Wednesday, April 4, 2018

German Breeding Values: An Analysis

Christopher Hector ( has again written an article of interest to breeders, this time analyzing the European Breeding Values - both the German and the Dutch. The Breeding Values are used by breeders all over the world, and their influence always extends one way or another into North America. If you're interested in the topic, it's worth a read.

Chris has been particularly interested in the way the Germans changed the system in 2016, so that subdivisions were created, within the jumping division and within the dressage division, into sires of successful competitors in young horse class and sires of upper-level competitors. But he's also interested in whether the Values really do what they're supposed to - provide breeders with a list of the most desirable sires for jumping and dressage.

It's an interesting article, and expresses skepticism in the system, but I'm sure what the final conclusion is. The title of the article is "Breeding Values: Do They Stand the Test of Time?" and he sets about comparing older standings with recent standings. I'm not convinced that his process of evaluation does what he wants it to do. He's comparing numbers from 2002 and 2012 and 2017. It seems the KWPN, in fact, were skeptical of this approach, pointing out that - according to the article - "the changes in the way the values were calculated made comparisons invalid." Dr. Christmann of the Hanoverian Verband made the same point (see below).

To read the article, click here. Please post comments if you have an opinion or insight!

I asked Dr. Ludwig Christmann about the analysis given in this Horse Magazine article, and he described Gemma Alexander's comparisons as "problematic." He explained why:

"When she compared the breeding values within the German system from 2002 until 2017 she did not consider the change of the system in 2016, when the breeding values for dressage and for jumping were split into two breeding values each – one for young horse classes (including mares performance tests, stallion performance tests and young horse competitions for dressage and jumping horses) and one for regular competition classes. This change had quite an effect on the breeding values and their reliability and explains to a big part the lack of consistency over this period of time.

"Then she compared the German breeding values with the WBFSH rankings and the Horsetelex rankings. The data bases are totally different and the methods as well. The German system has mainly access to national show results. International results are only included from German riders who are successful abroad and from international classes in Germany. All results are considered – from the lowest classes up to the highest level. The system is accumulative – new results are added to previous ones and the calculating is done by a very distinct tool named BLUP which includes results of ancestors and relatives and considers environmental effects. The rankings by WBFSH and by Horsetelex on the other hand are similar. Both are analysing high level international classes only by using a point system. So it is not surprising that the similarity between WBFSH and Horsetelex are bigger than the similarity of the German breeding values with the two other systems."

Dr. Ludwig Christmann is well-known to North American breeders as one of the Hanoverian Verband's outreach experts, as part of the Verband's Department of Breeding in Foreign Countries. He is one of the world's preeminent experts on equine heritability and genetics.

"Breeding Values: Do They Stand the Test of Time?" is available here.

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