But don't most registries choose stallions for licensing and approval when they're long 2 year olds? And mares for studbook as 3 year olds? Personally, I think judging mares at 3 is fine. I do think some are choosing stallions prematurely though.
The German WB registries tend to do stallion selections in fall of the 2 y/o year, with the main licensing event 1-2 months later. Here in NA, most inspection tours take place in the summer and early fall, and the colts are generally not mature enough, so most owners wait until the colts are 3 y/o's (and some NA based registries won't inspect them before age 3).
I tend to agree that selecting stallions as long 2 y/o's may not be in the best interest of producing good riding horses, and many of the German registries introduced lunging a few years ago as part of the licensing inspection process. This way, they can at least get a bit of an idea of how the horse works when he is asked to carry himself through his topline and how accepting he is of contact with the bit, and of how "trainable" he is. The Oldenburg Verband also holds an under saddle licensing, held in spring for 3 y/o's. They were thinking at one point of doing away with the late fall 2 y/o inspection and replacing it with the 3 y/o under saddle inspection, but I don't know if that is still the case - I understand there was some pushback from some of the stallion owners about it.
I do understand, though, why the big stallion stations would rather license colts at age 2-1/2, than at age 3. For the latter, the colt is on their payroll for a longer period of time, which costs them more money in upkeep and training. And, they can start breeding them earlier if they are already licensed by the time they go into their 3 y/o year - esp. desirable for the stallion station if the colt was a licensing winner or premium stallion because there are usually lots of breeders eager to use him.
I've seen favoritism at an inspection and certainly noticed that the host farm did quite well, and were allowed a great deal of leeway in getting the best showing out of their mares and babies. It certainly makes me think that in the future I would pay someone with breed connections to present the foal for me.
It is perfectly logical that breeders who host inspections do "quite well" at the inspections. That's because the host farms are, in almost every case, the best and biggest breeding farms in the United States. And, these very experienced and expert breeders also know how best to present their horses. So, of course they are likely to do "quite well." I've been attending 4 or 5 inspections each year for the last 13 years (Han and GOV), and I have not observed any pattern of favoritism.