Introduction & instruction


This booklet is not yet another book about the beauties and defects of horses. There are many such books, and the latest one, entitled “Le jugement en Concours d’Elevage” (in French, published by the national breeding associations and written by Michel Gaspard and Brice Elvezi) is excellent!

This booklet will not tell you what the physical characteristics of a good jumper are: if you go to the Grand Prix paddocks, you will soon realize that from one good jumper to another, these physical characteristics vary!

The purpose of this book is to help the reader – whether he/she is an amateur or a professional – to observe and describe a stallion or a mare as objectively as possible: its static and non-static postures as well as the horse’s behavior when jumping and training.  


My experience of more than 50 years in the horse trade (including 45 years of breeding horses) has taught me that nothing is ever that simple: it only takes a few concrete examples to challenge the many claims of so-called “experts”.

I am convinced that there are very few morphological characteristics that are incompatible with intensive training and even fewer that will systematically guarantee top performance. It is the interaction between all the different factors which makes high performance more or less possible and predictable. As such, I recommend the following English book “Horse Anatomy for Performance.”


We must learn to look at the horse as a whole and try to understand how physical and behavioral characteristics influence performance. From this more or less extensive understanding, the rider will infer training programs and the farmer cross-breeding programs (and I will never emphasize enough how important it is for the rider and breeder to communicate on this subject).

Of course, there is a high degree of uncertainty concerning the horse’s success and luck is often an important factor. Kraque Boom became a European champion thanks to number of things: the judicious choices and working methods of her breeder, the circumstances that led her to Kevin Staut’s stables, the incredible patience, attentive work and deep understanding between the horse and team members – all of which enabled her extraordinary performance in Windsor 2009–, but also thanks to the fault committed by Okidoki on the final round!

However, as one of the members of our board of directors once put it: “It's not because the final outcome is uncertain that you should allow yourself to do a sloppy job along the way!”


PAX means “Assistance Programme for Cross-breeding” (in French “Programme d’Aide au Croisement”). Its purpose is to guide the breeder in his choices of stallions:
- by inviting him to describe as accurately and completely as possible his or her mares,
- and by choosing the features that you want to change in the next generation, that is to say in the foal.


The description phase focuses on morphology, locomotion and the spontaneous way the horse jumps and his breeding and work behavior. This phase cannot be dealt with in one day; the observation should begin early, at a young age, to watch the foal’s behavior within the herd and it should continue until the horse is trained and ridden.


It is advisable to wait until the horse has reached its adult size before coming to any conclusions concerning the horse’s morphology and locomotion. Before determining any of the corresponding parameters, it is recommended to have several practice, workout and jumping sessions. Your observations may change over a period of time, especially if the mare transmits to her offspring characteristics that are different from her own (this can be the case, for example, with size).

The reflection phase implies having a specific production objective in mind: the desired characteristics in a foal will differ depending on whether this foal is to be sold at the age of three or trained in-house.


You cannot change a full set of characteristics in one go (except if you’re willing to change the mare!) And the PAX program offers the breeder the possibility of choosing up to five criteria he wants to change first. These priority criteria will be taken into account in the selection of stallions carried out by the PAX program.

Our choice of 21 locomotion, jumping and behavior criteria was fairly easy to establish. However, we had to restrict the number of our morphological criteria in order to keep the observation of the horse relatively simple and to produce realistic proposals.

We selected 23 criteria. Some experts will bemoan the absence of certain features or the simplification of others (mainly around the leg…). We had to make choices, in collaboration with the board of the GFE, and Pr. Denoix the CIRALE; we will probably improve our range of criteria over time. The existing criteria have proven useful as they highlight the compatibilities between our stallions and mares, according to the objectives of the breeder!

We based our stallion ratings on the physical characteristics they had transmitted to their offspring when their offspring were numerous enough for these observations to be significant, and we based the ratings on the stallions’ own characteristics when the number of their descendants was not significant. These ratings are based on the advice of experts, starting with the administrators of the GFE, but also veterinarians, competition judges in France and abroad. We currently have fifty stallions, who are amongst the best, judging from their progeny – very promising young horses; they do not all have the same characteristics and are not suitable for all mares. It would be as pretentious of us to give advice to farmers, without seeing their mares, as it is risky for them to rely on formulas and illustrated samples without going further in the characterization of the horses they are about to breed. The ambition of the PAX program is to help rationalize their choices as much as possible!

The characteristics of the mare can be evaluated “by the unaided eye” and also by meticulously following the advice given in this guide.


It is not necessary for all the criteria to be measured in order to use PAX. It is complicated and sometimes impossible to do so, for example in the case of mares who have never taken part in competitions. The important thing for the program to work effectively is to use reliable information only. The drawings and illustrations provided in this book can help hesitant farmers attribute grades as objectively as possible.

When in doubt on a test, it is best not to put anything at all and this criterion will be “neutralized” in the PAX reasoning. As soon as a minimum of 5 criteria are “entered”, the program can run. In the “tips” provided at the end of this book, it is recommended to run the PAX several times and to gradually increase the number of criteria ... PAX can be used to choose a stallion for a mare, but also, in the case of farmers wanting to use a specific stallion, to determine which of his mares best suits him.

Our website offers many photos and videos to help the farmer to “grade” the mare. To this same end, many of the images are copied on the DVD included with this book. This booklet gives an overview of how to evaluate the observed characteristics and, for each characteristics, it briefly reminds us of their influence on the final result.

Finally, it is to be noted that PAX is only one tool among many. It does not take into account, in the breeding choice, certain elements such the most important factor of the mixing of blood streams!

The breeder’s work requires rigor and humility and it should be enjoyed. This is the belief that has led us to create this little book. It reveals the GFE’s desire to openly support farmers in order to improve efficiency.

It is with a great deal of pleasure, professionalism, and in all modesty that we would now like to offer you our PAX program!