Why indeed? When I ask this question I get a lot of reasons why I should not register my endurance horse.
We all know it’s relatively expensive to register horses with any breed society including the Arabian Horse Society of Australia Ltd., (AHSA) plus there is a bit of record keeping and paperwork involved. Nowadays we have necessary DNA testing and there are requirements for testing horses for genetic maladies as well. You must also be a member of the AHSA too. Another added problem can be difficulties with getting the required information from stallion or mare owners or even previous owners of the horse if you are not the breeder – this can turn a lot of people off.
The bottom line for most endurance riding people is, ‘What do I get in return for registering my horse?’ Sadly, the general consensus is ‘nothing’. Endurance horses are registered with the Australian Endurance Riders Association Inc., (AERA) regardless of their breed or history but more than 90% of all successful or reasonably successful endurance horses are purebred Arabians or Arabian Derivatives horses ie. horses derived from pure Arabian bloodlines and those of another breed.
If you are only in the endurance scene to make a quick buck while it’s 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, return buyers or future sales – then maybe this doesn’t apply to you.
If you are any sort of a businessperson 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 with proven bloodlines in endurance that are AERA qualified horses or appear to have the makings of a good endurance prospect. Overseas buyers are coming and going and their agents here are always on the lookout for horses. Horses are observed very carefully at rides and are usually put through a vigorous veterinary check before any financial commitments are made.
Currently when looking at selling a horse to overseas buyers, frequently it’s irrelevant whether the horse is AHSA registered or not – but it probably won’t stay that way for long. Now, with increasing Federation Equestre Internationale (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 the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO), 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 also previous owners and places where the horse has lived can be determined through registration and ownership details.
Australia and the world are sadly losing the records and bloodlines of a great many Arabian horses when they go overseas without any confirmed breeding details and are lost in a sea of horseflesh moving to and fro, from owner to owner, 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 riding is no exception. It’s a well-known fact certain bloodlines carry desirable traits and qualities that we would like to preserve, nurture and propagate; traits such as 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 as a result 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 know the complete history of the horse and his or her breeding. This is something the AHSA and corresponding worldwide Arabian horse societies have been doing consistently over many years. The information for all registered horses is at your fingertips.
Conversely, if there is a bloodline, trait or condition you want to stay away from in your breeding program 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 horse groups and clubs in each state organise their own futurities for yearlings, two-year-olds and sometimes for older youngsters. 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 when he goes out to his first few rides he will be more settled and accepting of vet checks and all other goings on.
Have you thought about Arabian racing? It’s well established overseas and is fast gaining momentum in Australia. Racing is well monitored and is only run on registered or accredited racetracks with NARA registered trainers and jockeys etc. Arabian racing is run under the set regulations of the Thoroughbred industry with just a few modifications for Arabians. There is significant prize money 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. To race in Australia 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 – first past the post. Both showcase the Arabian’s speed, stamina and fortitude. Arabians can begin their racing careers as four-year-olds and then move on to endurance riding. They can go on to Arabian racing later on or they can cross from one performance area to the other.
While endurance riding is seen as a true family activity with all members of a family able to compete together, as Arabian racing becomes more established it’s also 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 riding. When your horse comes to the end of his endurance career what will happen to him? I am sure 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 a 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 the AHSA their prospects are a lot brighter.
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 months) fees apply but the paperwork still needs to be correct and any applicable DNA testing will need to be done. The owner needs to be a member of the AHSA 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, please 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 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’s very rare for anyone to get a fine and certainly not for a mistake.