Dressage Stallion Production--Part 2 Subdivisions by Age
I think it is useful to think of stallion production in a few different groups: 1) foal maker 2) Under saddle (3-6 years old) 3) Short tour horses 4) GP horses 5) Damsire.
Some stallions are known as "foal makers", which normally means the foals they produce are gorgeous with pretty heads and nice toplines, well-proportioned, and have fancy trots with good posture and front leg technique. Breeders who want to sell foals gravitate to these stallions, because it generally makes selling foals much easier. However, it is important to note, especially for riders, that fancy foals of this type don't always translate to fancy riding horses (although sometimes it does). As I have discussed in previous posts on buying foals, it is very difficult to predict the adult horse from the foal.
Stallions that produce well in one group don’t always produce well in other groups, and knowledge about production in the various groups changes over time, so stallion popularity will sometimes change depending on how their offspring in the various groups are performing. I’ve seen stallions that initially produced very boring foals, but then became more popular as they produced good riding horses (Totilas). Some stallions produce really super foals and super riding horses, but few of them become FEI horses (Furstenball). Some stallions produce gorgeous, fancy foals that can be spooky and tense under saddle, but make good GP horses (Jazz). Of course, there are always exceptions to general trends.
I spend far too much time looking at international competition results and seeing which stallion names keep coming up. Some sires reliably produce good short tour horses but don't produce as many GP horses. The WBFSH (World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses) and FEI World ranking list are good indicators of which sires are currently producing GP horses (although the lists are calculated slightly differently, the rankings are determined by scores earned within the past year at international (CDI) GP competitions only, so while informative they are limited in predictive value).
As an aside, it is worth noting that some stallions are really good dam-sires, and their production record as a dam-sire can be quite different than their direct offspring. But that’s a whole new topic. Suffice it to say those two scenarios are not the same, and despite a particular stallion reliably producing certain traits in their direct offspring, this does not often translate to production through the dam-line.
I feel like I need to close this section by reiterating that we are looking at trends and patterns, and not every offspring from a specific stallion needs to have a particular behavior to notice an overall trend. I’ve had plenty of conversations with breeders or riders who will reply “but I had an offspring from X stallion whom everyone says produces spooky, and he wasn’t spooky”. This is one of the reasons why I try to look at as many offspring as possible, in an attempt to get a representative sample of a stallion's offspring. The larger and more random the sample (hopefully) the more reliable the results. With this in mind, in the next few blogs I'm going to give my general thoughts on the offspring of a few different well-known sires. We'll start with one of my personal favorites: VITALIS!