Selecting dressage foals with Nol Gerritsen


This year Nol Gerritsen and Wouter Plaizier are responsible for the selection of the dressage foals. A team that has many years of experience in breeding, selecting and training top dressage horses. That means a duo with a fair share of know-how will hit the road to select the best foals for Foal Auction Borculo. Nol Gerritsen explains his criteria for a top dressage foal.

A lot of foals are signed up for the auction. How is the selection going so far? Are you able to visit all of them?
“It is quite busy with all these applications and we try to come view all the foals. Of course, the pedigree gives some information, but experience has taught us that you should always look at a foal in real life. What may seem very promising on beforehand, may disappoint in real life. The opposite is also possible, a foal that does not capture your eye based on bloodlines and then puts on a big performance when you see it. We have to put in some miles, that is necessary to put together a good collection. We are on the road a lot, but many breeders send us videos as well. That helps us give a first impression of the foal.”

 What is the perfect auction foal to you?
“A good movement mechanism, striking appearance and appealing pedigree. When it comes to movement, the trot is most prominent. The past has indicated that foals that have remarkable trot, attract the most buyers. A spectacular trot sells. Obviously, the walk and canter also need to be good. Elasticity, ease of movement and ability to collect and extent are all features we look for when selecting a foal.”

So, movement is an important aspect, but what about conformation?
“A foal has to appeal to me the first moment I see it, before it even moved. If the foal catches my eye directly, it does so with potential buyers. There is no discussion when it comes to correctness: auction foals must be 100%. Customers must know they can buy a top foal at Foal Auction Borculo without seeing it.”

Does the selection procedure differ from previous years?
“I think we raised the bar even higher for ourselves. This year we literally sell foals via video, so they have to be truly convincing. It was never about numbers, but now even less so. We only want to auction foals that have the total package.”

And you’ve got some competition. In the dressage world you see that many foals are sold before the auction to riders or big stables. How do you handle this?
We try to visit the breeders as soon as possible. If it is a great foal, it moves – how young it may be – extraordinarily. So, we try to get ahead of the competition, however it may never be at the expensive of our strict policy. If we select a very young foal, we have no problem going back a few weeks later to check if he is still so remarkable and if he is developing in the right direction. Of course, we see the foals again at the video day. That foals are being sold in auctions is nothing new, but it happens more often than in the past. Stallion owners call the breeders to inform if the offspring of their stallion is for sale. The reason for a breeder to sell a foal in the auction is simple: you can receive a higher price when buyers engage in a bidding war. In addition, the auction has a large customer base that is very interesting to each breeder.”

What is the influence of the mare in the selection of a foal?
“In selecting, we are happy to see most of the foals with their ‘real’ mother. That gives us a lot of extra information. Not only to us, but also to the buyer. A beautiful mare with a foal, that simple. Naturally, we want to see predicates in the damline.”

Of which stallions have you seen some outstanding foals so far?
“Contrary to the showjumpers breeding, young stallions do get the chance from breeders. Of course, things are differently. A dressage horse can be assessed on quality for the higher work from an earlier age. We have seen a range of offspring by Jameson RS2 that stood out in a positive manner. Kjento is also leaving a mark on his offspring. I expect to be able to select some great foals by these stallions.”

This year is the first year you form a team with Wouter Plaizier, what is your modus operandi?
“This is the first year we collaborate for Borculo, but us working together goes back many years. We know each other well and like to work together. Both Wouter and I are on the road a lot, this makes it easier to view many foals throughout the country. We both have a large network of breeders and we try to visit each of them. We prefer to go together, but that is not always possible. If we have seen something separately, we always discuss it afterwards and try to go again.”

You are away from home a lot of the time for the auction, but you are still busy with your own stables. What’s the status of your own breeding?
“I like being on my way for the auction, discovering new talent. It remains interesting to visit all these different breeders at home and look at their new foals. At home, all our foals have been born by now. I think we can be satisfied with the result of 2020, having offspring of stallions like Vivaldi, Finest Selection and Valverde.”