he idea of an international team comprised en- tirely of domestically bred horses sounds very patriotic: Americans on American-bred horses,

Canadians on Canadian-bred horses and so forth, com- peting amongst the best of the best. But is this a realis- tic goal? Of course, the idea of a winning Olympic or WEG

team is also very appealing. Is it possible to have both— a competitive team mounted exclusively on domesti- cally bred horses? We went directly to breeders and one Olympian to get their thoughts.

Do We Have The Quality? Breeders seem to unanimously agree about one thing -- the ability to ship fresh and frozen semen has given North Ameri- can breeders incredible access to top stallions worldwide who are proven in sport and/or with top proven bloodlines. Dissen- tion creeps in with regards to the mares and the breeding cul- ture in North America. Canadian Leslie Jenkins, of

Jenkins Sporthorses, aims to breed international-quality jumpers. “It is the dream of every breeder to breed a top horse,” she acknowledges. “We have access to the best stal- lions, but we don’t have the same breeding culture as the Europeans and we don’t have the same respect for the mares. Too many breeders with mediocre mares think if they breed to a great stallion they’ll get a great foal, but it’s not enough. We need great mares too.” Mo Swanson of Rolling Stone Farm disagrees about

Mo Swanson bred this chestnut mare who is Special Premium candidate Shurreal by Sezuan out of EM Rheporter (Royal Prince/Weltmeyer/Brentano II), a fourth generation product of her breeding pro- gram. With Cara Klothe on board, Shurreal was the highest scoring mare nationally for the 2017 GOV Mare Performance Tests earning her an 8.05.

By Gigha Steinman Will the Dream Ever Come True?

foal of the year, including those in Germany, at my farm. But there is still the feeling from many buyers that Euro- pean is better.” Liz Rothman, of Rothman Sporthorses in California, also believes we have top-quality horses already avail- able here in the U.S. “If the right matches could be made between our top horses and our top riders, our dres- sage team members could compete on North Ameri- can bred horses and do extremely well. A number of our three-day team members already have American- bred horses in their upper-level strings.”

Lack of Riders Of course, it is not enough just to breed a top-quality horse. We need skilled riders to start the young horses, we need up- per-level trainers to bring them along, and we need interna- tional-level riders to make them stars. “Even when North American

breeders produce a top-level tal- ent, we still have to get it into the hands of the top riders. This can be a challenge because there are too few good upper-level riders here, riders who can take a horse to Grand Prix. Most of our riders are amateurs and low or mid-lev- el professionals,” laments Leslie. “Europe has many more profes-

sional riders than we do here, and horse sports are a big business,” Mo says in agreement.

the quality being bred in North America. “We have high-quality foals being bred in the U.S. right now, but there is always a feeling from some buyers that if it’s in Europe, it must be better,” she says. “Think about it—it would not make sense to import low or average quality mares—so Americans have been importing high-qual- ity mares for many years. I have been told by European breed judges here at my farm that they saw the best

The North American Market These breeders generally agree that the biggest mar- ket in North America is female adult amateur riders. This can lead to a dilemma for breeders as they juggle breeding to pay the bills versus breeding for the top of the sport. Breeders seem to have vastly different opin- ions about this dilemma. “Putting horses with people who will maximize my

horses’ potential is not a priority for me,” Mo readily ad- mits. “I have a business to run and bills to pay. I try to place my horses with riders who will enjoy the horse

Warmbloods Today 55

Stacy Lynn Photography

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