**5 weeks until RPSI inspection**

While the common hashtag in sports right now is #RoadtoRio, I’m afraid I’ve got a rather more personal goal this summer. I’m taking Star to a Rheinland Pfalz-Saar International (RSPI) inspection. Because my existing attempt to get to a Trillium show before the end of the season, was apparently becoming too easy of a proposition. [Please note: Sarcasm] So for me, while I’m sure I’ll enjoy Rio as much as the next, for me this summer is all about the #RoadtoRSPI.

First things first, why chose RPSI for Star’s inspection? The easiest answer is it’s the closest registry inspection that has approved Star’s future baby-daddy for breeding. There’s more to it than that, though.

Unlike some other local options, the exact same judges and officials view and score horses in both Germany and North America. This is pretty huge for me as I’ll get an idea of not only where Star fits in amongst her counterparts in North America, I’ll get a pretty strong idea of how she stacks up against her European cousins as well. There’s also the fact that RPSI has reciprocity with most of the registries I’m interested in. So, even if potential future foal is registered as an Deutsches Sportpferd (German Sporthorse), he or she could gain approval in other warmblood breeding books.

That’s something else that sort of blows my mind. Star, as a Jockey Club Thoroughbred, has the pedigree to sort of “auto-approve” her in a few warmblood crosses as an improvement of blood. If I breed her to a Dutch Warmblood approved Stallion, for instance, her foal will be papered and registered as a Dutch Warmblood. It’s the same with the RPSI, but only if they score her high enough to be included in either their superior book (Main Mare Book I) or their adequate book (Main Mare Book II). The fact that she has to be deemed worthy of breeding to be entered makes a huge difference.

I’ve also been told — either directly or through the grapevine — that the RPSI judges are fair, good at their jobs, and exceedingly helpful. They will give opinions on crosses and may even suggest one cross or another to improve and build upon whatever your horse has to offer. I’ve also been told, quite conveniently, that the judges really like a good Thoroughbred. Some of the warmblood registries have either closed their books to TBs or have decided to hold them at a higher standard than the other warmblood breeds seeking entry. Not having Star lose points before she even gets started is definitely a bonus.

If I’m told Star isn’t sport horse breeding material, will that completely change my mind? Perhaps.

I won’t deny that at some point, I’d like to have my own future prospect I can trace back to Star. It will definitely make me think twice about breeding without the knowledge, though. After all, I’m not a breeder. Maybe it will change everything if she’s discounted completely. I promise to let you know if we get there.

Maybe for some people, an inspection is as simple as loading the trailer and letting them jog around in the sun. It’s not that easy for me. Literally felt like puking the second I’d sent in my deposit to reserve Star a spot in this summer’s RPSI inspection.

It’s not just the concern that she’ll be judged poorly. To be completely honest, I’m not overly fussed about that part. I mean, yeah, obviously I’d like them to say she’s worthy of passing on her genes. A main mare book is the goal. But that’s not what flips my stomach when I think about it.

I’m terrified that my pretty, feisty little mare won’t do well because I haven’t prepared her well enough. I’m worried the default lies with me, not her. She’s captured my heart, so must do everything I can for her. And everything means putting aside all pride and asking for help in any way I can get it.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by an amazing group of equestrians. Through friends and friends of friends — and sometimes pure hutzpah in cold calling — I’ve managed to build up a nice group of mentors. In their ranks I can count breeders, In-hand showers, professional groomers and everything in between.

I’m all over equine message boards, reading every post remotely involving inspections and prep. I think I’ve watched every RPSI inspection on YouTube. I’ve adjusted what she’s feed. I’ve brushed up on both my lunging and liberty skills, in turn bringing Star’s own skill level up to par.

Over the next 5 weeks I’m going to work my behind off to ensure that Star shows up ready to rock. I plan to cover everything from prep to performance. Because I feel a bit in the dark about this whole inspection process, I can only assume that someone out there may be equally in the dark. No matter the outcome, I’ll feel better to move from the dark into the light.

Regardless of whether you have any interest in inspections, I hope you enjoy taking the ride with us!

Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who is recently back to riding after four years off and having her first child. Christine is aiming her Thoroughbred mare, Star, toward the Jumper Circuit and Warmblood Breed Inspections. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.

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