breeder’s goal is also important in selecting the right stallion for a mare. In general, KWPN horses are bred for a specific discipline, such as dressage or jumping, because international-level equestrian sports are highly specialized. Over the years, the KWPN’s breeding policy has likewise become specialized. Knaap: “In practice, this means that jumper mares are paired with jumper stallions, and dressage mares are matched with dressage stallions. Such practices advance progress in breeding. Naturally, such progress is predicated on horses meeting specific requirements for conformation, movement, durability, and temperament. KWPN horses are known for their willingness and health – qualities which KWPN breeders want to maintain. For these reasons, an increasing number of mares are radiographed prior to breeding. The KWPN encourages this practice by awarding predicates to healthy mares.”

The KWPN’s current position as the number one studbook for both dressage horses and jumpers in the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses rankings proves that KWPN breeders know how to match their mares to the right stallions. Knaap: “Although breeders’ success is due in part to experience and instinct, it is also the outcome of practicing compensation breeding. In other words, breeders choose stallions that will compensate for a mare’s weaknesses but not override her strengths. For example, a mare with a short neck is bred to a stallion with a long neck or one that is known for passing on a long neck. Some breeders prefer promising young stallions, while others opt for proven older sires. Choices are often based on tolerance for risk and stud fees. Although the decision to breed to a young stallion involves more risk, they are often genetically superior to their older counterparts. However, it is important for the KWPN population that all its stallions are bred to approximately the same number of mares.”

Ultimately, breeders are responsible for selecting stallions to pair with their mares. This freedom of choice is what makes horse breeding exciting and dynamic.

Ine van Deurzen

Senior Inspector KWPN