In just four weeks, a major international championship will take place in the UK for the first time.
Hartpury College is the venue for the International Young Breeders Championships (7-8 August) hosted by the British Young Breeders. It is a biennial competition for senior (20-25yrs) and junior (16-19yrs) teams from studbooks affiliated to the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses.
Over two days, all members of the 18 studbook teams taking part, including three from the UK, will have their knowledge tested in subjects related to the breeding and production of sport horses including; theory, conformation and paces, loose-jumping and presenting an immaculately turned out horse on the triangle. The team with the most points wins and there are prizes for the top individuals and category winners.
There are probably few, outside of the organisation, that have clocked this event. But not everyone is interested in everything, and breeding, in the UK, is one aspect of horses that has never really hit the radar of young people. It has always been seen as a bit nerdy.
It is different in the rest of Europe where people get involved at a much younger age. Also, the demographics are different; sport horse breeding has a longer history and is not a minority interest, much breeding is family-orientated and passed down the generations, and the large studbooks encourage young people via specific membership, activities and competitions.
But then European studbooks also have large (comparatively huge) memberships, many people running them and, even more significantly, large permanent centres to run activities. British studbooks run with the minimum number of staff and the most any of them has in terms of facilities is a dedicated office.
The International Young Breeders Championships therefore offers a unique on-the-doorstep opportunity for British breeders of all ages to see for themselves what the young breeders movement is all about.
As well as being a great learning opportunity, hopefully it will inspire more British young people who are interested in horses to get involved in breeding earlier.
Food for thought
The auction of young horses held at Bolesworth CSI proved a successful venture for the show and well done to the organisers. All of the 12 yearlings bred for showjumping sold at prices no sensible breeder would sniff at – any breeder would be pleased with £11,000 for a yearling, which was the lowest price achieved. Indeed the prices paid, which resulted in an average of almost £16,500, turned out to be much more than anticipated (especially for a British auction).
Perhaps this style of auction is the way to go. I am sure that British buyers are warming to auctions, and there have been some very successful horses bought out of the existing sport horse auctions. But to my mind this particular event had several attractive features going for it, which provide food for thought.
Significantly, it was small, with a select number of horses, all by well-known proven sires. No one had to sit through pages of horses whose breeding they were not interested in, and it didn’t take all night. Plus it was held at a prime time during a prestigious show, and it was also discipline-specific.
I look forward to seeing the outcome of the second event horse auction, which will be held at Blenheim during the CCI. I hope potential event horse buyers feel a bit braver this year.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 July 2015