When it comes to deciding the next step for the young mares that received high assessment, it is the breeders’ ambition that makes the difference. Some of them simply plan to breed from them as soon as an acceptable assessment has been reached and they possibly first and foremost look at their mares as a breeding horse and their value lays primarily in the future profit which lies in their offspring.
Especially when it comes to young mares some decide to present them later for assessment, believing that they may raise their scores still further and will thereby be a good introduction for the breeding work they arrive from. This applies especially when mares come for assessment in the same year as Landsmót is held.
Sometimes, especially when the breeders are either professionals or competition riders, the decision to “sacrifice” a few more years for their mares to participate in competition hoping for good publicity for the horse and not least for the rider, because of the value involved. Also, it is not uncommon that these mares are sold, either here in Iceland or abroad, as there are often sizeable amounts involved when it comes to business with young mares with high assessment.
As far as this is concerned, there is no right or wrong. The decision is made after the situation is evaluated by each breeder or owner.
It is still very exciting to follow the young mares which do well at shows, and therefore Eiðfaxi decided to peak a little into what the role of these mares is today, especially of those who received the highest assessment in the class of four year old mares last year.
The mares we are going to get news on are Ronja frá Hlemmiskeiði 3, Hrund frá Ragnheiðarstöðum and Skógardís frá Blesastöðum 1A.
Ronja frá Hlemmiskeiði was the highest scoring of the four year old mares which came for assessment last year. Ronja comes from the breeding farm of Árni Svavarsson and Inga Birna Ingólfsdóttir and is in their possession. She is the offspring of Krákur frá Blesastöðum and Kjarnorka frá Hlemmiskeiði who is the offspring of Hrafn frá Holtsmúla. Ronja received a score of 8.11 for conformation and 8.40 for ridden abilities which gives her a total score of 8.29.
Árni Svavarsson who is one of the owners of Ronja answered our questions. He said that the aim had been to bring Ronja for assessment again this spring, but as could be expected this changed. At this time she is being trained at Blesastaðir but she had been ridden a few times and the idea was to bring her for assessment at Gaddstaðaflatir around the end of the month. Furthermore they aim to keep her from having foals one more year and prepare for Landsmót 2011. When asked what he figured he was gaining by keeping the mare sterile for so long, Árni was quick to answer “this is only done to nourish the vanity and craziness, of course a mare like this should be reproducing” but then he added “I guess there is some introduction involved here for the breeding farm, but then we felt that a mare like this deserved to get to Landsmót”. But next year, Ronja will be joining the herd at Hlemmiskeið and they will breed from her. When asked if they had considered a stallion for her, Árni said that there was a lot of work to be done before that decision would be taken.
Hrund frá Ragnheiðarstöðum was second in line. She is from the breeding work of Helgi Jón Harðarson and the other owner is Hjarðartún ehf which is run by Óskar Eyjólfsson. The bloodline of Hrund includes great horses, to say the least. She is the offspring of Orri frá Þúfu and the memorable Hending frá Úlfstöðum who is an offspring of Jarl frá Búðardal and has a total score of 8.47. Hrund received a score of 8.13 for conformation and for ridden abilities she received a score of 8.29 and a total score of 8.22.
It is Helgi Jón who answers Eiðfaxi who has questions about Hrund. The mare was not taken to a stallion last year, Helgi says. We were aiming for Landsmót this summer, but then this disease package came which naturally changed everything. At this time the mare has been brought back to Erlingur in Langholt for training and the aim is to show her again at the breeding assessment at Hella later this summer.
The decision has been made that after the assessment she will be used for breeding. This was not an easy decision, but there is a certain uncertainty still with Landsmót next summer so it is hardly possible to have her wait any longer, this is a very valuable breeding mare. Two of her siblings are on their way and they will hopefully keep up the work next year, this is Herjólfur frá Ragnheiðarstöðum who is a four year old stallion and an offspring of Gígjar frá Auðsholtshjáleigu who was being started last winter and seems very promising and then there is the sister of Hrund who will be trained this fall. The thing is also that it is very tempting to visualize the possibility to bring three siblings to Landsmót, of course it would be a good publicity for the horses but then it would also be very enjoying which of course is a great part of breeding horses in my mind, the enjoyment of it.
But then there is the big question for Helgi: Which stallion will be chosen this summer for Hrund ?
”There is a possibility of three horses” Helgi says but then adds “no there are really just two horses, Héðinn frá Feti or Krákur frá Blesastöðum.” And when Helgi is asked why these are the choices, he does not hesitate: “The bloodline in Héðinn is very interesting, and then first and foremost Baldur frá Bakka, which I think is very desirable and it would be great to get a stallion who was his offspring, there are beautiful colors in Héðins genes, gray, skewbald and silver dapple. And it seems like the horse is really good. Krákur on the other hand is proving himself as a unique breeding horse, light built and beautiful with a super good tölt.”
Skógardís frá Blesastöðum is from Magnús Trausti and Hólmfríður at Blesastaðir 1A breeding. Skógardís is the offspring of Krákur just like Ronja, but her mother is the well known daughter of Hrafn frá Holtsmúla, the well known breeding mare Þöll frá Vorsabæ II who proved to be a successful breeding mare for the farmers at Blesastaðir. Out of Þöll a total of six offspring have been assessed and all of them have received first prize except for one mare who received a score of 7.96 and then she was only five years old. Amongst the known offspring of Þöll are among others the stallions Falur, Kiljan and Bjarkar frá Blesastöðum.
We made a phone call to Blesastaðir and asked the farmer Magnús some questions regarding Skógardís. We were not surprised to find out that they had planned to bring her to Landsmót this summer. Today she is being trained but she was sick for a long time so that it is not likely that she will be assessed this summer.
They don’t plan to take her to a stallion this summer, but then bring her in for assessment next year at Landsmót, if there will be Landsmót in 2011. Then there is the idea to present her further, bring her to shows and events and even to some competitions. “That mare is magnificent to look at and she is a great character to use for presentation and competition also. Not all mares are suitable for that although they are good, not all characters that are suitable for competition and such events” Magnús says and then adds “and then it is not possible to deny the fact that it matters that she is out of our Krákur, who is a horse that we have great faith in and the best introduction for a stallion are good offspring.”
In the past we never waited and always took the mares directly to a stallion as soon as they had been assessed, sometimes they were pregnant at three years old and trained at five years old. But now, we have so many mares in our breeding stock so that it is possible to do it this way. I cannot deny that this is great fun to spend more time training the best mares, and to get to know them better.
The idea has been presented to bring her for embryo transplant this summer, it is tempting with young mares to be able to get offspring from them but still keep them in training. This is something we will make a final decision on in the next few days.
Magnús thinks that the development will be more towards mares being trained for a longer time and to be presented more often. “People are watching the top ranking mares closer because their offspring are a known figure and it will be easier to sell them. People look at these mares in a different way and also it will be easier to have young stallion offspring out of these mares procreate and make a powerful introduction.”
Clearly, Magnús has given these matters great consideration and had a goal in mind and then he goes on to say “it is not good to wait too long, valuables are being sacrificed when good mares are in training instead of in breeding, and I have also seen many times that it is difficult to get fully mature mares pregnant, especially those who have been in training and competition for a long time. One should never wait longer than seven at the latest eight years old. On the other hand it is necessary for each breeding farm to have an attraction introducing the farm” Magnús finally says.
Eiðfaxi thanks these breeders for the chat and wishes them good luck with those great mares in the future. It will be exciting to watch these mares and their offspring, and it’s good to know that they’ll be in breeding here in Iceland.