By Jo de Roo
Photography: Jo de Roo
Bas Huijbregts is a seasoned breeder. Driven by passion, supported by a family of horse people, and armed with knowledge and skills, he continues to write his success story, but in the most modest way.
So far, ‘All In’ is the most important chapter in this story. Bas bred this brand new Olympic champion in 2006, so I joined him for coffee and listened to him talk about his vision, about stallion approvals, selection, choosing stallions for dams, uneven feet, the challenges of breeding showjumpers, the mentality and intelligence of a horse, embryo transfer and ICSI, his ultimate dream, and so much more....
Born in 1969, Bas Huijbregts is married to Sabina and is the father of Maxim, Liv, and Thieu. “Professionally I was a farrier. Four or five years ago I suffered a hernia in my back that was operated on successfully. But it meant that I had to reduce my activity as a farrier. Alongside the farriery business, my wife and I have been involved in running our horse boarding house, taking care of, breeding, training, and riding horses, etc. Currently two of our children are interested in horses and work in our family horse business ‘De Krochten’. Our eldest child, Thieu, wants to be a farrier and I accompany him two evenings a week. He also likes to ride and rides very well, up to 1m50 level. Our daughter Liv once participated in the European Championship for ponies.” Laughing; “Maxim isn’t at all interested in horses, but that’s okay.”
Health issues have made a kink in Bas’s career: “I am active in the horse trade. We also conduct many breeding activities from which we train and sell horses. I also trade in straw, and especially hay from France, and I employ someone who transports it with a truck. We have built an ebb-and-flow horse arena on our property, and this works so well that we already have 10 customers for whom we have also installed a similar arena.”
Q Have you already been honoured as a breeder?
Yes, by the SBS in Belgium. It is a small studbook, but as a breeder one is highly valued by them. (Bas has already successfully presented several stallions to SBS in the past.)
Q Why SBS?
I like the inspection system of SBS and Zangersheide. I think that both studbooks use the most correct system for the horses. Their stallion inspections take place in March, so the stallions do not have to be removed from the meadow extra early. You can do this in October or November and then gradually give them extra food, let them jump at freedom, and then present them at the inspection in March.
At the stallion approvals of SBS and Zangersheide, the inspection starts on Saturday morning with the conformation assessment, followed by free jumping. On Sunday the candidate stallions have to jump again, and afterwards the jury decides which ones are approved. There should be no return for a trial under the saddle, which I don’t think is a fair test. The stallions are not at all ready for that at that age. If they simply jump over the obstacles, they will not be approved. They have to jump with a lot of presence, otherwise they will be sent home. I think that’s a difficult discussion.
Q What about subsequent selection by the breeders?
It’s simple: A stallion that jumps well will cover many mares following his approval. Who wants to have his mare covered by a stallion who does not jump well? It is ultimately the breeder who decides. We have also seen stallions in the past who passed a good performance test after their approval, but did not become good showjumpers later. The reverse is also true: Stallions that are kicked out during the performance test who later perform at 1m60 level. No one can look into a crystal ball. The judges can do nothing more than anyone else. Anyone who has an eye for horses can fill in such an assessment form and indicate which are the best showjumping stallions. And let’s be honest: The greatest quality of a horse is between the ears. No one can judge that... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO BREEDING NEWS
SUBSCRIBERS CAN READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY LOGGING IN AND RETURNING TO THIS PAGE