What is a Keuring?

The Keuring or judging is an evaluation of Friesian horses by officials from the Netherlands. The official judges are sent to North America by the Friesch Paarden Stamboek to inspect the horses by looking for certain specific traits. The registry which all mature horses are registered in is known as the studbook.

The primary purpose of the Keuring is the evaluation and selection of Friesian breeding stock. The horses are evaluated on confirmation and movements. Currently the trend is towards a modern type of horse that is suitable for riding and driving. The movement rating counts for 60% of the overall evaluation and is the most important. Important traits of the Friesian breed is a good reach from the shoulder, ground covering power and flexion coming from the hocks and hindquarters. Overall the movement should be elevated and light-footed with a moment of suspension.

Premiums – The Friesians that are presented for judging, for both studbook and foal book, are rated with premiums which is an official ranking which is also recorded on the horse’s registration papers.

For foals;

  • A first premium is best and accounts for approximately the top 5%.
  • Second is very good and accounts for approximately the next 35%.
  • Third is most common and is awarded to approximately the next 50%.
  • Some foals will not receive a premium.

A premium cannot be given to horses that are unsound, have unacceptable amounts of white, are of poor quality, are in poor condition or have serious faults.

When a Friesian reaches the age of three they are once again judged on conformation and gaits.  To continually improve the Friesian breed, mares and geldings are judged for admission into the adult studbook are ranked using a “linear score” sheet. This linear score is in addition to the premiums and assigns positive or negative point scores to the individual aspects of confirmation, breed characteristics and movement as exhibited by the horse.

Approximately the best 25 to 30% of mares and geldings which are eligible for the studbook are awarded “Star” status. This rating also appears on the horse’s registration papers. The most excellent of Star Mares can be awarded the designation of “Model” which is judged at seven years. Mares can receive the designation Preferent (“Preferred“) if four of their offspring achieve Star status or better.

Mares with three offspring performing at the top levels in competitive sport can receive the designation Prestatie, or “Performance Mother“.

Foal Book – Foals are entered into the foal book after being judged during the year of their birth.  Most horses will change their registry to Studbook at age three; however those that don’t qualify due to unsoundness, white marks or serious faults will not enter the Studbook and will remain in the foal book.  There are no restrictions placed on physical appearance or soundness for eligibility into this foal book.

Keuring Day – When presenting a horse or foal for judging, the horse is required to be well groomed.  Also a well trained horse usually performs better.  The horse should be presented in a white bridle, and guided by the “runners” dressed completely in white; to better see the horse’s gaits.  First the horse is set up in the middle of the arena, as the judges walk around the horse, to evaluate the overall conformation.   Next the horse is walked in a triangular pattern; so the judges can see the horse’s walk from every angle.  Then the horse is evaluated at a trot, as the runners guide the horse in a big square.   Finally the horse is lined up again in the middle of the arena, as the judges compare their scores, and come to a final conclusion.  The foals will receive their premie right away, as the judges explain to the owner and crowd the reasons the foal received the premie.  If an adult horse is not worthy to receive a premie and Star status, the judges will explain to the owner and crowd the reasons for the placement.  However if the horse might be worthy to become Star, the judges will simply tell the owner to come back after all other horses are judged.   All those horses allowed to come back will walk in a circle, so the judges can once again judge them, and rank them in order.  They will also have to decide how many of the horses will receive the Star status, with either a 1st or 2nd premie, and which horses receive a 3rd premie with Studbook status alone.   It is always an exciting experience for the owner and runner, however the moment the judges reveal your horse is to become Star, is most rewarding.

Hengsten Keuring – Is a Stallion judging held once a year in the Netherlands.  Owners can send in their great two and a half year old stallions that have potential to become proven for judging.  The horses will be judged a three times, every round only the best pass on.   About three hundred stallions are judged on the first viewing, where the horses are judged in hand for both conformation and movement.   Pedigree can also make a big impact in the choice, because the judges love to see new blood in the breeding stock.   Only the best will be invited to undergo the central proving test.  The stallions will be trained under saddle and for the carriage for about 10 weeks.  During this time the stallions will be marked on willingness to learn and improvement.  At the end of this time, final marks will be given to each, and only the highest marks combined with highest conformation and gaits will be given ability to breed.   After four years of breeding, the first offspring will be three years old and judged for Star status.  The stallions with high quality offspring will be able to continue breeding, while those stallions with poor quality offspring will have to leave the breeding business.