Laura Tomlinson: ‘Is it fair to deny horses born in Britain British-bred status?’


  • British world, European and Olympic medallist, Laura Tomlinson, on team aspirations and the FEI’s young horse selection rules

    AT the time of writing, Fallatijn and I were in action as part of the Nations Cup team in Aachen alongside Lottie Fry, Susan Pape and Lara Butler, with our family’s home-bred Kristjan. It had been a good few years since I competed on a team and I was honoured and excited to have been selected.

    Aachen is to dressage and showjumping what Badminton is to eventing, and it will be the biggest test that Fallatijn (Finn) has ever faced.

    It is always special to ride in front of the crowd in the big dressage stadium there, not just for its size and the number of spectators, but because it is also a very educated crowd, who have been known to make their opinions heard if they disagree with the judges.

    It was very interesting to see the top Germans, Danes and Swedes, among others, ahead of selection for the dressage World Championships. Who will take pregnant Jessica von Bredow-Werndl’s spot on the German team? The Danish selectors, too, will have tough decisions to make. One thing is for sure, the World Championships in Herning are set to be mega-exciting.

    For the Brits, there is Hartpury CDI the week after Aachen and then the selectors make their minds up on the team for the worlds.

    It is quite amazing how things can change and evolve over the course of a season for riders and horses. Horses that seemed a sure thing at the start of the season are out, while others are back in the mix.

    For me personally, having thought that my chances were doomed when my top mare Rose Of Bavaria was injured, I now find myself in contention for a team spot with Finn.

    I am trying hard to focus on my rides in Aachen and not look beyond that, but regardless of what happens, we already have one horse from our yard heading to a championship this summer; Sophie Wallace and my former grand prix horse Rosalie B have made it on to the junior team for the Europeans.

    I remember my under-21 days fondly: the buzz of team selection, the training camps and the fun that was had at the shows as part of a team. I wish them all the best of luck and hope they enjoy the journey.

    British or foreign?

    AT Hartpury, Sarah Rogers will be aiming to get our home-bred six-year-old, Full Moon II, selected for the World Breeding Championships. There’s no rest for our coach, Carl Cuypers, with so many irons in the fire.

    But the World Breeding Championships for young horses is very complicated when it comes to the FEI rules, which consider our horses, who were born and bred here in the UK, not to be British-bred because they have Oldenburg papers.

    The Oldenburg breeding society doesn’t have a British arm yet and, while this will hopefully change, it makes things challenging regarding horses already on the ground, as they were not registered with a British breeding society at birth.

    There are only a few horses in the running for Britain that satisfy this new criteria, one of which lives abroad and is coming over to qualify here.

    Following recent clarification of the rules by the FEI, these British-bred horses take priority over other “foreign-bred” horses if they achieve the minimum eligibility requirement – 75% for six-year-olds – regardless of whether the “foreign-bred” horses score higher.

    So with just two slots at the championships available under the quota allocated to Britain, it’s very frustrating for those of us who consider ourselves
    to be British breeders, yet whose horses are classed as “foreign-bred”.

    Foreign studbooks still attract many breeders in Britain, so it might have been helpful for this rule to have been clarified sooner, to allow more people to register foals with appropriate societies to be classed as British-bred.

    •  Do you think horses should be registered with a British studbook to be classed as British-bred? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com

    This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 7 July

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