The BSJA ruling that ungraded stallions will each year be charged a £1,000 registration fee from 1 January 2004 is stirring up controversy as the deadline approaches.
The ruling states: “All stallions aged 6-13 years (inclusive) must have been graded by a studbook recognised by the World Breeding Federation (WBF) and/or DEFRA, The Welsh Assembly and the Scottish and Irish Executives which has included jumping in their grading procedure.
“Any stallion in this age group that fails a grading will be subject to a higher registration fee of £1,000 per year if it is to be registered entire.”
A fee of £500 will be charged for ungraded four- and five-year-old stallions; this will be refunded as and when the horse is graded later in the year.
The ruling is based on the quest for better understanding of breeding and performance, and, ultimately, for the promotion of higher standards of breeding within Britain.
It was first announced in January 1999, and a lead-time of five years employed to allow owners to castrate ungraded stallions at four or five years of age if they wanted to use the horse for jumping in the future.
The BSJA’s Jacky Knightley says: “We hope to gather data on studbook, age, colour, height a horse is jumping and its consistency through double clears, to enable us to give information to people considering breeding which stallion to choose.
“There are horses for courses, and a proper performance directory will help us to identify what’s what. The next stage will be grading mares — we’re already recording their breeding.”
Owners of mature stallions, which have failed the grading procedure, are upset by the prospect of either paying hefty yearly fees or castrating their horse — an expensive and risky operation if done later in life.
There are also safety implications, and while Jacky says it is not within the BSJA’s remit to reduce stallion numbers at shows, she admits: “It became evident when we introduced badges [to identify stallions at shows] how many were competing.”
Jacky Knightley adds: “We are planning to hold stallion shows next autumn, and we would like to hear from all stallion owners which have not graded, but passed the jumping tests how we can meet halfway on this issue.”