There’s a core group of New Zealand sport horse breeders who are on a mission to make sure Kiwi showjumpers have the best possible shot of podium placings on the world stage.
It’s a real coming together with Mount View Sport Horses, Gareth Dunkerley, Takapoto Estate, Lake Taupo Holsteiners, Daniel and Chrissy Webb, Xtreme Sport Horses, Haupouri Sport Horses, the Baker Family, East Coast Performance Horses, Golden Grove, Jenny McIntyre, Hokonui Sport Horses, the Hore Family, and Penny and Mike Tapley, all backed by support from ESNZ, Fiber Fresh, Waikato Equine Vets and Equibreed NZ.
They’ll all tell you, top results, boil down to breeding, which led LT Holst breeder Ewen Mackintosh to gather together other likeminded breeders to bring top internationals Michael Doherty (IRE) and Emma Thoren Hellsten (SWE) to New Zealand later this month.
“It’s actually all about the sport,” says Ewen who has organised meetings in Taupo (October 28) and Christchurch (November 3) after attending a meeting at Takapoto Estate which was held between ESNZ and a small number of breeders to talk about the role breeding in developing horsepower across the disciplines.
ESNZ chief executive Julian Bowden says while ESNZ see breeding as a very important part of the puzzle, he didn’t feel any single part held all the solutions. “Better breeding hopefully leads to better quality horses who need better quality riders, better quality competitions, and more,” he said.
Ewen feels a key start point is recognising the good mares in New Zealand and establishing a mare’s register that could be held within the ESNZ high performance portfolio.
For him, it isn’t about turning up at the world’s top events to make numbers, rather being competitive at that top level.
Ewen isn’t afraid of people disagreeing with him, but he says if it starts a conversation and an understanding, then things are off to a good start. Which is why he is encouraging anyone with an interest in breeding or aiming for top-flight competition, to attend the coming meetings.
He came across Michael Doherty when fellow breeder Jenny McIntyre recommended a podcast series. “I was listening and just thought what a difference it would have made if I had listened to them 14 years ago. I could have saved myself a million dollars. I am envious of those who haven’t started yet and want to because they can gain knowledge from people like Michael and Emma.”
Michael believes the exceptional horses of tomorrow will come from the exceptional mares and mare lines of today.
He hails from a family breeding farm in north west Ireland where they’ve very picky about breeding mares of high genetic merit, who are closely related to top level international showjumpers.
His first 2018 podcast Big Talk for Breeders has brought the breeding world closer through the sharing of insights into the experience and influences that have brought internationally-successful breeders to where they are today.
He’s clear on his mission to help showjumping breeders – either collectively or individually – to better their situation and achieve their goals. Michael has a Bachelor of Business Studies in equine business and worked for eight years with Horse Sport Ireland.
Emma was the breeding manager for the Swedish Warmblood Studbook for nearly 14 years, dealing with everything from breeding strategy to advice and education, and contracts with authorities and scientific institutions.
She has a PhD in breeding and genetics focused on the international genetic evaluation of sport horse stallions and passionate about bringing science and practice together.
Emma was involved in founding the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses scientific advisory committee, which she chaired for five years.
Ewen says Emma will also speak about how the Swedes took on the superpowers of the showjumping world and beat them.
“I believe there are not many private Kiwi breeders who know enough about breeding, systems and what goes with what. I for one put my hand up for this,” says Ewen.
He says the visit will be “one of the best things” to happen in New Zealand for a long time. “It will bring enthusiasm and more direction. I don’t think a lot of people realise what is involved in breeding horses – the heartaches, the ups and downs, and the brutality of it all . . . but if you get it right, it’s all worth it.”
Other breeders have come on board and helped raise money to bring the experts to New Zealand. “I really would be disappointed if after this we don’t have a really good breeders group established and a mare registry.”
- October 28, 11am-2.30pm at Lake Taupo Holsteiners, Taupo
- November 3, 1pm-3.30pm at Fiber Fresh Dunstan National Equestrian Centre, McLeans Island, Christchurch
- $20 a head but free for the under 20s.
- Registration essential – [email protected]