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A Call to Action

Jan 4, 2018 | 0 comments

In North America, as I have certainly belabored in my previous post, we Dutch breeders are really on our own. Publications and show programs rarely list bloodlines, let alone the name of the breeder; we have no universally accepted national data base to track the success of our products in sport; the physical distance between us makes eyes-on self-education difficult; we have access to few quality stallions, and are subjected to the ridiculous arrangement of paying almost the full cost of breeding to a stallion in Europe for one dose of frozen semen with no guarantee; and the North American branch of our studbook is constantly stymied by a lack of vision and poor financial management. And I know I’m being repetitive and less than subtle here, we would be better off registering our horses directly through the KWPN and functioning as a breeding region rather than be a separate-but-not-separate organization. Breeders, and their needs, opinions, and decisions, in Holland drive the future of the KWPN. Breeders here drive nothing. We do not have a voice. In spite of the organizational systems and committees in place, our needs are not addressed except by proxy when the needs of the breeders in Holland coincide with our needs. Therefore, it falls to the individual breeding programs to set the standards. I’m too old, too opinionated, and too impatient to have our breeding program continue to be limited by other people’s lack of vision.

In my reactions to warmblood breeding in North America (and in other things), I can be accused of many things: blatant egotism, vociferousness, intolerance…and more. Yet, anyone would be hard-pressed to question my passion for breeding or my decades-long support of hundreds of fellow breeders. I look out into the world of warmblood breeding in North America, and see a significantly more educated population of breeders with a significantly higher quality of breeding stock. If we can find some means of cohesion, our breeding programs are poised to rival those of Europe. We continue to suffer due to the limitations I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but, despite these inherent restrictions, the passions, research, hard work, and financial investments of North American breeders have substantially improved our situation—I’m just not sure we realize this yet. I’m not sure, as a whole, we recognize the potential that exists.

There are a number of viable paths moving forward. Staying the course and allowing the effects of time and market to prevail will, most likely, be the option most people select, albeit by default. We have North American studbooks and organizations that will either self destruct or become obsolete, but the sport horse industry is only going to grow. Tell me Andreas Helgstrand doesn’t recognize this. What about the now-annual VDL auctions? Yes, we have some significant shortcomings to overcome, especially in that all-important aspect of network of affordable, quality young horse trainers who can take the stock from North American breeders and get them to a place, training-wise, market-wise, and proximity-wise, that it becomes more viable for buyers to shop in here rather than in Europe. I’m not pollyanna about the significance of our lack of a training system and breeder-to-buyer network—it is a huge obstacle. But, I’m saying we have more pieces in place than we’ve ever had, and our market is becoming stronger and larger. We, as breeders, need to start making some more productive noise than bitching on Facebook. We need to sharpen the focus of our individual breeding programs, and, at the same time, come together, regardless of studbook affiliation, both to address the growing demands of our growing industry and to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in this growth.

For the Tolman family and Shooting Star Farm, this means we need to grow our program…and, there in lies the topic for my next journal entry!