Improving the breeding and quality of horses is the main focus of the Alberta Breed Improvement Program. By evaluating certain characteristics in a particular horse, the evaluators are able to determine any faults within the horse. This initiative does not only concentrate its efforts on light horses, such as Thoroughbred racing horses and Standardbred racing horses, but also includes draft horses. Performance and confirmation are looked at, as well as the athletic abilities, to ensure complete evaluations and feedback reports.
By identifying the superior horses in the Alberta region and advertising the best horses, it is hoped that there will be an increase in the demand for Alberta bred horses. Thus it is important to ensure that horses bred within the region are of a high quality. All horse owners and breeders in Alberta are therefore encouraged to list their horses for evaluation, which will be in the best interest of everyone in the horse racing and breeding industry. A committee of evaluators is selected to perform the necessary assessments and horses are looked at according to age and breed.
When it comes to Light Horses, evaluation ages are between one and five years of age. Three evaluators assess the yearlings and two-year old horses, looking only at confirmation, while three-year olds to five-year olds are assessed on both confirmation and performance while being driven or ridden. Final scores will determine if the evaluated horses fall into the Premium or Classic categories, designating them as superior Alberta bred horses in accordance with the Alberta Breed Improvement Program.
The evaluation of draft horses is a bit more complex than analyzing light horses. They are classified in the same groups, but are not evaluated on performance. Draft horses between the ages of one and four years of age are eligible for assessment, and confirmation evaluations are much more detailed. These assessments are divided into five general categories, with each category having a list of characteristics they need to look for. The main categories are front limbs, hind limbs, athletic movement, type and head, neck, body and balance. In each of these categories a horse must score more than ten points to receive classification.
With the Alberta Breed Improvement Program, it is hoped that stronger and healthier horses will be used for breeding and competitive sports, thus ensuring that horses bred within the Alberta region are sound and possess the minimum of faults. Breeders will also be able to make informed decisions when looking at mares and sires, and buyers will be able to look for horses that are Alberta bred with confidence.