All Hanoverian horses bred in New Zealand and registered with the NZ Hanoverian Society have been sired by horses that have gained their licensing and performance testing approval.
In Germany, a selection process is in place to ensure that only those colts that meet the desired standards of breed type, conformation, movement, temperament and performance will gain entry into the breeding studbook.
This rigorous selection and licensing, which all young potential breeding stock must undergo before they can be included in the breeding studbook, is the cornerstone of the modern Hanoverians' success.
In the case of stallions, the selection is very demanding and the rules prohibit any stallion standing at stud until he has been fully licensed and performance tested. Only the progeny of these stallions, out of "main studbook" mares, can be considered for inclusion in the Stallion Studbook.
Licensing inspection is done in Germany when the selected colts are 2 ½ years of age, but can be done for an older horse under special circumstances, or in New Zealand by an inspection commission that includes a representative of the Verband.
Performance testing is done in Germany when the licensed stallions are aged at least 3 ½ years, but an older stallion may achieve performance approval through his own success in FEI level competition. There are strict rules around the level of performance required. (see below)
For a prospective stallion, the first step on the selection ladder is his pedigree. To qualify, a colt must have at least six generations of approved ancestors. The dam and the dam's dam must be main Studbook mares. It is also mandatory that the dam has passed the ridden performance test, if she was born in 1990 or later.
• Desirable stallions from non-Hanoverian breed populations recognized by the VHW, which have gained breeding approval and entry into the Stallion Book of that population, may also be accepted by the Verband, on an individual basis, for Hanoverian breeding over approved Hanoverian mares. Such stallions must have scored at least 120.0 points in their Performance test. Well-known examples of this are the Oldenburg stallion, Donnerhall, and the Westphalian, Rubinstein. In New Zealand, the Westphalian stallion Landro-L and the KWPN stallion, Prestige VDL come into this category.
Thoroughbred stallions may also be accepted into the NZ Hanoverian Stallion Book. In the case of a Thoroughbred stallion, he must have at least four generations of pedigree recognized by the New Zealand Racing Conference and fulfill certain performance criteria. He must also undergo and pass a licensing inspection.
Colts that have a suitable pedigree go through the selection process in several steps, as described in the following flow chart.
Stallion selection Flow Chart
The selection process
The approving of stallions for breeding is an exceptionally thorough and very lengthy process. Although some testing is done in other countries, the main stallion licensing is in Germany, home of the breed.
The first step in the selection process takes place just before weaning, at roughly six months of age. Colts that display outstanding qualities are chosen to be reared at the Stallion Rearing Stud at Hunnesrueck, which is connected to the State Stud Celle, or by private stallion rearers. To get this far, a young horse has to pass very stringent inspections for pedigree, conformation, type and gaits, as well as freedom from any physical defects, hereditary diseases or abnormalities.
At the age of two these stallions are brought before a commission of the Verband, which makes a pre-selection for the main licensing. Of the 800 or so presented, only about 100 colts are chosen to go on to the main stallion grading at two-and-a-half years of age. Before the licensing, they have to pass a thorough veterinary inspection (including Xrays of all joints), by two vets contracted to the Verband. Those not chosen to go forward for licensing will eventually be gelded and sold as riding horses.
Licensing inspection is the evaluation of the colt or stallion's breed type, conformation, movement, correctness of gait and jumping ability. A colt that has successfully passed the licensing inspection is still not fully approved for breeding until he has met certain performance criteria.
In New Zealand, a stallion may be licensed provided he fulfills the requirements as described in the NZ Hanoverian Society rulebook.
Requirements for licensing
Identity of the stallion must be verified prior to licensing
- six generations of approved populations
- dam and mother of the dam must be in the main-studbook
- in the case of a Thoroughbred stallion, he must be recognized by the NZ Racing Conference.
Evaluation of type, conformation and gait
- final score of 7, no subscore below 5
- includes free-jumping and canter for stallions before performance testing
- no hereditary diseases
- no defects of genitalia (e.g. cryptochidism, small or unilateral testes)
- no abnormalities of teeth
- no heaves, cribbing, moon blindness, roaring, glanders, mental disorder
- no operations or treatments to correct any defects or deficiencies
The main Stallion Licensing and Stallion Sales in Germany is held at the Breed Society headquarters in Verden each year, over a three day period.
When they arrive, the young stallions first undergo a veterinary inspection. Then each horse is presented before a panel of judges and is shown both on a special "walking lane" and on the "triangle", so that the horse can clearly be seen both approaching and going away from the judges. Marks are given for conformation, presence and masculinity as well as for correctness of paces together with a supple, ground covering stride. A total score of "seven" is required for a stallion to pass.
On the second day the young stallions are lunged and tested in free-jumping, after which they are presented in small groups, at the walk, in the main indoor arena. At this time, the results are announced. This is one of the high spots of the year for breeders, and a real tension crackles round the packed ranks of spectators as the president of the judges stands up to announce the results: "Licensed" or "Not Licensed"! On these simple words hangs the result of over two years work and careful preparation by the colts' owners: no wonder that the tension is so great!
Of the hundred or so colts sent for Licensing, only about half will pass the judges' scrutiny. Colts which fail the Licensing are not allowed to stand as stallions. Even so, being very high quality animals, most "not-licensed" colts will have, when gelded, an important future as riding and competition horses.
The third day is the day of the "Stallion Sales". There are two auctions - one for the licensed stallions and a separate one for those stallions that were not licensed. This is an excellent opportunity to buy a carefully raised performance horse prospect.
For the licensed stallions, the selection process is not yet over. They must pass a stallion performance test, which assesses rideability under saddle, for their progeny to be eligible for Hanoverian registration.
The Stallion Performance Test
For the successful, "licensed", stallions the selection process is not yet over. They are only licensed on condition that they pass a stallion performance test at a specially created testing center like the one at Adelheidsdorf, near Celle. The stallions are examined in dressage, show jumping and cross country performance as well as having their galloping paces carefully measured.
Three fundamentally different ways are offered to stallion owners to get a stallion approved for breeding:
- the stallion performance test (70-day test) with or without the preliminary 30-day test
- the combination of a 30-day test followed by successful competition participation at lower level classes
- performance successes in dressage and jumper classes at the S-level or in three-day events at the M-level
The really vital aspect of the whole procedure is that, before the actual Performance Test, the private stallions remain at the Testing Centre for 70 days, stallions of the State Stud for 300 days, during which time they undergo carefully controlled and standardised training by professional riders. This ensures that the test is a true and fair assessment of the stallions. The training and testing is backed by the highest standards of horsemanship and really does give a profound insight into the capabilities and potential of each stallion.
There is as yet, no provision in New Zealand for the Performance testing of young stallions. However, a suitably eligible stallion may gain his performance approval in New Zealand by achieving certain criteria in FEI equestrian sport.
The Criteria are:
The stallion achieves three placings (1st to 3rd) in one or more of the following:
- Dressage at FEI level (Prix St.Georges, Intermediare I or II, Grand Prix), achieving 65% or more, with at least two FEI level judges, one of whom is from outside NZ. The score will be the average of the two FEI judges.
- Showjumping at Grand Prix level (1.40m or more).
- Three Day Eventing two star level or above.