think I may be approaching the time when I
become an embarrassment to my children. My vets won’t come to our farm any
more. The secretary at one of the vet offices told me that we can’t just
drop everything for you and come out whenever you call….this was on a
Monday and I was asking for a Friday visit. Would you take that personally?
April 24, 2003
Topic: Life is crazy; experiments; eating sand
Is it just me or does life get this crazy for everyone? Since my last
journal entry, I’ve started teaching full time at Keene High School,
directed Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, and somehow managed to get the
kids to school and feed the horses. I’d say that I’m ready for
retirement, but I know that at the rate this horse farmer is going I’m
never going to be able to afford to retire! Fortunately, we have April
vacation this week and they still make wine.
I found our first foal of the year wobbling around the foaling stall
this morning when I went out to do my 6 am foaling check. I swear to
God that building a heated lab with a bunk for foal watch has been a
guarantee that we miss every foaling! Wendy Daula SSF seems to have
arrived without incident and none the worse for the absence of human
intervention. She is the first result of our “R” line experiment–and,
if day one is any indication, it looks like a worthwhile experiment.
This filly has a great shoulder, very correct bone–substantial without
appearing heavy–and is as pretty as can be. My hope in this experiment
is to slightly open the shoulder angle of my Cocktail bred mares,
improve the ridablility, and not lose the hindleg and carrying power of
my mares. Our second “R” experiment should arrive within a week or so.
We’ve also just finished another experiment. At the NA/WPN Annual
Meeting, Jeannette Nijhof told me about the success that breeders in
some country are having using frozen semen once a day for three days in
a row, starting in the first day of a mare’s “hard” heat. Since our
Quattro B semen hadn’t arrived, we started in the second day of hard
heat and bred two days in a row. Since LaVita didn’t tease to the
stallion this morning, I’m going to skip the the third day of the
protocol. Keep your fingers crossed that we have a Quattro B x LaVita
foal on the way for 2004.
I’m going to try the same protocol but split one dose of Rhodium into
three inseminations. Rhodium is my favorite Ferro son; I love having
the Furioso back there in the mare line. After seeing the video footage
of him during the Annual Meeting, I had to try at least one dose of him
this year. Thanks to Merijane Malouin for making this work. I’m not
sure on whom I’ll try this experiment–probably Orchis, but I’ll keep
you posted. If it works, then I may try my last dose of Diamond Hit
this way as well.
One last thought before I close today: I’m “afeared” that there is no
turning back from the specialization path. Honestly, I’d been thinking
that the KWPN was involved in a “specialization” experiment, but, now,
that’s not what I think. We are smack dab in the middle of
specialization tidal wave caused by the logical analysis and
mathematical applications of some well educated geneticists. And, if
horses were black and white components of mathematical equations, then
we’d be riding high on this wave, surfing all the way along the crest
and impressing the crowd. However, horses are not so easily fit into
equations as are numbers and the values of “x”. We may, indeed, get a
few good runs in front of the crowd, but there are going to be those
surfers who get their suits pulled down and are left straddling the sand
with their willies hanging out. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll ride the
wave. But I’m bringing my own board.
March 22, 2003
Re: Where I’m at with Stallion Picks
Well, I think I’ve gone a full week without changing my mind about my
picks for this year. That has to be a good sign! Although, I did just
get that coupon in the mail for 15% off on Rhodium, Ferro, or Metall–I
could be pretty psyched about Rhodium. But, frozen…not going to do
more than one mare this year with frozen and I get to be the first
breeder to try the new batch of frozen Quattro!!!!! LaVita don’t fail
me now! I really like this stallion; and, since he is now KWPN
approved, that’s even better.
On a more general note, the horses competing in the CDI, the new NA/WPN
keuring video, the lectures, and presentations (especially the videos
of the foundation sires and the Dutch reaction to them) made me realize
that I want to be breeding “breeding stock” more than I want to be
breeding “riding stock”–and I think that there is a difference. I’m
not ready to defend that stance yet, but I know it’s true. Time will
tell. At any rate, here are my picks for 2003:
Quattro B for LaVita (Elcaro x Belisar x Ursus)
Freestyle for Orchis (Jazz x Roemer x Eros)
Consul for Oladaula (Hierarch x Michelangelo x Eclatant)
Freestyle for Pioendaula (Pion x Michelangelo x Eclatant)
Iroko for Thea Vita SSF (Vincent x Elcaro x Belisar)
Jazz for Tilena (Freestyle x Nimmerdor x Amor)
March 19, 2003
Re: Annual Meeting (or…”My name is John and I’ve got 8 seconds for ya.”)
All I can say is that no annual meeting will be complete without
Karaoke. It is now a must have requirement for all proposed annual
meeting locations. I swear to god that no NA/WPN member will feel a
moment of awkwardness or intimidation at any future keuringen or
meetings once he or she has personally witnessed Mr. Verkerk singing
“Islands in the Stream.” I’m also not sure we can have annual meetings
that don’t include sailing. Silvia organized an incredible cocktail
party aboard a sail boat out on the open water–I won’t bore you with my
metaphoric bent on the ocean and the stars, but it was really lovely.
The highlight of the meeting itself, for me, was seeing Faith
Fessenden’s video presentation of the foundations sires. It is really
incredible to realize the stamp that these horses have put on the modern
WPN horse. I won’t be able to go through all of them here, but let me
take a minute or two to describe what I consider the highlights:
-Amor may have brought some temperament issues with him, but he is
clearly a major source of superior conformation, balance, and movement
in the modern population. Some of the Dutch people present scoffed at
how enamored we Americans were with him; one comment was, “Yes, the
breeders loved him and erected a statue of him. The riders want to put
a bomb under the statue, however.” Sorry, I’m in the breeder camp. I
loved this horse. The biggest surprise to me is that he is a blood
type–a real modernizer of his time. I’m not sure what I was expecting,
but I was certainly expecting a heavier horse than what he was.
-Doruto was not an especially impressive horse. It’s no wonder that
there have been no stallion sons. He was very light in type, barely an
average mover, and really not attractive at all. Goes to show you that
temperament, trainability, and soundness are really the hallmarks of a
top competitor–not, necessarily, the beautiful mover.
-Farn was a TANK! What a character. Faith has footage of him literally
rolling in a pirouette…and in both directions!
More generally, Faith did a super job of presenting the history of the
WPN horse. We saw a number of really early stallions and mares. On the
third day, Faith started with Special D (the newly approved Metall x
Zandigo son) and took us through the pedigree with videos so that it was
really clear what traits came from where. It was absolutely
Faith is “on retainer” to present at all future annual meetings until
she runs out of video–there are no other copies of some of these horses
in existence, and the only way you’re going to get to see them is to
come to the meetings!
We also had a really good presentation on West Nile Virus; Anne Gribbons
was just delightful and received a loud round of applause with one of
her impromptu comments about breeding specialists vs. all rounders;
Jacques spoke briefly about Register A and breeding for the specialist;
and, Jeff Moore had us all on head set at the show so we could hear
first hand the point of view of both a top trainer and judge. It was a
The “Games” night nearly turned into a full-fledged battle. Next year,
I wearing protective gear and using a bull horn. Who would think that
we could all get so competitive over a few silly horse questions? Man!
For fun, I’m going to list the Jeopardy questions here for those of you
who could not attend the meeting. If you need help with the answers,
drop me an email. Mary Giddens is going to include the crossword puzzle
in the next NA/WPN Newsletter.
1. Of the NA/WPN approved stallion, Judgement.
2. Of the KWPN approved stallion, Hierarch
3. Of Beezie Madden’s other top KWPN horse, Conquest II.
4. Of the NA/WPN, 2002, #1 mare for movement–Silhouette
(this was the daily double)
5. Of Olympic Ferro’s granddam, Upianne.
All “Kracked” Up
1. This stallion was ranked as the number one jumper by the WBCSN for
2. This stallion was the only horse to win two World Cup Qualifiers.
3. This stallion had the most aangewezen sons in 2003
4. This stallion was the leading producer of jumpers in the USA in 2002
5. This stallion is the sire of the 2002 champion six year old dressage
in the USA.
Things that even Jacques Doesn’t Know (aka Stump the Chump)
1. This stallion the sire of the most keur mares who received their
predicates in the NA/WPN systerm.
2. This stallion has the highest ratio of first premium offspring in
the NA/WPN keuring results.
3. This stallion was the first stallion (who is still approved) licensed
by the NA/WPN jury.
4. This was Flemmingh’s competition name.
5. This KWPN approved stallion sired daughters who were province
champions and UTV mares but no approved sons. Interestingly enough,
he had two possible choices listed as his dam’s sire.
1. He is the other half of the famous Sineada cross.
2. He was the first Hanoverian stallion to have a significant positive
effect on the KWPN population.
3. This French import is seen most commonly today in the pedigrees of
van Norel horses, ie.; Cabochon.
4. This foundation sire is in the immediate pedigree of the most living
keur and preferent stallions.
5. This stallion is in the pedigree of three KWPN stallions who died
between February of 2002 and February of 2003.
1. 160 cm equals this number of hands.
2. A studbook mare bred to a Licensed stallion produces this category of
3. This stallion has the highest number of registered offspring in the
4. Of frozen semen stallions, this stallion has the highest ratio of
first premium offspring in the NA/WPN.
5. The initials PROK stand for this.
Again, don’t hesitate to drop me an email if you can’t figure something
out. The whole point is education, so do some homework and let me know
if I can help.
March 6, 2003
Topic: Indices and Linear Scoring
Now that I finally understand how to read both an index and a linear
score sheet (it’s only taken a decade and a half–not quite that long;
the linear score sheet hasn’t existed that long), I’m really finding
them interesting–”useful” is a word I could have used, but decided that
“interesting” is more appropriate, although “useful” wouldn’t be
incorrect, “interesting” and, perhaps, “educational” are the better
terms. It’s really easy to look at the number which any given horse is
assigned without looking at what goes into the compilation of that
number. That’s why the index or linear score itself isn’t as “useful”
as it could be; it doesn’t really mean anything in isolation.
Don’t get me wrong. I just bragged about Hierarch and Iroko’s high
indices on the DBNA forum–why not? Most people never look beyond the
number or the horse’s rank in the whole scheme of things. In de
Strengen just wrote a piece on the top ranked horses in each discipline
and each age group–if IdS isn’t going to go into huge detail about any
of the stallions except those that are in the top four or five of each
grouping, why should I worry about it? Again, the only reason to talk
about it beyond looking at the top horses is that it is “interesting”,
and, unless you really know what information you’re looking at, you
can’t make it become “useful”.
For instance, Montecristo has the highest dressage index of any KWPN
stallion. This stallion is 9 years old, which means that his oldest
offspring can’t be more than five years old. So, his index is based on
his pedigree, the success of his relatives in sport and their pedigrees,
and a collection of three, four, and five year old dressage horses.
Here’s where really looking at the whole index comes in handy.
Montecristo has five (5) offspring competing in dressage. Granted, his
reliability index is only 44%, so this insignificant number of offspring
is reflected elsewhere in the most recognized figures of the index, but,
still, what are most people going to look at? An index of 205
points–the highest index of any dressage stallion across all age
groups–that’s what they’re going to look at.
Now look at a KWPN stallion who is near and dear to my heart, Zeoliet.
His dressage index is 130. That’s no where near as impressive as an
index of 205, right? Well, his index is based on his pedigree, the
pedigree of his relatives, his own sport results, the sport results of
his relatives, and the fact that he has 461 horses competing in dressage
(this is more than 100 horses higher than any other KWPN stallion,
btw.). Again, we have this number reflected in a reliability of 94%.
Another factor that strongly affects this index is that Zeoliet also has
287 offspring competing in jumping–he, and many horses in his pedigree,
have been used for the production of both jumpers and dressage horses.
So, the index helps me identify the predictability of a stallion
producing a dressage horse, but, if I look closely enough, it also tells
me how many dressage horses that stallion actually produced. I’m not
sure which information is really more important–the fact that horse has
the pedigree and potential to produce well or the fact that a horse
indeed did produce? Granted, the age difference between these two
stallions which I’ve chosen to discuss is significant. Nonetheless, a
system that gives the highest index to a very young stallion with only
five offspring competing is misleading.
The linear score sheet is another “interesting” tool. Although, I do
find this significantly more “useful” because it is an actual
compilation of physical evidence of what a stallion produces
conformationally and movement wise. What it does not do is give much
indication of what the stallion has produced for sport horses; it merely
breaks down the parts of a sport horse and gives you a linear picture of
the strengths and weaknesses that may affect a sport horse. What’s even
more interesting is to go through the linear score sheets of our KWPN
“keur” and “preferent” stallions (the ones that have been designated as
significant improvers of the population) and look at the specific
conformation and movement traits that have made and haven’t seemed to
make a difference to the horse’s individual contribution to the
population. I’m not going to go into specific stallions here because I
always get myself in trouble with stallion owners and the Annual Meeting
is too close!
The point is that all of these charts and scoring mechanisms are merely
tools. We, me included, can often give an individual score or an
individual strength or weakness too much importance. The bottom line is
that you have to look at a horse in toto and not get too caught up in
the particulars. It’s important to know that a horse has a weak loin
connection or that a horse produces offspring that tend to wing out in
the walk only in that you don’t want to cement that into your breeding
program if your mare has some of the same issues. I’m not going to
breed three of mares to a horse with a short shoulder–they need more
length. I’m not going to breed LaVita to a horse that produces a low
neck set; hers could be higher. At the same time, I’m also not going to
breed any of my mares to a young stallion with a high index just because
he has a high index–there will have to be something else about him that
works for me.
Anyway. Fun to think about.
February 22, 2003
Topic: More Thoughts on Stallion Selection
I just stood in the light, sleety rain communing with my two of my
mares–at this point in the year, it’s difficult to tell whether these
girls are growing the next generation of dressage stars or harboring
this season’s prize Hubbard squash in their abdomens. It was a peaceful
moment. Of course, it was only peaceful because I wouldn’t allow myself
to register the sight of the baling twine tying up the split fence post
in my peripheral vision. Why is it that horses only destroy the fence
between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am? Last night at 33 minutes past
midnight, just as we shut out all of the lights and began the weary,
pre-sleep climb upstairs, I heard the tell-tale squeals of horses on the
loose. LaVita. She’s just come into heat and knows what she wants–far
be it from her to let a five foot, three rail, $30. a section, once
lovely, wooden fence get in the way of her biological needs. I swear, I
want an electric fence with such a strong zap that it nearly fries the
first horse who touches it….just as an example. Let the rest of them
stand back there and look at each other,
“Whoa, man. We better stay the hell away from that. LaVita looks pretty
OK. Before you call the Humane Society on me, I’ll ask Carol to touch
the fence before LaVita…(kidding, Honey.)
Just so you know that I haven’t lost my mind and settled completely on
my stallion choices for the year, you have to know that I would feel
really awkward, after the great job Bull Dog Design has done on redoing
this site, to ask Joe to change the paragraphs on each mare every time I
change my mind about breeding!
Yesterday, after standing in the rain and communing with Oladaula and
Orchis, I forced myself to do a completely non-emotional evaluation of
my horses and how my mares fit into the breeding goal of the KWPN
historically. These are good mares. They come from good breeding
foundations that are based in the philosophy of the KWPN breeding goal.
One thing of which I have to often remind myself is that the stallion
selection committee is choosing stallions which are needed for the
current population of mares. So, if this is the case and my mares are
part of the current population, what is it in this population that the
current year of stallions is supposed to be addressing? (Don’t you all
drive yourself crazy like this? I can’t be the only one?) Well, let me
start a new paragraph and begin discussing this.
Well, my mares are pretty much all specialists; they’re bred to be
dressage horses: Elcaro x Belisar, Hierarch x Michelangelo, Jazz x
Roemer, Pion x Michelangelo, Vincent x Elcaro, and Volkmar x Rechter.
There could be an argument made for two or three of these names being
all rounder or strongly influenced by jumper pedigrees, but, all in all,
these are dressage names. I think this is fairly typical of our current
population of young mares; they are either jumper bred or dressage
bred. My mares, in particular, have excellent movement and self
carriage because those have been my two priorities for the past decade
and a half. OK; so what are the negative traits that have come with
this specialist path? Most of my mares have a stronger trot than
canter; that’s one. Not that they have a bad canter–it’s more that the
canter has only recently become an issue in the keuring evaluation
process and it hasn’t received the focus I should have given it. I
think this is fairly typical across the population. Many of my mares
could use longer lines and better angle to the shoulder–all are well
within the average of the population, but we’re talking progressive
here, right? So, in a stallion, I’m looking for a modern sport horse
type with long lines, a great shoulder, and a phenomenal canter–and, of
course, we have to go back to the van Norel quote,
“It’s a lot easier to keep a good hind leg in your breeding program than
it is to get it back once you’ve lost it.”
Hind leg, use of the hind leg, self carriage, loin
connection…..balance–combined with a great canter, long lines, and a
super shoulder. Gee, sounds a lot like the majority of the coming three
year olds which were just referred to Ermelo. The future is looking
good! So, what do I do this year….
The best I can do is look at the pedigrees and crosses that created
these stallions to be and approximate it here. As you’ve probably read
in my last journal entry, my take on the pedigrees of the top stallion
sent on to Ermelo is that they are a strong base of all rounder type
pedigrees included with the specialists: Flemmingh on Ramiro, Negro on
Glendale, Krack C on Damiro, Sandro Hit on Zeoliet, Silvano on
Goodtimes. So, if I’m a breeder who wishes to follow the breeding
direction of my studbook, which I do (believe it or not), for my
strictly specialist bred mares, I’m going to have to carefully look at
stallions bred out of strong jumping lines which also produce dressage
horses on a regular basis. For the couple of mares in my group which
have all rounder names closer up, I may be able to stick with more of a
specialist stallion for one more generation. Hmmm; changes my stallion
selection process a bit. I’m not going to tell you what those changes
are right now, but it does change them!
February 12, 2003
Topic: Following the Paper Trail of the Stallion Show
Much to my delight, the Stallion show copy of In de Strengen arrived in
PO Box 589 yesterday. Orange alert, War in Iraq, and Michael Jackson’s
parenting skills may be the current rage, but… an issue of In de
Strengen of this magnitude is my kind of news. The world stopped and I
unceremoniously ripped open the white envelope from overseas. I’m not
sure if it was the exhaust fumes seeping into my truck or Michaela’s
constant whining about sitting in the parking lot of the post office for
half an hour that forced me to put down the magazine and leave the post
office parking lot. I even offered to let Michaela drive, or at least
take the wheel, so I could continue reading. Can you imagine a 12 year
old turning down the opportunity to drive a one ton truck in a snow
squall? Me either. Oh, well. One thing led to another, and it was
nearly 11 pm before I could really sit down and really scour through
this results of the stallion show.
My first thought was that at last the stallion selection committee chose
a champion that I would probably have agreed with had I been there.
This Flemmingh x Ramiro son is exactly what we should be approving. His
type is exemplary, his pedigree is made up of strong jumper and
foundation KWPN bloodlines, he has excellent bone and substance,and he
looks to have superb self-carriage. I have heard from a few people who
were in attendance that he was not a very flashy mover, so this makes me
even more pleased with the decision. I’ll take balance and
self-carriage over a flashy front leg any day of the week. Of course,
since he won the stallion show, it’s probably a death knell and we’ll
never hear about him again. At least it looks like the new stallion
selection committee is taking us in a better direction.
In general, from looking at the pictures of the top ten stallions, there
is a consistent quality and strength to the topline, there is an
excellent length of shoulder and hip, and the pictoral use of the hind
leg is nearly identical on all of the horses. I’m not sure which of the
horses I would have wanted to take home, but both the Flemmingh x Ramiro
and the Negro x Glendale can have a plane ticket based purely on what
I’m seeing in print. Then, again, the Cantos x Cassini looks like such
an outrageous jumper that I might just have to change my program over
completely just to accommodate him. So cool.
Another horse I’m excited about is Quattro. I’ve seen a number of
Quattro offspring, in particular, Quattro x Cocktail and Cocktail x
Quattro–this is a good producer of horses that can move and jump. He’s
an important addition to the KWPN stallion population.
Believe it or not, I’m not going to go on and on–I wasn’t there–it
would be even easier than usual for me to look like an idiot handing out
opinions when I didn’t see the horses in person. Nonetheless, I’m
really pleased with what I’m hearing and seeing from this year’s
ps. Almost forgot! A Daula line horse selected for Ermelo! The
Cabochon x Kaiserstern is out of the Daula mare that the van Norel
family bought from Eugenie van Dam. Let’s hope that my Cabochon x Pion
out of the Daula line has something good to offer the NA/WPN population!
January 31, 2003
Topic: The Blank Check and Stallion Show Envy
I really thought I was going to be alright about missing the stallion
show this year….serious withdrawals going on. I’m thinking about
heavily medicating myself with chocolate, pasta, and bourbon to kind of
go into a self induced, momentary apathy. Not quite sure how my 4 pm
aerobics class would cope with an instructor in this state, but, most
people are forgiving. I can see it now, the bourbon induced comments:
“Get your fat ass onto that step. What the hell are you here for unless
you intend to sweat?”
“OK, for the next 32 count combination, we’re going to do three air
splits, a cartwheel over the step, moon the front desk staff, and then
use whatever counts are left to get off the floor.”
Or, more likely, I’ll have them walk in a circle around me and start
shouting “Aangewezen.” for the people I want to have stay in the class.
I must say that I’m also disappointed that no blank check has yet
arrived. Granted, I have gotten the mail yet today and there’s still
tomorrow, but I had hopes that it would have arrived by now. You see, I
may not believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, but I do believe in
the spirit behind these gift giving conventions of lore–I really think
that a blank check to Scot for the purchase of a new stallion is within
the realm and spirit of intent of the magic.
Ah, but life goes on. So do the stallion picks, by the way. I have had
a number of conversations with people who find my dilemma amusing.
That’s the point, however; I love this process. If I decided too early,
I would miss out on all of the fun and many of the possibilities.
-still on Judgement for LaVita, but will entertain the thought of
Contango, Iroko, or the one dose of Diamond Hit I have left.
-Oladaula still gets the date with Rodioso if I win the bid in the NEDA
auction, but, again, Iroko is a consideration–I also really like A Fine
Romance–I’d think about him for Ms. Daula. Also have been tempted by
the Matador semen in the NEDA auction…but, I can’t win both bids for
financial reasons and because both would be intended for the same mare.
-Orchis goes to Contango or Farrington. I have three doses of
Farrington, but have never used it. Saw Kathy Hickerson’s Farrington
filly a couple years ago and really had to have the frozen. Saw some
adult Farrington mares recently that were just not inspiring to me. I
worry about the Contango x Jazz/Jazz x Contango niche purely because of
the sickle hocks. Do I really want to cement this into the offspring.
Nonetheless, Contango x Jazz x Roemer sounds pretty good on paper.
-Pioendaula has to go to Hierarch. I want to create another Oladaula.
Oladaula is the result of Hierarch on Just Daula. Pioendaula is Pion x
Just Daula. This is the breeding decision I am most sure of, at the
-Tilena is going to Jazz. Jan Downs-Barrett is the becoming the proud
new owner of this extraordinary mare–but I’m only parting with her
because I get a foal! The cross will be Jazz x Freestyle x Nimmerdor x
Amor. Jazz himself is Cocktail x Ulster (by Nimmerdor) x Amor. This is
going to give me a pedigree with double Furioso, double Nimmerdor, and
double Amor. This may not be the foal for everyone to raise! I would
have gone with Krack C here, but I just don’t trust his frozen.
-Miss Thea Vita SSF….hmmm. I’m still thinking Contango is the best
cross for Miss Thea. The Contango cross on her mother was outstanding.
The Contango x Vincent ought to produce a hell of a dressage horse. I’d
also think about Iroko for her, however–he has the kind of balance and
quickness in the hind leg that would work well with her softer, more
supple way of moving. Farrington has also been used a lot on Vincent
mares. And, then, after hearing about the Cunningham’s stunning Welt
Hit x Vincent, I might think about him or Lancet–would just worry that
I’d get super pretty with no hind end.
-Kirona/Kessel. Lots of thoughts here still. She is for sale because
one of the mares has to be. I like the idea of Wolfgang. I like the
idea of Iroko or Hierarch. I think Farrington could be too heavy on
her, but I’ve seen the Ferro crosses out of her mareline and they are
not particularly heavy. I’m leaning toward Iroko.
Of course, all of this is for naught because I’m sure the blank check is
waiting for me at the post office and I’ll be breeding four or five
mares to Tyson!
January 26, 2002
Topic: Precursor to the Round Table Discussion at the Na/WPN Annual
Ridability (I’ve consulted with my favorite Ed.D on the correct spelling
of “ridability”) is becoming a growing concern in the KWPN breeding
population–actually, that’s probably more appropriately, “breeder”
population; I don’t believe the horses themselves think about it much!
The modern KWPN horse is more and more a professional’s horse. What has
caused this and how do we address the fact that the professional market
is minuscule in comparison to the amateur market? As I see it, the
problem is inherent in the KWPN system.
As you know from reading this month’s journal entries, I’m into the
whole stallion selection thing pretty hot and heavy. It doesn’t matter
how well I think I know a stallion or his offspring, I still go back
annually and reevaluate individuals and the possible contributions they
can make to my breeding program. Plus, the studbooks keep approving
these new horses for me to research and I have to weight them against
the boys I consider every year. One thing that strikes me again and
again is that the KWPN breeds a horse with a consistently better use of
the hind leg than any other registry or studbook. The KWPN horse has
power, self-carriage, and “snap”. Some of the German bred stallions,
although especially lovely in type, tend to have a slower hind leg and
less natural ability for self-carriage. This is a generalization, I
realize; in particular, horses such as the Hit brothers certainly have
as good a use of the hind leg as any KWPN stallion. In general,
however, I feel fairly confident in making the observation that the
German horses do not have as good a use of the hind leg. I am currently
pushing this observation further by comparing the loin connections of
the German and KWPN horses, but am not ready to make any statements
about the possible relationship. What I would like to propose, though,
is the fact that a significantly larger percentage of the German lines
seem to have better ridability than the KWPN horses and I’m wondering if
this has something to do with the KWPN’s selection process in
relationship to the use of the hind leg.
Does that seem like a huge jump in logic to you? Well, remember who’s
writing this journal! I have a couple thoughts to support this leap of
ONE, there are two types of muscle fibers, slow twitch and fast twitch.
Whether we’re talking about a human athlete or an equine athlete,
different body types, metabolic types, and muscle types are predisposed
to different strengths and weaknesses. If a horse has the kind of
muscle fiber speed that creates the use of the hind leg we like, then
it’s highly likely that this same horse has a brain in which the
chemicals move through their connections to neurons at a proportionate
rate. So, I’m proposing that the KWPN genetic predisposition for the
best hind leg use in the world also predisposes the population for the
fastest connection among neurons. Put simply, the horse thinks faster
than the rider and reacts accordingly. Over time, we’re breeding a
horse that needs a better and better rider.
TWO, the German system gives a score for ridability and the KWPN does
not. I know that the powers-that-be may disagree with me on this, but I
don’t think that the scores for temperament, character, and talent for a
specific discipline do the same thing as a score for ridability.
It is the combination of these two things that have created the decline
in ridability in the KWPN population. The speed at which this decline
in ridability has developed is in direct relationship to the speed at
which we’ve bred for specialists rather than all rounders. By selecting
fewer traits as our breeding focus, we’ve made faster progress–in
direct relationship to that progress is the fact that we’ve also
augmented negative traits at the same rate. I’m not saying that the
solution is to breed for all rounders rather than specialists, but I am
saying that by not having access to some of the foundation traits of the
KWPN population, we risk losing more than we gain. In our quest for the
“modern type”, we may have already lost it. If this is the case, then,
at least, we have some German pedigrees from which we can retrieve
The next dilemma is how to go about this. Over the past few years, I’ve
been fascinated to see the use of the German “R” line (known for its
high ridability index) in the KWPN population. The trend seems to be to
breed dressage-bred, KWPN mares to R line stallions. In my opinion,
the results have not been especially positive. I would suggest that,
historically, the KWPN population has improved in the F1 equation by
using jumper-bred mares and all rounder-bred mares as the foundation.
If we really want to strengthen a trait in our population, I think we
need to do it through the all rounders and through the jumping pedigrees
that have consistently produced dressage horses. Once I complete my
study on the loin connection, I may be able to offer more specifics for
this reasoning, as I believe it has to do with over all balance and the
use of the topline, rather than the quality of the gaits. This is a
discussion for yet another day, however.
January 24, 2002
Topic: Maybe I’m Not So Predictable!
Whew. Guess I surprised a few people with my latest “picks” for my
girls. Negro, in particular, seemed to have come from left field. Let
me state here and now that I like Olympic Ferro and want to have him in
the pedigrees of some of our breeding stock. That’s not to say that I
don’t also have reservations about Ferro. Yet, Ferro is one of the most
impressive horses in history. I stood by the warm up ring a couple
years ago at the stallion show watching Coby get him ready–phenomenal.
We bred to him twice eight or nine years ago. As a matter of fact, I
have first dibs on an Iroko foal due out of the Ferro ster mare who was
a result of one of those breedings. Of the Ferro sons, I have not been
wild about any of them at three years old–some years, the sons looked
better than others, but I’ve never seen one that completely blew me away
as a young horse. However, the sons seem to be producing well. Negro
is a horse that I really didn’t like early on. His movement and his
type were just too old fashioned for my mares and my tastes. But, his
offspring consistently seem to have excellent self carriage and a fairly
similar type–so, I’d like to try him on my mare base. It’s a moot
point, though; there is no frozen semen for export. So, if the blank
check arrives in time, it is the Negro x Belisar that I will buy in the
Ferro mares are a completely different story–I like most of them, and
some of them completely blow me away. My guess, historically speaking,
is that Ferro will have his greatest impact through his daughters–even
though he has so many approved sons.
Judgement/Contango/Iroko x LaVita
Diamond Hit/Rodioso/Iroko x Oladaula
Contango x Orchis
Hierarch/Iroko x Pioendaula
Contango/Iroko x Thea Vita SSF
Jazz x Tilena
Iroko x Allie
Iroko x Kirona
January 22, 2003
Topic: SSF Stallion Selection; version IV, volume III, index iix…
Carol and I were having a conversation in the truck, on the way to the gym
today. She was annoyed by my lack of interest in her answer to a
question which I had posed. Fearing the worst and sensing that there
could be no appropriate spousal response, I opted for the truth,
“Well, sometimes I think that you think I need a much longer explanation
to get the point than I really need. I’d prefer to be allowed to get
the point and then move on.”
There was silence for a moment. I knew this couldn’t be good.
“So, I talk too much and belabor points.”
“That’s not what I said.”
“ Did you ever think that maybe it’s just the way I process information
and I need to say it all for my own benefit; and, that really, it has
nothing to do with you.”
What I wanted to say was something like,
“Well, if that’s what you’re doing, could you give me a little sign so I
can tune it out until you’re ready to have me part of the conversation
But more wisely, or so I thought, I said,
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
The conversation stopped and I was lulled into a false sense of
security. We went to the gym, lifted weights, did a bit of cardio,
showered, and started for the grain store. Stupidly, I began obsessing
over the pros and cons of this grain and that, the fact that I had to
get those horses dewormed, and even made some comment about the
pregnancy status of Orchis. We came to a stop sign. Carol turned to me
and smiled–the kind of subtle smile that only people who have been
married nearly thirteen years can recognize as, “You really are an
“Oh, Scot. I’ll bet Oladaula’s not pregnant. I think she’s just fat.
Gosh, I wish I could decide who to breed LaVita to this year. Did you
think Orchis was teasing? Maybe we won’t go with Judgement for LaVita.
What about Iroko? As a matter of fact, I don’t think any of the horses
are pregnant; they’re all just fat.”
Then the smile again–except this time, it was the subtle smile of
satisfaction–not recognizable to people who have not been married
nearly thirteen years, but very clear to those of us who have.
We then battled for about 30 seconds to see who could push whom out of
the truck. Fortunately, no one was waiting behind us.
Not that I obsess, but….today’s picks:
Negro x LaVita
Diamond Hit/Rodioso x Oladaula
Hierarch x Pioendaula
Contango x Thea Vita SSF
Negro x Kirona
Contango x Orchis
Iroko x Allie
Jazz x Tilena
January 13, 2003
Topic: I was wrong!
I just sat down and watched the Select Sale video and really studied the
pedigrees of the selected stallions. There are some excellent horses in
this collection. My favorite changed, and I’m still not going to tell
you who he is…unless, of course, that blank check is forthcoming! I’m
even surprised at which one it is. Too bad I’m poor; SSF would have a
new stallion this year if we could afford it!
Today’s Breeding Picks:
A couple things have changed in two days: one, I have been out bid on
Rodioso in the Auction for Aiden (thank goodness somebody else
recognizes what a cool horse he is); and, two, it looks like the deal on
our new leased stallion may just be working out….so:
The stallion I buy in the select sale x Lavita
Contango x Orchis
Contango x Thea Vita
Our new leased stallion x Oladaula
Our new leased stallion x Pioendaula
Krack C x Tilena
Wolfgang x Kirona
January 11, 2003
Topic: More Thoughts, The Select Sale, and Today’s Breeding Picks
Thank you to those of you who emailed me about the last journal entry.
A couple thoughts that I’ve subsequently offered in private email
correspondences probably need to be added to the open discussion. One,
just because I disagree with some of the stallion selections over the
past few years doesn’t mean that these stallions don’t have a place
somewhere in the population. Every mare brings her own strengths and
weaknesses to the equation. I do believe that the KWPN stallion
selection committee has a better knowledge of the average of the KWPN
mare population than I–therefore, there is the distinct possibility
that I am completely off base in my opinions. Of course, there’s also
the possibility that I’m not! Two, even I, faced with a breeding–no,
forget it. We’re going to stick to only one thought that needs to be
public…Again, thanks for the emails–I’m always amazed and pleased at
how many people enjoy this journal.
I’ve been scanning through the pictures and pedigrees of the Select Sale
stallions. Yes, I picked mine, but I’m not going to tell you which
one. I’m waiting for the email or phone call that says, “Scot, I’m
sending you to Holland with a blank check so you can buy a young,
exciting stallion for North America.” You see, I don’t have to own
him–I just want him here so I can breed to him. That’s it.
Really interesting selection of stallions, however. The pedigrees are
fairly inconsistent. Two or three stallions hail from near royalty in
the KWPN breeding world. The other twenty or so, aren’t so impressive.
If I were looking at this as a sport horse auction, it would be a
different story. I’ve had similar thoughts about the stallions selected
for the Stallion Show–the number of really super horses from really
super pedigrees seems smaller than ever. Looks like a lot of filler to
me. I wish I were going so I could see for myself. Overall, I think
we’re going to see another good year for jumpers and a disappointing
year for dressage horses.
Not too many changes in this year’s breeding shed over the last week. I
saw that no one had bid on my buddy Rodioso in the Auction for Aiden, so
I had to bid. That will most likely change Oladaula’s date for 2003.
The Nijhofs have made a phenomenal offer to DBNA members on Wolfgang
semen, so I’m going to have to use him on one of the girls. I think
LaVita is the best choice, but I’m pretty hooked on Judgement for her.
He could also work on Kirona…hmmm, Wolfgang x Volkmar x Rechter. We
may have hit a snag with our new stallion (better now than once he got
here), so that’s now up in the air a bit. So, today, I think the
following is the breeding list:
Judgement x Elcaro x Belisar (LaVita)
Rodioso x Hierarch x Michelangelo (Oladaula)
Contango x Jazz x Roemer (Orchis)
Contango x Vincent x Elcaro (Thea Vita SSF)
Hierarch x Pion x Michelangelo (Pioendaula)
Krack C x Freestyle x Nimmerdor (Tilena)
Wolfgang x Volkmar x Rechter (Kirona/Kessel)
Although, if I can get some frozen from Redford, I’d try him over Krack C.
January 2, 2003
Topic: Where We Are and Where We’re going
2002 was a mixed but, overall, good year for Shooting Star Farm.
Although we certainly had some setbacks in the year, such as losing
Zeoliet, a much lower than normal percentage of pregnancies, discovering
the presence of OCD in our preselected stallion candidate, and a really
expensive and nearly disastrous trip to the ISF keuring, we also had
some successes; two of our homebreds became number ones in North
America, four out of five SSF horses presented this year were first
premium, and we safely foaled out nine out of nine babies. Although on
any given day I’ve been ready to abandon horses completely and start an
organic guinea pig food company, I thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction the
successes of our breeding program have brought to us. Given the quality
of the horses presented at North American keurings this year, I am most
thankful that our horses fared as well as they did, but I am not one to
rest on any laurels–I’m even more convinced that the ongoing strict
evaluation of our breeding stock and breeding decisions is imperative if
we intend to remain competitive in the sport horse breeding world.
I’m at one of the happiest times of year for me as a breeder: Stallion
Selection. I don’t know what it is about it but the choices of possible
stallions swim around in my head for months. After nearly a decade and
a half of studying KWPN horses, there are not too many stallions whose
sport results and offspring reports I don’t know inside and out. I’m
still discovering the possibilities within our own mare base, however.
It wasn’t until the mid to late 1990’s that I settled on the mares that
would become our core. In all these years of breeding, I’ve only kept
one filly to add to the broodmare band–not because we haven’t produced
fillies that I thought were good enough to keep–it’s much more that
we’ve had to sell some fillies that I wouldn’t have chosen to sell.
Last year, I made the decision to breed two experiments with the thought
that we would keep both of the resulting foals for our breeding
program. Now, given the fact that we had such a poor, on farm
conception rate in the 2002 breeding season, I only have two other foals
coming to sell. We’ll see what happens with my two “keepers”.
It’s not that I’m approaching my stallion selections that much
differently this year–I’ve always chosen based on my gut reaction to a
stallion and my knowledge of how he has crossed on either mares out my
mare lines or other mares–I still believe that a breeder accomplishes
more by breeding like type to like type–and, I will continue to breed
what my ideological self dictates rather than what I think will sell.
It’s that last part that puts me into the biggest quandary this year,
As I’ve voiced over and over, I’m often unhappy with the direction in
which I see the KWPN stallion selection committee taking us. Now, in
the very next sentence, I’m going to say that I rarely disagree with the
North American jury. As proud and as pleased as I am that North
American bred horses are now considered on an even par with the KWPN
population in the Netherlands, I’m also nervous that the future of the
Na/WPN will become too bound to decisions made an ocean away for a
market that is many mind sets away. The longer I maintain and fine tune
our breeding program, the more difficult it becomes to walk the line
between what I like and think is most desirable in a sport horse and
what the KWPN likes. For me, one of the safe guards has been the Na/WPN
jury. Over the next few years, and as needs be, I see the jury
changing. For one thing, it must be separate from the Board of
Directors. For another, if our Na/WPN horses, and their eventual
keuring results, are now given the same status as a KWPN horse, our jury
will be even more tightly bound to the KWPN system and its processes.
There are probably more good things than negative that will come out of
this situation, but it still makes me wary.
Specifically, the KWPN is on a hard and fast, discipline-specific
breeding track. It is breeding dressage horses or jumpers, not all
rounders. I guess I don’t have much of a problem with this in theory;
in theory, narrowing the field of selected traits is the fastest way to
reach a goal. In practice, I just keep coming back to one of my
conversations with Gert van der Veen–a conversation during which he
warned me not to eliminate the possibilities inherent in a jumping
pedigree for the dressage horse. The conversation took place many years
ago. In fact, it took place so early in my KWPN education that I
couldn’t participate to anywhere near the degree that I would now be
able. I can’t recount the conversation exactly, but I can, at least,
detail two points that I have somehow assimilated over the years into my
own breeding belief system.
One, all KWPN dressage horses were bred from jumping lines. Dressage
was not a money maker–jumping was–so the KWPN breeders did not set out
to breed dressage horses. It is only the advent of the amateur dressage
rider and the growing popularity of dressage on a global scale that has
created a market which the keen agricultural minds of the Dutch have
tried to fill. In our own breeding program, I have never set out to
breed a jumper, yet we produced the highest ranking jumper gelding in
North America this year. Where did this come from? It had to be the
gene pool. It certainly wasn’t due to environmental influences! If
ever I needed to be swayed one way or the other in the whole “Nature vs.
Nurture” debate, having my own children would pretty much cement the old
cliché, “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Two, specialization in selection creates some imbalances in the breeding
population. It has to because inherent in the system are different sets
of selection criteria. Due to this, for a potential dressage horse, it
has become the model of the KWPN to select for a longer front leg and
more expressive gaits, with an inordinate amount of focus on the trot.
I’m sure that the thought here is a horse who is more naturally built
uphill transfers weight more easily to the hindquarters and that a horse
with more expressive gaits will score higher in the dressage ring.
There are a couple problems with this for me. A longer front leg
changes the overall balance of a horse, and, unless the individual has
increased strength and balance in the loin connection, then an uphill
horse is perpetually out of balance. This decrease in balance combined
with an increase in the expression of the gaits seems like a bad
combination for an upper level dressage horse. I’m fairly certain that
my contention would be met with the statement that the jurists are
looking for carrying power and not specifically a longer front leg or
more expressive movement. But, I would point out, as politely as
possible, that one of the first charges of the stallion selection
committee is to consider model first–and, if a longer front leg in a
dressage horse is now considered part of the correct model, then my
point is made.
So, now let me share another safeguard that I’ve discovered within the
KWPN system: The moment that the KWPN believes that it has taken the
wrong path, it is merciless in correcting its mistakes. As a breeder
relying on guidance from his registry to breed the best horses possible,
it just sucks to be on the wrong path screaming, “Mercy”.
Enough of Scot’s mental rampage….what does all this mean to Shooting
Star Farm? Well, I don’t know really. How’s that for an answer? I
know that I’m really excited about the possibilities that the Register A
option offers. As a matter of fact, we have three Register A foals and
only one foalbook foal coming this year. I also know that I’ve become
increasingly concerned about rideability in the KWPN population. I
don’t want to be breeding horses that only 2% of the riding population
can handle. Another thing that I know is that certain KWPN mares have
better use of the hind leg than any other equines in the world. Martin
van Norel acted as translator for his father and told me, “It is much
easier to keep the quality of the hind leg in your breeding program than
it is to get it back once you’ve lost it.” It’s an important concept to
me. I worry about that with German bred horses–but, when I see the
rideability of horses like Rodioso, Rubels, and many other
representatives of the “R” line, I have trouble worrying too much about
their use of the hind leg. Hmmm…
coming this year:
Rafurtinels x Pion x Michelangelo (out of Pioendaula)
Rodioso x Hierarch x Michelangelo (out of Oladaula)
Freestyle x Jazz x Roemer (out of Orchis)
Iroko x Sambucco x Purioso (out of Melody–Melody is sold, but the foal
thoughts for 2003:
Judgement x Elcaro x Belisar (LaVita)
Hierarch x Pion x Michelangelo (Pioendaula)
Contango x Jazz x Roemer (Orchis)
Diamond HIt x Hierarch x Michelangelo (Oladaula)
Contango x Vincent x Elcaro (Thea Vita SSF)
Krack C x Freestyle x Nimmerdor (Tilena)
Hierarch x Volkmar x Rechter (Kirona)
Depending on finances, I could chose to breed everyone to Iroko. If I
got a great deal on Krack C, I’d try more mares on him. If some Ferro
semen fell into my tank, I’d use it. We’re working on another stallion
for SSF. If that falls into place, then a few of the mares would be
bred to this very popular German stallion. I will tell you that we’re
breeding all open mares early, early, early this year. I’m starting in