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The modern show jumper is a leap ahead

This article first appeared in a previous issue of Equestrian Life. To see what's in our latest issue, please click here.

Boera with her Casall colt at foot, EQ Life Issue 20 - Photo Credit Finch Farm

Boera with her Casall colt at foot. This a foundation mare at Finch Farm she jumped at World Cup level and was a Grand Prix winner who is producing outstanding sport horses and Stallions. She also has daughters sired by Corrado I, Casall, and Sandro Boy that are producing sport horses.

© Finch Farm

BY DAVID FINCH

BREEDING SUCCESSFUL HORSES is an exercise in looking forward and looking back.

The foals on the ground this season will be reaching competition maturity in 2024 and beyond. They are the result of looking back across generations of breeding and selecting the traits we need for the horses for the future.

There are so many factors that have to come together to make a successful show jumper, not just natural talent and ability.  The horse must be trainable, forward thinking, and have desire and toughness to keep going when the chips are down. Then all of these factors need to combine with skilful training, careful management, and a dose of good luck – a very hard mix to achieve with no guarantees.

However, we can put ourselves ahead of the game with careful and considered breeding. I aim to breed a horse that is able to move its body easily, that is attractive and forward thinking, a horse that is physically able to do the job. There will always be exceptions, horses that defy the odds with pure grit and determination, but it is much easier to start with a good model.

Breeding a modern show jumper is a much different proposition from what it was 30 years ago.  The sport itself has changed and so has the horse we must produce to be competitive in the sport along with it. In the past we could see two distinct types of successful horses, the Grand Prix horse which was strong and had lots of power to produce a big jump indicative of the so-called “old-fashioned Warmblood”, and the Speed Class horse, which was agile, quick and athletic with maybe not so much scope.

Today for a horse to be competitive at the top levels and able to answer the technical questions asked on course, it needs the attributes of both a great Grand Prix horse and a Speed Class horse. These changes have been brought about by the increasing technicality of the questions being asked on course that are needed to separate the numbers of quality horses.

To produce a horse that is quick enough and also has the scope to jump big jumps, all the major studbooks recognise the need to have a good percentage of “blood” in the breeding mix.  The internet and live streaming of events give us such an opportunity now to monitor and see horses competing throughout the world on a daily basis.  We can see progeny coming up through the smaller classes and how certain bloodlines combine.

Here in Australia we are incredibly lucky to have access to a large quality pool of Thoroughbred bloodlines, some of which are known to produce good quality jumping horses.  We can infuse these carefully selected Thoroughbred bloodlines into our breeding program to produce high quality mares that display all the traits required in the modern jumper.

With the luxury of frozen semen and the techniques associated with it, as well as a number of well bred and performed domestic stallions available by chilled semen, the top part of our pedigrees can be pretty fancy.  As breeders, however, we must place as much emphasis on the quality of the mare as the quality of the stallion. The direction of Australian sport horse breeding must be focused on the improvement of our mare lines.

As we see our sport change and we try to breed for the future we need to make sure the mare we are using has the qualities that we want to see in the offspring.

It is a constant process. I am always trying to upgrade and improve the quality of my broodmare herd. Strengthening mare lines is a long and ongoing process of continual improvement, a process that covers generations, and only after generations can you see traits of lines consistently show up in breeding lines.
 

Read the latest News.

Discover the importance of the mare when it comes to breeding.

Find out how purpose-bred horses have changed the face of dressage in Australia.

 

Stallions:
 

Cumbrian Wood Stud

West Kington Stud

International Horse Breeders

Ryans

Mayfield Farm

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