Welsh Ponies Excel at RPSI Inspections

On September 16th, a Rheinland Pfalz-Saar International (RPSI) inspection was held in Alberta at Emerald Equestrian Farm in Calmar, Alberta. For those that are not familiar with the RPSI, it is one of North America's fastest growing sport horse registries. It was founded in 1995 as an extension of its German parent Verband. Several years ago, the RPSI added a Sport Pony Studbook, or German Riding Pony Studbook, to their registry. RPSI Sport Ponies typically measure between 13.2 hh-14.2 hh (138 cm-148 cm). The breeding goal for RPSI sport ponies calls for elegant, bigframed and harmonious conformation, more of a riding pony type than other pony breeds, with a small, well-defined and noble head. Basic paces should be horse-like, showing impulsion, elasticity, ground-cover and balance, and an uphill-moving forehand with a freely moving shoulder.

Pony breeds accepted into the RPSI pony stud books include German and other national Riding Ponies, Welsh sections B, C and D, Connemara, New Forest Pony, as well as small warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Anglo-Arabians. Stallions may be graded into Pony Stud Book IA (Approved), IB (waiting for performance results) or II (Recorded), depending on scores, performance results and pedigree. Approved stallions must either complete the 30-Day Stallion Test held in Oklahoma, USA each fall, or satisfy the competition requirements as set out by the registry.

The German Verband evaluates horses and ponies brought for inspection, or Keuring, and the inspectors come direct from Germany for the summer inspection tour. Mares, foals and stallions are required to be braided and well turned out and a dress code is required for handlers – khaki/white colored pants and dark shirt or vice versa. Each mare is evaluated individually and the scores and comments are read out loud to the audience, which is a normal occurrence at any reputable Warmblood inspection. Each mare and stallion is given scores out of 10 in 7 different categories; breed & sex type, quality of conformation, correctness, walk, trot, canter and overall impression & development. Stallions are also given an addition score out of 10 for free jumping and are required to do a complete veterinary examination before the inspection. The inspectors are thorough and tough and scores are not given out lightly.

Depending on scores and pedigree, mares are graded and put into three separate Studbooks; Main Mare Book, Mare Book and Pre Mare Book. Ideally, mare owners strive to have their mares inspected and placed into the Main Mare Book, which allows their offspring to be eligible for RPSI branding. As well, any mares scoring 49 (70%) or above out of a total of 70 points is given Premium Mare Status. Premium Mare Status is not given out very often, and is reserved for elite mares showing superior conformation and movement. A score of 70% or higher at an inspection is similar to receiving a score of 70% or higher in a dressage test – not often seen and normally the class winner! Individual scores of 8 or higher are rarely seen. Since 2009 for example, the RPSI has only given Premium Mare Status to 7 Sport Pony Mares in North America.

The evaluation for foals is slightly different, receiving one score out of 10 for breed and sex type and quality of conformation and a second score out of 10 for movement. The two scores are averaged together for a final total. Awards are given to foals for achieving Bronze Premium (6.0-6.9), Silver Premium (7.0-7.9) or Gold Premium Foal Status (8.0 or higher), which is based on their total score. Gold Premium Foal Status being the hardest to achieve, with only 4 Sport Pony colts and 4 Sport Pony fillies in North America being given Gold Premium Foal Status in 2011.

Daventry Farms and Cajonat Farm were the only breeders to bring Sport Ponies to the Alberta inspection, the rest being Warmbloods of various breeds. 9-year old Section D Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap received the highest score of the day, a 75% overall and four individual scores of 8.0. Due to Brandysnap's performance results, he is now fully licensed and approved with the RPSI and is only the second Welsh Cob to be approved with the registry – the other Welsh Cob stallion being North Forks Brenin Cardi from Oregon. Brandysnap was overall Site Champion and Stallion Champion at the Alberta inspection. Goldhills Brandysnap is by the Section D Cob stallion *Okeden Taffy and out of the Section D Cob mare *Okeden Britannia by *Llanarth True Briton and is owned by Goldhills Welsh in California and leased by Daventry Farms in Alberta.

Although the Warmblood Registries do not normally inspect stallions under the age of 3, they were gracious enough to look at 2 year 4 month old Section B stallion Daventry's Power Play, bred and owned by Daventry Farms. Power Play received great scores and has been approved for RPSI/German Riding Pony Stallion Book I, provided that he completes his performance testing once he grows up a bit. Judges made a note of his wonderful temperament, and we were very pleased with it, considering we did a collection with him the day before the inspection. Power Play was site Reserve Champion Stallion, and to our knowledge, is the first Canadian-bred Section B stallion to be approved with the RPSI. Daventry’s Power Play is by the Section B stallion Alvesta Picasso and out of the Section B mare Pajon’s Royal Flirt by *Rosedale Royal Flare.

The 4-year old Half Welsh mare, Cajonat’s Encore, was Site Reserve Champion, Mare Champion and given Premium Mare Status with an overall score of 52 points (74%)! Encore is bred and owned by John & Natalie Lobo of Cajonat Farm in Onoway, Alberta and is from a set of twins (Encore’s twin sister will be presented to the RPSI next year with her new owner). Encore received three individual scores of 8.0, and the inspectors said it has been 3 years since they have given out that high of a score in North America. Cajonat’s Encore is by Section B Welsh stallion Alvesta Picasso and out of the Hanoverian mare Ajawaan by Arkansas. Interesting to note, Cajonat Farm’ 17-year old warmblood mare Ajawaan was the highest scoring Warmblood mare of the inspection and is in foal to Section B stallion Alvesta Picasso once again for 2013.

Daventry Farms also presented one mare and foal at the inspection. 12-year old Woodlands Best Dressed, who is a Virginia Pony Breeders Association bred Welsh/TB cross mare, was one point shy of receiving Premium Mare Status and was Reserve Champion Mare. Her 4 month old filly, Avallach’s Best Dressed, by Section B stallion *Telynau Royal Charter was given Silver Premium Foal status. Avallach’s Best Dressed was bred by Karen Fildes/Caer Avallach Farm of Connecticut and owned by Daventry Farms.

To say we were all thrilled that the scores our ponies received beat those of the warmbloods is an understatement! We had many warmblood breeders asking us about Welsh Cobs and Section B Welsh Ponies and were glad to chat about our ponies to anyone who was interested. Thanks to Tammy & Megan Cooper of DreamTime Welsh for taking the lovely photos that are included in this article and to Sean Cooper who was an awesome groom at the inspection. For more information on the RPSI, please check out their website at www.rhpsi.com.

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