March 28, 2006
BLUE RIBBON'S IMPORTANCE TO A BREEDER?
|There are two different kinds of blue ribbons in the Fjord world, those received from the judge in the show ring and those granted by officials in a Fjord Evaluation.
The first is given when your horse places number one in a show ring and the second when your horse scores 80 points or more in an Evaluation. Although a Fjord owner is happy to receive the show ring blues, he or she is ecstatic to bring home the Evaluation blues.
In a horse show a blue ribbon indicates your horse was judged as best horse in the discipline under appraisal in relation to the other horses in that same ring at the same time. For example, in a line class of six Fjord stallions, your stallion receives the blue if he is judged best of six. Even a poor quality stallion can come home with a blue if he’s the only one in his class.
However, at an Evaluation, every Fjord presented is judged against the breed standard, the ideal of the breed. There, your stallion receives a numerical mark, scored against the "ultimate" Fjord stallion.
After the Evaluation, you will take home many score sheets, a set from each of the two judges, laying out exactly where your stallion excels and where he falls down. These are significant documents, important not only to the owner of the horse evaluated, but to mare owners choosing a stallion to breed to as well. A mare owner can use this powerful tool to determine how best to play to the mare’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a wise mare owner who asks to examine the score sheets of a prospective stallion. In Europe, this would be unneeded advice. There, scores sheets are examined as a matter of course.
|Here’s how the Evaluation process works and why I feel it’s so important.
The most noteworthy score sheet, in my opinion, is Conformation and Movement. If you don’t have the form, you won’t get the function. In other words, if your horse is not well put together, he won’t do any of his jobs, driving, riding or draft, as well as he could.
Conformation and Movement is comprised of nine categories for a total of 100 points: head, 10 points; neck, 10 points; body, 10 points; forelegs, 10 points; hind legs, 10 points; movement at the walk, 10 points; movement at the trot, 10 points; overall impression, 10 points; and type, 20 points.
Taking their time, the judges examine your horse and make a determined consideration of certain detailed items listed under each of these nine categories. For example, under "head", the judges have eight items they must take into account in awarding a score. These are length (proportional), eyes (large, expressive), ears (small, truncated), forehead (wide, slightly dished), throatlatch (clean), jaws (strong, wide), nostrils (large), and bite. On the Conformation and Movement score sheet alone, there are, in total, 49 specific areas of the horse which the judge examines.
In all of these categories you must average 8 out of 10 to get a blue ribbon. It takes a good horse to get an 80.
As I stated, most horses with high scores on the Conformation and Movement test, especially on the Movement section, also do well in Riding, Driving, and Draft, the three performance tests.
|The Performance Tests score sheets tell a mare owner an awful lot about a perspective stallion. This can be seen in the Introductory Driving Test. The categories are behaviour; movement at walk and free walk on long rein; movement at the trot; quality of transitions; halt/ stand/ rein back; submission; impulsion; and body position. As in the Conformation and Movement score sheet, there are many items that the judges examine under these headings.
So what does an Evaluation blue ribbon mean to the breed?
An Evaluation blue ribbon in Conformation tells us this horse has been approved as an excellent specimen of the Fjord breed. A blue in Performance tells us the horse has something between his ears, has the ability to move well, and is willing to learn from and work for his or her handler. All these things are important to know and that’s why blue ribbons in Evaluations are so important!
Postscript: Out of interest, here’s what they do in Europe.
In many European countries, testing for stallions is rigid. In Norway, 200 stud colts may be born in one year but by the time they get to three years old, only 10 to 12 are licensed as breeding stallions. At five years old these 10 or 12 stallions are tested, after a six week training program, for conformation, free jumping, draft work and riding. At the end of this testing, only five or six will keep their breeding licences. This is because a stallion can produce a thousand babies in his lifetime where a mare is limited to one a year.
Should we in North America consider following the Europeans’ lead?