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Jody's Blog

A Call to Action for New Zealand Sport Horse Breeders

Our industry needs to pull its socks up!

Author: Jody Hartstone/Wednesday, April 8, 2020/Categories: Blog

A Call to Action for New Zealand Sport Horse Breeders

Have you ever wondered why New Zealand bred horses don’t feature highly on the WBFSH Rankings?

Have you pondered how we might get more international buyers to come to New Zealand and see the exceptional horses we breed? 

Are you wondering how you as a breeder can gain more exposure both domestically and internationally?

Each month rankings are published by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses that contain the Breeder and Studbook rankings taken from FEI competitions around the globe.  At the end of each yearly cycle the Breeder of the Year and leading Stud Book of the Year for each discipline are honoured during the Longines-WBFSH Breeder Awards at the WBFSH General Assembly.

Right now there is Bella Rose leading the dressage rankings, Explosion W leading the jumpers and Fischerchipmunk leading the eventers.  In addition to this the Sire Rankings are published once a year for the leading sires in Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing.

In 2016 there was a New Zealand bred warmblood horse Balmoral Sensation at the very top of the world ranking list for Eventing.  However, at the time there was no NZ Stud Books recognised by the WBFSH so there was no flow-on effect for the NZ Sport Horse breeders back here at home.  An opportunity that may never come our way again was lost.

Thankfully New Zealand now has two Stud Books who are recognised by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses, the New Zealand Warmblood Association and the NZ Hanoverian Society.  This was no easy task, with both Stud Books needing to pass rigorous scrutiny in terms of the number of foals registered each year, their constitution, breeding goals, stud book organisation etc.  All the boxes need to be ticked to be accepted into the WBFSH.  These are both very serious Stud Books who have stood the test of time in New Zealand.

So surely now we have two Stud Books in New Zealand for horses to be registered with we can be sure to see New Zealand start to feature more prominently in the world rankings?

Well no…..  Not unless breeders and riders do their bit to make sure horses are registered and both ESNZ and FEI have the correct information at hand.

Take for example the incredibly talented horse Popeye who is jumping so well on the international circuit.  When you are at any FEI show around the world the horses in the program are written like this:

Horse:  Sex / Studbook / Colour / Year Born / Sire x Dam Sire / Breeder / Owner

When I looked at the program and results list from an international show in Spain, this is what we could glean from the program about Popeye:

Popeye:  Gelding / / Grey / 2010 / NA x NA / / Tom Tarver-Priebe and Lucia Voss

So we know he is a Gelding, has no Studbook of Birth, he is grey, born in 2010, has no known Sire or Dam Sire, No breeder, but thankfully does have owners in Tom and Lucia.

This type of situation is seen time and time again with great New Zealand bred horses competing at the very highest levels all over the world.

Last year I was sent a list of 350 New Zealand horses on the FEI database – this was in no way an exhaustive list – but a good sample size at least to get a handle on what sort of horses we have out there with FEI Passports.  Some of the horses are competing domestically in FEI level comps, others are (or should be) flying the flag for NZ all around the world.

Of the 350 horses listed the breakdown went like this:

50 horses were Arab / Arab cross and competing mostly in Endurance

18 horses were imported but on NZ FEI passports

20 Horses were registered as NZ Hanoverian

15 horses were registered as NZ Warmblood

8 were Ponies

80 or so were full Thoroughbred although you couldn’t tell if they were NZTB, AUS TB or otherwise

There were 40 crossbreds who from what I could tell from the information on these horses from the ESNZ and FEI Databases were ineligible for any studbooks being of unknown or mixed parentage

And there were 110 – yes 110 - other horses that could be listed as NZ Warmblood (containing 25% warmblood blood or more) who had no stud book.

That means there were 125 horses out of 350 who could have been listed as NZWB and only 15 of them are..  That is just 12% of horses who are gaining international points that are being recognised as being bred in New Zealand.

How hard is this problem to fix?

Firstly we must find a way to encourage all breeders of warmblood horses in New Zealand to register the foals they breed each year.  For as little as $70 or $80 the foal can be issued with an International Horse Passport that will see its breeding / breeder and stud book recognised throughout its entire career.  $70 is less than the cost of one pregnancy scan!  These passports also serve as a proof of age for each horse entering Young Horse Classes.

I myself have been guilty of not registering all of the horses I have bred in the past, and as a consequence there is a horse I bred by one of my stallions winning Grand Prix’s in New York, and another I bred doing super in eventing at International level who are both unregistered.  I feel guilty for sure, an opportunity not just missed for me, but for all of New Zealand.  Now it is up to me to rectify this situation and get these horses registered!  Thankfully most of mine have been done at birth ....

Luckily it is possible to register older horses who are already going well internationally, and I encourage the breeders and riders of these horses to take a moment out of their busy lives to ensure this is done.

We can also play our part by ensuring all the information recorded with ESNZ is correct with our horse and the breed, breeder, sire and dam sire are listed and spelt correctly.  Poor Popeye was listed with ESNZ as his sire being Cardents instead of Cardento for many years and what’s worse, this was the information the reporters would use when writing stories about the horse!

We need to stand tall and be proud of the horses we are breeding here year in and year out.

We may be a small nation at the wrong end of the world for a lot of international competitions, but we all know Kiwi’s can fly if given the chance. 

Come on New Zealand, we can do this!  Simply make sure all the foals you breed are registered with a WBFSH Stud Book and any horses competing at FEI level you have bred or ride or own get registered too.  With your help we could see New Zealand featuring on the World Rankings in a very short space of time!

The photos below show just three of the many horses I have bred by my own stallions that have gone on to be successful FEI horses across all disciplines...  Including Landisohn (by Landioso - ridden by Kaitlin Freeman) , Donner XC (by Donnerwind V, ridden by Alena Dorotich), Codicea (By Ramazotti ridden by Libby James), Belmont Backstage (by Belmont Golden Boy ridden by Jess Grosmann) and Saskatoon (by Belmont Golden Boy and ridden by Nicky Pope).


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