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Ask Otto: Popular Inspection Day Questions

German Stud Book Director Otto Schalter brings his expertise from judging keurings both in Germany and North America, and reveals some secrets about how to breed for success, and follow that up with a successful inspection day.

1). Q). Though we've seen this one before, it's still by far the most popular inspection-day question! Why did my foal score silver/bronze instead of gold?

A). Foal scores are divided into two categories - Exterior (which includes conformation, correctness and breed and sex type), and Movement. Each category has the potential for 10 points. Some foals score lower in Exterior due to stage of growth, condition, etc., but make up points in movement. Others look super standing in the halter, then fail to show outstanding swing, or are too much on the forehand in their movement, resulting in a lower movement score. Remember that Gold Premium means outstanding. Silver premium scores mean very good, and Bronze means still better than average. Foals who receive no premium are average or below.

2). Q). My foal was born in July, so he's two months younger than some of the other foals. Should I present him? Will his smaller size affect his score?

A). The size of the foal is taken into consideration ALONG WITH his/her date of birth. A young foal is not penalized for being small. What is a confusion sometimes is the judge's comments regarding the foal's FRAME size. A foal that is not well-grown for his age, or lacks Frame/Potential for good growth/Size for the sport horse disciplines will receive a lower score than a foal that is well grown for his age and leggy.

3). Q). Should I pay a professional handler to present my mare/foal/stallion? How important is conditioning and grooming to Inspection scores?

A). The most important part of presenting is to get the horse to relax and yet move forward freely, so she will show her gaits properly. If you feel you can't handle the horse safely or to its best advantage, then by all means look for a professional handler. In regards to grooming and conditioning - it is important, but not everything. For foals, sometimes we see a big, good-looking foal, fat and shiny, raised in a stall. He looks brilliant in the halter, but in movement, he is too heavy, un-athletic, and then his movement score is lower. Another foal comes in from pasture and he is a bit rough coated and lean but he MOVES, up in front, active behind, and swinging through his whole body. This colt will have the higher movement, and possibly overall, score. For mares and stallions the handling and conditioning is important, as they must present their gaits initially in hand, and overall appearance/top line is very much affected by condition. Some training to walk freely forward, as relaxed as possible, in the bridle, will help your walk score. Carrying adequate muscle tone and weight will improve the appearance of your mare's top line.

4). Q). Do I need to present my mare in a bridle? How about foals? Should he move out with the halter on or off?

A). Mares should be presented in a bridle, though exceptions may be made. Foals should initially be presented for the drawing of their markings and evaluation of conformation in a halter, and then the halter AND lead should be removed to show the foal free beside the mare. Foals generally show themselves better in movement without the added distraction of the halter.

Read more Ask Otto columns at the new Articles Archive