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  1. #1
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    Default Breeding the mind for the upper levels...

    I'd love to hear from other breeders and riders.

    Correct physical attributes aside, what type of brain is best suited for the upper levels? Does it even matter? Are hot, hyper-sensitive horses better suited for FEI than calmer horses? Are calmer, more "willing-to-submit" horses necessarily less forward? Are horses that don't tear around the field at liberty necessarily horses that are not sensitive to the aids?

    Personally, I wouldn't equate excessive forwardness and sensitivity with "better suited for FEI", but some do apparently. I would think that a willingness to work and submit, along with a brain that willingly concentrates on it's rider's and handlers -- without a tendency to spook and explode -- would be of utmost importance in order to handle the pressures of competing at FEI. More so than extravagant gaits or perfect conformation.

    Also, as breeders in North America, the vast majority of buyers are not professionals who can handle hot, spooky, hyper-sensitive horses. So if these ARE attributes needed for the upper levels, what's to happen to these horses that are bred for those attributes if they can't end up in the hands of a pro? See the conundrum?

    Opinions?
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  2. #2
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    For me, I know that I will only make it to the upper levels on a horse with a great temperament. I have only made it to fourth level dressage before injury stopped me, so I am still making the journey. I breed my own horses so for talent I use stallions who have proved themselves although i have made exceptions to get a specific bloodline in my program. In many cases the stallions I use are second and third generation of solid performers on both sides of the pedigree. My mares are also from proven dam lines so I am stacking the odds in my favor.
    I breed horses that I can ride safely and enjoy. I start them myself so I want safe and easy....no mental cases. I have not found that I have to sacrifice movement to get temperament. There are enough great stallions out there that pass both movement and temperament that I just have to select the lines I like the best with my mares.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdeboer01 View Post
    Are hot, hyper-sensitive horses better suited for FEI than calmer horses? Are calmer, more "willing-to-submit" horses necessarily less forward? Are horses that don't tear around the field at liberty necessarily horses that are not sensitive to the aids?
    I most certainly do not think you have to have a fire breathing dragon to have a successful FEI horse. You have to have a forward thinking horse, no doubt, but a difficult, hot personality doesn't necessarily have to go hand in hand with that.
    My Londonderry mare is the perfect combination of calm, submissive, willing, forward thinking, quick legged and sensitive.

    Sure, you can get there on a difficult horse but it's a much nicer journey on a horse that is good in it's mind and willing to work. There are plenty of horses out there that have those characteristics and are also forward, sensitive horses. Brentina and Paragon are examples of such horses.
    Last edited by ticofuzzy; Mar. 17, 2013 at 01:34 PM. Reason: I'm greatly amused that I randomly happened to choose chestnuts as my examples. Hahaha


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  4. #4
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    To sum it up I think the perfect FEI dressage horse is one that is mentally calm and yet physically sensitive. Totilas was to me the perfect example of this. You can make a decently sensitive horse hotter/quicker to some extent (and they do need to be hot in the right way in order to be trained up the levels) but like everything there is a fine line. They also have to be mentally submissive or able to be made that way. Some horses cannot take the mental pressure of being put together and will never make it for that reason alone or they will stay small tour horses ect. I also think a horse needs to be tough, to want to "dig deep" when they are tired and the work gets hard. So overall, a physically sensitive/forward thinking, mentally submissive/calm horse that has lots of heart/try )

    So I think if the horse is more sensitive than less they will not likely suit an amateur that is not a quiet, independent rider. I guess it just totally depends on the quality of the ammy. To accommodate an nonathletic/unquiet ammy rider I would have to breed a horse that would not be suited for dressage. A competitive ammy wants the same kind of temperament that a pro wants. Nobody wants difficult, excessively hot or spooky horses. Some pros just ride those because the talent of the horse justifies doing so but that doesn't mean that they WANT excessively hot or spooky, unwilling horses!

    Overall though, I don't think breeders enough attention to rideability either because they misunderstand what it means or because they aren't riders themselves and therefor underestimate the importance of it in a dressage horse...or both. Obviously many of the people posting here get it, but I am pretty sure that quite a few breeders I know of in my neck of the woods are totally oblivious. I actually know of quite a few programs that will use mares that could not cope mentally as dressage horses and were retired for that reason. Sure they are well bred and nice movers but if they land a competent pro in the hospital or if it is obvious they do not like to work then sorry, they should not be bred to produce dressage horses! What good is quality if it is horrible to ride??! You talk to a good trainer about rideability and how important it is and then pick a random breeder and see if they have the same idea? I am guessing that in many cases they would not.
    www.svhanoverians.com

    "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.


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  5. #5
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    I agree with the other posters. My personal preference has tended towards KWPN or Holsteiner horses with a lot of blood. I breed for a horse that's intelligent, bold, athletic, with a good work ethic. In my experience, these horses aren't always "easy" -- for example, my current batch of youngsters need to be kept occupied, stay on a regular work schedule with lots of variety, and live outside in the evenings. Without this, they can become little (or big) time bombs.

    As for lines, I like Pion (I used to own Democraat's full brother), Riverman, Marlon, Landgraf I, Gribaldi. I enjoy the forward-mindedness of their get. That said, I'm not currently breeding to sell, and I rode jumpers for a long time before getting into dressage, so I think that probably influences the type of horse / mind I prefer. I would rather have a horse that's too forward, than one I have to constantly push forward -- I like a feather-light accelerator

    I think the market for ammy-friendly upper level horses is a distinct and separate one from the pro / FEI market, in the same way that CSI horses are a different market from regional big jump horses -- although the fence height may be the same, the level of competition is different. Finding the right horse is like finding the right life partner . . . a deal-breaker for one person might be a deal-maker for another


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  6. #6
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    Very insightful posts!

    One thing that has always struck me is that Jazz (KWPN) is known as a producer of upper level horses. But I know of pros who won't even take a horse in for training if it's by Jazz! I think that's VERY telling. I also know of a horse by Riverman that went to several breakers, and basically "flunked out" of colt-starting kindergarden. Too spooky, reactive, and "ADD" -- and this horse was indeed very properly raised in an excellent environment. Donella mentioned Totilas -- and his talent is undeniable. But I do love the story told by Edward Gal that when he first got Toto in for training that he got on -- and promptly got off, as he sensed that Toto felt like he was going to explode.

    When certain studbooks are assessing stallions at liberty, they mark down the ones who behave in a level-headed and curious manner, and prefer the ones who run around "reacting" to the electric environment. First of all, I personally think that under saddle assessments should be FAR more pertinent than at-liberty assessment of a long two-year old. And I also think that stallion's temperaments should receive far more commentary than they currently do. Second, I think that marking a stallion down for acting intelligent and level-headed is ridiculous. That's my my 2-cents anyway.
    www.sauconycreeksporthorses.com
    Dedicated to breeding Friesian Sporthorses
    with world class pedigrees and sport suitability


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdeboer01 View Post
    Very insightful posts!

    One thing that has always struck me is that Jazz (KWPN) is known as a producer of upper level horses. But I know of pros who won't even take a horse in for training if it's by Jazz! I think that's VERY telling. I also know of a horse by Riverman that went to several breakers, and basically "flunked out" of colt-starting kindergarden. Too spooky, reactive, and "ADD" -- and this horse was indeed very properly raised in an excellent environment. Donella mentioned Totilas -- and his talent is undeniable. But I do love the story told by Edward Gal that when he first got Toto in for training that he got on -- and promptly got off, as he sensed that Toto felt like he was going to explode.

    When certain studbooks are assessing stallions at liberty, they mark down the ones who behave in a level-headed and curious manner, and prefer the ones who run around "reacting" to the electric environment. First of all, I personally think that under saddle assessments should be FAR more pertinent than at-liberty assessment of a long two-year old. And I also think that stallion's temperaments should receive far more commentary than they currently do. Second, I think that marking a stallion down for acting intelligent and level-headed is ridiculous. That's my my 2-cents anyway.
    It's interesting that you bring up the Jazz thing! I was training with an ex-Dutch team member (from many years ago), and this person would NEVER take the Jazz horses ... ever. However, in my area on the west coast, it seems like all the ammys ask for Jazz.


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  8. #8
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    AS someone who has had some hot, reactive horses, it's REALLY important to have a more calm mind. Tension comes from hotness, and it takes super talented riders like Edward Gal to ride them and not look a mess. Very few people can ride those horses well. You can do it, but life's a lot easier when you're not dealing with that all of the time.

    I'm on the west coast, too, and the Jazz are very hot. I don't see anyone ride them.

    I remember when Chelsey was doing young riders. She was riding Taxateur and a drop dead gorgeous hot mare called Chaam. She took Taxi to YR because you could count on him. Chaam could be amazing, or blow. Sort of like Wizard.


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beentheredonethat View Post

    I'm on the west coast, too, and the Jazz are very hot. I don't see anyone ride them.
    Agreed. Ride them... not so much. They would come to my importer friend and ask for them; most could be talked out of the Jazz, but some insisted.

    One such import ended up on Craigslist either last year or year before last at a greatly reduced rate :/



  10. #10
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    This article may be biased, however his offspring may need to be handled in a particular manner from very early on.

    http://cms.kwpn.nl/mediafile/0003/12..._a_million.pdf


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  11. #11
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    I have heard that the issue with the Jazz's is that they are really, really spooky. Spooky is frustrating. I have one now that is extremely spooky (and thank God really lovely) and I know the development is just going to be slower because of this. It sucks. I remember reading an article about Guenter Seidel's Jazz horse and how the horse still looks at that same spot in his arena after something like nine years together. LOL. So yeah, if you breed to Jazz and get a really talented horse then you can probably find someone good enough to develop the horse well....but what if the talent isn't there? That is the part that scares me because he is clearly so consistent in throwing the spookiness. What do you do with an average horse that is extremely difficult in the temperament???
    www.svhanoverians.com

    "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beentheredonethat View Post
    AS someone who has had some hot, reactive horses, it's REALLY important to have a more calm mind. Tension comes from hotness, and it takes super talented riders like Edward Gal to ride them and not look a mess. Very few people can ride those horses well. You can do it, but life's a lot easier when you're not dealing with that all of the time.
    ......And this is where I feel that the European and North American markets differ. It seems like those crazy Europeans will get on ANYTHING if it's going to win for them! Lol. (That's not meant to be a dis. ) It seems they will tolerate spook because there are more riders there that are capable of guiding and dealing with these types. Whereas here, I think riders are equally as determined to make it up the levels, but are not willing to risk their lives to do so. Totilas is (was) what he is BECAUSE of Edward. I think Toto in the hands of the wrong rider probably was quite capable of exploding early on. I think a great mind trumps so many other factors here in North America. And I do think we, as breeders, should focus sharply on it if we want more people to take up the sport and buy more horses.

    Quote Originally Posted by DancingFoalFarms View Post
    Agreed. Ride them... not so much. They would come to my importer friend and ask for them; most could be talked out of the Jazz, but some insisted.

    One such import ended up on Craigslist either last year or year before last at a greatly reduced rate :/
    That's so awful. ;( People buy into they hype until their sense of self-preservation kicks in. Just for the record, I don't mean for this thread to be a Jazz basher. He is simply a good example of the "hot spooky" mind -- and he throws it to his get.


    Quote Originally Posted by Donella View Post
    .......So yeah, if you breed to Jazz and get a really talented horse then you can probably find someone good enough to develop the horse well....but what if the talent isn't there?
    Or if the rider isn't there..... Horses like this can get ruined so quickly in the wrong hands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donella View Post
    That is the part that scares me because he is clearly so consistent in throwing the spookiness. What do you do with an average horse that is extremely difficult in the temperament???
    And therein lies the conundrum. Unless someone is breeding for their own future horse, and "hot, spooky" is what they want, I think most breeders should stay away from stallions known to throw those types of mind -- regardless of potential talent. IMHO, the mind of the offspring we produce should be just as paramount to conformation and gaits. And sometimes with the flashy presentations given at the Dutch and German stallion shows, under HIGHLY qualified riders, we really don't know what kind of temperament these stallions have. And for all we know, some of these stallions are aced or on other calming agents during these shows!
    www.sauconycreeksporthorses.com
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  13. #13
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    Breeding for the highest levels should focus on bloodlines with generations of successful performance on both sides of the pedigree. Mentally grounded and three equally good gaits should be paramount.
    Anne
    -------
    "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by not again View Post
    Breeding for the highest levels should focus on bloodlines with generations of successful performance on both sides of the pedigree. Mentally grounded and three equally good gaits should be paramount.
    Agreed. Two points, however. Jazz produces successful performers, yes. But only under certain talented riders. Shoud a mind like Jazz really be saturating pedigrees though?

    Also, these days 3 year old stallions are being heavily used on bloodlines alone. No sport careers to speak of. Is this really wise?
    www.sauconycreeksporthorses.com
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    with world class pedigrees and sport suitability



  15. #15
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    there may be distinctions in the response to this depending on whether you're speaking to the upper levels of dressage or the upper levels of jumpers. i'll try to speak to the latter.

    the answer, as so often... it depends.

    it is important to understand there is much more demand for the a/o division market, which will obviously be ridden by ammys. quantatively there are simply more of these than all-out gp riders. it is a mistake to think that many of these ammy horses could not step up to the bigger rings and jump full size tracks. of many examples i can cite kevin babington having the only double clear in the wellington nations cup a few years back; not on one of his top horses, but on an ammy mount from within his barn. i think it's name was movado or something close.... perhaps someone can correct me there.

    two things about these ammy rides: 1) they have to be able to cope at their job without always the accurate ride that their professional counterparts enjoy, and 2) it is fair to say that they are more valued when of quieter, more rideable disposition and still able to do their job.

    but again, just because these horses are pigeon-holed at these levels absolutely does not mean that some of them, with the appropriate ride, could not step up into the bigger rings. there are simply many fewer top professionals looking to jump 1.6m than there are ammys looking to do 1.35-1.4m.

    as already mentioned, the criteria for pro rides tend to be less around temperament. it is assumed that a rider finding their way around 1.6m isn't at their first rodeo, and is probably capable of having to deal with some 'flamboyance' on the way around. it isn't hard to find examples of this.... mr whoopy in yesterday's thermal million and also waterford crystal under cian o'conner winning temporary gold in athens are examples of ever convulsing volcanoes as they make their way around their courses. in these cases it is not so critical that temperament be puppy-like. within their partnership, they get it done.

    as to breeding, even if you're legitimately breeding for the very top, there are many uncontrollable variables which may keep an able 1.6m horse from that level. if that occurs, it is good to have the quieter, more rideable temperament so that if a horse finds itself pigeon-holed at 1.35m, it will be well appreciated and hopefully have a happy life there.


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ne1 View Post
    It is a mistake to think that many of these ammy horses could not step up to the bigger rings and jump full size tracks. of many examples i can cite kevin babington having the only double clear in the wellington nations cup a few years back; not on one of his top horses, but on an ammy mount from within his barn. i think it's name was movado or something close.... perhaps someone can correct me there.
    Was this an ammie mount with unproven bloodlines? Or was it more of an ammie-friendly mount of well known, proven lines?

    t
    Quote Originally Posted by ne1 View Post
    two things about these ammy rides: 1) they have to be able to cope at their job without always the accurate ride that their professional counterparts enjoy, and 2) it is fair to say that they are more valued when of quieter, more rideable disposition and still able to do their job.

    but again, just because these horses are pigeon-holed at these levels absolutely does not mean that some of them, with the appropriate ride, could not step up into the bigger rings. there are simply many fewer top professionals looking to jump 1.6m than there are ammys looking to do 1.35-
    Agree!!


    Quote Originally Posted by ne1 View Post
    as already mentioned, the criteria for pro rides tend to be less around temperament.
    Yup. And if everyone is breeding for these riders, what's to become of the horses that don't make it into the right hands? I think we CAN have our cake and eat it too.
    www.sauconycreeksporthorses.com
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  17. #17
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    i've watched some of the blood at kevin's.... very little of it seems to come out of nowhere. i found the horse...

    http://www.horsetelex.com//horses/pedigree/20409 no big surprises or unknowns up close there.

    baloubet is a case in point... #1 in the world, he's expensive to breed to, and most often you are not likely breeding for a typical ammy ride with him. (rod took a very long time to click with him and told me to be very careful with the blood and mind of any mare he was put to).

    you have a good chance of getting sufficient jump for the upper levels. perhaps the mare will help other areas that need helping, but as you alude.... what if she doesn't? anyone can appreciate the jump, but we don't all have daddy nelson in the back ring working for years to take on the challenges of the mind and rideability.

    there is nothing certain with genetics and breeding. we just do what we can with the best information possible to try and end up in a favourable place on the bell curve.



  18. #18
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    I've noticed a lot of Jazz x Ferro blood combos for the newly licensed KWPN stallions. Oy vey. Yes, they combine the front end action of Jazz with the ability to collect of Ferro. But if no one can ride them, what's the point?

    Not everyone needs a 600HP McLaren MP4-12C to win the race. Maybe if you're driving against Danica Patrick, but how many people are? Lol. The Mustang GT or the Corvette will have you blowing most other cars off the road just fine. And even grandpa will be able to drive them with no problems!
    www.sauconycreeksporthorses.com
    Dedicated to breeding Friesian Sporthorses
    with world class pedigrees and sport suitability


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdeboer01 View Post
    I've noticed a lot of Jazz x Ferro blood combos for the newly licensed KWPN stallions. Oy vey. Yes, they combine the front end action of Jazz with the ability to collect of Ferro. But if no one can ride them, what's the point?

    Not everyone needs a 600HP McLaren MP4-12C to win the race. Maybe if you're driving against Danica Patrick, but how many people are? Lol. The Mustang GT or the Corvette will have you blowing most other cars off the road just fine. And even grandpa will be able to drive them with no problems!
    I've been seeing the Jazz x Ferro too, and though I'll usually ride just about anything, that cross gives me . . . pause. Another I've seen with some frequency in the States is Jazz x Roemer. I'm curious if the Roemer temperament balances the Jazz influence?



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingFoalFarms View Post
    I've been seeing the Jazz x Ferro too, and though I'll usually ride just about anything, that cross gives me . . . pause. Another I've seen with some frequency in the States is Jazz x Roemer. I'm curious if the Roemer temperament balances the Jazz influence?
    From what I understand, the Roemer temperament is good. So if a breeder is lucky, the Roemer mind will trump the Jazz or Ferro. It IS a gamble though. Rousseau is Ferro x Roemer, and he passes on a good mind.
    www.sauconycreeksporthorses.com
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