Canterbury Court
Training and Breeding Blog

This column is intended to share my personal thoughts and
experiences about breeding and training warmblood horses for the
Olympic disciplines. Everyone must walk their own path to find the  
methods that work best for them. Believing that it is better to learn
from another's successes and errors rather than having to figure out
everything on your own, I intend to share both the good and bad of
over 20 years of producing equine athletes.

4/09 We have started pasture breeding for
the first time. I must admit that I had some
and fencing are set up for it . I've also felt
that having horses in a social unit is healthy
well-being. Having my stallion live apart from
his mares, while a well accepted practice,
just didn't seem fair. Since  he had already
bred most of the mares in my band by live
cover I thought it could work. We put the
broodmares in a new pasture, separating
them form the young horses they had been
running with. The next day we put Presidio
out. California had been in season the day
before so I figured he would go straight to
her. Wrong. First he ran down to the other
mares trailed down to him. The they all
started running down the field in parallel.
Once they stopped, California started over to
Presidio. Sigourney had other ideas. I didn't
even know that she was in season. She
backed right up to Presidio and he obliged.
He then trotted down to the trough, stuck his
head in, shook it back and forth, and
splashed water everywhere. I guess he
needed to wash his face! The next day Sig
was out. She and Presidio ignored each
other. California and Presidio engaged in a
lot of nuzzling and grooming. Apparently she
wasn't close enough to ovulation for him to
feel like mounting her. The rest of the herd
either ignored him or would cock a leg if he
got too close. He is very respectful of the
mares without being cowed by them. I plan
to put the mares that are foaling out back in
the pasture with him once they have bonded
with their babies. Watching the interactions
is facinating.
2/09 The stallion books are coming out. For
those of us who breed it is like equine porn -
who shall we breed to and why. Who"s hot,
who's producing high price babies, who's
affordable? I'm anxious to see how the
Quaterback babies due this spring turn out.
Papagena will be bred to him later this
spring, Petruschka will either go to
Quaterback or Sir Donnerhall and Karina is
going to Presidio. I'm also considering
Stedinger this year. He is a lovely stallion
and is producing great stallions and premium
mares. He tends to throw very large foals so
he needs a slightly smaller mare. He also has
that balance between jumping and dressage
in his bloolines that I like to see. I may offer
two of my very special broodmares for sale
this year - Sigourney and Cartier. I have very
nice daughters from both of them so I will be
able to share their great genetics with
others. This will also keep my production to
a more manageable number of foals for next
year.

Matching mares and stallions is both
exciting and risky. Some stallions are great
sporthorses but never put foals on the
ground that perform at any level near their
own. Other stallions are not great performers
but make great performance horses. grannus
is a classic example of this - he passed his
stallion performance test on a technicality

9/6/08 When I started breeding, I knew quite
a bit about genetics, having spent 3 1/2
years working with the genetics and child
development department at Milwaukee
Children's Hospital. I knew that some
qualities such as coat color had direct
Mendelian inheritance while other genetic
traits had multiple factors with varying
amounts of influence of gene combinations
and environment. I also knew I did not know
enough about horse breeding to undertake
such a lengthy and expensive proposition on
my own. The Breeder's Orientation Course
offered by the Hanoverian Verband was
extremely useful. At that time most  
American breeding societies had no stallion
book available, the German books were hard
to come by, and there was no organized way
to look at videos of stallions available for
breeding. I took multiple trips to Europe,
went to stallion licensings, mare shows, and
auctions, visited large and small breeding
farms, and studied every pedigree I could to
get a better understanding of how
successful breeders made good horses.
Today the job is easier - you can get free
videos of stallions, mares, foals and auction
horses on line, you can look up production
records, you can find the breeding of your
favorite performers all at the touch of a
keystroke. You have ready access to
professional opinions about different lines
breeding and riding qualities on excellent
bulletin boards.  It is still important to sit
down with those in the know (particularly
over shots of schnapps!) and learn the things
that they value in their breeding and riding
stock. I will share some of the things I have
been taught or have figured out over the
years.
youngsters again. Only one three year old
to start this year - Paradiso who has
already been saddled, bridled and driven.
He is going to be a big boy so we'll just get
him backed, get some steering and get him
to go forward from the leg. Then he'll get to
go out and grow some more. The coming
four year olds will get more polish -
Patronus and Passion are already doing
very well. Peru is currently out on pasture
and will be brought back again in a few
months. The weanlings and yearlings all
come when called, pick up their feet for
trims and are generally enjoying life. They'll
start rotating back up to the foothills later
this month.


9/6/08 If you had a chance to watch
Satchmo and Isabel Werth at the Beijing
Olympics you were able to see what
happens when you over-train a movement,
in this case the piaffe. Satcho went exactly
to the point where he was supposed to
piaffe, slammed on the brakes and ran
backward. The loss of balance,
submission, impulsion and throughness
was spectacular. The fact that he did it not
once but twice in the freestyle shows that
it was no fluke.

The piaffe is the lightest and most
balanced of gaits as you are inviting the
horse to come forward with the leg, seat,
and upper back at the same time you are
asking the horse to stay with the arm,
lower back and hand. The use of the hand
is particularly intriguing as it softly allows
the horse to open his jaw to chew the bit
and relax the poll as it raises the neck to
prevent forward movement. Reiner
Klimke's admonition to "sit lightly and
encourage the horse" is well taken.

It is to both the horse and rider's credit
that they were able to pull themselves
back together as completely as they did. I
will leave discussions about the scoring to
others.