A KWPN-approved stallion is the dream of every breeder, but before a stallion can begin his breeding career, he must undergo a strict selection process. The KWPN Stallion Selection is an annual event at which quality stallions are evaluated in three separate viewings. A stallion’s traits, conformation, ability, lineage, and health are all considered before he may advance to the final step in the selection process: the performance test. Following successful completion of the performance test, a stallion is approved.
Prior to the start of the selection process, a stallion must meet a number of veterinary requirements. First, he must be current on vaccinations for influenza and tetanus. Second, he must pass the KWPN radiograph exam before the second round viewing. The exam includes radiographic inspections of several bones and joints in the front and hind legs. To avoid disappointment and unnecessary costs, it is advisable to have the stallion radiographed prior to registering him for the selection. In addition, stallions must undergo a respiratory exam as well as a clinical inspection of the heart, eyes, teeth, and reproductive organs.
Stallions selected for the performance test are evaluated for semen quality. Finally, a DNA test is conducted to ensure that each stallion matches his pedigree. All examinations must be performed by veterinarians and institutions approved by the KWPN.
First Round Viewing
The viewings for the KWPN selection process for jumping, dressage, and Gelder stallions begin in December. Over a period of several weeks, the stallions are presented daily to the stallion selection committee, which consists of three breeding and sport horse professionals. At the first round viewing, stallions are evaluated for any observable genetic abnormalities or deficiencies. Next, they are judged at the walk and trot on hard ground. This allows the committee to clearly observe any abnormal movement and/or leg stance. Finally, dressage stallions are judged on their free movement, and jumper and Gelder stallions are assessed for their free-jumping talent.
Jumping talent is obviously very important for jumpers undergoing selection. However, because Gelder horses must be versatile, they are evaluated for jumping talent at the first round viewing. Observations of these stallions as they jump provide the stallion selection committee with important information about a stallion’s attitude and the way it uses its body. The stallions are jumped in a chute created by setting up a barrier in the ring. The chute, which is parallel to the long side of the ring, contains three jumps: two verticals and an oxer at the end. The jumps are initially set low but gradually raised. The stallions are brought into the ring individually and calmly directed over the jumps several times by KWPN representatives. This process allows the selection committee to evaluate a stallion’s reflexes, form, carefulness, and scope. In addition, stallions are judged on the canter in the chute. Afterwards, they are evaluated in hand on the walk and trot.
Dressage stallions are evaluated specifically for carriage, stride length, rhythm and regularity, balance in turns, body use in the trot and canter, and the ease with which they perform flying changes when changing direction. In the free movement evaluation, the selection committee also observes the attitude of each dressage stallion. Following evaluation in the chute, the stallion is also judged on his walk and trot in hand. Because the walk is an important basic gait for a dressage stallion, the selection committee places great value on its purity, stride length, and suppleness.
The event is also open to older stallions. At the first round viewing, stallions ages three and up must be evaluated on hard ground but do not have to demonstrate free-movement or free-jumping. Instead, they are evaluated under saddle and judged on carriage, body use, and movement. Jumper stallions must also jump a course, the height of which is determined by the age of the horse.
The selection committee also assesses older Gelder stallions under saddle. As part of their evaluation, they must either jump several obstacles or perform in harness. Stallions in harness are judged primarily on their body carriage and movement while pulling a cart.
Second and Third Round Viewings
Stallions that pass the first round viewing may proceed to the second round. For three-year-olds, this viewing as well as the third and final viewing, takes place the first week of February in the Brabanthallen in Den Bosch. In the second round viewing, stallions are judged on conformation, talent, and the quality of their pedigree – all of which are very important. In addition, three-year-olds are evaluated in the chute again for their free-movement or free-jumping, depending on their breeding direction. Stallions ages 4-7 selected for the second round viewing must participate in the stallion competition, which serves as the second round viewing for their age group. In the stallion competition, these horses are judged alongside already approved stallions. At the end of the competition, the stallion selection committee announces those which may proceed to the third round viewing. In the third round viewing, judges assess stallions one last time and make their final decision based on a stallion’s traits, lineage, and health. Selected stallions advance to the final phase in the process: the performance test. Following successful completion of the performance test, a stallion is approved.
Gelder stallions that pass the first round viewing may advance to the second viewing, which takes place the first week in January, concurrent with the first round viewing of harness horse stallions. Gelder stallions age three are presented in-hand again at the second round viewing. For older Gelder stallions, the second round viewing takes place in December, where they are presented again under saddle or in harness.
The third and final viewing of Gelder stallions is held the first week of February in the Brabanthallen in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. In this viewing, the stallions are presented before the selection committee one last time. Finally, the stallions selected for the performance test are announced. The performance test is the final phase of the selection process, after which a stallion may be approved.
The KWPN Stallion Show in ‘s-Hertogenbosch is an internationally renowned event. It is an occasion when breeders and horse enthusiasts from around the world can look on as the stallion selection committee searches for high quality prospective breeding stallions.
Individual Recognition of Stallions
Upon the stallion selection committee’s recommendation, those stallions that have demonstrated excellence in siring good jumpers or dressage horses, or stallions that have demonstrated excellence in sport are granted KWPN-recognized status. They do not have to meet KWPN requirements for conformation or radiograph results, as they have already proven themselves superior in performance or breeding. Individually recognized stallions are granted the same status as approved stallions, which means that their foals are registered in the Foal Book, and mares age three and older may be accepted into the studbook without having to meet additional requirements. Only exceptional stallions are eligible for individual recognition.
Selections for Harness Horse Stallions
The first round viewing for harness horse stallions takes place in January. These horses are presented to the stallion selection committee, which consists of three breeding and sport horse professionals. At the first round viewing, stallions are evaluated for any observable genetic abnormalities or deficiencies. Next, they are judged at the walk and trot on hard ground. This allows the committee to clearly observe any abnormal movement and/or leg stance. Unlike jumpers and dressage horses, harness horses are presented only in hand. The selection committee places great importance on the trot, which they evaluate on several key points: good suspension, long front leg stride length with high knee action, and powerful hindquarters that step under the body. These qualities should be paired with a proud bearing, facilitated by a long neck that extends vertically from the chest.
Stallions that pass the first round viewing may proceed to the second. This is the final viewing for harness horse stallions, and it takes place at the KWPN Stallion Show in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. In the second round viewing, harness horse stallions are presented again in-hand at the walk and trot. Finally, those stallions selected for the performance test are announced. The performance test is the final phase of the selection process, after which a stallion may be approved. More information about the Stallion Show Harness horses.