The American Hanoverian Society (AHS), the Hanoverian Verband (HV) and the German Oldenburg Verband (OHBS), ran the 2021 North American Stallion Sport Test (NASST) October 14-16 on the west coast (California) and October 18 – 20 on the east coast (Maryland). The testing was open to 4, 5, 6, and *7-year old stallions (* this year only due to 2020’s cancellation) from the AHS, GOV (Oldenburg), and other registries to provide North American stallion owners with an opportunity for their stallions to earn lifetime breeding approval.

Testing requirements are specific to age and discipline; each horse attends with their own rider and there is also a ‘guest rider’ component to the scoring. Stallions must attend two consecutive years of sport testing to fulfill their performance requirements, as well as achieve a minimum overall score of 7.5 at each testing.

Beau Balou (“Charlie”) is a 2015 Hanoverian stallion by Bon Balou, out of the Selle Français mare Iroise de Grandry who jumped internationally and is by Calypso de Moyon (Laudanum x Jalisco B). He is owned by Louise Masek and was bred at her Look Ahead Sporthorses in Halton Hills, Ontario. The eye-catching chrome-splashed chestnut won his Hanoverian inspection as a foal in 2015, topping even the dressage-bred foals that year. In 2016 and 2017 he attended a few line shows, never placing lower than second, and was backed lightly at the end of 2017.

In the spring of 2018 he was restarted and put into a light training program which focussed on the dressage training scale, emphasizing rhythm, relaxation/suppleness, and contact/connection. “The main goal of 2018 was the Cup classes at the Royal,” said Masek. “In July of that year, I was approached by the Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association (CWHBA) to present him for licensing and possibly for the Performance Test.”

Charlie ended up winning the CWHBA stallion licensing that year and won the jumping portion of the 2018 Performance Test, giving him full CWHBA breeding approval. The CSHA also awarded him full approval based on these results. He placed 2nd in the Lieutenant Governor’s Cup and 5th in the Governor General’s Cup that year.

In 2018, Beau Balou was also trained to collect for AI breeding and his semen underwent a full analysis to determine how well it would ship and freeze. “It would make no sense to keep a stallion, no matter how talented, if he had sub-par semen!” noted Masek. In 2019, he also underwent full radiographs, a scope, DNA testing and bloodwork to meet the veterinary requirements of the registries and determine he had no hereditary ‘red flags’ that could be passed to his progeny.

At the end of 2019 Charlie travelled to the North American Sport Stallion Test in Maryland, the first stage of full breeding approval by the major European registries. He finished second overall with a score of 8.29.

Masek explained, “There is a big difference between stallion licensing and stallion approvals. For licensing, they are evaluated on the triangle, in hand, and in free jumping. For a full three- to four-day performance test, they are under saddle and there is also a guest rider component which contributes heavily to the score. Licensing also typically limits the number of mares that can be bred.”

Due to Covid, the 2020 NASST was cancelled and the registries extended the licenses of the stallions who were mid-way through their testing so that they could continue to breed. “We continued Beau Balou’s training at home the best we could and he also had a very busy breeding season.”

This year, Beau Balou did a few jumper classes and again had a very busy breeding schedule. “It is very hard to juggle showing, training and collecting,” said Masek.”We actually had to set up a collection area at home so that we could manage it all.”

Thankfully the 2021 NASST took place at Hilltop Farm in Colora, MD, with Kelley Robinson performing the riding duties. “Without the Florida circuit and no 2020 season, Charlie lost a year, but nevertheless scored well (7.85) and now has full lifetime breeding approval for all the major registries. I am very grateful to CWHBA for having talked me into starting this journey, as I had never intended to own and stand a stallion myself,” acknowledged a proud Masek.

Canada was well-represented at the Hilltop test site, with a pair of stallions who are mid-way through their testing that should complete in 2022: De Nouveau, by Don Index, presented by the RCMP, and Copernicus, by Clinton I, presented by Windswept Farm II.