Mention the words ‘International Young Breeder’s Championships’ and most people in the UK will have no idea what you are talking about. They struggle to imagine a competition that brings together young people and breeding, which is fair enough.
The championship, however, has recently been held in the UK, over two days at Hartpury College (August 6-7) — did anyone notice?
It is a competition that tests young person’s knowledge about the basics of horsemanship and ideally what they should know before they start breeding. Sections test the competitors’ knowledge about theory, and their assessment of conformation, paces, loose-jumping and how to turnout and present a young horse to its best — skills that are rarely taught in the UK as they tend to be acquired here through experience.
The young persons in question are also not that young; the junior section is for 16-19 year olds and the senior competition for those up to 25. Where the breeding bit comes in is that the competition is run by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) and all competitors are members of studbooks that are affiliated to the association.
In Europe, the competition is big; in Germany, there are regional and national championships between the country’s many leading studbooks. It is an important competition for the studbooks and competitors want to win.
So not surprisingly perhaps, German studbooks took the top three places in both the junior and senior team competition and this year, for the third successive championship, the young Holsteiners won again. Both their junior and senior team triumphed, making them the leading studbook over all.
What was really great, though, was that British competitors broke the German stranglehold; of the top 15 senior individuals, 13 were from German studbooks and the other two — Becca White, who was a fantastic seventh overall (from 75), and Camille Best, who was 15th — were both representing Warmblood Breeders UK (WBSUK).
Even better, White and Best were not the only ones to perform well and team results were a great improvement on the last championship (Sweden 2013). WBSUK was 11th while Sport Horse Breeding (SHB) GB was 12th of the 21 teams — yes they beat some German studbooks, Oldenburg, Bavarian and Trakehner, as well as the Belgians.
Individuals also did well in some of the sections — the Anglo European Studbook (AES) team members scored highly in their assessment of loose jumping, as did White. The WBSUK team won the turnout section while Claire Nicklin (SHB), Emily Abbott and White all scored 100% in the theory test. Brilliant results.
So with some training — from team trainer Lynne Crowden — and some work and enthusiasm from the competitors themselves we can do well at young breeders’ competitions. In the main, this is because the present small band of British competitors have stayed with the movement over several years and now have experience of several championships and the confidence that brings. And don’t underestimate what they have learnt in the process — I am not sure I would like to be put under the spotlight to assess and mark several horses loose-jumping.
What we need now are more young people to join the British Young Breeders (BYB) movement. And they don’t have to have experience of breeding. What they do need is a love of horses and a thirst and enthusiasm for increasing their knowledge. Any of the British team members that took part will also tell you what a great time they had mixing with like-minded people from other countries — there is also time for partying — to say nothing of how much they have learnt in the process, even just by watching others.
The next International championship takes place in Canada in 2017 hosted by the Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association. Who would like to go to Calgary?
You can start by looking up British Young Breeders on Facebook.