Carole Mortimer: Breeding isn’t a minority interest *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Initiative has to be commended and so I applaud H&H contributor Penny Richardson who set up the Facebook group Jump British to highlight the achievements of British-bred showjumpers.

    In general, keeping track of British-bred horses, their breeding and achievements is not easy and something this column has been bemoaning for the past 10 years and the magazine longer than that.

    As Penny is finding, wrongly attributed bloodlines, breeders and studbooks are not uncommon. This is nothing new, but bizarrely it doesn’t seem to get better.

    It is disappointing that over the time it has taken to improve the quality of British-bred horses, creating greater awareness and subsequently getting more British riders to buy them is still akin to pushing water uphill.

    Many of the mistakes are simply human error, most from lack of knowledge; some are spelling mistakes that arise from bad handwriting, therefore rather than looking something up, an admin hazards a guess at the name and unknowingly creates a new one.

    Other errors arise because those inputting data don’t know how to read a passport, so another mistake is inserting the grandsire as sire. And one I notice is yet another mare called Haupstutbuch — this is the prefix attributed on a passport to head studbook mares. You might have thought someone would question why so many mares have the same name.

    But mistakes aside, why do the British sporting disciplines and many publications — paper and online — still not routinely include breeding?

    Perhaps a major reason is the lack of a common database within the sporting disciplines and studbooks — hence there is currently no sharing of information.

    Nor do they publish the same information in similar ways. It is extremely frustrating that while anyone can look up any horse on the British Eventing (BE) website and at least find out who it is by and its dam (dam-sires, too, would be ever so good) and its performance record, they cannot do the same for British Showjumping or British Dressage (BD).

    No controlling body in Britain

    It would appear breeding information issued by the disciplines is down to whether or not they have any person in the office that happens to have an interest in breeding. And if the interested person leaves, then it is noticeable that enthusiasm for breeding goes with them. How in this day and age can the Olympic disciplines publish lists of international teams without any mention of breeding or studbook?

    Thank you to BD, which recently did — it is much appreciated. Bizarrely, BE used to but in recent times hasn’t.

    A main reason for all the differences is that unlike other countries, we have no overall controlling body. Could I suggest that our central governing body — the British Equestrian Federation — lays down some simple rules, or guidelines as to what information the disciplines should collect, record and make available?

    Consistency in approach would be such a good thing. But isn’t it time that we stopped thinking an interest in breeding is a minority interest left to individuals to promote? Breeding knowledge is for everyone and the more everyone is exposed to it, the more everyone absorbs. But the information has to be available, accessible and correct — and even better, made public.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 5 July 2018