17 January 2001
Thank you for the interesting letter on stallions and my first reaction is that I would like to receive more communications like this and to be consulted on the policy of the Society.
Taking the second paragraph first, as a stallion owner, I really wouldn’t mind the Society guiding me in the use of my stallion as I feel that the genetic diversity and preservation of rare blood lines far supercedes any personal preference.
Odin has been one of the most successful stallions in all disciplines from showing to hacking, from jumping to dressage and we have done a lot with him for two main reasons. Firstly I don’t think people will bring their mares to you unless they see the stallion out and about and secondly, apart from the native stallions, anyone “up country” will do the breed a better service by letting people see the ponies working and, hopefully, winning, in mixed company than having them run wild in a field.
We have had, I think, three stallion premiums for Odin and they have been greatly appreciated but I would not be at all sorry to see them go if it benefitted the breed overall. I think it is probably a dodgy idea to award premiums, I need not remind the Committee of the problems caused when only some ponies get premiums which then leads you to a “blanket” premium which rather defeats the object.
Assuming that the colt would not have been licensed in the first place if the Society did not feel it was a worthy example of its breed, then in theory at least, all should get a premium who come forward. If you go to the other extreme and just award premiums to class winners, then you get this “Show Winner” bias. There is a third option and that is to award premiums in categories eg performance stallion - points achieved in ridden activities not just shows, rare bloodlines and perhaps stallion on native heath.
I think you are probably right though and to give travel incentives to attend parades is possibly the best method but you should perhaps issue a standard form for owners to fill in so that each stallion carries the same info and those of us who write better than others (!) don’t dominate the parade with our information. The form should carry name, area, stud fee, bloodlines especially poining out any rare blood lines, achievements not only in showing but is he good to ride out? Does he run with mares? etc and anything else that the Committee deems useful. These could be photocopied and made available to mare owners at the parade or the info could be put into a directory.
I do not accept that a directory would be too expensive to do and I will do it for you if you wish. It should contain photos and be a real shop window both for the breed and for the stallions. Print costs are dropping and while I would need the Society to pay for these, I will put it all together and phone all stallion owners to make sure they send back their forms and photos. If the forms could go out in the Spring Newsletter, I could get something together by April to print by May and therefore available to mare owners this season. I could explore sponsorship but I think you could put some of the premium money towards it. This should encourage the use of less popular stallions. It would need an informed article at the front on choosing the bloodlines. It would help enormously if someone could recommend various blood lines for individual mares. I would love the Society to be able to tell me which stallion would be best within say 50 - 100 miles for my Blackthorn mare by Buzzard out of Muffin - I am sure it is not Odin but which bloodlines would be helpful to the continuation of the breed? I don’t know, I want someone to tell me.
I think the last bullet point about unbiased advice on genetics is good and can we see lots, lots more of that advice. I don’t even know if Odin carries any rare blood lines on his dams side, in fact although I have an extended pedigree, I don’t really know what it all means as regards bloodlines and the future of the breed.
Personally, I don’t really need an incentive to show off my stallion although a nice rosette is always appreciated. I would prefer to go to a parade without any premiums as there is always that tenseness that one may not be awarded. I know for a fact that this puts off people bringing their stallions, esp after the Midlands parade a few years ago. Distance can be a problem - I think it would be great if we could have a parade at mixed shows too - can we have one at Ponies UK where we may attract new enthusiasts into the breed? It wouldn’t matter if we had four or more Parades to enable people to come as long as people only took one travel premium (if you offer them). They could go to all four but just get financial help for one.
So, aboloish premiums, have stallion parades, offer travel assistance if required and do a very good stallion directory - I really don’t think the current one is anything like adequate.
And please, lots more impartial advice on bloodlines, I would really find that helpful.