A standardised breeding objective
The breeding objectives of organised horse breeding would change in accordance with the ways in which horses were being utilised. In modern-day breeding, the breeding programme is carefully aligned with both practical and scientific knowledge, and leaves the breeding associations scope to set their own focus within the Olympic disciplines of showjumping, dressage and eventing.
Following this process aligning breeding with our modern-day riding horse, in 1975 breeding associations decided to establish a standardised breeding objective for the German riding horse:
"A noble, long-lined and correct, healthy and fertile horse with swinging, expansive and elastic movements and which, thanks to its temperament, character and rideability, is suitable for all forms of riding."
With this breeding objective, the breeding associations established a framework within which they were able to set specific priorities in terms of breeding programmes. The specific descriptions of the different breeds of German riding horses can be found in each breeding association’s respective studbook regulations, although they essentially only differentiate by minor details. However, specific priorities are set in view of each area in which the horse will be used.
The implementation of a breeding programme is regulated by the breeding laws of each recognised breeding association. Without a breeding programme, no targeted care and maintenance of a breed is possible.
Quality through careful selection
The illustration makes the synergy between the evaluation of the horse's conformation and its performance in each individual selection level particularly clear. The image refers to the selection of breeding stallions and broodmares.
Breeding planning for German riding horses
A preliminary evaluation of the foal is followed by the selection of the stallion or mare in view of, respectively, stallion licensing or the addition to the mare studbooks. After this, the horse's performance during the licensing tests or studbook evaluation is ascertained. The performance evaluation enables important information regarding the characteristics of a breeding horse, as defined by the breeding objective, to be collected. This ensures that sufficient information is obtained in standardised conditions to permit an early selection of the stallions, without considerably prolonging the interval between generations.
All of the horse's competition results are also included as part of the performance examinations in German riding horse breeding. The data from competitions is delivered and integrated with information from individual assessments of stallions and mares. All of this performance data from breeding tests and from the individual horse’s and their offspring’s sports results make up the breeding valuation. This therefore constitutes the fourth grade of selection in the breeding programme of German riding horses.
Breeding programme with all breeds
Breeding without an objective or programme is equally unthinkable when it comes to pony breeding. The breeding programme for ponies is coordinated with pony breeds for both leisure or sports ponies. With the help of a breeding programme, the characteristics typical to each pony breed should be maintained. Also in pony breeding, the examination of breeding animals is an indispensible selection aid. For this reason, stallion and mare performance tests are carried out for many pony breeds.