By Sally Reid
Photography: Cheleken Photography, Revelwood Stud and private collection
They may be based at the bottom of the world, but geographical isolation hasn’t prevented New Zealand Warmblood breeders from keeping pace with international trends and talents. Committed NZWB breeders are producing youngstock of fully international quality, through the careful selection of broodmares, imported semen from European champions, and the importation of some wonderfully-bred stallions.
Many of today’s NZ Warmblood bloodlines now compare favourably to any in the world, as the latest crop of classification tour champions demonstrates. The 2019 tour assessor was Frank Weisskirchen from Gestüt Isselhook in Raesfeld, Germany, whose comments are included in a separate box with this story.
NZWA President, Jody Hartstone, says, “We run a tour each year so that breeders in New Zealand can check that their breeding is on a par with European standards. We use it to classify mares into the studbook and license stallions who were born either here or off-shore – this is to give them a standardised test where we can assess how they would rate as breeding stallions in Europe.
“We also use the tour as a competition to find the leading foal for the year – and instead of the foals coming to one location, the judge travels to them. This is vitally important in a country so long and with so many isolated places as New Zealand. In Germany, for example, you’d never have to travel your mare and foal for more than an hour or two – whereas here it’s about a 15-hour drive from the top to the bottom of the North Island alone.”
Being so far from the breeding hubs of Europe does not mean that New Zealand horses escape the same kind of scrutiny when they are presented for classification. For example, acceptance into the NZWA Stallion Studbook requires a minimum pass mark of 75%. “Assessor Frank Weisskirchen assured us he was judging these stallions to the same exacting European standards he was used to in Germany,” Hartstone added. “Unfortunately, several stallions did not pass this year.” So, it’s not all plain sailing for horses down here at the bottom of the world. It’s just as hard as it is anywhere else!
Stallion of the tour
This top honour is given to the stallion licensed with the NZWA with the three top-scoring progeny. The winner was an imported Oldenburg, Fugato (Foundation - Wildrose x Fürst Heinrich) who is making a big impact here with the arrival of his first few crops. The eldest of these are now two-year-olds. Fugato himself is still a young horse; he was bred by Sharon Downes and purchased as a three-year-old at the spring elite Oldenburg auction in 2016. He has recently been gelded so he can commence his ridden career for Sheena Ross of Sterling Warmbloods...
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