The time is flying and we find ourselves four weeks out from the conclusion of the 2015 70-Day Stallion Testing. The stallions’ fitness levels are improving and now we are training outside regularly on the cross-country and over the stadium-jumping course in addition to the flatwork. It has been fun to watch the stallions progress and every year the group of stallions present their own challenges and rewards. There are many aspects to hosting the North American Stallion Testings, not only with the day-to-day training but also education, public relations, media coverage, and coordination of breed registry involvement and acceptance. This year was a pivotal turning point for stallion performance testing for many reasons.
There is no doubt about it…the scene of this industry is rapidly changing and we must change with it or be left behind. North America has a unique situation with its own set of complexities that challenge the sport horse community. Of course geographical distance is the obvious challenge we face here, but it certainly is not the biggest. The most daunting challenge is the fragmented system – the disconnect between breed registries and sports federations, between various breed registries, and lack of a unified governing body setting the standards for the country as is done in other countries. The success of the North American Stallion Tests at Silver Creek has been largely due to the opportunities it provided stallion owners with the possibility to obtain lifetime breeding licenses with multiple registries in the US and Canada through one avenue. This is accomplished through our cultivation of extensive acceptance of the stallion testing and also the universal stallion Keuring (licensing) that also is hosted at Silver Creek following the conclusion of the stallion tests. In fact, the North American Stallion Testing is the only location in the world where multiple registries stand together in the same arena to license sport horse stallions. However, that is all about to change.
The stallion testings, that are hosted here at Silver Creek, have always been run in a format that is accepted by the breed registries with reciprocity to Germany. It is already public knowledge that the format for the stallion tests in Germany has changed now. There actually have been a several changes made in the last four years – removal of the bell curve, addition of the breeding index, removal of the breeding index, reduction in number of days, removal of the cross-country element, separation between tests for jumping and dressage stallions, and now there is talk of a short 20 day test that will be required of stallions when they are three years old before they are allowed into the breeding program. However, we were advised by Dr. Klaus Miesner (FN) and the various breeding directors of the German breed registries to continue in the same format (70/30 Day) while revisions were being made to ensure a system could be found that would work internationally. This year, stallion licensing and performance testing has come to a crossroads on many levels:
- There is no common consensus in Germany as to the acceptable format of stallion testing and thus, the breed registries with reciprocity to Germany can no longer agree on acceptable format for stallion testing. The GOV is wanting to branch out from the other German based registries to run their own stallion testing here in America, whereas the other German based registries (AHS and RPSI) are willing to continue on with the current format until a system is found that integrates well internationally for all daughter/reciprocal registries. Challenges associated with the new GOV concept are:
- Requiring 3 year old stallions to ship across country for a 20 Day Test before they are allowed into breeding
- Possible multiple locations (ex. – one on west coast and one on east coast) and having enough entries to support the testing locations
- Separation of jumping/dressage stallions and breeders not having complete data from both disciplines on the stallions
- With the newly introduced separate GOV testing, there would be a total of 5 separate stallion testing formats in North America thus making it more complicated for stallion owners to receive multiple licenses
- 70/30 Day NA Stallion Tests (Accepted by AHS, RPSI, ISR/OLDNA, sBs, Westphalian, AHHA, CWHBA, CSHA)
- ISR/OLDNA – 10 Day Test (Accepted by ISR/OLDNA)
- KWPN – 21 Day Test (Accepted by KWPN)
- GOV – 50/20 Day Test (Accepted by GOV)
- CWHBA Short Test – (Accepted by CWHBA)
- Stallion owners, especially at the forefront of the industry are more interested in pursuing licensing through sport even if it means that the stallion will lose his license with various breed registries and not be available to those breeders until if/when the stallion completes his performance requirements at Grand Prix (jumping or dressage). This is dramatically reducing support for the stallion performance testings and making it unsustainable. (Disclaimer: As the official stallion testing facility for multiple breed registries, we highly encourage stallions to participate in sport and continue their career in sport after completion of the stallion test. The Stallion Testing is not designed to be an end all means for lifetime licensing. The data obtained about a stallion during the testing should be combined with his results in sport to give a well-round opinion of the stallion when making breeding choices.)
- There has been a big movement to improve/create new young horse competition platforms that have international reciprocity. There are now multiple WBFSH recognized registries operating within North America that are willing to license young stallions that meet age appropriate levels of competition requirements without stallion performance testing.
Therefore, we have reached a pivotal time in North American stallion performance testing for licensing when these new factors are combined with the existing responsibilities:
- Management and training of stallions that are all different ages, breeds, fitness and training levels
- Regular communication with stallion owners and constant availability
- Management of breed registry relations and staying current with every organization’s licensing requirements
- Public education regarding stallion performance testing and licensing
- Media relations
- Recruitment of stallions to fill entry quota
- Finding qualified trainer/riders that can and are willing to school young and often green stallions over jumps and proper flatwork
- Hiring judges and judge riders whose scores will be acknowledged internationally
Thus, the concept of hosting a stallion performance test is not a simple one. It is easy to say that it is possible, but in order to retain the value for stallion owners and breed registries alike, it is a delicate and difficult balance. Any individual arbitrarily promising the ability to “organize and run a new stallion test” is not fully informed as to the relationship between the registries, stallion owners’ opinions, proposed competition formats, and changing industry trends. The promises of these individuals should be regarded with caution and their promises considered unfounded. With the changes being made in the industry, both nationally and abroad, it is inevitable that big developments are imminent. It was my pleasure to attend the WBFSH meeting this year in Vienna and discuss many of these elements with representatives of the various countries. These developments will be discussed with the various breed registries that will be in attendance during the conclusion of this year’s testing. Above all, it is my unwavering belief that now is the time for North America to no longer be behind the curve and to come to the forefront on the international stage and I look forward to continuing to work toward that objective. North America may be complex, but it is also full of possibilities and potential. Yes, the industry is changing…and now it is time to adapt with it and be progressive. We will find the way!