Sport horse breed­ing

Ca­role Mor­timer sug­gests ways to help bridge the gap be­tween Bri­tish breed­ers and buy­ers, and warns against a lax at­ti­tude to train­ing foals

Horse & Hound - - News Insider -

Ca­role Mor­timer

TO my mind, one of the as­pects of the for­mer Bri­tish Eques­trian Fed­er­a­tion (BEF) breed­ing pro­gramme that was most needed was the Equine Bridge. Sadly, the scheme — de­signed to con­nect young horses, pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied as tal­ented, with rid­ers — never got off the ground.

It was a shame, as any initiative to get more of our lovely Bri­tish-bred horses teamed up with Bri­tish rid­ers is wel­come if we are to get them and prospec­tive own­ers to shop at home and not hop on the next plane to the Nether­lands.

While the new Elite Stal­lions Foal Reg­is­tra­tion Tour is a great initiative and I have no idea what will turn up in the any of the pro­pos­als to re­sus­ci­tate the BEF breed­ing pro­gramme, it would be good to see some­thing that would high­light young horses that are ready to be sold.

The main rea­sons rid­ers say they go abroad are: a) they don’t know where to look for young un­backed horses, and b) there is no one place where they can save time and mileage by see­ing more than just a hand­ful at a time. I see their point. Breed­ers are scat­tered all over the coun­try and we cer­tainly don’t have the large-scale studs as can be seen in Europe. And it has been proved over time that rid­ers don’t like buy­ing Bri­tish­bred horses at sales.

So one sug­ges­tion; how about the sport­ing dis­ci­plines get­ting to­gether to host view­ing days? Breed­ers could bring the young­stock they want to sell — and fully doc­u­mented pass­ports with ver­i­fied breed­ing — to a suit­able cen­tre at no cost to them. Would breed­ers be up for some­thing like this? Would rid­ers and own­ers sup­port it?

How­ever, in the mean­time I do think rid­ers could help them­selves and be more proac­tive. How many have ever at­tended a breed so­ci­ety show for ex­am­ple, where the best young­stock are on dis­play, and where they may spot a fu­ture star? Many of the so­ci­eties and stud­books have an­nual shows, which pro­vide a shop win­dow and a place to meet breed­ers.

Maybe the so­ci­eties could start mar­ket­ing their shows more cre­atively to­wards buy­ers and rid­ers.

TRAIN WITH RE­SPECT NOT CUD­DLES

THE Bri­tish Equine Ve­teri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion (BEVA) is cur­rently run­ning a cam­paign, “Don’t Break Your Vet”, to help raise aware­ness of the risks that vets face when treat­ing horses that are less than co­op­er­a­tive.

I never knew there were so many nee­dle-shy horses. Train­ing a horse in ba­sic man­ners should start early — just af­ter they are born — with con­fi­dent han­dling, in­clud­ing legs and feet, as well as head­col­lar train­ing and lead­ing.

What is alarm­ing, how­ever, are the videos that reg­u­larly pop up on so­cial me­dia pro­mot­ing the idea that cuddling and kiss­ing foals is cute. It is not.

It is the start of po­ten­tial prob­lems. Foals, even small ones, that have been al­lowed

(or trained) to be­come over­friendly be­come big, po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous year­lings when their pre­vi­ous “train­ing” is spurned.

Re­spon­si­ble breed­ers train foals with re­spect (for teeth and feet) and un­der­stand­ing of equine be­hav­iour, not by ly­ing down with them in the straw. In the mean­time, for those with a horse with less than im­pec­ca­ble man­ners, the how-to videos cre­ated by BEVA are well worth a watch.

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