by Judith Wear
You want the excitement of breeding the foal of your dreams - a registered Hanoverian? Join the family of world champions like Salinero, world dressage champion, ridden by Anky van Grunsven. This means the broodmare must be certified as meeting the strict Hanoverian breeding standards and the stallion must be licensed and performance-tested by the Hanoverian Society. Don't be tempted by any horse which does not reach these standards - you will stand a real chance of being disappointed.
It costs money to raise any foal, so it makes sense to breed the best one you can afford. If you are a first-time breeder you should research the whole procedure; and who better to go to than our Hanoverian classifiers, the Hanoverian Stud Book Keeper, or an experienced Hanoverian breeder? Many new breeders have begun the wrong way and mistakes have meant a setback for their breeding progress.
Questions you will need to answer for yourself are:
- Have I got enough money? Apart from the stallion fees, there will be vet fees and perhaps agistment costs while the mare is waiting to get in foal. A simple scan can cost $50. Once the mare is in foal, there are 11 months of care - blacksmith, worming, grazing and then innoculations - but minimum feed bills, because you don't want a fat mare giving birth to a huge foal. You can build up the feed once the mare has foaled. And there are likely to be other costs as well. You don't need to be wealthy, but you should be realistic.
- Have I got the strength, energy, enthusiasm and time available to handle the young horse? Care of feet and worming are very important for the youngster, and time spent handling the foal pays dividends in the long run. An unruly yearling, or worse, two-year-old, is bad news for all concerned.
- Have I got suitable facilities for raising and handling an energetic foal? Safety is important, not only for the mare, her valuable offspring and other horses on the property, but also the people involved.
- Have I got the best mare I can afford? Choose very carefully for type - the classifier will look for a mare that is well proportioned, has correctly conformed limbs, and stands at least 160 cm. A very attractive female head and big eye are desirable for the mare, and these characteristics in the foal can be a strong selling point. To breed a foal eligible for the elite Hanoverian brand, the mare will need to carry the Hanoverian brand on its left thigh, or be a Thoroughbred mare registered in the NZ Racing Studbook, aged three years or over, and standing at least 160 cm. The broodmare you have chosen will need to pass the Hanoverian classification test.
- Which stallion will I use? Choose a licensed and performance-tested Hanoverian stallion, one thatwill complement your mare's stronger points and strengthen her weaker points. If your mare seems more suited to a particular discipline - dressage, show jumping or eventing - then it's sensible to choose a stallion which will enhance those abilities. Now is the time to look at the progeny of different Hanoverian stallions. Visits should be arranged to inspect foals. What is the mare like? How has the stallion improved on her? What size are the foals? How do they move? What is their temperament? Be prepared to look at a lot of mares and foals, and listen carefully to the words of wisdom from those who know from experience. Their knowledge has come from repeated use of research and, of course, some mistakes along the way.
- What is my aim for the future of my foal? Do you want to ride the youngster yourself? What are your capabilities? Can you manage a big, strong-willed horse? Some blood lines may not be suitable for less experienced riders. "Rideability" of the stallion may be an important consideration.
Make your aim the ongoing enjoyment of being an active member of the brilliant Hanoverian worldwide family. For the ninth year, Hanoverian stallions have won Europe's top sport horse award (the WBFSH Trophy) for their progeny's successes in international dressage, show jumping and eventing, like Salinero, ridden by Anky van Grunsven, World Dressage Kur champion; Satchmo, ridden by Isabel Werth, GP Special champion; Shutterfly, ridden by Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, World Equestrian Games show jumping bronze medallist; and Air Jordan and FRH Serve Well, members of the German Eventing gold medal team at the World Equestrian Games.
Become familiar with the costs and processes involved with using imported frozen semen as compared with fresh semen. To help with your research, here are some helpful contacts.