Wednesday, March 12, 2008

KWPN/NA Annual Meeting

We are back from the KWPN/NA annual meeting in Wellington Florida. Not only was this a brief escape from the winter it was a great opportunity to learn more about breeding KWPN horses. The meeting consisted of only a brief business meetings a few short seminars and then the balance of the time with some of the great trainers and riders who winter in Wellington.

We had the privilege of spending a morning with John and Beezie Madden. We watched Beezie ride in the Olympic Qualifier and then had John give us comments on a five year old jumping class. We spent the afternoon with hunter great Goeff Teall showing us what he looks for in a hunter. That night we went to a Nations Cup which included Eric Lemaze on Hickstead doing a double clear !

The next day we were the guests of Scott Hassler who gave a clinic using eight different young dressage horses. It is easy to see why he is considered among the best for developing young horses. This was followed by a visit to Tuney Pages’ barn. The facility is breath taking, new and everything for the comfort of horse and rider. We say Ling there also where he in winter training.

From this weekend we are thinking back to the “Lessons Learned”. Some of these lessons are :

1. Trainers are looking for a five to six year old horse to develop. Jumper trainers don’t want these to be highly schooled but must be to fit enough for to be evaluated. They need to be well presented with trimmed feet and conditioned.

2. Young horses should get their show experience in smaller shows where there is less pressure to perform and mistakes are not as important.

3. It is very important the develop each young horse according to its rate of development. Too advanced work can cause serious problems later. A good horse should not be overlooked.

4. Hunter trainers want a horse that is “pretty”, has a flat trot and is very smooth over jumps. If it has a natural lead change with this they will pay well for the right horse.

5. Trainers do not care a lot about breeding lines but the individual horse is most important. This is a bit of a surprise to us breeders who will sit up all night discussing who is the best Jazz son, why Johnson can throw belly spots and what stallion will make an definite Olympic winner when crossed with our favorite mare.

6. Trainers want a sport horse with some “blood” which means there should be some thoroughbred breeding in the pedigree. Trainers like the size and power of the warmblood but want the “go” which comes from the thoroughbred breed. The problem is that less that half thoroughbred is desirable meaning that the first generation cross only serves to give the desirable one quarter “blood”. Also, most of the North American TB breeding is bred for sprinters. This means they are small and have a low neck set. There are Thoroughbred stallions which are available , like Coconut Grove which have the TB genetics but are a good size and have proven jumping ability.

7. The horse industry is huge and the amount of money spent at the top end is impressive.