Friday, November 9, 2018

North American Stallion Sport Test 2018: East Coast Overview

By Anna Goebel
Hilltop Farm, early morning Day 1. Claudia Weeks photo.

Day 1: the Jog. Hilltop Farm photo.
Nine promising young stallions and crisp fall days at Hilltop Farm - what could be better? I attended the North American Stallion Sport Test for the first time this year, and I suggest every breeder mark their calendars to attend in 2019.

The best reason to attend is the opportunity to see several of our young, up-and-coming North American stallions in person. It's surprising what a clear impression you have of each stallion by the end of three days - athleticism, ability, temperament - whether you're evaluating these stallions as future stud prospects or examples of what's being approved, or just to train your eye. Many of the judges' comments are made public as the evaluations take place, so it's an excellent opportunity to form your own opinions and then compare yours to the experts'. 

Baloujoie and owner/rider Stephanie Hill
and her husband, Tom Neese. Hilltop Farm photo.
The horses are first, but I think the next-best reason to attend is to make personal connections with the humans involved. Meet stallion owners, young horse trainers, riders, and officials. Talk shop and compare notes with other breeders, connect with people you don't get to see very often - and meet new ones you hope to see every year. 

Then there are the organized educational sessions. This year there were two: a session explaining Linear Profiling by two experts, and also talks by a husband and wife team about Good Riding, Footing, Shoeing.

Dr. Ludwig Christmann (Hanoverian Verband) and Sebastian Rohde (Oldenburg Verband) explained Linear Profiling and how each of their registries implements it. It's quite an interesting system for describing a horse's physical characteristics. Note that it's Linear Profiling, not Linear Scoring. The purpose is to describe the horse, NOT to evaluate whether each point is good or bad. I'll be doing a separate article with more details.

International rider Catherine Haddad and her husband, shoeing expert Dr. Greg Staller, have a "secret" formula that fits both their areas of expertise, and they each presented a talk describing how they apply it. Catherine did half her talk from horseback, and is a very entertaining and persuasive speaker. Photo: Catherine is shown here demonstrating her training method. Behind her is the brand new banner for Warmblood Stallion of North America as a proud sponsor of this event. Hilltop Farm photo.

One of the lovely things about this event is the overall atmosphere. Hilltop Farm is a gracious host, but it's more than that. The focus is on the stallions, with a strong awareness that they are young and have a lot to handle for three days. The feeling is that everyone wants to give each stallion the best chance to do his best. The judges spend the three days observing and evaluating, but also encouraging and coaching - and their comments are positive and helpful. Shown here are three of the of the officials at the Stallion Test: Mattias Granzow, Gerd Sickinger, and Ulrich Henschke. Hilltop Farm photo.

The North American Stallion Sport Test is not without issues, which I'll be addressing in a later article, but it has been carefully planned for the North American situation, with input from all the key organizations, and it has worked well for two years now. Says Natalie DiBerardinis of Hilltop Farm, "I really couldn't be more pleased with how it has gone."

See you next year at the North American Stallion Sport Test 2019!

Below are some links of interest. This is the first of several articles about the North American Stallion Sport Test. As new articles are posted, I'll update this with more links. We're also looking forward to photos and video from the official photographer, Allie Conrad, and videographer, Claudia Weeks, being processed now.

The North American Stallion Sport Test website

The North American Stallion Sport Test Facebook page

Allie Conrad, Photographer

Claudia Weeks, Videographer
Claudia's YouTube Channel (where some videos from the Test are already posted)

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