Sport horse vision brings together the “Best of British”

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Hocus Pocus at a jumping evaluation test.
Hocus Pocus at a jumping evaluation test. © Kevin Sparrow

Young British-bred sport horses and ponies have a new avenue to start their journey toward international competition, with the relaunch of British Breeding’s Equine Bridge programme.

It aims to bring together breeders, trainers, riders and owners to support the very best British bred horses and achieve the ultimate goal of seeing more British riders on British horses representing their country at international level.

The first event will be at the Addington Equestrian Centre in Buckinghamshire in October and is for dressage, jumping, eventing and endurance horses and ponies aged four to six years, who have qualified via the British Breeding Baileys Horse Feeds Futurity Evaluations.

The ridden Bridge horses will undergo a two-day evaluation programme designed to provide support and feedback, as well as an objective and detailed assessment. It will include a detailed veterinary inspection of correctness of conformation and soundness and nutritional, saddlery and farriery advice from industry experts. The horses and ponies will be observed by a team of three internationally renowned judges over both days. On day 1, the participants will receive training under their usual rider with senior discipline trainers, then on day 2, the horses will be presented again under saddle, first with their own rider, and then with one of the disciplines’ test riders who will contribute to the feedback.

Hocus Pocus, a British-bred Dutch Warmblood (KWPN) born in 2012.
Hocus Pocus, a British-bred Dutch Warmblood (KWPN) born in 2012. He is an Anglo European Studbook (AES) Approved stallion. © British Breeding/Horse Power Creative

As well as recognition for having completed the Bridge assessment, British Breeding and the Olympic Disciplines are working together to provide an attractive range of benefits, from reductions on membership and entry fees, to access to further opportunities designed to offer incentives and support.

The event is designed to encourage networking between breeders, trainers and riders to and encourage investors and new owners into the market by offering information and seminars on management, insurance and syndicate opportunities, plus a showcasing opportunity for unridden horses and ponies at three to four years of age.

Newly relaunched and revamped in association with British Showjumping, British Dressage and British Eventing, the Equine Bridge aims to showcase the very best of British bred youngstock while also providing objective and trustworthy information, said British Breeding Director Rachael Holdsworth.

“We listened to potential buyers of young horses who told us that they would like to be able to see a range of high-quality young horses and ponies in one place and who want better information about the future prospects of their investment,” Holdsworth said.

British Showjumping CEO Iain Graham said the redesigned Equine Bridge would offer more opportunities for all stakeholders in the industry, “from the breeders who need recognition and feedback, as well as the opportunity to place their horses and ponies in competent hands to enable them to achieve their potential, to our riders and owners, who need to find youngsters with the talent to go all the way to the top.”

Recruitment to the Equine Bridge takes place via the British Breeding Baileys Horse Feeds Futurity programme.  From the pool of past Futurity entries, those who achieved a score of 8.5 or above as 3-year-olds and who are aged between 4 and 6 this year are already qualified to go forward for the Bridge programme. Additional qualifying opportunities have also been implemented for this summer.

There will be separate Futurity assessment days for three to five-year-olds, and in addition to the three-year-old horses and ponies, older candidates of four and five-years-old are being provided and opportunity to qualify for the Equine Bridge.

These evaluations are open to any horse that meets the criteria for being British bred. For 2019, there are four Equine Bridge qualifying opportunities across the country: July 29 at Richmond EC in Yorkshire, August 28 at Catherston Stud in Hampshire, September 1 at Drumcarrow in Scotland, and September 21 at Solihull in the Midlands.

Three-year-old entrants are to be presented in-hand and loose and will benefit from a new arena layout designed to eliminate tension and give youngstock a good experience. Five-year-old entrants will be presented under saddle to show some basic work appropriate for their age, as well as without tack for their conformation assessment. Four-year-old entrants will have a choice of being presented loose and in hand or under saddle. Entries to qualifying events can be made online.

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