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The Stallion Performance Test
Rules and Guidelines


Introduction

The NaStA Performance Test is intended to complement any breed society approval process by giving breeders an indication of the performance ability of a particular stallion against a uniform standard. Aimed mainly at young stallions, who have yet to show their competition worth, the Performance Test focuses on athletic ability predominantly under saddle. Participating stallions are trained to set standards during the spring/summer and, after submitting qualification certificates, come forward in August for final testing over a period of days. The testing includes Dressage, Show- and Free-Jumping, Cross Country Jumping and a Paces test, as well as a Judge's Ridden Assessment.

Background to the Performance Test

In Europe it is a requirement that a stallion of any breed must either have been performance tested, or, in the case of a thoroughbred racehorse, have won over a certain amount on the track (in Germany, the authorities express this amount in terms of the handicap system, as a 'GAG' number). Only stallions are required to be performance tested, but many mare owners are seeing the value of putting their mares through the test voluntarily.

The term '100 day test' indicates what formerly happened in Europe. Usually the owner delivered his horse to an approved testing station at the age of three or four, and, theoretically at least, the stallion was broken and schooled on to performance test standard by the testing station staff. The actual test itself took place at the end of the 100 days, and the owners and the public were invited to watch. More recently, the process has been divided into an early '30 day test' of predisposition, followed a year later by a final '70 day test'. Continuing deregulation in Europe is producing further changes to the set formats, allowing more flexibility to suit individual breed societies; indeed, the continental format continues to move closer to our British system as more variation from the conventional format is permitted.

The National Stallion Association of Great Britain (NaStA) feels that the complete station-based European system will not find favour here at present. Firstly, it is a costly exercise; secondly, there would be endless discussion on the choice of trainer and his methods; and third, British owners are used to 'doing their own thing'. Nevertheless, systematic performance testing has been very important to the development of competition horse breeding, and must be carried out here in some form.

We are convinced that the system we have adopted will be attractive to British owners, without diluting the standards traditionally adopted on the continent. The system has already won acclaim from European producers as having advantages over the more traditional continental format.

Who is it for?

Any stallions (or mares) registered with a stud book affiliated to the National Stallion Association. Whether the Performance Test forms a mandatory element of breeding approval is a matter for individual Breed Society policy.

The Performance Test is designed to complete the process of selecting breeding stallions, and where requested, mares.  A stallion that has been gelded but which is being offered to the market for breeding via frozen semen is permitted to enter provided that the owner can show that it is properly entered into a recognised stud book.  The results for such an animal will be listed separately from the main results and will indicate that it participated in the Performance Test as a gelding.

It should be noted that we are allowing a longer time for stallions to develop, in accordance with British thinking. Where performance testing is mandatory this may create a problem where the son of an approved, but not performance tested stallion is, himself, brought forward for approval. If he is approved, this may be provisional, and conditional upon the sire being performance tested, or, in exceptional circumstances, exempted by the appropriate breed society.

Outline of the British System

  • A period of schooling and training by the owner, or a trainer of his/her choice, prepares the stallion for the Final Days.
  • A system of 'Qualifying Certificates' for each performance test phase ensures that training is progressing at a satisfactory standard.
  • A Final Performance Test will be carried out, over one or more consecutive days. Entry to this will be conditional upon:

    (a) evidence as to Stud Book approval ('grading') or Breed Society selection.

  • (b) the provision of satisfactory Qualification Certificates.

  • The results of the Performance Test will be entered upon the Stud Book entry for the stallion in question, and will be made available to anyone on request.

Warning! The standards adopted are high, and failure to train the stallion to these standards will result in him failing the Performance Test. It is therefore strongly recommended that Qualification Certificates be signed by the best qualified judges the owner can find. Failure to get a Certificate signed at the first attempt merely signifies that the stallion has not reached the required standard and more training is required, but failure at the Final Days is just that - final. The Test includes full veterinary examinations, as indicated below.

The Performance Test System in More Detail

Owners wishing to enter their stallion for Performance Testing should notify the Performance Test Director in the spring of the year in which the Performance Test will be undertaken.

Qualifying Certificates

Qualifying Certificates must be obtained by the owner in the various training phases:

Certificate A - work on the flat
Certificate B - jumping over movable obstacles
Certificate C - jumping over fixed jumps, and cross country performance 

The standards required in the Qualification stage are as follows:

Certificate A

The horse is expected to work in a dressage arena to a standard which would approximate to gaining about 60% of the available marks in a BD Novice dressage test. The most important attributes are obedience, reasonable outline, bearing in mind the age of the horse, state of training, freedom of movement, temperament and willingness to work. It is not a test of accurate riding or a competition - we are interested primarily in the ability of the horse.

Certificate B

The horse should jump correctly and freely over showjumps of all kinds to a maximum height of 1070mm (3ft 6ins) (15hh or under 3ft 0ins or 914mm, 13hh and under 2ft 9ins or 835mm). Again it is the manner of jumping we are interested in - not just that the horse gets over.

Certificate C

The horse should gallop freely across country and jump fixed obstacles up to 910mm (3ft 0ins) (13hh or under 2ft 9ins or 835mm). A complete cross country ride is not necessary for the Qualification Certificate, especially as the judge should be able to see the horse jump a number of fences, and go through water. It is suggested that a section of a Novice Cross Country course should be selected, to include water, and the judge take up a suitable vantage point. Once again the emphasis is on correctness and freedom of jumping, and the horse is the one being judged - if the rider clearly gets an approach wrong and the horse refuses this should not result in failure to sign the Certificate. In the Performance Test itself the horse should, of course, be fit to complete a 4km approx course.

In the Appendix to this booklet you will find these certificates, information on the persons who are qualified to sign them, and notes to be given to the assessors. All of these will explain in more detail the level of achievement, etc required.

The Performance Test Day (Final Days)

The Final Day(s) will be open to all those who qualify, as of right. Clearly this will require some prior organisation, and formal entry will be required by 30th June of the year of the Performance Test.

The Performance Test itself will take place on one or more days, unless by force of circumstances (inclement weather etc) NaStA decides to suspend testing, in which case it will be at the sole discretion of NaStA as to whether the Performance Test will be resumed at the point at which it was suspended, or one or more of the phases repeated.

The test will be in eight phases:

Phase 1: The Ridden Test on the Flat

The horse will complete a Novice BD Dressage Test chosen by NaStA. Marks will be awarded out of 10 according to the degree of training achieved by the horse relevant to its age, and its overall qualities as a riding horse.

Phase 2: Assessor's Ridden Test

The horse will be ridden by one of the assessors. The horse will be asked to at least walk, trot and canter on either rein. At the assessor's discretion a small obstacle may be jumped. Clearly, common sense will be applied for this phase and very small and/or lightweight stallions will not be asked to carry excessive weight. A mark out of ten will be awarded.

Phase 3: Free Jumping

The horse will be free jumped over a grid of show-jumps starting at a height of 838mm (2ft 9ins) and raised according to the apparent ability of the horse. Marks will be awarded out of 10. For horses of 15hh or under the starting height will be 762mm (2ft 6ins).

Phase 4: Showjumping

The horse will be ridden over a course of showjumps, consisting of 8-12 jumps, at least one of which must be a double, set at a maximum height of 1067mm (3ft 6ins). Marks will be awarded out of 10, according to the ability of the horse. For horses of 15hh or under the maximum height will be 914mm (3ft 0ins). For horses of 13hh or under the maximum height will be 835mm (2ft 9ins).

Phase 5: Test of Basic Paces

The horse will be ridden in the three basic paces as follows:

Walk for 100 metres at a speed of 100 metres per minute
Trot for 100 metres at a speed of 200 metres per minute
Canter for 100 metres at a speed of 420 metres per minute

These speeds are a guideline only. Clearly smaller horses will not be expected to cover the ground at the same speed as larger ones.

Marks will be awarded out of 10 for each pace.

Phase 6: Cross Country Test

The horse will be ridden on a cross country course consisting of at least 10 fixed obstacles, including water if possible, over a distance of up to 4km. The maximum height of jump will be 914mm (3ft 0ins). For horses 13hh and under the maximum height will be 835mm (2ft 9ins). Each horse should achieve an average speed of 450 metres per minute. For horses 13hh and under a speed allowance will be made.

A 'time allowed' calculated by the Assessors before the Performance Test begins will be issued if appropriate.

Marks will be awarded out of 10 according to the way in which the horse canters across country, approaches and negotiates the obstacles.

Phase 7: Gallop

Immediately on completion of the Cross Country Phase the horse will be galloped over a flat course of up to 1000 metres. The time taken will be noted. In addition, a section of the gallop course of length 100 metres will be marked out by flags or poles, and the number of gallop strides counted between them. Marks will be awarded out of 10.

Phase 8: Veterinary Examination

Immediately after the Gallop Phase, a Veterinary Surgeon will check the horse's pulse and respiration rate, and its recovery rate to normal values. A further soundness check will be made approx 1 hour after completion of Phase 8.

Any horse rejected by the Veterinary Surgeon on the grounds outlined in the NaStA Veterinary Guidelines or on the grounds of any other hereditary condition will be failed from the whole Performance Test, but this will be subject to the right of appeal to NaStA, on production of alternative veterinary evidence.

Impression Marks

In addition to the marks awarded in the performance phases, assessors will also award marks out of 10 for:

Character - the horse itself
Temperament - how the horse relates to its rider
Overall impression of a performance horse

Calculation of Final Marks

All the marks will be brought together and weighted as follows, in order to calculate the Final Marks total:

Mark for

Weighting (proportion of total)

Character

10

Temperament

10

Overall Impression

10

Jumping (free)

20

Jumping (under saddle)

30

Flat work (under saddle)

30

Assessor's ridden test

30

Walk

10

Trot

10

Canter

10

Cross Country

20

Gallop

10

Total

200

Age / Gelding Adjustment

The following age adjustments will be made to the Final Marks total to produce the overall Performance Index:

Horses 5 years old or less - no correction
Horses 6 or 7 years old - 5% reduction on Final Marks
Horses 8 years old or over
- 10% reduction on Final Marks

A further 10% reduction after any age adjustments will be applied for approved breeding geldings, i.e. gelded stallions available for breeding by frozen semen, by approval of their stud-book.


Performance Class

After the calculations detailed above, the horse will be placed in a Performance Class as follows:

Class

Performance Index
(Final Marks with Age Adjustment if appropriate)

1 Elite

140 marks and above

1

120 - 139 marks

2

100 - 119 marks

3

70 - 99 marks

Failure

A horse is considered to have failed if it achieves a Performance Index of less than 70. If a horse achieves 4 or less averaged marks out of 10 on more than one phase before weighting then it will be deemed to have failed the Performance Test. If a horse does not complete or participate in one or more of the phases it will be deemed to have failed the Performance Test.

Resubmission of Stallions for Performance Testing

The Performance Test is an assessment of a stallion's intrinsic qualities as a performance horse and is not a competition. Stallions may only be resubmitted for Performance Testing as the result of a successful appeal; there are no other grounds for Resubmission.

Appeals

Appeals against the results of the veterinary examination are covered under Phase 8 above. A stallion owner who wishes to appeal against the result of any of the other phases should apply in the first instance to the registering stud book which will consider the grounds of the appeal. The appeal must be made within 14 days of the Test accompanied by a 50 deposit, refundable if the grounds of the appeal are considered to be reasonable. If the affiliated stud book believes that the stallion owner has valid grounds for appeal it must then submit the appeal to NaSta with confirmation of its support. NaSta will consider the appeal either in Council or within the Performance Test working party whichever is the most appropriate/timely and will notify the owner and the breed society within 6 months of the date when the appeal was lodged with NaSta.

Notification of Training

In the spring of the year in which you intend your stallion to participate in the Performance Test, you should inform the NaStA Performance Test Director that you are beginning preparation, supplying full details of your stallion, his breeding, grading details and the name and address of a trainer or other person who you would wish to be contacted about arrangements.

Assessors

The identity and number of Assessors will be decided by the NaStA Committee. Where more than one Assessor is present, marks will be awarded by consensus or an average will be calculated. Qualification Assessors must meet the criteria shown on the respective Qualification Certificate. The BHS Training Department holds a list of BHSIs who have undergone Performance Test Assessor training.

Equipment and clothing

Ridden Test - as for BD Novice tests
Loose Jumping - bridles compulsory, boots permitted
Judges Ridden inspection - snaffle bridle, running martingale only permitted, boots permitted, GP saddle
Ridden Jumping - as for BSJA
Paces/XC/Gallop - as for BE Novice
Veterinary inspection 2 - bridle only
Horse numbers must be worn for all phases.

Value of Marks

The marks awarded will have the following meanings, which may be used as a description of the performance of the horse in the respective phase:

10 = Excellent 5 = Sufficient
9 = Very Good 4 = Unsatisfactory
8 = Good 3 = Quite poor
7 = Fairly Good 2 = Poor
6 = Satisfactory 1 = Very poor or not performed

Click here to view Certificate A
Click here to view Certificate B
Click here to view Certificate C 

Last revised 9 March 2016