Mare Performance Test

The mare performance test provides an independent and objective assessment of mares as valuable feedback to breeders on the results of their breeding programmes. It can also help breeders decide which mares to keep in their breeding programme.

It is also a very good idea to performance test mares that will pursue a competition career. In the event of the mare not being able to continue that career, she will already have undertaken the necessary steps to enable her subsequent foals to be registered with the society.

According to the Verband, “Mare performance tests have become an important measure in the Hanoverian breed and most newly registered mares have passed it. The mare performance test does not only indicate the mare’s own disposition but is also a valuable source of information on the sires of the mares taking part”.

In Germany, the mare performance test is either done in the course of a station test (21 days) or in a so-called field test (one day). In the UK, this takes place in one day at the annual BHHS show or at regional shows.  Please check our events page for dates.

The mare performance test comprises:

  • Free jumping
  • A ridden test where the horse is ridden by its own rider in a group of four or five other mares
  • An assessment of rideability made by a test rider who rides each mare taking part in the test In the mare performance test the basic gaits, jumping talent in free-jumping as well as the mare’s rideability are judged.

For the assessment of the individual criteria (basic gaits, rideability and jumping talent), scores covering the marks from 0 (=not performed) to 10 (=excellent) are given. The final certificate contains an overall final score as well.

After passing the test each participant receives a test certificate. The mares are not placed. The performance of each mare is commented on by a judge.

The judges commission normally consists of a representative of the Verband as well as a judge from the BHHS. Additionally there is a test rider who gives an additional score for rideability.

The following pages provide information about the test itself and how to prepare for it.

There are people who specialise in preparing (and, if required, presenting) mares for their performance test.

How to enter for the mare performance test

The dates of the mare performance test can be found under by clicking here (Events, Mare performance test). The entry fee has to be paid with the application. The passport has to be produced before the mare undergos the performance test.  Please contact the office for further information.

Mares that are three or four years and which are entered into a section of the studbook are eligible. If they have not yet been entered, are eligible for main studbook with regard to their pedigrees. The mare must be presented for studbook inspection before taking her mare performance test. This may be done one the day of the performance test.

After the test the mare’s participation is noted down on the pedigree paper in her passport.

The mare performance test can be repeated once.

Preparation for the mare performance test

Success in the mare performance test, as with much else, is very much down to preparation. The better your mare is prepared, the better chance she has of doing well.

Free jumping

The free jumping is an important part of the test as whole. It is vital that your mare is well used to going down a jumping lane set to the format used on the day of the test.

The lane consists of three fences. The first is used to set the mare up correctly. This is kept at a low height and is normally a cross-pole to start with. It then becomes an upright as the heights of the subsequent fences are raised.

The second fence is positioned 6.4 metres from the first fence. This is an upright. The height of this fence is adjusted to reflect the third and final fence as this is made more difficult.

The third fence is an oxer, where the width of the fence is adjusted in relation to the height of the fence. The third fence is placed 6.9 metres from the second fence. The third fence is where the judges make their main assessment of the mare’s scope and style over a fence. This is raised in accordance with the ability shown by the mare each time she goes down the lane.

The mare needs to be able to go down the lane calmly. Presenting the mare correctly into the jumping lane is an important part of the process. Sometimes it is better to walk them into the first fence.

Lunge whips can be used to encourage the mare to go down the lane. Once the mare is used to the lane and is going down it confidently, then it is better to use little or no whip to avoid rushing the mare.

The mare should wear a bridle without the reins attached. A short lead which can easily be released is normally used to lead the mare into the first fence.

The jumping lane is normally enclosed to prevent the mare getting out of the arena.

Ridden performance test

In Germany, it is typical for mares to undertake their performance test when they are three years old. Mares are not expected to be very established in their way of going or experienced in competition before taking their test.

The mares should, however, be able to take a good and consistent contact in the bridle and be able to show the quality of their paces in walk, trot and canter.

As the mares are also ridden be a test rider, it may be beneficial if they are used to being ridden by more than one person.

They should also be used to being ridden with other horses in the arena.

The mare performance test process


Once all the entries for a mare performance test are finalised, a timetable for the process is produced. Depending on the number of entries, mares are normally put into groups of four or five for the ridden part of the test. These groupings, the times of the different sections of the test and the bridle number of each horse are published on the website before the day of the test.

Passports must be handed into the office or to a representative of the BHHS on the day, prior to the test taking place.

Equipment and turnout

Free jumping

The handler should wear white trousers, gloves, shirt or top.

The horse should be plaited and wear a bridle with the reins removed. Some form of rein or lead is required to bring the mare in and out of the arena.

A short lead of some type is required to lead the mare into the fences. A flash strap can be useful for this purpose.

Brushing boots may be worn by the mare for the free jumping, but the judges may ask to have these removed if they are too large.

Ridden performance test

The mare should be plaited and wear her usual bridle and saddle. A white numnah is preferable. No boots or bandages should be worn for the ridden test.

The rider should wear white or cream breeches, show shirt and tie or stock, black or blue show jacket, boots, a protective helmet or hat and white or cream gloves.

Appropriate spurs and whips are permitted.

Free Jumping

This normally takes place first. The mare is presented to the judges who will confirm her identity against her passport details. If the mare has not yet been stud book inspected, this will take place prior to, and during, the free jumping phase.

The handler will be asked to bring the mare into the jumping lane when the judges are ready. The number of times the mare needs to go down the lane will depend on her ability.

The jumping lane is normally enclosed to prevent the mare getting out of the arena.

The judges will give the mare a score each for her scope and her style over the fences. The marks are out of ten.

Ridden performance test

The mares are ridden in groups of four or five mares, depending on the number of entries. In addition to the judges in the arena, there is a commander who will instruct the participants. The test covers walk, trot and canter on each rein, with a lengthened stride shown in both trot and canter. It is important to maintain a reasonable distance from the horse in front to enable the rider to show their mare to the best of her ability, but without getting too far behind.

Once the first part of the ridden test has been completed, participants will be asked to line up in the centre of the arena and dismount.

The test rider will then ride each horse in turn and will give their own score for rideability. Once the test rider has ridden all the mares and the judges have completed their scoring, the results for each mare in the group are announced. The participants then leave the arena.

Once all the mares entered have completed their ridden test, all entrants will be asked back into the arena at the same time. The judges will comment on the mares and present an award to the mare with the highest overall score in the test.

“Mares that pass their performance test with a total result of 7.25 or with an average score of 7.5 in the basic gaits and rideability, or freejumping and rideability become Premium Candidate mares. See State Premium and Elite Mares for more details”

Requirements for the title “Hanoverian  Premium  Mare“

1 – As a rule the title “St Pr/Elite/Premium Candidate” is awarded to 3, 4 or 5 year old mares.  Please note – 5 year old mares have to complete all the requirements BEFORE the 1st August in their 5th year.

2 – The mare must either carry the Hanoverian hip brand or the brand of another approved Hanoverian society and  must be entered into the main stud book. Her dam must be entered into the main stud book as well.

3 – The title is awarded at an official mare show by the  respective judges commission. The mares are graded and – on the analogy of the proceeding  in Germany – classified into IA, I and II. An elite mare candidate must be classified into IA at   such a show.

If no mare show takes place in a region then the title is awarded at a studbook inspection where two official judges are present.

4 – The mare must pass her mare performance test at the age of four at the latest with the following result

                                Average Gait      Average rideability      Average jumping

Versatile mare               7,25                             7,25                                7,25

Dressage-talented                          7,25                                               5,0

mares                         (Æ of Average Gait and rideability)

Jumping talented          6,0                                                  7,25

mares                                                           (Æ of  rideability and jumping)

5 – The mare must not be a roarer. The veterinary examination on this fault must be carried out in the year in which the title is awarded. The respective veterinary surgeons are designated in co-operation with the VhW.

6 – The mare must give birth to a live foal which is registered with the BHHS. The mare is recorded as Pr St Candidate as long as she has not fulfilled this requirement. If the mare does not give birth to a live foal she is not awarded the title and no financial or any other grants are given.

7 – The title Hanoverian  Premium Mare is noted down in the passport and St Pr is recorded as part of the name of the mare as soon as all the requirements (also concerning the foal) have been met.

8 – The mare must have scored an average of 7 in the Studbook Inspection.