What is a Keuring?

By May 21, 2011

A Sierra Vista premium foal, Fendi, by Devonheir out of Nelissa, a G Ramiro Z mare.

The KWPN (Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands) is a breed registry consisting of an official list of mares and stallions that have successfully fulfilled the Dutch Warmblood breed requirements. The Dutch Warmblood is one of the most successful horses developed in postwar Europe, known for its athleticism and even temperament. In 2010 the KWPN registry was ranked number one in both jumping (by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses) and dressage (by the Fédération Equestre Internationale).

In order to evaluate the breeding horses and their offsprings, KWPN organizes annual “keurings” (official inspections) in which horses are judged on their soundness and ability to perform at the highest levels of FEI sports. The jury evaluates the horse’s conformation, movement and pedigree in relation to the strictly established breed goals. The keuring inspection includes Young Horse classes, which cover foals, weanlings and two-year olds, and Studbook inspections, evaluating horses ages three and older, as well as mares and stallions from Erkend studbooks. Riding horses are inspected as Dressage, Jumper or Hunter types. Only breeding horses (mares and stallions) may actually advance to the studbook registry, whereas premiums (reserved for young horses) and predicates (given to three-year-olds and older) can be awarded to all horses. Horses receive predicates within their breeding direction, which is designated by their owners at the time of signing up.

Several kinds of predicates may be awarded to a horse. Among them are the steur (star), which is the basic predicate awarded at studbook inspection to mares, geldings and stallions with a first premium. Approximately only 30 percent of the presented horses earn their star predicate. Within the dressage and harness category, the jury evaluates horses for movement and conformation. Jumpers and hunters are judged based on their free jumping ability, with a minimum jump height of 160 cm (5’3″).

The IBOP is a predicate awarded to KWPN-registered horses that successfully complete a specially designed riding test. The IBOP is a required element for the keur or elite predicates.

The keur is a predicate for mares only. The conformation standards for the keur are higher than those for the star. The mare must be both keur eligible and meet performance requirements either by passing the IBOP or by submitting sufficient sport performance scores within her designated breeding direction.

The elite predicate supersedes the keur predicate and is awarded to keur mares that have also completed and passed the prok (radiograph) requirements for arthritis of the pastern, navicular bone, bone spavin, sesamoids and osteochrondosis in the hock and/or the stifle joint.

The inspections are held annually in the Netherlands and North America. The KWPN-NA is in charge of the American inspection tour, usually held in the fall. The North American Keuring tour covers anywhere from 10 to 13 locations around the U.S. and Canada and inspects on average 300 horses. The jury, consisting of at least three members, travels to the various locations. The chairman/spokesman of the jury comes from Holland to ensure that the standard in North America is on par with that of KWPN. The Dutch judge is also an inspector and a member of the kern team (a specialized group of judges from Holland who are required to have several years of judgeship service under their belt prior to joining the kern ranks). The remaining jury members are judges from the U.S. who have been properly trained and have toured with the keuring inspection for several years.

The locations for the keuring tour are chosen by the KWPN-NA Members Committee based on participation surveys and host applications. Only two locations in the United States—DG Bar Ranch in Hanford and Iron Spring Farm in Coatesville, PA—conduct keuring tests for dressage and jumping.  The participation cost per horse ranges from $75 to several thousand dollars.

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