Licensing and Performance Testing
The first step of the breeding selection in Germany begins at the foal shows. In the summertime, when most foals are born, nearly every German riding horse, pony and heavy horse foal participates in a foal show. At these shows, experienced judges from various breeding associations evaluate the foals’ exterior and their paces. The best foals are awarded. This preliminary selection allows the breeding associations to gain a good overview of the quality of the foals born that year. Furthermore, the breeder gains an objective assessment of the quality of the foals.
The FN member breed associations have jointly prepared a performance test system under the umbrella of the FN. The breeding associations are responsible for the organisation of the uniform implementation of performance tests for stallions, mares and geldings. The various forms of examination (station, short or field tests) and the recognition of the competition results ensure a standardised test range for each breed. Significant focus is placed on gaits and the test rider scores.
Körung for Stallions - Approvals to be licensed
Licensing is a selection decision for the entry of breeding stallions into a section of the stud book of a breed association. In some breed associations, a stallion may have to attend a pre-selection and be accepted by the judges to attend the licensing. Registries such as Westphalia and Pony Hannover require pony stallions to be presented on hard ground, free running and also in hand.
Stallions generally attend the licensing between the ages of 2 ½ - 3 years old. Normally there is a panel of 5 judges who score the stallions. The stallions are veterinary checked, assessed on hard ground, in hand, free running and also free jumping. Some associations (Westphalia and Ponyforum) require stallions to have radiographs taken to ensure that they are OCD free in order to be accepted for licensing.
On average, only 60% of stallions become licensed at this stage.
At a Körung a stallion may be granted a Premium Title by the board of Judges. These are stallions that are considered to be of high quality and have potential to be excellent breeding stallions for the future. A stallion must complete his licensing via further testing by the appropriate age as outlined by their breed association in order to retain their Premium status.
Most breeding associations also award a Champion and Reserve Champion Title for the Körung as well as an award for the Jumping Champion. These stallions have gained the highest scores for that licensing round.
Hengstleistungsprüfung (HLP) - 30 Day Stallion Performance Test
Stallion performance tests can only be held at testing stations approved by the FN thus ensuring standardised environmental conditions. No stallion is allowed to leave the testing facility during the testing period.
The FN is the general contractor and is responsible for the execution of the stallion performance test. The FN Commissioner is the legal representative of the FN and is present at the testing station for the time of the testing. Also involved are the head trainer, training judge, test judge, test riders and the station veterinarian. A minimum of 25 stallions must be at the station during any one testing round to provide sound and comparable results.
All stallions must meet certain veterinary standards and veterinary tests according to the rules provided by the FN for the performance testing of stallions.
The performance test for pony stallions consists of a 30 day training period with a final performance test. The pony stallion test focuses largely on evaluating the interior qualities of a stallion candidate under these standardised conditions. In addition to rideability, qualities such as character, temperament, soundness and willingness to work are evaluated and scored by the training director and test riders.
Participation is open to 3 year olds and upward with the target group 4 year olds.
In the preliminary/training phase, characteristics scored are sociability and behaviour, learning and motivation, ability to work, walk, trot, canter, rideability, free jumping, jumping a showjump course and a cross country test.
The final test over two day includes evaluations for walk, trot, canter, rideability, free jumping and a show jump course (minimum 80 cms, maximum 110 cms with 2 of the obstacles raised higher at the discretion of the judge) and a cross country test (1500 metres with 6 obstacles. Height up to 90 cm with no water jump). Each stallion is tested by the two test riders on separate days.
There are a number of weighting factors applied for each of the test items. A score of 5.0 or less in any part of the performance test is instant failure and the stallion is eliminated.
The 2 Day Short Test for Stallions (plus Bundeschampionate qualification)
Only eligible stallions can complete their licensing and become fully approved as licensed stallions via the short test. If a stallion achieves a qualification for the Bundeschampionate, he may be eligible for the short test. Each breeding association varies slightly in its rules.
If eligible for the short test, stallions are evaluated on walk, trot, canter, rideability, free jumping, a show jump course (as per the 30 day test) and rideability with at least two test judges and at least two test riders.
Participation is open to 3 yo's with 4 yo stallions the target group.
Completing Licensing via Performance Results
Pony stallions registered with Westphalia can complete their licensing via performance in competitions. If they achieve 5 placings up to third place in L level (Elementary) at competitions of a suitable standard. This must be achieved by the end of the year that they turn 5 years old.
Ponies that completed their initial licensing through Hannover or Weser Ems for example are not eligible to complete their licensing via competition/sport.
Licensed Stallion Titles - Awards
Premium stallion titles are granted to stallions that are considered to be of high quality and have the potential to be excellent breeding stallions for the future. A stallion must complete his licensing via further testing by the appropriate age as outlined by their breed association in order to retain the Premium Status.
The Elite stallion awards is a national award granted to stallions by the FN who have progeny that have had success in international pony competitions.
Stutbuchaufnahme - Mare Registration
Mares are registered from the age of 3 years but no later than the birth of the first foal. The breed association assesses the mare on the basis of their type, body, correctness of the limbs, gaits and overall impression. The main sections of the mare stud book are Sections I, II and the Annex stud book, in which mares depending on their origin and the registration can be entered. Depending on the method of breeding, the breed can also be divided into different departments (Department and Special Division) of the studbook.
Leistungsstutbuch FN - Performance Mare Book
In the German Equestrian Association (FN) breeding system, a Mare Performance Book is a place where mares can be entered and registered as broodmares approved by the FN breeding association. The mares that are registered have been evaluated and their final grading is above average for the breeding association.
Stutenleistungsprufung (ZSP) - Mare Performance Test (ZSP)
The special value of the mare performance test allows all annually registered mares to participate. Many breed associations broodmare tests will only be used as phenotypic evaluation of mares. Some breed organisations use them for breeding value estimation.
Usually there are two ways of attending a performance test for mares; field tests and testing stations. In the field test a mare is assessed over one day and the testing is designed for mares aged 3 to 4 years old. Field tests are performed at a local mare show and involve scoring the mares for the 3 basic gaits under saddle, conformatin (body and correctness of the limbs), free jumping ability, in hand on a triangle and rideability with a test rider.
A station test is set up in a training environment and is usually held at one of the State owned stud farms. This ensures that the test is standardised and that all the mares are tested under the same conditions and in the same training environment. This type of testing lasts for 14 days and the mares are assessed by the training director who gives scores to the mares throughout the testing period. There is a final testing stage in which a group of visiting experts and the test riders evaluate the mare for temperament, character, willingness to perform and handling. The mare is also tested for conformation, the 3 basic gaits under saddle, free jumping ability with rideability scores given by the test riders.
The award Verb. Premium can be awarded to mares who have met the above average score requirements from their stud book inspections. Some breed associations only offer the Verb. Premium Award.
In certain breed associations a mare may also be eligible to upgrade her title to the State Premium Award if she meets the appropriate requirements and performances outlined by that association.
Mares can also earn the title of State Premium which is recognised with the prefix St.Pr.St or SPS before her name. These are mares that have received above average scores on their stud book inspection and have also completing the performance requirements of the relevant breeding association. There are certain shows that a mare may have to qualify for and attend in order to gain this title. These mares must also produce a foal before the age of 7 years old that is to be assessed to be of suitable quality to totally fulfil the requirements.
To gain the Elite mare title, a State Premium mare must produce 5 foals in 7 years (that are inspected) or have 3 offspring that compete at FEI Pony level.
Overview of the Pony breeding system in Germany
Unlike Australia, Germany has a single organisation of which there are 25 state recognised horse and pony and small horse breeders associations. This national organisation is the German Equestrian Association (FN - Fédération Equestre Nationale.)
The breeding program for German pony and small horse breeding is based on the framework put in place by the Breeders Association Rules (ZVO) which has been in force since January, 1990. The ZVO regulates a uniform implementation of the law on breeding horses for the FN member breed associations.
The breeding associations essentially carry out the following tasks :
The preparation and implementation of breeding programs
Recording pedigrees - identification of breeding animals and their offspring and issue of pedigree certificates
Development and implementation of breeding programs, selection of breeding animals, organisation and implementation of performance testing, counseling of breeders
Organisation and implementation of sales events and advertising, and public relations
The Association for Small Pony and Horse Breeders (AGP) is the union of the societies and communities of interest.
The origin of a breed is particularly important for pony and small horse breeding. For each pony breed and small breed a stud book of origin leads and defines the principles for each breed. For breeding compliance with the principles, a very close relationship exists between the origin stud books and the German breeding herd books.
These and other provisions in the management of herd books are in the European directives and laws.
The breeding planning model at the German Riding Pony
The first selection stage in ponies are the foal assessments. The selection of stallions and mares (second selection stage) is then carried out as part of the licensing and mare performance testing. Subsequently achievements at competition, at the stallion performance test or the mare performance test is recorded as the third selection stage.
All mare pregnancies must be recorded with the respective breeding association. On the birth of a live foal, this also must be recorded with all information as this is the basis of a passport being issued.
The Pedigree Certificate is an owner's document issued by the relevant breeding association. The identification of the foals is to be made by the Breeding Director of the relevant association within the time frame required by the association. Both parents are to be entered within the appropriate section of the associations Stud Book.
Division of the Stud Books
Stallions and mares are allocated to different departments. The studbooks are classified according to the different breeds and directions. The minimum information in the stud book is governed by the breeding rules in the ZVO, as well as the criteria to ensure the identity and the demands on the characteristics of the appearance and performance. These characteristics must be met for registration of breeding.
Each breed association shall have their own breeding rules themselves to determine the Stud Book departments in the breeding program. In breeds with closed studbooks only animals can participate in the breeding program whose parents have registered themselves in a herd book of the same breed. In contrast, there can be an open Stud Book where they may accept a stallion of a different breed/race (Fremdanpaarung).
The ponies are entered according to the lineage and/or performance in one of the following departments or sections of the herd-book:
Hengstbuch I (Stallion Book I)
Hengstbuch II (Stallion Book II)
Stutbuch I (Stud Book I)
Stutbuch II (Stud Book II)
Notes for stallions and mares
Special Section (only with open Stud Books)
Daybook for stallions and mares
German FN ZVO (Zuchtverbands Ordnung) - Guidelines of breeding associations
The Breeders' Association Act (ZVO) serves to promote horse breeding by co-ordination of the breeding work of recognised breed associations that are members of the FN. There are the requirements for the design of breeding programs, for the subdivision and guiding the stud books, for the issue of horse passports including pedigree certificates and for safeguarding the identity of all registered in the herd books of horses.
The breeding associations incorporate the provisions of the ZVO in accordance with the Statute of the FN in their own statutes and regulations stud book.
The ZVO are also responsible for the conducting of performance tests, breed surveys, genetic evaluation and pedigree registers and breeding programs of different breeds. In addition, information on EU regulations and national laws and regulations.
Australia has three imported stallions with
Elite Award status
The German Riding Pony stallion Golden West NRW is the only GRP stallion outside of Europe who has been awarded the NRW (Elite) title. He has 21 licensed sons and 5 State Premium daughters. His daughter Golden Mylight was Bundeschampionate Gold Medal winner in 2018 as a 3 yo.
The German Riding Pony stallion Kennedy WE has the Elite title with Weser Ems. He has 7 licensed sons and 8 State Premium daughters. His son Keerlke competed at the 2014 European Pony Championships.
The Dutch Riding Pony stallion Triple Trees Prince Perfect has the Elite title with the Danish Sports Pony Stud Book. He has 5 licensed sons in Europe. His Premium licensed son Steendieks Prince of Glory competed at the 2014 & 2017 FEI European Pony Championships and his daughter, Goldfever Hella Bella competed at the Europeans in 2018.