Saturday, November 18, 2017

Just The Best Retires, Legacy Continues

Just Remember, by Just The Best
Just Remember, as a promising foal.
Just Remember, sired by Just The Best, had a very successful year in 2017. She was Best Young Horse at nearly every show she attended. With light showing she earned the Pacific Horseshows Association Hunter Breeding Horse of the Year title. She completed her year by winning the most prestigious Hunter Breeding title offered: Best Young Horse (west coast) at the Sallie B. Wheeler National Championship, where she was also named Top Dutch Horse.

Just Remember is bred and owned by Tish. She carries the genes of her famous grand sire, Best of Luck and his legendary sire Lucky Boy xx. Her dam, Carina, is the full sister of Hunter superstar, Rumba, who ruled the Hunter Derby world including his victory in the inaugural $100,000 Hunter Derby Finals.

Just The Best continues his reign as
king of his world as his heirs
continue the breeding duties.
A note of poignancy was added to the success, as Tish Quirk announced this year that she would be retiring Just The Best, her well-known son of Best of Luck by Lucky Boy. Just The Best has spent close to three decades passing on his impressive heritage. As Tish posted on her Facebook page, “Just The Best is happy and healthy and fully enjoying his life. As he approaches age 27, I have decided that it is time for him to retire from the breeding program. He has sired so many fabulous horses that have brought success and joy to their owners and he has given me exceptional stallion sons to continue the great legacy of Lucky Boy and Best of Luck. The Just The Best son, All The Best, has his breeding licenses and will continue the legendary line along with More Than Luck and More Like It.

All The Best and More Like It have both earned multiple breeding licenses and join proven senior stallion, More Than Luck, in the currently active breeding program.

To learn more about Just The Best, click here.

To learn more about Tish’s other stallions that carry on the legacy of Best Of Luck and Lucky Boy, click on these links:

All The Best, by Just The Best.
More Than Luck, by Best Of Luck.
More Like It, by More Than Luck.

To visit Tish Quirk’s website, go to

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Hanoverian Stallion Licensing: A Critical Eye

The licensing of Hanoverian 2-year-old stallions was recently held in Verden, and eurodressage posted an article yesterday that takes a critical look at the process. Thank you to author Kerstin Aronis for her willingness to address some serious issues in stallion presentation at one of the largest and most prestigious registries in the world.

More than half of the article discusses the relative merits of the top stallions, which is itself interesting reading. But in the final three sections, entitled "Lunging Horror," "Bad Santa," and "Auction Mysteries," Ms. Aronis tackles the issues of how stallions are trained and presented; how the selection process is "terribly biased, unprofessional," and lacking transparency; and several issues with the auction sale itself, from price fixing to rudeness.

I'm not in a position to know about this specific auction, but the German approval process for 2-year-old stallions has been known as an extremely political process for decades, in every registry I know of. This article indicates that if anything that has gotten worse - which, with the economic pressures that breeders and registries face in Europe today, would not be surprising. 

I'm not an expert, but it does seem to me that the Hanoverian Verband has always been driven by competitor (buyer) input. This is a good thing to a degree. If you don't stay in touch with what competitors want, you don't position yourself to provide it. If your foals don't have the qualities people want to pay for, they won't sell at the foal auctions. So the Hanoverian Verband decides what the Hanoverian horse should be, based on what buyers want. 

But what happens when the buyers want foals with flashy front-end movement, perhaps to the detriment of more fundamental qualities? What happens if buyers of 2-year-old stallions want to see a level of development that is not appropriate for a 2-year-old horse? What happens if the Verbands allow bloodlines to die out because they are not popular now? 

My personal opinion is that each Verband has a responsibility for stewardship of the horse, not just a huge marketing engine. The registries have always spoken of abstract ideals, and the mission of directing breeders toward producing the most perfect type for sport. That implies the ability to rise above the current fad or flash in the pan, to rise above decisions that are made purely for greater financial gain. To take a strong position on what the ideals should be that are best for the horse, and best for the sport in the long run.

Click here to read Kerstin Aronis' article, and I invite you to return here and post your thoughts and reactions.

If you're on Facebook and a member of the Warmblood Breeders group, be sure to visit that page as well for some interesting discussion of the article.

Friday, October 20, 2017

New from KER: Horse Water Consumption

Did you know that a 1-month-old foal will drink up to a gallon of water per day as well as more than four gallons of milk? Kentucky Equine Nutrition posted an article this past summer about water consumption in horses, and I was surprised to learn that a foal would consume that much.

It's fact number 5 in the KER article. To read all six, click here for the full article.

To read more articles in our Knowledge Base, chosen to be relevant to breeders, click here.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Require the Preservation of Breeder in Horse Name?

There has been a lot of discussion about making a breeder's farm name or initials part of a horse or pony's name, either as a prefix or suffix. For example, "Breed Famous Farm's Joyous Equine" or "Joyous Equine BFF". Recently, pony breeder Randee Beckman circulated a petition on Facebook to submit a rule request to USEF that requires owners to retain the breeder's prefix or suffix in a horse or pony's name even if they change the name itself. To date, it has gotten several hundred signatures.

There are good reasons to do this. On the face of it, it supports breeders, and the proposed rule is presented as a way for USEF to support breeders. And we all know that breeders don't get nearly the recognition they deserve, and very little support. But there are both practical and philosophical problems with the proposed rule.

The first significant problem is that the proposed rule is too vague, and doesn't take into account the full reality of how breeder identifiers (prefix or suffix) are currently used. At the moment they are in no way standardized. Some breeds or registries (e.g. Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America) put the farm name as a prefix, and have rules governing that usage. According to Randee's recent blog post on, she states that both the Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America and the Virginia Pony Breeders Association have rules against dropping the breeder's prefix - so there are existing regulations that would need to be taken into consideration.

Warmblood and sport horse breeders have a wide range of things they do with prefixes and suffixes, including adding elite status or achievement level to the name, and adding owner farm or breeder farm to either the front or the back. There is an informal tradition that an owner's farm should be a prefix and a breeder's farm should be a suffix - and most use just farm initials - but there is no central clearinghouse for this, or which initials belong to which farm. There are instances where the same initials have been used to identify two or even three different farms. Most breeders don't know the "rules" about what initials go where because there really are none.

In other words, a great deal of standardization would have to take place across breeds and disciplines in order to make this practical and definable.

Second, the breeder identifiers (prefix or suffix) were a breeder-driven effort to bring positive attention to their farms: I don't know its history in all breeds, but in effect the breeders took matters into their own hands and created a way to "stamp" their work. It's the breeder's way of stating that they take pride in what they produce. It's important to many breeders, because it's one of the few ways that breeders can have their name associated with a specific horse. If the identifier is kept, it's actually a pretty clever way for the breeder's name to be associated with the horse and its competitive success, without having to depend on the recognition of others.

It's marketing, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Breeders should take every opportunity to promote what they produce in a positive way. It's a brilliant marketing idea, but it is marketing. It's self-promotion. Essentially, the proposed rule would force horse and pony owners to do marketing for the breeders.

Breeders themselves have very mixed opinions about that. Some feel that, once a breeder incorporates an identifier into a horse's name, it is seriously rude to remove it. A slap in the face to a breeder who worked hard to create the horse you love. Some breeders have even included in the buying contract that the breeder identifier must be kept. Others feel very strongly that the name is the new owner's, to keep or change however they see fit. They see the proposed rule as a roadblock to the breeder/owner relationship, and possibly something that would deter a potential buyer from buying a horse with an identifier that they had to keep.

The question raised by the proposed rule is: should a horse/pony owner be forced by our national federation to carry a breeder's marketing in their horse or pony's name? There are excellent reasons why a new owner might want to do that. There are really good reasons why they should want to do that. But should they be required to?

Third, no one has talked about enforcement. The proposed rule is unenforceable as it stands. Putting a new rule on the books without a clear idea of how and how it will be enforced is getting ahead of yourself. As a dressage TD of ten years, I believe most people don't recognize the "overhead" that goes into a new rule, or the costs contained in enforcement. That needs to be thought through.

For me, the biggest problem with this proposal is that it's going at it backwards. First, if we want appreciation from owners and buyers and potential buyers, forcing them to keep breeder marketing attached to the horse or pony may be shooting ourselves in the foot. Second, if we want recognition from USEF for what breeders do - for the valuable contribution they make to horse sports - this isn't it. This would be USEF giving breeders the right to market a certain way, not a recognition of their expertise or value to horse sports.

As a group breeders don't enjoy much of that recognition in North America. Many competitors don't think about who breeds the horses they ride, or give much value to the role breeders play in producing talented horses. Our official sport horse organizations, including USEF, don't really give much thought to breeders. It's understandable, since historically the focus of USEF has been competition, and breed shows are a very small part of that, but the result is that our own Federation does not recognize the part breeders play in horse sport.

Our national federation needs to make a conscious effort to educate itself about breeders in the US: the expertise they have, and the challenges they face. USEF needs to ask itself where our competitors' next horses are coming from, whether breeders here can supply them, and what they can do to help. They have a lot of catching up to do.

I think that it should be the official policy of USEF to recognize, encourage, and support breeders. I believe there are excellent reasons for this, and many ways USEF could implement the policy. Many, many ways. When it comes to an individual horse, the main thing necessary is that USEF should make sure that breeder information is included in every registered horse's information, and that the information is readily available. That's the basic requirement, and it's where official recognition of breeders has to start. And breeder information should appear every place that a horse's show records appear. It should be as standard as listing the rider. Every show record should include the breeder.

The proposed rule change seems like a way for USEF to support breeders, but sadly I don't think it really would; the only way it supports breeders is to enforce their right to market a certain way. It doesn't encourage owners to appreciate breeders - perhaps the opposite. Bottom line: it's not an appropriate thing for USEF to regulate - and there are better ways to encourage USEF to recognize breeders.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fundraisers for Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead of Avalon Equine

Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead, owners and operators of Avalon Equine and Equine Reproduction in Wynnewood, Oklahoma have been instrumental in "paying it forward" to the warmblood breeding community for many, many years. They hold free clinics for equine education, spend lots of time helping others including large animal first responders in Oklahoma, founders of Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to organize, develop, raise and distribute funds to help equestrians and equines suffering from catastrophic events (but not to themselves although goodness knows they are worthy of help) ... AND they donate a warmblood foal annually to help raise funds. Talk about paying it forward!

Now they need our help.

Jos had a very serious accident leaving him on complete bed rest after serious accident surgery a couple years ago ... depleting all of their resources plus putting them seriously into debt. They felt they could "work through it" but wouldn't ask for help. Then Kathy had a life-threatening situation involving becoming septic from a kidney stone ... that put her in ICU for 5 days just to become strong enough to put in a stint. After weeks of meds, rest and doctors ... she was scheduled to have the stint and kidney stone removed.

Then it really goes downhill ... Jos was seriously hurt moving steel and more emergency rooms, more doctors and more expenses on top of existing medical expenses.

Breandan Filbert and Cindy Neumann, warmblood breeders in the Kansas City, Missouri area, are organizing a silent auction to benefit Kathy and Jos.  Incredible donations are pouring in from across the country.  Breandan and Cindy are currently organizing the donations—please keep an eye on the Facebook page – Kathy & Jos Medical Fundraising ( for upcoming information.  

Friday, September 29, 2017

Day 3 of Dressage at Devon - the Largest Open Breed Show

Devon, PA – Day 3 of Dressage at Devon featured more than 20 individual breed classes including the Alkal-Teke, Hanoverians (2 and under and 3 and older), Haflinger, Andalusian Horse, Dales Pony, Oldenburg (GOV), Paint Horse, Friesian, Danish Warmblood, Knabstrupper, Iberian Horse, ISR Oldenburg, Appaloosa, Irish Draught, Purebred Arabian, Half Arabian, Lusitano, KWPN NA, Drum Horse,  Thoroughbred, American Saddlebred, Lipizzan, Georgian Grande, and PRE. Many of these breeds have shown at Devon for a number of years but, new this year, were the Dales Ponies, sponsored by the Dressage at Devon committee.
The Dales Pony offers a combination of good conformation with energy and ability making them excellent for riding, driving and draft. They are unbeatable at a walk and have the stamina and determination to keep going over long distances according to the Dales Pony Society of America, Inc. Being willing and very clever jumpers, they compete very successfully in Cross Country Trials and performance classes. These ponies are very good at competition driving classes and can do well in dressage.
Kathy Kiesel, Vice President of Facilities for Dressage at Devon, imported Bickerdike Cracker Jack (Canandale Great Expectation x Canadale Black Magic), the winner of the class, from Alberta, Canada in 2002 when he was one of only 60 Dales in North America. He was taught to drive, was her daughter’s mount in lead line, was a therapeutic pony for five years at Quest Therapeutics and, more recently, has been showing at first level and is schooling to third level. Kathy also owns Mighty Max (Raspotnik Conner x Bickerdike Midnight Jazz), the red ribbon winner in the class. She’s a big fan of these sturdy and reliable ponies. Robbie Kankus, CEO of Dressage at Devon, is now the owner of Bickerdike Midnight Jazz who was also entered in the class.
Christine Smith (Wildest Expectations Farm, Stephens City, VA) who handled Jack, Max and Jazz in the class, is now a fan of the breed. “I had a ball,” said Christine, who typically handles horses. “I came out giggling and happy. They had loads of personality but were not aggressive. They were like a toy stuffed animal with personality. I just wanted to hop on them and go for a ride.”
The Dales Pony has been placed on the critically endangered list in Britain but Britain’s royalty is on board with the Queen often riding a Dales and HRH the Prince of Wales is a Patron.
The Performance Division began on Thursday afternoon. Highlights included:
USEF Fourth Level Test of Choice Open GAIG/USDF Q – The blue ribbon went to Silva Martin on Jada W, a 16.1 Warmblood mare, with a score of 69.797. Jada W was bred and is owned by Windurra USA (Unionville, PA). 
The last class of the day was the USEF Fourth Level Test of Choice Open GAIG/USDF Q was won by Meagan Davis on Damocles HLF (Diamond Stud x High Society), owned by Meagan Davis.
Complete results can be found at
The Performance Division continues Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with classes including Intermediaire tests, the FEI Prix St. George, Grand Prix Qualifiers, and Grand Prix Musical Freestyles. Plus, on Sunday, Dressage at Devon’s unique Dressage Explorers program will take place and include a selfie scavenger hunt, equine jeapordy, make your own stick horse and a stick horse competition in the Dixon Oval. Plus, Explorers will have a chance to meet Silva Martin and learn the ins and outs of dressage competition. 
The sun is out and the forecast is great. Join us!
Dressage at Devon takes place September 26 – October 1 at the Devon Horse Show Grounds in Devon, PA. General admission tickets are $10 for ages 13 and above; Kids ages 3-12 are $5, and children under 3 are admitted free. Reserved seating is $26 on Friday, $37 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Grand Prix 3-Day reserved seat ticket package is $66 and reserves an assigned seat for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Seat location may be different each day.) Reserved tickets are available online at General admission is available at the door.
About Dressage at Devon
Dressage at Devon ( has been a premier North American Equestrian event since its founding in 1975.  It combines world-class dressage competition and the world’s largest open breed show with the international Fall Festival show and special activities for the entire family.  The six-day event attracts hundreds of riders from around the world and thousands of spectators.  Dressage at Devon is a 501(c) (3) PA non-profit organization, benefitting equine education.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Day 2 – Dressage at Devon – Young Horses (and the Sun!) Take Over the Dixon Oval

North American-bred Danae MF (Doctor Wendell MF x EM Rising Star), Grand Champion at Devon

The largest open breed show in the world continued today with 4 and 5 year olds shown in-hand and under saddle in the Materiale classes.
A few highlights include:
The USDFBC Mare Championship went to Andorra ISF (Sir Sinclair x Hivona), a 16.1, bay, 12-year old mare bred by Iron Spring Farm, Inc. (Coatesville, PA) with a score of 81.675.
The USDFBC Stallion Championship went to Sandros Star (Sagnol x Nostalgias Tar), a 16.3 stallion bred by Vicki Bauer and owned by Hannah Salazar (Middleburg, VA) with a score of 77.325.
It’s always great to see younger people entering Dressage. Devon Wallish with Armando SFI took the blue in the Youth Handler class with a score of 83.900.
The Dressage at Devon Grand Champion ribbon went to Danae MF (Doctor Wendell MF x EM Rising Star), a 3-year- old Hanovarian bred by Maryanna Haymon, Marydell Farm, Columbus, NC  and who was no stranger to the winner’s circle.
“It’s been an amazing couple of days,” said Maryanna. When asked about Danae MF, Maryanna said the she’s been a quiet, trusting, affectionate horse from the beginning. She’s a very accomplished 3-year old,” said Haymon, having won, among other honors, the USDF Traveling Trot Perpetual Trophy awarded to the highest scoring dressage Sport Horse In-Hand of all ages and both genders. Danae’s full siblings include Don Pharrell MF (winner of the Yearling Colts/Geldings) and second in the Young Horse Championship as well as other promising youngsters.
Successful breeding “takes a village,” said Maryanna. “It’s a team effort that includes the repro vet, the daily vet, starters, farm help, body workers, trainers, riders and the people at home who make it possible for us to come here.”
Haymon breeds for Grand Prix qualities and can offer regional Grand Prix horses who are “safe, sane, and competitive,” CDI competitors, and then there are those who could make any Olympic team. She says horses bred in the U.S. meet or surpass the caliber of horses bred internationally.
“As a breeder, you can never be satisfied. You can be pleased, you can be happy but if you’re satisfied, you’ll never improve.”
“This is our 26th year at Dressage at Devon and it’s very special to me. (She won a 10th out of 72 in a class her first year and was thrilled.) The volunteers are very supportive, helping to keep us on time and safe and the staff is great. It’s a special place, a special event, and a special experience.”

USDFBC Mare Champion Andorra ISF (Sir Sinclair x Hivona), bred by Iron Spring Farm, Inc.

Complete results can be found at
The breed show continues Wednesday and Thursday four and five year old championships, mature horse championships, stallion and mare championships and the grand championship. Plus Materiale classes, Breeder’s Group, Handler classes and, on Thursday, the Individual Breed classes, from Alkal-Teke to PREUnder the shining sun, colts and fillies entered the Dixon Oval and the Gold Ring, representing the best of the future of dressage. Some handled it well, acting like they had been doing it for years. Others clearly wanted their mother. But all were exceptional, following their handlers (mostly) and showing off their excellent breeding. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The sun is out and the forecast is great. Join us!
Dressage at Devon takes place September 26 – October 1 at the Devon Horse Show Grounds in Devon, PA. General admission tickets are $10 for ages 13 and above; Kids ages 3-12 are $5, and children under 3 are admitted free. Reserved seating is $26 on Friday, $37 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Grand Prix 3-Day reserved seat ticket package is $66 and reserves an assigned seat for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Seat location may be different each day.) Reserved tickets are available online at General admission is available at the door.
About Dressage at Devon
Dressage at Devon ( has been a premier North American Equestrian event since its founding in 1975.  It combines world-class dressage competition and the world’s largest open breed show with the international Fall Festival show and special activities for the entire family.  The six-day event attracts hundreds of riders from around the world and thousands of spectators.  Dressage at Devon is a 501(c) (3) PA non-profit organization, benefitting equine education.