Are we trying to keep the breed rare or are people open to change? We say we are all striving for the same goal of keeping the Cleveland Bay alive, but are we? Are we just breeding for the sake of breeding or are we trying to produce the best animals? Are some colts kept entire without asking whether they have the right stamp? Or is it because the bloodline is rare or the breeder simply wants an entire.
Rare blood lines are important but I strongly believe that a stallion of poor conformation, movement and/or temperament should be gelded. If a rare bloodline repeatedly produces horses that are not straight movers or have weak conformation then should we need to ask - "Should this bloodline be preserved?" It may be time to start looking towards the future of the breed and gelding such animals and possibly letting these bloodlines stay in the past. A horse with weak conformation has a greater risk of injury. A rare bloodline is neither use nor ornament if the horse has nothing else in its favour.
I have seen stallions time and time again with curbs, bad feet, long backs etc. There has got to be a point where we say enough is enough and consider some kind of grading for such animals. A lot of these animals in a country such as Germany would have to be gelded without the choice of the owner, and maybe this should be done. Other breeds have grading and if the stallion is not good enough it is not accepted into the studbook as a stallion. Is this worth a thought?
Of course, it is argued that when inspections are undertaken, only a small group of people will make the decision. Someone has to do it. If you disagree then suggest a better idea. And our mares. Just because it is a mare does not mean it has to have a foal !!! Please look at your mares, should they be bred from?
We are trying to promote this breed, yet the classes that are put on for us at shows often have hardly any entries and it is the same horses/breeders that are keeping this breed alive in the show ring. Of course, not all our Clevelands are show horses but it is at shows where people outside the breed see a sample of our animals. We recognise the same prefixes in the ring time and time again. Of course, showing is time consuming and expensive and not all of us are able to do it. But if this is the case, let us invite new owners, breeders into the society with open arms, not a snotty look.
Where are the stallions in the show ring? Yes there has been the odd stallion out and about who has shown everyone that if you aim hard for the results you get them. Why do we bother putting on stallion classes? We are lucky if we get one, and then people moan that the class has been open to geldings too - like Equifest 2009. If the geldings come, let them be shown, this is what it is all about. I am sick of hearing people moaning about class sizes, etc. STOP MOANING AND GO AND GET YOUR OWN HORSES IN THE RING!! It seems to me the ones that moan the most are the ones whose horses are sat in the field at home.
If this breed is truly important to us all we also need to make all our stallions more accessible to both pure breeders and outside breeders. A stallion running on a hill somewhere is not helpful when potential mare owners want to visit them. Yes, semen collection is a skilled job and costs money but we need to get more with it. As far as I am aware there is only one stallion in the county available by AI (chilled semen) and this surely is not enough. Of course there are more available by frozen semen, but inseminating with frozen semen is a costly job and not affordable to most. It seems to me that if we decide to own and stand a good CB stallion at stud then we need to promote him and get him some sort of competition record so the world can see what the CB is all about.
We have some very good animals amongst us so let us promote this breed and not try to keep it rare.
"Compass" 10th July 2010.