Much like other breeds where breeders wish to keep conformation to very high standards, the Holsteiners are tested at several levels in order to be included in the studbook. However, all breeds have their own individual take on the concept of testing and the Holsteiner is no different. The high standard of testing for this breed has been going on for over seven hundred years and continues today around the world. While the American Holsteiner Horse Association is independent from the original Holsteiner Verband in the breed's native Germany, the American association keeps an informal working relationship with the original organization and their testing is based on the time tested performance tests from Germany. Holsteiners must be presented for inspection at all stages of life, from foals to stallions ready to cover. Let's take a look at what to expect from the Mare Performance Test.
The Mare Performance Test is important not only to judge a mare's athletic ability or potential, but it gives breeders an idea of a mare's strengths and weaknesses. They also can help determine the best stallions that should be paired with a particular mare. These tests are carried out at a number of different testing facilities around the country on an annual basis, and owners must pre-register their mares before the actual testing. Mares must be at least three years old and already have bonits, or scoring points, recorded in one of the Mare Books, which are the registration books for the Holsteiner mares.
The Mare Performance Test is made up of three tests that take place over the course of one day. The first test is free jumping, which is generally set up in the same manner as for stallion free jumping tests. Those distances are usually nine feet to eighteen feet, up to twenty-four. The second test is an under saddle riding test. While not as intense as a dressage test, there are some dressage elements included in this test, including an evaluation of the mare in different gaits, her balance, impulsion and willingness. The last test is jumping under saddle. The standard course is eight fences and mares are not penalized for "green," or beginner, mistakes. Scored on technique, scope and willingness, judges have the option to ask for the fences to be raised.
Those mares that attain a seventy percent score or better will win recognition and rewards. Those mares already entered in the Main Mare Book or the Main Mare Book Premium will have the right to have the designation "MPT" in their records. Also, those mares who already have earned scores of 42 (making them eligible for the Mare Book), 45 (Main Mare Book), or 49 (Main Mare Book Premium) will earn an extra point. If this extra point elevates the mare into a new category, they may be recorded in the studbook of the next level. Those mares that are being presented for the first time at the same event and have earned a minimum score of 42 may also take the Mare Performance Test at the same event in order to earn the extra point.