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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down The newest issue has me scratching my head....

    The newest issue of Eventing USA from the USEA.

    I really don't like to complain. I appreciate the entire process of magazine production and development (I'm a former equestrian media managing editor, after all). I know they have a limited budget, time, staff. Given the constraints the quality is amazing. My problem is with the content, not the magazine.

    I am really scratching my head over the issue just out -- the "breeding" issue. There are some opinions from some authors I find just flat out offensive, there's no other way to characterize it. You wonder what planet these people live on, how many real live USEA recognized events they actually attend and watch - all day -- all phases. What horses are they looking at? I'm watching THOROUGHBREDS all day, every day, every freakin' event I go to. What American event are YOU at? Sheeshh!!! I don't give a RATS ASS (there, I said it) about what Europeans are breeding or selling. As far as I am concerned they are in business to sell horses and they do a darn good job of making a lot of gullible folks swallow the Koolaid.

    The editorial content just left me with real questions after reading through this issue. After all, this is AMERICA we are talking about, American horses and riders who event. Why can't American things be emphasized? Can we just stop the European adulation, and make 2013 the year we usher in a new coach, a new team paradigm, and a NEW and renewed focus on AMERICAN eventing competition and issues?

    There just seem to ME, to be an odd emphasis on strange stuff that doesn't really relate to regional American eventing competitions and issues.

    Fair Hill International has had LESS space, less photos, and less emphasis (our own American 3 star fall major three day event) than a ho-hum training epistle on a very old gymnastic jumping exercise I've used since at least the early 80's. It barely got two pages in the fall issue. I was so disappointed in that. I would like to read a LOT more about Millbrook, Richland, Galway, etc. and other influential and important events in the UNITED STATES. Rebecca Farm and Red Hills (and of course Rolex) seem to be covered sufficiently but they seem to come at less busy times of the year. Perhaps some use of an outside editor or overseer can take place, or some other method can be employed to insure some oversight on editorial focus.

    As I say I truly do not want to criticize but I am just mystified by the latest issue. Perhaps I am way off base, and European models and emphasis is the new way, truth, and light. If so, then they are right and I am wrong. But it just feels wrong to read in the USEA's official publication that all American thoroughbreds are no good because they are treated with steroids on the track and ruined. BAH.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
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  2. #2
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    I liked this issue and thought it did a nice job balancing both the international coverage and a more basic gymnastic exercise that might appeal to many members. Generally, I think Eventing does a really nice job of having diverse coverage - some months are all about big deal events; some are about smaller ones and/or have coverage aimed at less experienced eventers, and they tend to mix it up pretty well. Particularly compared to some of the other "sport" magazines, I'd say Eventing is head and shoulders above things like the USEF magazine and even better than things like Practical Horseman often is.

    Also, I know they are really willing to take submissions, so if you're interested in writing something, put it together and submit it. Take pictures of a local event - or a big deal event - and send them in. I bet the staff would love it!



  3. #3
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    I'm just a lowly lower-level competitor and I don't do any breeding, so I'm probably not qualified to have an opinion, but I don't understand why modeling our breeding program after the Europeans' is seen as the only way to go.

    Certainly, the Europeans have been very successful, and I don't mean to take anything away from that, but American thoroughbreds have proven time and time again that they can compete - and win - against the very best. Why should anything other than the American thoroughbred be the foundation for our breeding program?


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  4. #4
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    Disclaimer- my copy is still lying next to the front foor where it fell after coming through the mail slot yesterday so I am just responding to the OP's characterization and not the actual mag

    It sounds like the magazine is occupying the same universe I am. I see a lot of TBs at horse trials, but I also see a lot of WB's, many of which look very TB-like but are not full TBs. Whether I personally am a fan of the TB or not (I own 2 BTW), the reality that I see is that in a sport that was once all-TB, all the time, WB's with a heavy TB dose are making significant inroads and for the UL's they seem to be continually increasing their presence.
    More than one BNT and BNR is out there saying that WBs with 50% or more TB blood are the way to go. Whether you or I agree with that, it is certainly a concept that is out there, common and being promoted. So I don't think it is fair to fault USEA for covering the topic.
    As for where to get those WBs, you may not like the love affair with European horses and breeders and we can debate whether it is justified or not, but it is not a figment of the USEA's imagination- it is a real topic and it must be of interest to at least some eventers since they are out there looking for and buying that European breeding. I don't see the magazine's job as promoting where it or you or I think the sport should go (although it does that sometimes), but rather mainly covering topics of interest to the readership.
    As for coverage of events- I love the pics of events, but almost never read the written recitations of the results- if the event interested me, I followed it online or in person at the time it occurred and if it did not interest me then, it won't interest me a month or more later when it hits the magazine. USEA is trying to provide content for a wide range of tastes and preferences and so just because I want to see more or less of something does not mean the general readership does.
    While there are always articles where I look at it and move on without even thinking about reading it, that is a given for this type of magazine and I think USEA generally does a really job of balancing all the interests involved.
    There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


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  5. #5
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    I don't have my magazine yet (I'm still at work) so take this as you will, but I, too, see a hefty number of Warmbloods and non-traditional breeds at the events I attend, and I event in Area II. Was this article targeted towards those who are breeding towards the top level of our sport? Even so, as someone else mentioned, the vast majority of those horses were "purpose-bred" and not racetrack finds. Again, I'm generalizing here, but we are seeing fewer and fewer stories of the $600 OTTB find that went on to win Rolex. Eventing is becoming more and more of a dressage game with jumping thrown in. I think we are at the limits of how difficult we can make the show jumping and xc parts of our sport without killing horses and riders, so we have to breed for dressage.

    Back when I started this sport in the early 90's, I could be in the primary colors after a wretched dressage test, because my OTTB could run and jump clean. That doesn't happen anymore, even at the top levels of our sport (that trickle-down effect), because even though we've increased the difficulty, even at Novice and BN (trakehners and half-coffins at Novice, anyone?), we are still seeing more and more horses jump around clean. If you want to win, you buy a horse with the aptitude for dressage and then work with the jumping phases.

    Again, I haven't seen the article in question, but I do agree that the magazine seems to be addressing everybody's concerns (not just the top 10% or the much larger lower level ammys, but everybody, including breeders). We may not like it, but that's the world we live in now.
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."



  6. #6
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    International eventing seems to be turning into the German vision of the sport and the German horse marketing machine. The FEI rules seem to be doing everything in the FEI power to change to a dressage oriented sport. As I understand the current FEI vision, instead of a sport that makes xc the central focus, eventing is now one where all three phases are supposed to have equal weight, but the dressage coefficient tilts the emphasis to dressage. Show jumping rideability, as practiced by show jumpers, is also a more important facet.

    TBs can do all this, as WFP has made abundantly clear with his string of OTTBs; but there aren't many people out there searching for UL TB types. So what you have is horses for the competitions and competitions for the German style horse. It's a big, self fulfilling prophecy. It's very hard for any horse, no matter how bred, to be equally good at all three phases if XC is a decent length. FEI answer is to shorten XC.

    Kind of makes you wonder if the FEI had any idea of what they were doing to change the type of horse competing when they went to "formerly short format."
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  7. #7
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    I'm fine with more space given to a gymnastic exercise than FHI. Like someone else said, I look at the pictures but don't care much about the results, etc this far out. Eventingnation does a lot of coverage on the big events, so I go there or the event website when I really care about it. I'd rather the magazine give me more training/conditioning/grooming/horsemanship advice than hear which ULR won the dressage at XYZ competition. But I'm just an ammy. Don't care much about event results, personally, other than 4* and the championships.


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  8. #8
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    I assume the article that bugged you the most was the one by Emmet Turner? I don't know enough about the TB racing world and the breeding trends there to either defend the author's contentions or not, but I did not think his overall point was that we should go buy European horses. He was advocating a more systematic approach to breeding purpose-bred horses in the US, using some of the successful practices of European registries.
    While no one would dispute that there are wonderful OTTBs out there, it is simply not true that they still make up the vast majority of either ammy horses or our international horses.
    It sounded reasonable to me that the current breeding system for race horses is not optimized to produce event horses -- it clearly does, but almost by accident, and by the skill and effort of people who rehome and retrain the most promising ones.
    I didn't read the article as a slam on the TB per se but simply laying out one person's pathway towards a systematic breeding program focused on eventers.
    The big man -- no longer an only child

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  9. #9
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    I'm breeding horses now...and spend a lot of time thinking on my pairings. Looking at what is out competiting. etc. If I see something I really like...I look up their breeding (or talk to their owner about it).

    I'm breeding for re-sale but at the same time want to make sure what I breed is what I would want to ride. Yup...I'm crossing with WBs. Either WB/TB mares back to WB stallions with a lot of blood...or a TB mare with a WB stallion. Not all WBs are created equal so I'm looking at very specific sires, their offspring and what matches my mare. I have very good mares.

    For my OWN riding horses....I have three OTTBs. And will always have a few OTTBs in my barn. They are what *I* like to ride. But when breeding for the top of the sport today....I'm not breeding a 100% TB but I'm certainly breeding for some strong TB traits.

    Most of the TBs that I really REALLY love....I could never afford to breed to for a sport baby as they are producing too well for racing....closest I will get is a daughter that slips through the cracks and comes available to us lowly sport people (who can not pay what the racing world pays).
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Perhaps I am way off base, and European models and emphasis is the new way, truth, and light. If so, then they are right and I am wrong.
    I think it is just plain stupid to look at the way the Europeans do things and think that the way we are going to be competitive at the top is to emulate their model. If for no other reason than the expansiveness of our geography.

    As an example, we've now decided that a good horse needs to be at ready for Advanced (actually CCI** so championship level Intermediate) at 6 or 7 because the Europeans have Le Lion and so should we. A point Mark Phillips has hammered on more than once, I might add. In England you can start a young horse and prepare it up to Advance without ever hauling more the a few hours from home. You can do it even minimizing the number of times a horse has to spent the night away from home. Travel and stabling all add a significant amount of stress--especially for a young horse--as well as time and expense and yet we ignore that and still expect the same rate of advancement.

    And while our expansive geography is a weakness we also are ignoring one of our most unique and greatest strengths: our abundant supply of capable and athletic TBs. But we don't like OTTB because the are harder to ride and harder to train than a WB. God forbid we have to work harder and be better riders. For the last few years our top riders HAVE been mounted on European (or European styled) bred horses. We are getting beat not because of horse flesh, but bluntly because William Fox-Pitt, Michael Jung, Mary King are simply better riders.

    I'm not so uniformed as to think that the selection of OTTBs that can make it to the upper levels hasn't narrowed, but I still think there are plenty our there. The limiting factor is just as likely to be training. But instead of having an attitude that would encourage riders to dig deeper, train smarter and make these horses successful--something that would make better riders out of us and more importantly increase our base of capable riders--as a sport we send the message that you really shouldn't bother with that route. Whether it's this example in the USEA magazine or whether its a YEH program that's been specifically designed to ignore TBs in both their written standards and its limits concerning age.

    As long as we try to be something we are not, we aren't going to be competitive. We aren't Europe. Our strengths and weakness are different and if we refuse to take that into account by compensating for weaknesses and playing up our strengths we might as well just bang our head into a wall.


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  11. #11
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    Here's the conundrum. When you breed for sport, someone has to pay to support the horse for years before you know if you have anything with UL potential. Then probably 95% of those are not going to be talented enough. At least with OTTBs, the costs are reduced.

    Good post, subk.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by vineyridge View Post
    Here's the conundrum. When you breed for sport, someone has to pay to support the horse for years before you know if you have anything with UL potential. Then probably 95% of those are not going to be talented enough. At least with OTTBs, the costs are reduced.

    Good post, subk.

    Actually not really. If my crosses are not looking like an event horse, they are extremely marketable as dressage or hunters or jumpers. In fact...the HARDER issue is getting the youngsters in the hands of eventers. I had a non-eventer offer me 12K for my one 2012 colt who is breed to be an eventer.....(instead of being smart and selling him, I'm bending over backwards to make it work that he ends up in the hands of an eventer--but I can not always do that). Others of my weanlings are selling for 8-10 when they are still at their dams side. Even if they don't sell young, I can still command a much higher price quicker than I've ever been able to when re-selling an OTTB...and have more buyers interested in them because they are purpose bred for movement and jump.

    I can't get that kind of price on OTTB until I've put a lot of work into them...and even then, they may not want to be an event horse either. The economics of it are that it is easier to sell the WB/Cross for decent money in multiple markets. OTTBs are GREAT. I love mine and will always buy some. But if I'm breeding....I'm going to hedge my bets and breed what I can sell in more than one market (while staying true to breeding the best horse I can and one that I hope with have what it takes to be a top eventer). And with the H/J and dressage markets...that is going to be a WB/cross.


    ETA: In otherwords, it is NOT the eventing market driving this alone...but other markets as well. The markets that you sell your cast offs who are not going to cut it as event horses. Those markets will let you sell an OTTB but it is easier to sell something with a brand on his/her but.....whether or not we agree that should matter (personally I think it shouldn't matter if there is a brand).
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jan. 9, 2013 at 05:15 PM.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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  13. #13
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    I need to get my membership paid for this year so I can see/read these articles. I'd love to see the gymnastic piece!

    That being said, my first few horses were all OTTB's. Love them. A few years ago I decided I wanted to breed my OTTB mare to a warmblood for my first foal and future eventer. He's turning 5 this year and I'm hoping for the first time ever to be able to event myself. He competed in 2012 in the YEH competitions and is registered Oldenburg, but in reality pedigree wise, he is 68% TB. He has the most agreeable personality (even the judges noted on his dressage sheet about this) and he lives in pasture where he runs all day long up and down the rolling hills. That boy loves to run. His dam is a stakes bred mare by two stakes winning parents on the turf.

    I did see and like that for the 5 year old YEH this year, there is a HUGE incentive for US bred horses. Big thumbs up on that one! http://useventing.com/news/usea-anno...g-event-horses
    Winners who are North American bred will be awarded with $17,500 to travel to Le Lion d’Angers while if the winner is an imported horse he will be awarded $8,000.

    This is also an interesting article about our upcoming stars. Many TBs in the list. It is interesting to see where they are now.
    http://useventing.com/news/young-eve...e-are-they-now
    Cloverfox Stables



  14. #14
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    eventer_mi: This is off-topic, but I just had to say I LOVE your tagline. It was the name of our team at the ATCs in Area VI several years ago. And we wore habits on XC. And a spectator thought we were really nuns (that was the most amazing part). And we won. (OK, maybe that was even more amazing.)


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by asterix View Post
    I assume the article that bugged you the most was the one by Emmet Turner? I don't know enough about the TB racing world and the breeding trends there to either defend the author's contentions or not, but I did not think his overall point was that we should go buy European horses. He was advocating a more systematic approach to breeding purpose-bred horses in the US, using some of the successful practices of European registries.
    "Successful" in terms of what? Sales to Americans?

    Quote Originally Posted by asterix View Post
    While no one would dispute that there are wonderful OTTBs out there, it is simply not true that they still make up the vast majority of either ammy horses or our international horses.
    Let's see some real statistics on that, not someone's anecdotal opinion. I am not worried about a vast majority. I am simply annoyed with the fact that American horses of not only the Thoroughbred breeding, or any breeding, are not considered.

    Quote Originally Posted by asterix View Post
    I didn't read the article as a slam on the TB per se but simply laying out one person's pathway towards a systematic breeding program focused on eventers.
    You didn't see it as a slam when the author says that all racing Thoroughbreds are on steroids and medications and they are weakening the breed, based on (NOT FACTS) but a quote from a deadbeat gambler who has had a bully pulpit at the Washington Post for over 30 years? Give me a break. That's just flat NONSENSE. I know that the most exotic and undetectible racing medicatons all come from freakin' Europe. We can't possibly keep up over here with what they do to horses there. This is just bullshit. Racing tests horses more often and for more medication in America than anywhere in the world except perhaps Australia and we have 20 times the horses racing than they do. This is just wrong. No facts, no quotes of any use, and no research at all. A harmful and misguided opinion writen up as some sort of editorial authority in our nation's official eventing magazine. All the crap about the Triple Crown -- racing young horses -- there's evidence that young horses are actually sounder and last longer if raced young -- does anyone read anything (research) anymore? I consider that entire article a huge slam on Thoroughbreds. It got me hot, I can tell you.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
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  16. #16
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    Subk- I thumbs upped your post, wish I could have done it more than once!!!


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  17. #17
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    retread, as I said, I don't know enough about the racing scene OR the TB breeding world to comment on the veracity of what the author wrote...just saying that to a layperson, if you will, it didn't come across as a snotty article suggesting we all go to Germany to buy horses.

    It does seem to me, competing for a number of years at lower levels (mostly T, a little P and some N, depending on circumstance) in Area II, that it is quite hard to be competitive on a horse that cannot finish on a low 30s-or-better dressage score. If you have money, it is easier to buy that horse as a purpose-bred horse (from wherever, and of whatever breeding) than it is to pick and retrain one off the track.
    Much lamenting on this board and elsewhere about this reality, because we all see it at every event we go to.
    Similarly, our international horses are trending more towards the purpose-bred.

    If you accept that those things are true, even if you hate them, and then read the article in that context, it did not seem insulting or mean-spirited.

    But I don't have skin in the game -- I don't have ANY of the skills needed to find and retrain an OTTB -- and you clearly do. I am not going to argue with you on the merits. Sorry I commented.
    The big man -- no longer an only child

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  18. #18
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    As the endurance component has left, the TB's are going to be "outmoved" and "outjumped" by the bred for sport WB's. I cant say it is good or bad, but it is the end result.
    The next generation of event horses will be better movers and jumpers - maybe not endurance horses - but you dont need that anymore. I love my Tb and TB crosses but i would never specifically breed a TB for an event prospect. It wont sell , period.
    I do see a lot of TB's at the lower levels - they are cheap and fun to ride. I even have two mares I bought this year for broodmare prospects. But you will see fewer ULR with money buying TB's - b/c they know that the trend is for the part TB, purpose bred for the sport.


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  19. #19
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    I don't want anyone to read my post above and conclude that I think we should abandon purpose bred horses. We shouldn't, but we're going to have to come at this with a multi-prong approach and bfne's example of the difficulties keeping a horse in the eventing market is a great one and it makes my point as well:

    Quote Originally Posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
    If my crosses are not looking like an event horse, they are extremely marketable as dressage or hunters or jumpers. In fact...the HARDER issue is getting the youngsters in the hands of eventers...

    ...ETA: In otherwords, it is NOT the eventing market driving this alone...but other markets as well.
    Once again here we have distinct market pressures that make getting even a purpose bred horse into the right hands. Those market pressures? By its very size is driven by the Hunter market that doesn't even EXIST in Europe! Yet we're stuck on a European model.

    Quote Originally Posted by asterix View Post
    It does seem to me, competing for a number of years at lower levels (mostly T, a little P and some N, depending on circumstance) in Area II, that it is quite hard to be competitive on a horse that cannot finish on a low 30s-or-better dressage score. If you have money, it is easier to buy that horse as a purpose-bred horse (from wherever, and of whatever breeding) than it is to pick and retrain one off the track.
    Yes, this is absolutely true. And while it has always been true to some extent the difference in what makes a successful lower level horse is getting farther and farther from what makes a successful upper level horse. And it is more and more unlikely that the most successful lower lever horses are going to ever be upper level ones. But we're are still looking at lower level success, and success early in a horse's career as an indicator of future potential. That's crazy.

    The problem is if you take a TB off the track it takes years of correct training to undo the years of race training that developed the wrong muscles and replace them with the correct muscling to create the desired movement. But we know it can be done. Look at Courageous Comet, Neville Bardos even and a personal favorite Dobbin, they didn't move well enough for top 10 4 star placing after dressage a year or two off the track. Compared to their WB contemporaries they moved like crap back then. Today we have fewer and fewer horseman that can spot that hidden potential and fewer and fewer riders that can train them to their potential.

    We want easy to train instead, and we wanted soon. I'd love to see a study that compared the length of UL careers for U.S. horses that get to Advance at 7 compared to the length of career for those that get there at 9. I strongly suspect you pay for the early development on the back end! And if that's true why in the world are we pushing them?

    bfne has explained one reason why even with the more recent increases in event bred horses we're not seeing US bred horses representing the US. The uniqueness of our markets compared to Europe isn't going to change and I don't think without figuring out how to tap into the one resource we have in abundance we're ever going to come up with more horses to choose from when it comes to international events.


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  20. #20
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    Are we reading the same magazine? I just read the article by/with Bruce about his home bred program (mostly TB with ID, not much WB) followed by the article from Hawley Bennett-Awad about her love of the TB, the fact that Biosteque Sam is mostly TB, AND Denny's usual rant (he doesn't seem to post here any more so I call it that) about the loss of the long format and how yesterday's wonderhorses wouldn't cut it today and we need a total superstar no matter how it comes about - and then the one article about the European breeding program.
    (and a gymnastic line -that was also interesting even if I might have seen it befre - and btw Steuart is a huge OTTB proponent)

    I think we were given several points of view about breeding.


    The US team has a problem winning medals lately but I don't think our breeding program, or lack thereof, is more than a part of the story.



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