stabeltalk

Friday, 03 December 2010 16:39

Stable Talk

Written by  Bruce A. Roy
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The reputation of a horseman is on the line when he is called upon to place a class of foals. When compared with judges in the British Isles, few North American judges select class winning foals which go on to capture top honours as they mature. Those few North American judges who make foals a breed's grand champion are called "prophets" in breed circles. Not so in the British Isles. Why?

Published records suggest teamsters who handle few foals have problems selecting colts or fillies; foal class winners that go on to win their class when shown in following years. While the record of North American breeders surpasses that of their counterparts, horsemen best-known as linesmen, they too receive failing grades when their record is compared to the records of overseas breeders who are employed as foal judges. Why?

Clydesdale breeders overseas, in particular, are sharp students of conformation and movement. They seemingly express greater concern than North American judges do, evaluating the character of a foal, his substance, bone, bottom and structural correctness. Size alone appears a lesser concern.

How animals succeed in the show ring overseas following a successful run as a foal is important to a judge's success. The many foal shows held each fall in Scotland offers Clydesdale breeders every opportunity to become skilled judges whose class winners go on to become the breed's future stars.

Officials at shows in North America have taken steps which assist those employed to judge foal classes. Dividing the colts and fillies into classes for junior and senior foals was a positive step taken by many exhibitions. However, this, too, can be improved.

Ringmen should line up foals in a class oldest to youngest for the judge's consideration. Better yet, the gateman should have foals enter the show ring oldest to youngest if a show ring schedule is crowded for time. This gives the judge benchmarks for evaluating the foals present for inspection once the age of the oldest and youngest entries are disclosed by the ringman. Such a protocol would assist the judge employed.  More colts and fillies, foal class winners, would go on to become breed stars.

Such a protocol facilitates the task of a judge. His ability to select winning foals which become future breed greats would improve. His reputation as a judge of draft horses would command greater respect. Likewise, the playing field for May/June foals would be leveled with those foaled in January/February. The complaint often heard ringside that the judge is placing foals on their height alone would be silenced.
At least that is how I see it.
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