A new approval system for the British sport horse and pony is being proposed to help British breeders compete against their European counterparts.

The template is the brainchild of the Lead Body for Performance Sport Horses and Ponies (PSHP), launched by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) this summer to improve and promote British-bred horses and ponies.

The PSHP believes a “breeding Kitemark” will help tackle the problem of indiscriminate breeding in Britain.

BEF director of equine development Graham Suggett told a meeting of around 30 breeders and studbook and society representatives last week that the template “needs to stand for a quality animal and a quality breeder”.

The PSHP also plans to explore a common performance-rating system for stallions and mares and their progeny — to simplify the complex grading systems currently used across the UK’s breed societies.

It is proposed that youngstock promoted under the PSHP label should be vouched as being, among other points, sound, with good temperament, well-handled and prepared for sale.

British studbooks must also market themselves better, said Mr Suggett, who believes they are “lagging behind” those on the Continent.

Individual breeders and breed societies are both now being invited to join the PSHP.

A committee has been set up to manage the start-up of the group, with Lynne Crowther of the British Warmblood Society as interim chairman.

The committee also includes Celia Clarke of the Sport Pony Studbook Society, Mark Shaw of the Coloured Ponies and Horses Society, John Shenfield of the British Hanoverian Society and Mary Wilson of the Irish Draft Horse Society.

Membership will be £30 for individuals and around £5 per foal for studbooks.

The PSHP has undertaken to promote and support the new national equine database (NED) and PSHP members will get free NED membership, among other benefits.

The steering committee will meet again on 7 December at the BEF headquarters at Stoneleigh.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (22 November, ’07)