For 50 years now, the Neumünster stallion gradings and elite riding horse auction sales have been exciting Holsteiner fans all across the world. Every year in late October/early November, the traditional event which is to take place on 28 -30 October 2021 this year draws thousands of visitors to the Holstenhall.

Against the background of the newly released guidelines on “animal welfare in equestrian sports” some changes will become necessary already this year.

Among other things, the Holsteiner Verband committees have advocated to discontinue the longeing of the dressage bred colts. Furthermore, colts born from July 2019 are no longer eligible to undergo grading at this event and must be presented at a later event for grading.The pre-selection of the colts will take place at one location, the Elmshorn Verband facility, over the week from 6-11 September 2021 with professional photos and videos taken already during the pre-selection process. A clear advantage is that it is not necessary to have the colts re-presented at Elmshorn for health and soundness examinations, thus sparing them another trip to Elmshorn, for example from the foreign countries of Europe. Instead, the veterinary examinations are carried out locally by equine veterinarians and checked upon delivery to the grading site.

Holsteiner stallion gradings and elite riding horse sales 2022/23
While the stallion grading and auction sale are going to remain a major event of the Holsteiner Verband calendar, they are to be rescheduled and given a modernized format. As from 2023, the grading and auction sale of the colts will be carried out along with the Holsteiner Verband stallion parade and competition classes in February (7-12 February 2023). The elite riding horse auction will continue to take place at the end of the year and add up to another highlight for our Holsteiner breeders and friends in combination with a newly created Holsteiner stallion grading under saddle and the “CSI Holstein International”.

Discussions regarding the timing of the grading
Deliberations about changing the date of the grading had been triggered by the newly issued guidelines “animal welfare in equestrian sports” providing for a targeted training in view of giving young horses a later start, beginning at 30 months of age. In addition to that, the Holsteiner Verband has been looking for an opportunity to establish new events to boost the brand of the Holsteiner horse. 

To begin with, the ideal timing for stallion grading had been talked over by a task force at FN level comprising experts from the realms of breeding, veterinary medicine, sport, training and animal welfare. In this set-up it became be clear very quickly that it would be quite difficult to agree on one option suiting all interest groups. For this reason four possibilities were eventually drawn up, spanning a wide range of options from in-hand grading at two-and-a-half years to under-saddle grading at three-and-a-half years.

The Holsteiner Verband boards and committees have come to the decision that the only viable options for grading would be in autumn (at two-and-a-half years) or spring (at 3-years) in-hand. A grading under the saddle would result in escalating costs for the breeders, reduce the number of colts and increase the effects of training. Eventually it was argued for moving the stallion grading to February. This option is in compliance with the guidelines and will allow the colts another summer at pasture, with lasting effects for maintaining soundness. Moreover, colts born late in the year and late bloomers are given a realistic chance to enter the grading process. Moving the event to February is viable on a long-term basis, and in addition it will facilitate the establishing of a new event.

The two events will be scheduled and arranged in the following way:
Event I: Grading under saddle + elite riding horse auction sale + horse show in Neumünster

The newly devised stallion grading under saddle will be held in Neumünster in combination with the elite riding horse auction sale and the “CSI Holstein International” in late November. By joining these events, the long-established date for putting the best Holsteiner riding horses up for auction sale late in the year can remain in existence and the grading under saddle is given a higher standing, while linking it to the international horse show will give it a wider appeal and create synergistic effects between breeding and sport event. Discussions on having the grading under saddle rated as performance record in line with the sport test are being under way. Up to now, in addition to the main stallion grading in autumn, two licensings were held, in January and April, both of them taking place at Elmshorn on a minor scale. By rescheduling the main grading to February, the January event can be discontinued. The grading in April will continue to exist to offer a grading opportunity to colts prevented from participating in the main grading for example by injury or for stallions seeking approval.

Event II: “Holsteiner week” (7 – 12 February 2023) in Neumünster
The pre-selection to the Holsteiner February grading is expected to take place during the first week in December 2022. The colts not accepted there are eligible for marketing through the Holsteiner “Winter-Chance“ held just two weeks later (on 11 December 2022) without having to be presented anew.The newly created “Holsteiner week” will cater to a wider audience by combining stallion grading, a presentation of the Verband stallions and competition classes. Moreover, it is being considered to bring back the Holsteiner gala evening.

Stephan Haarhoff
(breeding director)

Against the background of the newly released guidelines on “animal welfare in equestrian sports” some changes will become necessary: While the stallion grading and auction sale are going to remain a major event of the Holsteiner Verband calendar, they are to be rescheduled and given a modernized format. (Photo: Janne Bugtrup)