On a sunny August day, I was transported to a new experience at a familiar place. I pulled into Puterbaugh Dressage Sport in Howell, Michigan, and the farm was bustling with activity as mares and foals poured in from around the region for the Westfalen NA Breed Inspection. German Stud Book Director, Otto Schalter stood at the center of the Olympic sized arena, and carefully made notes and observations as mares and foals were presented and put through their paces. The arena was flanked with chairs for spectators. Each pair walked and trotted a pattern with their handlers. When the inspector gave the instruction, the handler removed the halter from the foal, and they were released to canter freely around the ring. I was amazed that most of the mares knew exactly what to do, and their babies happily followed alongside.
Outside the arena in the brick aisle way, I noticed a darling Haflinger foal waiting with its mother for their turn to enter the arena. I wondered how another breed could be identified with the Westfalen breed. I learned that other qualifying warmblood mares and stallions, Thoroughbreds, and Arabians are eligible for inspected and can be recorded as Westfalen if they meet the quality standards regarding type, confirmation, and movement. The criteria and judging standards are the same in Germany and the United States, but there is only one Westfalen breed book which is kept in Münster, Germany. Honestly, it is a bit confusing for a first-time attendee to understand what the foals get after inspection and why. To make matters even more confusing, as of May 2017, the Rheinland Pfalz-saar International foals born in North America now get the Westfalen breed logo. At inspection, there are three types of papers a foal can get: a pink papered passport issued from Germany, a white papered passport called a Certificate of Pedigree, and a non-breeding white papered passport called a Horse Identification Document. The paperwork they receive depends on their breed lines and their scores.
Once all the foals had been seen, the inspection team retreated to the cozy observation room to tabulate the scores. Guests enjoyed refreshments and the lovely old world equestrian setting. The qualifying mares and foals were given the option of branding on-site as well as micro-chipping.
After the inspection, Otto Schalter and trainer and farm owner, Douglas Puterbaugh had an intriguing dialogue about today’s training and dressage education system. They discussed the progress made in breeding, and where more education is needed to continue to improve the industry for the benefit of the United States. Those who lingered got insights from the industry experts.
Puterbaugh Dressage Sport has offered to host again next year. Attending a breed inspection is a wonderful learning experience, and it couldn’t have been a lovelier setting.
Puterbaugh Dressage Sport is located a short distance from I-96 and US-23 in Howell, Michigan. They have available openings for boarding, riding lessons, and dressage training in a peaceful, serene equestrian setting, situated on fifty acres of organic hay fields. Douglas Puterbaugh teaches riders from the beginning levels through Grand Prix, and trains horses up through the Grand Prix. To visit the farm, inquire for services, attend a clinic or breed inspection, contact Tamara Horak at (707) 475-6847 and visit www.puterbaughdressage.com .