BY Natalie DiBerardinis
As part of the process to earn their lifetime breeding approval, young warmblood stallions must complete certain performance requirements to prove their qualities as riding horses. There are a few routes one can use to achieve these performance results including through traditional sport (Prix St. Georges level in dressage or 1.40meters in jumping) but the most common route these days is through attending a Sport Test.
These 3-day Stallion Sport Tests are required by most registries to be completed two times between the ages of 4 and 6 years old to fulfill the sport requirements. The tests are focused on one discipline (either dressage or jumping) and stallions are evaluated multiples times over a 3-day window including a Guest Rider session.
In North America, we’ve been running the NA Stallion Sport Tests (NASST) for six years now and the format has been readily embraced by both the stallion owners and the breed registries that license/approve these young stallions. The tests generally have between 12-25 stallions participating in any given year and with two locations (east and west coast), we draw participants and spectators from around the US and Canada.
Our panel of officials comes from 4 different countries and we have strong support from the Oldenburg, Hanoverian, Westfalen, and KWPN registries in particular that have their own registry officials also at the testing sites.
The West Coast test was held in charming Solvang, CA at the picturesque Pollyrich Farms owned by Rick & Buffy Oas who shared their perspective with us. “In 2017, Rick and I felt honored when we were asked to be the host site for the West Coast North American Stallion Sport Test. Over the years everything has settled into more of a routine.
This makes our job a little bit easier given the fact that the past two years we‘ve had one of our own young stallions participate in the test. We really feel like a ‘jack of all trades’ during the three days as we change hats from Rider/Trainer, to Barn/Event Manager, to Caterer and so on. However it is definitely is a lot of fun!”
Buffy also echoed the sentiment of camaraderie that we often hear from others attending the tests. “We have made a lot of friends and met many wonderful people over the years. It is so nice to see the NA Stallion Sport Test grow more as people are becoming educated about its purpose.
“I think it really brings some continuity among all of the different Verbands and is a good tool for breeders to see the advancement of the up-and-coming stallions. We were very pleased with our young jumper stallion, Emerson (Emerald v’t Ruytershof-Solomon), who scored an 8.03 in his final 5yo test this year. We’re looking forward to his future and definitely looking forward to hosting again in 2024.”
Emerson was one of 6 stallions competing at this testing. The top-scoring Jumper Stallion was Magnum TN (Berlin-Stakkato), owned/ridden by Erik Garcia and bred by Team Nijof. The 6-year old earned scores of 8 or 8.5 in all categories with his canter and scope being highlights to finish on an overall 8.23 score.
“Magnum is a committed jumper and a stallion with a strong pedigree. He has a lot of power and a good technique in his frontlegs. His canter is sportive with a fast hindleg and well balanced,” said Discipline Expert Bernhard Thoben.
In the dressage section, it was the handsome black stallion Serupgaards Cezanne (Torvestlettens Sylvester-Romanov), ridden by Willy Arts, owned by Richard & Linda Nickerson, and bred by Heidi Bickham, that took top honors for this year’s test. His 8.76 overall score stood at the top and included highlights of 9 for his trot and rideability.
Discipline Expert Floor Droge commented, “he is a well-developed stallion with three good gaits, he shows a remarkable natural balance, beautiful silhouette and a top rideability. His trot is already adjustable and shows a lot of technique.”
With one travel day scheduled to get from the west to east coast, the officials left sunny California to head to the beautiful Hilltop Farm in Colora, Maryland to begin a new test with 13 new stallions (8 for dressage, 5 for jumping).
The east coast site has traditionally seen higher participation numbers than the west coast site. Both tests are scored independently from each other and there is no bell curve to the scoring so it makes for easier comparison of scores between tests (even those in Germany) and across years.
Like Pollyrich, Hilltop Farm has been host to NASST since its inception in 2017 and their head trainer, Michael Bragdell, has presented at least one stallion every year of the testing. This international event is one of the highlights to our calendar year and one that we’re proud to be involved with. This year’s test saw beautiful fall weather and an interesting group of young stallions in both disciplines.
For the dressage stallions, the top-scorer was Nick of Diamond (Glock’s Toto Jr.-Johnson), bred by Barbara Lichtendahl, owned by Roxanne Christenson, and ridden by Lindsay O’Keefe. Based in Wellington, Florida meant a long trek north for the testing but it was worth the trip. His overall score of 8.65 included 9’s for his walk and rideability.
“He is a stallion with a strong body, all three gaits show a strong use of the hindleg. His walk is always clear, active and powerful. His trot and canter have a good technique and a lot of balance and he shows a promising capability for collection. He was always focused on the rider, in a good frame and responding to the aids,” commented Floor Droge.
A similarly strong performance was seem from the top Jumper stallion as well. Un Heros D’Urano Gouden Bit Z (Urano de Cartigny-Chacco Blue), owned by Kelley Robinson and Karen Forbes and bred by P. Goossens, was well-presented by Kelley.
Bernhard Thoben had this to say about the 5-year old, “He is good typed stallion with a correct foundation. His canter is well-balanced with a high frequency. He is really quick off the ground with a uniform technique and is very careful.” For full results and more information on the NA Stallion Sport Tests, visit us on Facebook or at www.stallionsporttest.com