USPRE Roundtable highlighted genetics research and a new era of PRE breeding
USPRE, the organization whose objective is the promotion of the PRE on American soil, recently held a Round Table discussion about the new Horizon of the PRE in Sport.
This meeting took place on Saturday 28th of January and was attended by multiple experts representing the different areas of dressage: riders, judges, and breeders, both national and international.
Various topics were addressed: development of the young horse, training, morphology breeding versus sport breeding, Judges’ standards, selection, genetics, breeding lineages…
Hosted by USPRE President Emeritus Kimberly Van Kampen, international Breeders from Guatemala and Costa Rica, Christian Moll and Jose Chavarria respectively, and Olympic riders; Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, Juan Manuel Muñoz, and FEI5* judge, Janet Foy participated. The debate revolved around two central themes: the new tendencies for breeding for sport and the continuously improving role of the PRE in world-class competitive dressage, along with genetics trends.
Along the lines of breeding, Christian Moll from Guatemala explained the conservative position on some morphological breeders, that is to say: to keep the traditional standards of this breed. Nevertheless, he said that now some breeders are focused on the new trends regarding the specific efforts, the new challenges towards the movements, and the importance of the mares in sport.
“The PRE horse is a horse for everything, not just to look at. Previously the horse was more baroque, heavy in built, but through the years, this horse has developed longer necks and better gaits. We, the breeders, have learned where we are going: to produce a horse based on what the market needs, and that is sport. Our horse is loyal, with good character, and above all noble and super smart. Today we, the breeders, are facing new challenges and we have to give more opportunities to the mares under saddle. Because of tradition, we just focus on stallions (50 % of our possibilities), and if we start introducing the mares in sport, we will reach more than the 50%, we will get out of that tradition, and we will take advantage of that 50% remaining”.
The breeding topic kept going, and José Chavarria, an award-winning breeder from Costa Rica, provided another interesting perspective: bloodlines. He insisted that all breeders have to ask themselves: “how can we produce a better Spanish horse?” The Costa Rican breeder stressed that the answer to that question is what drives the breeders to improve generation through generation. One of the tools that he insisted it really helps to produce a good horse, is to look at the genetics.
“The genetics are very, very important, but the stallion selection is key.” Chavarria agreed also on the focus of the mares as Christian Moll did, and both were lined up that the mare contributes more than a stallion, even though it would be interesting to look at top stallions in sport and then compare the lines.
The audience was mesmerized by all the different arguments, and one of the attendees asked what the best way is to search and learn about these bloodlines. Jose Chavarria resolved that question and revealed that SICAB is by far one of the events that showcase the evolution of the breed annually. It represents an essential and necessary element for the breed: a reference point that articulates a great part of the market. He also pointed out that ANCCE has one of the biggest databases in genetics and that information is accessible to everyone through their website. He remarked that previous research in terms of bloodlines, and genes are essential.
The two Olympic riders continued with the debate and targeted the training of the young horse. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz described and explained that the PRE is a total package horse. She declared that the breeding has faced a big change and now the horse looks sportier. In her experience, sensibility and trainability are the main things for youngsters. She admitted that the PRE horses are late developers, which means that they have different phases from their teenage times to adulthood. “When they are 2 to 5 years, they are awkward growing babies with bodies like dinosaurs… “. The audience showed some smiles after that comment. Yvonne also highlighted that when she looks for a PRE one of the most important things she focused on is a good walk in the field.
Juan Manuel Muñoz shared Yvonne’s opinion, but also declared that the PRE is his favorite sport horse. The rider of Fuego de Cardenas reiterated that the PRE horse has a very specific conformation, and the rider has to be smart and patient with his body. More also, he asseverated that PRE horse will give everything but with patience, good trainability, and sensibility with the contact, the results will come sooner or later.
Through that training explanation, FEI 5* Judge Janet Foy synthesized the two visions (breeders and riders) and reminded that many horses are not mentally and physically mature enough when they compete with young horses. She recalled that the breeding has changed so much; what we used to think was top, 25 years on is considered plain. Today, she noted that horses have more freedom and elasticity. In other words, the horse must have active hindlegs, which the PRE has, freedom and reach, and must be elastic.
The attendees gave their various perspectives, but all concluded by emphasizing the importance of focusing on the training of the young horses. Finally, the Round Table encouraged the development of selection and relevant standards of sport for this new era of breeding.