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[RC] Proving Stallions (or mares for that matter) - k s swigart

Susan Garlinghouse said:

I personally would not consider breeding to any
stallion that had not thoroughly proven himself in
upper echelon performance---endurance, jumping,
eventing, third-level or better dressage at the national
level, etc.

Speaking from a TB racing standpoint (which is a great place to be able
to understand the aspect of "proving performance" in horses and linking
performance to pedigree)....

While successful performance of the individual stallion himself at
whatever the discipline in question can be a good predictor of success
at producing successful performers (in fact it is probably one of the
best predictors), a stallion is not "proven" as a breeding stallion
until it has foals that are successfully performing.

And after a stallion has foals that are performing (or not performing as
the case may be), his own performance record becomes totally irrelevant
with respect to his value as a breeding stallion.

Spectacular Bid had one of the most impressive racing records in the
history of American TB racing (and I think he still holds the world
record for the mile and a quarter on the dirt); however, he was totally
unimpressive as a sire.  Although his stud fee when he first retired was
probably quite high (although here I am guessing), after he had foals of
racing age (and probably after having been bred to some of the best
mares available since horses with good racing records usually get the
best mares when they are first bred) his stud fee dropped with the
non-performance of his foals.  By the time he was 10 years old and still
not producing anything that could win, his stud fee was a paltry (in TB
terms) $2,500 and he probably didn't get bred to many mares at that
price (and almost certainly not any good mares).

On the other hand, Sadler's Wells (a Northern Dancer son) had a rather
unimpressive career on the track himself.  However, after a few years of
producing foals (from not necessarily the top quality mares because of
this unimpressive career), he made it to the top of the General Sire
List in the UK (most earnings of his foals of racing age) and his stud
fee (and access to the best mares) went up.

The fact of the matter is, the way to "prove" a breeding stallion is to
breed him and test the ability of his foals.  If a stallion has foals on
the ground, look at the foals and what they are doing, because when a
stallion has foals on the ground, what HE is doing pales into

In the TB world, since they test them when they are two and three years
old, it is possible to test the stallion in the performance in question
(i.e. racing) to see which ones you probably want to breed, and then to
test the foals to see if you made the right choices, and then use
stallion for breeding lots of foals for the rest of his life (another
15-20 years).

In disciplines where successful performance cannot be properly evaluated
until the horse is 6-10 years old (like most of the "national level"
competitions Susan mentions), this becomes much more difficult.  If you
wait until the horse proves himself at the national level (probably not
before the horse is 9) to breed him to get his first foals and raise
them up to peformance age to test the foals you won't know whether the
stallion is capable of producing high level competitors (which you
probably won't know until the foals are 9) until the stallion is 19
years old.

And if you are in a discipline where stallions don't perform
particularly well simply because they are stallions (jumping comes
immediately to mind, but endurance and eventing probably also come under
this category), then testing them at this type of performance may NOT be
a very good predictor of the stallion's ability to produce capable
offspring (if they aren't stallions).

This makes it so you have to use some other form of performance (other
than actual competition) to be a "test" for your breeding stock's
ability to produce capable offspring.  If you perform this test on young
breeding stock and use the ones that peform this proxy test successfully
as breeding stock, and THEN test the foals' peformance at the actual
discipline to confirm that you were right to use them, you can continue
using them.

And I can agree that if your goal is to breed as many foals from the
proven stallion as possible so he can improve the breed, then the horse
IS "too valuable" to risk on the performance field itself, if the
performance field is a riskier place than at home in the breeding shed
(e.g.  You wouldn't want to use your best producer of war horses as a
cavalry mount, even if it IS an exceptionally good war horse).

However, by the time a horse is old enough to have foals of performance
age (i.e. he is also old enough to be a successful performer as well),
then he is only worth using as breeding stock if he IS successfully
performing or if his foals are successfully performing (or he is
untested for reasons unrelated to ability and even then you are taking a
bigger risk).

Orange County, Calif.

p.s.  All of this is true of mares as well, just on a much smaller

"Le meilleur que je sais les hommes le plus que j'aime mon
cheval."--Catherine the Great


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