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Ask Otto: Gold Versus Silver Premium Foals

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). What do you look for in a Gold Premium foal as opposed to a Silver or Bronze Premium? How early can you tell if a foal has the potential to score well at his or her keuring?

Gold premium foals have to reach an average score of 8 or higher. 8 means really good type, size, development, natural muscles and uphill build. 'Uphill' depends a bit on the age of the foal. In different ages they can be very high in the back - but even these foals, if they are regularly built the right way, are able to move uphill. In the movement an important point is the topline. We don't need the movement with tail up in the sky, neck upright and the foal trotting around with a stiff body. The movement should show good natural elasticity, with the right impulsion from the hind end floating through the body into a free shoulder. The movement is especially the point in judging foals. I will forgive some exterior points if the top movement (walk/trot/canter) is there. After all, that's what we need the horses for later on - sport or pleasure - they need to have an easy, rideable movement.

Silver premium are foals that don't reach all of the criteria above but are solid individuals with positive possibilities.

Bronze premiums are foals with faults or lower development, size, etc....... Foals not reaching the regular warmblood criteria get no premium.

2). I have a Thoroughbred mare I would like to breed to a Warmblood and present at an RPSI inspection. What advice do you have on selecting a stallion for her? Which Warmblood bloodlines and types seem to cross best with TB mares? My mare is 16 hands, medium frame and bone, Northern Dancer lines.

In general for the Thoroughbred mares you should use a stallion with proven bloodlines and genetics. If possible a modern type, solid in bone and conformation but not too heterogeneous (not having too much variety or dissimilar types) in his pedigree. Especially for that specific mare (medium sized and light in bone, maybe not uphill) you should be sure that the stallion produces long legs, good shoulders and uphill-built offspring. Especially for the TB mares you have to look for a stallion that has a good or very good walk with overreach and rhythm. Some TB in the stallion's pedigree is not a problem - if the stallion is solid in bone and conformation. A good topline is important, with good muscles and a big shoulder.

The Hanoverian G line is good for this (though not all - especially in these days). A lot of Holsteiner stallions reach these criteria - and they are the opposite of heterogeneous. There's a lot of line-breeding in the Holsteiners. Florestan and his (solid) sons are good producers with TB influenced mares. Also some other Westfalian lines like Pilot.

A lot of "hot", "modern", "in the press" stallions are well promoted but not always the genetic solid type for the TB cross.

As always - it depends on the type and the conformation to give detailed advice. But with stallions like the ones mentioned above it should work (like always - with luck and the help of good management).