Sisters hosts prestigious horse event


Last updated 9/12/2023 at 9:46am

Photo by Craig Rullman

Kanoe Godby with Freedom.

The Godby Farm in Sisters hosted officials from the KWPN (Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands) for a keuring event on Thursday, September 7.

A "keuring" is an official inspection by a jury, wherein Dutch Warmblood horses are evaluated for their adherence to breed standards and fitness for participation in events such as dressage, hunter-jumper, or harness. Horse owners from around Central Oregon brought their mares and foals to a tradition-filled evaluation on a perfect mountain morning.

Kanoe Godby of Sisters has been breeding Dutch Warmblood horses for over 20 years, and inherited her love for horses from her mother, who was among the first to breed Friesian horses in the United States over 40 years ago.

Dutch Warmbloods, which are notable for their large size in comparison to other popular breeds such as the American Quarter Horse, "are bred to be an all-around horse," Godby says. "They are known for their excellent temperament. They are big boned, with big feet. They are a horse that can pull a carriage, compete as jumpers, or in dressage, or take your grandmother on a trail ride."

The keuring judges, known as a kern team, must have several years of experience evaluating Dutch Warmbloods, and travel from Holland yearly as representatives of the KWPN, judging horses in over a dozen locations in both the United States and Canada to ensure that horses raised in North America are meeting the same official standards as their counterparts in Europe.

The challenge at a keuring, Godby told The Nugget, is that a horse "might come in looking like a giraffe, so we just hope it's a great day for the foals, that they look good and the judges appreciate what they are seeing."

On hand to help the horses look and behave their best, was Janko van de Lageweg. Janko, whose family owns a Warmblood stud farm in Holland, is considered one of the finest "voorbrengers" in the world. Dressed in the traditional all-white, Janko handles both mares and foals in front of the judges to help present the horses in their best light.

The first stage of the keuring was an individual measurement, followed by a thorough inspection for markings and genetic defects. Next, the horses were walked and trotted on a lead, on a hard surface. In the third phase the horses were brought into a grass arena, one at a time, where they first walked the perimeter on a lead to familiarize themselves with the surroundings. At a signal from the judges the horses were let loose so that they could be evaluated based on their movement.

Finally, the horses were caught, led around the arena a final time, and brought before the judges.

Photo by Craig Rullman

This mare and foal stole the show at an equestrian event in Sisters last week.

Perhaps most exciting is when the mares and foals are shown together, and let loose to show their fluid movement around the arena as a team.

At the conclusion the jury chairman reveals the results, explaining in detail the jury's reasoning for the horse's score, and awarding premiums or predicates based on the horse's intended use.

After the last horse was inspected, the judges from Holland presented Godby with a carved wooden bowl in a show of appreciation for her dedication, and the demanding work of pulling a keuring together.

Godby told The Nugget: "I think that as a breeders we do have to remember that this is just a day in the life of the foals, and not to be too wrapped up in the highs and lows of the day. I am pleased with our foals though."


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