Concerns as European studbooks refused UK permission since Brexit

  • The ability ro register British-bred horses with EU studbooks — and vice versa — was possible when Britain was a member of the EU. Now special permission must be granted. H&H speaks to federations, breeders and the Government to find out more

    CONCERNS have been raised around registering horses with foreign studbooks since Brexit after a German studbook was refused permission to operate in the UK.

    Last week the Oldenburg Pferde told British breeders it had been denied permission from Defra to register British horses. This follows a new requirement since Brexit that means EU studbooks must apply to Defra for an extension of breeding territory into the UK in order to register horses with foreign studbooks.

    World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) vice-president Eva-Maria Broomer, who is also a head evaluator for the UK Anglo European Studbook (AES) told H&H the ability to register British horses with EU studbooks had been previously possible as the UK was a member of the EU.

    “The EU allows companies to trade without restrictions across its member states, and registering foals has been treated in a similar way,” she said.

    “In informal conversations with some of our WBFSH members, we have heard not all studbooks who used to issue passports in this country have applied yet to Defra; they might not have applied because they thought it wasn’t going to get accepted, or that it wasn’t worth the hassle. It’s created a lot of uncertainty for breeders and we need to get clarity and a full picture as soon as possible so people can prepare.”

    The issue also applies to EU breeders who now cannot register a horse with a British studbook – unless it holds a daughter studbook in the EU.

    “Prior to January 2021, we founded AES Netherlands as a plan B, so we can now use that to continue to register AES horses in Europe. I would have preferred to keep the studbook whole, but I saw this as a possible consequence of Brexit and prepared,” said Dr Broomer.

    Caroline Ironside of Scottish-based MFS Studfarm, who registers a number foals every year with Oldenburg, told H&H the problem is that choice is being taken away from breeders.

    “As a stud we want to promote British-bred horses but because we sell some of our stock abroad we will use studbooks such as Oldenburg and KWPN. As a breeder that’s my preference; I like what the Oldenburg studbook represents and the knowledge the judges have when they visit our mares and foals every year – it’s like a gold standard for me,” she said.

    “It’s all well and good registering our stock in the UK, and I would love to see that, but we’re so behind compared to some EU studbooks. Likewise using an EU studbook opens up other channels for breeders if they want to sell their horses abroad; for the Bundeschampionate a horse must have a German UELN [universal equine life number] to be eligible, so it opens up marketing opportunities.”

    A spokesman for Oldenbburg told H&H the organisation is “very surprised” and “anything but happy” about Defra’s decision, and said the German committee is looking into the decision further.

    “We would be very happy if we could continue to be there for our breeders in Great Britain. At the moment we have to wait and see what results the committee comes to,” he said.

    A spokesman for Defra told H&H the German competent authority (the government body), had applied to Defra on behalf of “many German breeding bodies” to extend breeding programmes into the UK – as well as other competent authorities in the EU.

    “Defra has not approved the extension for the Oldenburger Pferde studbook as there are a number of studbooks for this type of horse already approved within the UK,” said the spokesman, adding that studbooks can request a reconsideration and the UK competent authority must reconsider the refusal, taking into account any new information provided.

    H&H asked Defra to confirm if a number of other EU sporthorse studbooks had applied for extension of breeding territory into the UK but Defra would not comment on this.

    H&H also approached a number of EU studbooks for comment. Germany’s Holsteiner Verband studbook confirmed to H&H that Defra had approved the organisation’s application.

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