I first want to thank everyone who took the time to enter their horses in the Breeder’s Bridge To High Performance Contest. We received many great entries, and the response to this contest is wonderful and encouraging. Many have asked what we saw in the five finalists to choose them specifically out of the very talented group. I thought it would be helpful to give some insight into that process.
While there was no age limit on the entries, when looking for a prospect to develop it certainly is something to consider against where a horse is in its training. We did decide to be mindful of the horse's history at the same time, when it was provided. It seemed unfair to discount a former racehorse that was older but had raced for many years prior. Within our discipline, it still could be considered a greener prospect, despite its age.
John and Beezie Madden have a particular type that they like and feel is most athletic. This type is a lighter type horse that is well balanced both in body and mind—powerful but not heavy, sensitive and agile but not too spooky, and brave but not careless. If you look at many of the successful horses in our barn (Authentic, Via Volo, Wrigley, Conquest II and Simon specifically), they tend to be a either a Thoroughbred type or sporthorse type. They are well proportioned, athletic and agile-looking from a distance. Their lighter bone structure and lean muscle lend themselves to being handy, versatile horses. They tend to be sounder than the heavier types, as well. They have even proportions that help in easy lengthening and shortening, and they tend to be more sensitive.
We tried to find prospects in the entries that fit that style. We looked to identify prospects that seemed to be well rounded horses and solid in multiple categories. John says he'd rather "find a horse that jumps an 8 and is an 8 in all other categories, like conformation, personality and soundness, than find a horse that jumps a 10, but is a 4 or 5 in other categories." A horse with an over-the-top jump will sometimes suck you in to the point where you forgive other major issues, and we tried to avoid that.
Charmed, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Nicole Orens and bred by Sporting Chance Farm (Judgement ISF—Moriana, Coriano).
We liked this mare's bravery and hind end. She seemed well coordinated. The video gave us enough variety to have a good feel for her ability. Obviously, we're very experienced with Judgement ISF and his offspring, and this seemed to be a nice example of what he produces.
Watch a video of Charmed...
Constant Star, a 2007 Thoroughbred mare owned by Kimberly Clark and the Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc, and bred by Linell C. Smith (Fantasticat—RisenToTheStars, Diazo).
This mare was well presented in the video and seemed to have good basics and be fairly handy. We liked her workmanlike head, and she's got a good shoulder. Overall, her general conformation seems OK, with a good angle from the point of hip to the point of the croup.
Watch a video of Constant Star....
Coral Key, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood mare owned and bred by Rebecca Galbraith and November Hill (Coconut Grove—Kannieke, Burggraaf).
This mare had a competition round for her video, which gave us a good picture of her in a new environment over jumps she's perhaps not as comfortable over. Conformationally, she has nice ears that are set on well, a broad forehead and good distance between her eyes. She has a refined throatlatch, fairly prominent withers, which John likes, is substantial in her barrel, and has a good hip angle. From what we could tell in the photos and video, her legs look fine.
Watch a video of Coral Key....
Golden Altar, a 2003 Thoroughbred gelding owned by Gina Marie Woods and bred by Tee N Jay Farm (Commendable—Rose Dawn).
This gelding really seemed to have a good demeanor. The video demonstrated his ability over fences both in the ring and out in the open field over a variety of obstacles. Beezie and I especially liked how game he seemed to a variety of fence types.
His balance is nice within his conformation, and he's got the prominent withers John likes and a good shoulder. Again, he has a refined throatlatch and workmanlike expression that seems to match his good attitude.
Watch a video of Golden Altar...
Welcome BF, a 2006 Holsteiner mare owned and bred by Branscomb Farm, LLC (Cassini II—Reika BF, Lavall II).
All the videos and photos presented this mare very well. She exhibited a nice jump with a good hind end and seemed very solid in the basics for her age. She's got a good expression and strong shoulder. From what we could tell through video and photos, she has nice angles in her legs.
Watch a video of Welcome BF....
It was a long process digesting all the video applications, but these five left us wanting to see more. I think we ended up with a quality list of semi-finalists and a good reserve list. Next up, I'll be travelling to try these five horses for myself. I am very interested to see how our choices look in person!