Heike Kemmer recently celebrated her 25-year anniversary as a member of the stallion selection committee of Hannover. Bernhard Thoben is the breeding director of Oldenburg. They joined the panel discussion together with KWPN Head of Breeding Affairs Ralph van Venrooij. It resulted in an interesting discussion about Dutch breeding and the difference in selection procedures. We have summarized the highlights for you. 

Heike Kemmer: “A good walk is an easy way to score points”

Heike Kemmer mentioned the walk as an area of attention in the Netherlands, although she later added that in Hannover they should be careful not to forget about the walk either. “The rhythm is good enough, but there could be more overtrack. It is easier to score points in a test if you are aboard a horse with a good walk. Fifteen flawless changes every stride are much more complex than performing the figure in walk with a horse that is naturally gifted with a good walk.”

Bernhard Thoben: “We need strong backs (of sufficient length)”

“In breeding we must focus on the rideability and strong backs of sufficient length. For that strong back contributes a lot in the work under saddle.”

Heike Kemmer: “Necks do not have to be vertical”

“Necks do not have to be vertical, for that gives problems with the use of the back and it makes it difficult for the rider to ride horses forward and downward. I shall not say a horse can be built downhill, but a slightly more horizontal neck gives the rider a nicer feeling. He can use the neck to balance the body. We must remain vigilant in selectin for a back with sufficient length, to allow the body to swing. A good length provides the rider with many benefits, just think of a saddle that can more easily be fitted.”

Ralph van Venrooij: “Independent and transparent information”

The various selection systematics were compared and that gave Ralph van Venrooij the opportunity to shine some light on the Dutch system. “We want to test stallions under the same conditions to eliminate environmental factors as much as possible. It enables us to provide transparent and independent information.”

Heike Kemmer: “Selection for conformation is important” 

“Considering internal qualities, such as rideability and mindset, is a difficult task for all of us. We are talking about two-and-a-half-year-old stallions. When I buy a four-, five-, or six-year-old myself, it also takes me a few months to make a good assessment of the character. And yet, this selection for interior remains important. We need horses that are on our side. They must be sensitive enough, but also sufficiently relaxed by nature to cope with crowds and new environments.”

Bernhard Thoben:”Service towards the breeders is important”

“It does not matter where you live, the best genetic material is available all around the world. The era in which you were dependent on a stallion available nearby has long passed. Good dam lines are crucial and as studbooks we must focus on good service for our members.”

Photo Dirk Caremans

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