Judge Stefaan De Smet about our Final Inspection 2016

Best wishes for a Happy 2017 to the breeders of the Estonian Sport Horse Studbook

I had the honour to judge the horses at the final young horses show on 4 – 5 November 2016. It was my second time and I much enjoyed to assist again in this competition. Compared to last year, the horses had now to jump two days consecutively. We also saw the horses in stance and moving on the hard ground. This requires more time and effort from the breeders but has the great advantage that one can make a much better evaluation of the horses. Every breeder knows that the performance of many young horses is variable from day to day. Some horses are too much impressed the first moment to show their intrinsic qualities, whereas other horses are not able to repeat their first day performance on the second day. And they learn a lot from the transport, staying overnight in another stable, being cared and being presented to the public. The experience that these young horses get from participating in this competition as part of their education is more important than the actual result to my view.
The conditions in the indoor arena were excellent for judging the horses, and had much improved compared to last year. Almost all horses were well presented and in good condition, and the staff in the arena did a great job in guiding the horses to the obstacles. Congratulations to the organization and the breeders/owners! There was enough time so that each horse had the opportunity to show his qualities.
There could have been even more horses. Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of the horses that I have seen. The type and gaits were satisfactory in most cases but care should be taken to the development of the horses. Some horses were rather light. Modern jumping sport requires fast, intelligent and careful horses but at the same time they need to have enough body length and scope to cover large fences. But having said this, most horses jumped very well and the height and width of the obstacles were similar to the free jumping contests in Belgium.
Most of the horses were bred for jumping but some had a dressage pedigree. They were judged in the same sex and age group, which makes it more difficult for the jury. In several studbooks in Europe nowadays jumping and dressage horses are evaluated separately because the qualities they should express are different. Something to think about. I faced the same dilemma when I had to appoint the best bred Estonian horse. I had to choose between two 3-y old stallions, the beautiful and strong Calido I son Call Me Black and the impressive Quaterhall son Querido. Call Me Black is a modern, nice looking and very complete horse. He was amongst the best jumpers of this competition. On the other hand, Querido is a bit classic type but he showed three good gaits and moved easily and in the right balance. He jumped well enough but it was clear that he is not a natural jumper. I have evaluated them each in their own discipline like I would do at home. I considered that Querido showed these two days slightly more quality as a dressage horse than Call Me Black as a jumping horse. But I must say I have doubted and I can easily understand everyone who might have a different view. These are two horses with a lot of potential and these were not the only ones.
Overall the Estonian Sport Horse Studbook is on the right track to my view and I have met several motivated breeders and owners. My visit to Estonia was a nice experience and I wish the horse breeders and owners good luck and health in 2017 and above all enjoyment with their horses.
Kind regards,
Stefaan De Smet, Belgian Warmblood Studbook, Belgium