My husband and I picked Dr. Tatyana Ryabova and Tito Pontecorvo up from the SeaTac airport Thursday night. Tatyana had flown into Texas a day or so before and spent that time with Tito and his wife Natasha at their Texas farm, AkhalTexas. We already had one outside horse in for inspection, who arrived Thursday, Kuwwat, owned by Erin Heatherstone of Oregon.
Friday morning dawned and people started arriving. We did our regular barn chores at doubletime and put all of my horses outside to make room. Happily, the weather decided to cooperate and it was a nice day. Good thing, as we've had blustery, rainy, sleety, all around March weather the rest of the week! Horses began to arrive around 9:30 - we had Wendy Connell's Nez Perce mare, Alpowa and her Teke/QH gelding Sunny's Tazzy Teke. Sofie Wollhaib brought her Teke mare Meshhurlyk, and a bunch of supplies for our lunch and dinner. Catrina Mettam drove up from the Washington-Oregon border with her colt Suygi and mare Mazaly a bit later in the morning. Some of my boarders came and helped out (thank you again, Alice and Monica!) which made the whole day go much smoother. Shannon Mayfield and her husband Craig drove up from Oregon to watch and participate in the educational aspect.
As this was organized, shall we say, quickly, it was rather seat of the pants. The horses were mostly still in full winter coats, often sporting mud extras (we had LOTS of rain here recently and it is very muddy). In a way, it wasn't totally fair, as very few of the horses were in show condition, but Tatyana is used to seeing horses straight out of the field, so we made do. We all grabbed brushes and displaced as much mud as possible and then we began.
The educational part was that each horse came in and we all would give it 3 scores from 1 to 10, 10 being perfection, on Type, Conformation (Exterior) and Movement. Many of the youngsters did not show well for the movement, as they had no idea what we were asking - trot beside you? What? But, we did our best. Later, we would all sit down and compare our scores for each horse, with Tatyana then giving her scores and her reasoning. If we were really off on our score, she would ask us why we thought that and then explain her thinking. These were not the 'official' scores, as she has to take her scores and measurements, and then apply different formula to them for the official scores. We will get those later on.
So, we began with Erin and Kuwwat. Kuwwat is a young (5?) stallion, that Erin is using for Endurance and also for breeding with Arab and Mustang mares for future endurance horses. He showed very well, being wonderfully behaved. We wrote our scores down and then Tatyana measured him. She measured his height at the withers, from point of shoulder to point of hip, around the girth and the cannon bone right below the knee. These measurements all go into the Main Studbook, along with being used for general breed data. Ideally, each horse would be inspected as a foal and then yearly or bi-yearly afterwards. Unfortunately, as Tatyana is the only inspector in the world at this time, that usually does not happen, at least in the US. Several of my horses have been inspected 3 times now, but for this inspection, it was the first time for many that were ten years and older.
Next we did my 3 and 4 year old fillies, Asalari and Mahri. Both are smaller horses and that is not what Tatyana is looking for. Neither showed well for movement, as they've never been taught to trot in hand. But, they behaved and got their measurements done.
Then, Sofie brought Meshhurlyk out. Diva (her barn name) showed very well and both Tatyana and Tito liked her, as she is a tall mare. Sofie was encouraged to breed her again (Diva has had two colts for me- we were trying for a filly!), but we will see.
Next was Goshen, a year and a half old colt. Goshen was shown by Monica, who has high hopes for him. He belongs to Cascade Gold, but Monica is leasing him. Goshen showed very well and Tatyana recommended that we keep him intact to see how he matures. This has been our plan, as he is extremely personable, amiable and athletic. Good looking too. He was one of their two favorites at our inspection.
We went through the rest of the barn, and Catrina's two, with appropriate comments, measuring each horse and discussing certain aspects. She would ask what the older horses did: for example, what my gelding Galen has done competitively, for this will also be noted in Russian records. Everyone did a fabulous job, Tatyana and Tito worked without a break (not my idea!) and we finished around 4 pm.
After we had finished the barn chores and gotten every horse settled for the night, we adjourned to the house and the dining room table. We got out our notes and then she started the comparing. She would ask those of us who had given scores (some were too busy handling to do much in that way) our scores for each horse and then we would discuss why we thought that and what she thought. It was very interesting, for example: if the horse had pretty good conformation, but one or two flaws (and what horse doesn't?), how do you score that? Her answer was that you have to weigh how bad each flaw is. If a otherwise very functional, nicely conformed horse had very thin bone, you had to weigh that. Or, one crooked leg, or...so we discussed what was very important vs nice. Also, she mentioned that as the population has grown, we can be a bit more picky what we cull from our breeding programs now. Those horses that might have been considered ok 20 years ago, when the population was much smaller, can now be culled from breeding. This is a good trend, all in all, as we hope, as breeders, to make each successive generation better than the last.
We also discussed type, although not in great detail. This is something that is very subjective and is often hard for someone who has seen a limited number of Tekes. And, to make it even harder, different lines have slightly different acceptable types!
Movement was very difficult, as many of the horses did not have the preparation necessary to really show off their movement. But, with a week plus notice, we did the best we could. Tatyana recognized this, especially with the younger horses.
We had a lovely spread of food, which my family will be eating for the next week, including some home grown ham that Catrina brought from her mother's farm. Delicious!
Those that were leaving, left after dinner and then the rest of us talked for a bit and retired for the night, quite early. It had been a busy, busy day!
I took Tatyana and Tito up to the Anacortes ferry yesterday, and they are now at Amrita Ibold's Sweet Water Farm, where they are inspecting all 19 of Amrita's horses and enjoying the beautiful scenery of San Juan! I'm sure Amrita and Jenny will write about their inspection after it is over.
It was lovely to see Tatyana and Tito and all in all, even for a whirlwind inspection, it went very well. I have to thank my family, who really pulled together, my boarders, Alice and Monica, who came and helped so very much, the friends who hauled their horses quite a ways on short notice (thank you Catrina, Erin, Sofie and Wendy!) and of course, Tatyana and Tito for being so gracious, hardworking and amenable.
Today, I'm going riding.
P.S. Here are links to several other blogs about the grading here at Cascade Gold. Both Shannon and Monica did very nice posts with some good photos.