WHY THE MARE?
CAPITAL STUD’S PERSPECTIVE
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. There are proven horses for a reason – blood doesn’t lie. Our goal for the stud is to breed and produce the best horses in the world, and that is going to require the best dam-lines and the most suitable stallions.
– Henning Pretorius, Capital Stud
The best riders need the best horses. Quite how to breed one is an age-old question. To answer it, top global breeders tend to point to the dam-line. Mares that come from the best dam-lines, when put to the correct stallions at least, more often than not produce the best offspring. Quality, inevitably, breeds quality.
Historically, breeders have placed the stallion front and centre; there is a growing movement, however, especially amongst some of the best breeders in the world, to give greater attention to the mare and her dam-lines. The fact that detailed information on these dam-lines is freely available certainly aids the process.
What exactly is a dam-line, then? Quite simply, the dam-line
tracks the succession of mares from a particular foundation mare.
This foundation mare is often special in her own right, but builds a reputation on the performance of her progeny. Of course, it is possible for a weak mare to come from within a strong and proven dam-line: full sisters, for instance, might well produce different quality offspring.
There is no doubt that some branches of a dam-line will become more desirable than others. Some branches of a dam-line will also show greater consistency. The breeder’s challenge, naturally, is to select the correct branch to produce high performance animals.
Selecting the stallion tends to follow the selection of the dam-line in the best breeding programs. It generally follows that a top horse should come from the combination of a mare from a strong dam- line and a suitable stallion. The suitability of the stallion, however, is paramount. He should enhance the mare’s potential, and counteract any weaknesses. The Stallion Index is essential when making this decision. Again, stallions are placed on this Index less for their
own quality than for the performance and characteristics of their progeny. Cor de la Bryère is a case in point: not a performer himself, he ascended the Stallion Index due to the enormous success of his offspring on the competition circuit. A stallion can also balance deficiencies: if, for instance, a dam needs more ‘blood’, she can be put to a stallion that breeds ‘blood’; similarly, if the dam needs better technique, a stallion that breeds technique would be most suitable.
Rarely, an exceptional mare can be bred to a variety of stallions and produce good offspring with most of them. Usha Van’t Roosakker is one such example: her entire dam-line (BWP100) has produced top mares, despite being bred to a variety of stallions.
There is no doubt then that a top broodmare is an invaluable asset
for any breeding programme. Some of the top producers of winning world-class showjumpers have never set foot in an arena and perhaps never jumped a jump and yet their genetics and the heritability
of their genes sets their offspring apart. At Capital Stud, there are multiple treasured broodmares who produce unmistakable quality time after time. Here we meet just some of them.