Why indeed ? When I ask this question I get a lot of reasons why I should NOT register my endurance horse with AHSA, most of them spat out at me with a great deal of distaste.
We all know that it is relatively expensive to register horses – with any breed society, and that there is a bit of record keeping and paperwork involved. Nowadays we have the necessary DNA testing and there are requirements for testing horses for genetic maladies as well. These days you must be a member of the AHSA too. Add to that the fact that there can be difficulties with getting all of the required information from stallion or mare owners, or previous owners of the horse itself, if you are not the breeder, and it is enough to turn a lot of people off.
The bottom line for most endurance people is “What do I get in return?” And the general consensus is “nothing”. Endurance horses are registered with AERA regardless of their breed or history, but more than 90% of all successful (even reasonably successful) endurance horses are Purebred Arabians or Derivatives. It is usually the first question a buyer will ask.
If you are only in the endurance scene to make a quick buck while it is there to be made, and have no concerns about the future of the industry, the future of the breed, or of little things like your good name, returning buyers or future sales – then maybe this doesn’t apply to you.
But, if you are any sort of a business person, with a desire to have a respected name among buyers and sellers, and within the industry and the breed itself, then maybe you should consider the following.
At the moment there is a fairly steady market for Purebreds and Arabian Derivatives who have proven bloodlines in endurance, who are AERA qualified horses, or who appear to have the makings of a good endurance prospect. These horses are observed very carefully at rides and are usually put through a vigorous veterinary check before any financial commitments are made. Overseas buyers are coming and going, and their agents here are always on the lookout.
Currently, when looking at selling a horse overseas, whether or not the horse is AHSA registered is not usually relevant – but it probably won’t stay that way for long. Now, with increasing FEI regulations, and more and more international focus, having an AHSA registered horse may make international sales a lot easier.
In today’s advanced technology scene, with world standards in DNA, microchipping and other methods of positive identification, any country whose stud book is accepted by WAHO (World Arabian Horse Organisation) – as Australia’s has long been – already has a foot in the door in the international scene. The importance of being able to accurately define the purity of bloodlines and traceability of a horse can be of the utmost importance. The complete history of the horse can be more readily and more accurately traced if the horse is AHSA registered ; not only the bloodlines and breeders, but previous owners and places where the horse has lived can be determined through it’s registration and ownership details.
Australia, and the world, are sadly losing the records and bloodlines of a great many Arabian horses as they go overseas without any confirmed breeding details, and are lost in a sea of horseflesh moving to and fro, from owner to owner, and from country to country in a vague system of buying and selling the best competitive horses. There is a lot of trial and error and some horses with great potential get lost in the sheer numbers and lack of definite identification and breeding history.
Bloodlines are important in any sphere of equine competition, and endurance is no exception. It is a well known fact that certain bloodlines carry very desirable traits and qualities that we would like to preserve, nurture and propagate. Things like soundness, correct conformation, temperament, trainability, speed, stamina, versatility, bravery, frugality, and that indefinable will to keep going and give all for the rider. In fact, Australian horses are held in high esteem because of their great heart recoveries. We have been told that we have a “Treasure Trove” of bloodlines.
If we want to breed these qualities on, or have these traits in the horses we own, we need to have the complete history of the horse and its breeding. This is something that the AHSA and corresponding world wide Arabian horse societies have been doing consistently over many years. The information for all registered horses is all there at your fingertips.
Conversely, if there is a bloodline, trait or condition that you want to stay away from in your breeding or horse ownership, an accurate pedigree over several generations can be of great assistance.
If you are breeding to or from AHSA registered Arabians, the foals would be eligible for the various Futurities. Arabian groups and clubs in each state organise their own Futurities for yearlings, 2 yr olds and sometimes older. While you are waiting for your future endurance horse to grow up, he could be winning a sometimes substantial amount of the prize pool in these Futurities. It is also a great way to get the youngster out and about and used to the hustle and bustle of the show scene so that when he goes out to his first few rides he will be more settled and accepting of vet checks and all the other goings on.
Have you thought about Arabian Racing ? It is well established overseas and is fast gaining momentum in Australia. It is well monitored and is only run on registered tracks, with registered trainers, jockeys etc. Arabian Racing is run under the set regulations of the Thoroughbred industry, with just a few modifications for Arabians. There is significant prizemoney up for grabs, with some of the sponsorship coming from the same international groups who sponsor endurance. There is a good market for racing bloodlines overseas, and many of our endurance horses carry these same lines. But, all horses must be registered with AHSA.
Endurance and Arabian racing tend to complement each other in that they are both sports where the horse is judged on his true merits or achievements – ie “first past the post”. Both showcase the Arabian’s speed, stamina and fortitude. Arabians can begin their racing careers as four year olds, then move on to endurance. They can go on to Arabian racing later on, or they can cross from one performance area to the other.
While endurance is seen as a true “family activity” with horses, in that all members of the family – Dad, Mum and the kids, and people of all ages, can compete together – as Arabian racing becomes more established in Australia, it is being seen as a “family friendly” sport as well. Horses can be owner/trained, and the trusty family horse can become the racing superstar. Both of these sections of the Arabian horse industry are popular with people who may not have an interest in the show ring or other disciplines.
If you value your horses, not just as a product or a saleable item, but as a true horse lover, you might be concerned about their life after endurance. When your horse comes to the end of his endurance career, what will happen to him then ? I am sure that most of us don’t want our beloved friends, who have given us so much, to become pet food – as so many of their Thoroughbred cousins do. A mare may find a future life as broodmare, and if she is registered her value could be far greater. Other horses may find another life opening up for them as pony club mounts, eventers, showjumpers, show or dressage horses, or even as pleasure riding horses. If they are registered with AHSA their prospects are a lot brighter.
And, don’t forget the endurance amnesty. It was never closed. The Endurance Amnesty applies to any horse that is competing, or has competed in Endurance rides. A copy of the Yellow (not Blue) logbook must be sent with the application for registration. Minimum registration ( ie under 12 month) fees apply, but the paperwork still needs to be correct and any applicable DNA testing will need to be done. The owner will need to be a member as well. If someone has an old broodmare or stallion they are breeding endurance horses from and they can prove this, although it doesn’t actually come under the amnesty, the Board of the AHSA would consider it.
If you have any horses that might fit in this category, talk to the girls in the AHSA office and they will be happy to help you. They can’t always fix mistakes or correct problems created through lack of documentation, or perform miracles, but they will go out of their way to find solutions to any issues that they possibly can, and help you with the registration of your endurance Arabian. In the past, there were sometimes penalties or fines if the paperwork was incorrect or incomplete. These days it is very rare for anyone to get a fine, and certainly not for a mistake.
Pointers for rego of endurance horses
- Accountability for breeders (proof of claimed breeding to be correct)
- Recognition to breeders
- Recognition of bloodlines
- Informed breeding of future endurance horses
- Traceability of horses by previous owners/breeders.
- Validation of horse details and breeding to prospective buyers
Yvonne Downes. With thanks to a few Arabian breeders in the endurance world.