The breeding program describes the strategy to achieve the formulated breeding goal. A breeding program consists of the following components:
- Description of the information on which the selection is based.
- Method of estimating genetic predisposition for the breeding goal traits for individual horses in the population.
- Systems for selection. The objective of the breeding program is not just for the short term but also for long-term progress. It is therefore important that the breeding program is run with sufficient genetic variation maintained in the population.
To select the characteristics described in the breeding goal, the basis of which data the selection is made, should be determined. Requirements imposed on selection criteria are the following:
1. The characteristics are the breeding objective characteristics or should correlate strongly with these.
2. The characteristics should be measurable or assessable.
3. The characteristics should be in a sufficient degree of genetically determination.
In some cases, indirect sources of information are more meaningful information than directly. Thus, movement by hand and moving freely are assessed as an indirect source of information for sports talent. The characteristics are reasonably correlated and there is much more information available in comparison with data from competitive sport. For the same reason IBOP testing is of great importance for the functional characteristics and indirect information.
The assessment of the exterior plays a major role for the breeding of BPS horses. The exterior will be assessed in all age groups, from foals to older horses. Exterior assessment is the basis of the studbook mares, determines the premiums and allocation of predicates and is an important part of the stallion selection. The qualification and selection for the exterior is based on of the following components in the breeding goal:
- Breed: the assessment of the breeding type characteristics of a horse takes place at the exterior inspection.
- Sports Ability: exterior characteristics provide information about the ability of a sport horse. The basic gaits are assessed in the exterior inspection, since they important for a sport horse. In addition, a horse is rated for (in respect of the sport) functional characteristics, particularly the composition.
- Sustainability: different exterior characteristics (exterior and legs) provide information about the sustainability of a horse.
- The exterior assessment consists of describing the six main characteristics (breeding type, stature, legwork, walk, trot and canter) determines the premiums of a horse.
The direct information about sports aptitude, consists of results from competitive sports. This data is used by the BPS for the selection of older stallions for breeding, evaluation of offspring of studbook stallions, evaluating pedigrees in the selection of young stallions, providing the performance predicate for mares, etc. The data coming from competitive sports knows some limitations. The data becomes available at a relatively high age. For the breeding of BPS horses, it must also be noted that the number of horses being released in competitive sport is (still) relatively small. For this reason, the IBOP test plays an important role in the breeding of BPS horses.
Character can broadly be divided into two aspects:
- Work ethic: this is linked with commitment, perseverance and willingness to perform the requested.
- Ease of use: this is related to honesty, reliability, etc. of the BP horse. Both features will be assessed during the test IBOP.
The collecting and selecting for health traits is developing. In the coming years, health characteristics will play a greater role in the breeding policy. Globally health attributes can be divided into:
- Vitality (durability and maturity)
- Fertility (stallions and mares)
- Resistance to disease
- Genetic disorders
The essence of selection is to appoint those parents that need to produce the next generation of foals. There should be a distinction to be made between stallions and mares. For the mares, the selection indirectly takes place through a premium system and predicates, the better mares are frequently used for breeding. Also, for the stallion selection, the BPS will give preference to approved stallions of recognized EU studbooks. For 2015, preferably only from our own breeding stock and with a maximum percentage of foreign blood.
The stallion selection consists of:
- The stallions are approved at the annual stallion show based on pedigree, own performance, offspring and IBOP.
- Stallions can be registered in the studbook register based on high sports performance.
- Stallions, from other acknowledged studbooks, are recognized by the studbook for our breeding program if they have an added value for our breeding.
- The stallions (BP) must have at least 37,5% Friesian blood and be Pinto black.
- If a stallion does not meet the required percentage Friesian blood but can make a major contribution to our breeding goals and new blood can he be approved by our studbook. He must have an added value, with unique pedigree (inbreeding control) and quality. These stallions are entered in Type XX and FB.
The stallion has three round of inspection.
1. Viewing on the streets. Exterior / movement.
2. Viewing by moving freely.
3. Viewing by hand.
Within three years after its approval, the stallion must pass positive on the IBOP test (min. 60 points) which is the responsibility of the owner. This information is also published on the website. The stallion inspection will be organized annually in the period March-April. There must have produced sufficient offspring (at least 20) of quality. The average scores of these offspring are published. Based on the examination, offspring stallions may be disapproved. The data coming from the offspring study provides valuable information on the stallion selection and will be published. Stallions must score an average of 40 points for the breeding value and have a reliability of at least 20%. The quality of the mare material is included in the final assessment. The stallion is put on hold when he cannot meet the requirements as stated above, meaning not producing enough offspring of quality, or to not pass the IBOP test. When a stallion is rejected or put on hold, and the stallion is still used for breeding the foals will be registered in the Pre-Book instead of the Foal Book.
Stallions successful in sports outcome:
With the objective of improving on the sports aptitude, the policy provides for a separate selection process for entry in the studbook register stallions (minimum 6 years old) with very good performance (minimum level Z2) in the sport. This stallion does not need to perform the IBOP test anymore. The stallion must meet the same requirements in terms of conformation, semen analysis, etc.
Mares with unknown parents, can be registered into one of the pre-books for the first 6 years (until 2015). They must satisfy the variety characteristics and be useable for our breeding. They must also register a DNA profile. There is no direct selection of mares, from all mares in one of the registers mares offspring are also registered, (regardless of the quality). Indirectly mares are selected. Through a system of predicates and premiums mares are differentiated by quality. The predicates are based on the quality of the mare (exterior / sport aptitude) or the quality of the offspring (exterior / sport aptitude). The better-quality mares will produce more offspring. The predicates are described in the registration bylaws.
Mares can achieve the following predicates: Star 1st or 2nd premium, Elite, Preferential and Performance.
At the studbook inspection, all mares are judged on exterior and movement. All horses will be judged based on the linear scoring form. This form must contain all sorts of features of the exterior and the movement assessed. This results in a detailed description of the characteristics of the horse relating to the BPS population. Thereafter, a grade is given for the main characteristics, exterior, movement and breeding type. The whole gives information on the physique and functionality and thus the quality of the horse. The linear scoring form benefits the owner, he also has a complete report on the horse, beside the judgment. The linear score sheets are also used to calculate the breeding values (studs), where breeders can determine their choice in stallion.
- Scoring characteristics:
The linear score sheet will feature exterior, breeding type and movement, separately displayed. For each characteristic, the two extreme values (e.g., long and short, and upwards and downwards) below, separated by nine checkboxes. The middle three indicate that what is seen in a horse falls within the goals of the population. The three checkboxes left and right of the middle three indicate that either the left attribute (for example upward or the right attribute (e.g. downwards) is evident in the horse. By ticking one of the nine squares the inspector/jury indicates the extent to which this characteristic is available in the horse. In addition to these features, there are extra spaces, that can be crossed by an inspector/jury as the horse shows a defect or abnormality, or if a comment on that part needs to be made. Examples include an underbite, eczema, uneven hooves or a rams head.
After all characteristics are entered on the score sheet, the judges determine the marks. Now, the jury will post an appreciation of what they have observed in the scoring of the characteristics. These figures are given for the main features, walk, trot, canter, composition, legs and breeding type. The scale used is from 1 to 10, wherein steps of 0.5 are used. From the figure 5.5 the horse scores a sufficiently. For studbook-registration, at least 36 points with a maximum of one inadequate (grade 5 or lower on the basic gaits) must be obtained.
To assess whether the policy has led to the desired result, the breeding policy will be evaluated. If the targets are not met, the breeding/selection policy is to be changed. This breeding policy is a cyclical process. A tool used by the BPS in the evaluation, is the genetic trend for the breeding goal traits. Based on the average breeding value for an characteristic by birth, the BPS determines if progress is being made.
In an open population like that of the BPS, inbreeding plays no important role in the breeding policy. The fact is that the inbreeding within the population of the BP horse will increase in the future. The BPS will advise breeders to continue using sufficient foreign blood in the future. By also using stallions with type BP and XX, we will reach our breeding goals faster and breed stronger horses.
Inbreeding at horse level
When pairing horses, members are ongoingly advised by the BPS, to prevent inbreeding. The inbreeding coefficient is calculated within five generations but is not yet listed on the pedigree certificate. However, the percentage of foreign blood is mentioned in the pedigree certificate.