Are you in or out? There is no getting away from the current debate (which is perhaps not the right word for what is actually taking place) on the EU referendum that is currently occupying the media 24/7.
For various reasons I am a stayer. As far as I can tell, there is no good reason for the horse world to enter the unknown country of“Brexit”. In the first instance it would be highly unlikely that any current legislation or passport regulations would be relaxed, even if anyone in the UK thought it a good idea — heaven forbid.
For those wanting to trade horses or semen, travel or compete in Europe you have to comply with the current EU regulations. As former Defra minister Jim Paice said on the subject at the World Horse Welfare conference last year: “Uniform enforcement should be the norm.”
It is however entirely possible that due to a new border — between us and everywhere — horses or frozen and chilled semen might face stricter customs and border controls before passing through.
My main reason (aside from Messrs Gove and Johnson) for voting “remain” is that you cannot influence a body or organisation from the outside. If we leave, who in the rest of the EU is going to care what the little-old-muddled UK thinks about any subject, let alone horses.
What will happen to all that good work welfare organisations have achieved through lobbying for better conditions for animals, in particular trying to improve the conditions of slaughter horses travelling long distances across Europe?
How can you convince other EU member states to listen, let alone expect the UK to be influential on topics like this — which many of us feel strongly about— when we are a country on the outside?
That is not to say we couldn’t do better on the inside than we do at the moment, and perhaps we could speak with a more unified and therefore louder equine voice, as is always the criticism of the British equestrian industry.
However I suspect unification over the EU is highly unlikely and not just in the horse world. I am not looking forward to what I imagine will be a messy aftermath, whatever the outcome.
Quality shines through
A day at the Royal Bath & West for the sport horse and hunter classes was my first at this show for several years. It was pleasing to see good numbers forward in the sport horse classes, although perhaps at the expense of hunter breeding classes, which had far fewer entries. Is that a surprise?
It would make sense that more people are breeding sport horses than hunters and the ridden hunter classes seemed to bear this out, as the majority were Irish-bred. It will be interesting to see how other shows compare.
While the in-hand sport horse breeding classes were of a good standard, the ridden class was a bit of a curate’s egg — good and not so good. There were some lovely horses at the top but the quality tailed off, and quite simply others were not sport horses. I was dismayed to see what I consider to be overweight horses in both ridden classes.
Maybe there is still much uncertainty as to what constitutes a sport horse — at least the judge and I had similar opinions — but the first requirement is athleticism.
Nowadays a sport horse will not go far without quality, which is why the mare — and knowledge of her bloodlines — is so important if she is to produce what you are aiming to breed.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 16 June 2016