Friday, January 18, 2019

Editorial: Some Riders Want Pedigree Information

by Anna Goebel
Warmblood Stallions of North America

The prevailing attitude among horse breeders is that riders don't care about pedigrees. Competitors say "you don't ride the papers," and don't care who the sire is, or what dam line the horse is from. I just had an experience that suggests that there might be a fundamental interest after all - and that all we need to do is figure out how to kindle it - or rekindle it.

On my flight back from the USEF annual meeting last week, I had the wonderful good fortune to sit next to Lauren Garvey, an equestrian and entrepreneur who is the founder of She had been to West Palm Beach to attend the Equestrian Businesswomen summit, held all day Wednesday at the Convention Center next door to the USEF meetings. 

Lauren is not a breeder; she's a hunter-jumper rider - and she's young. According to popular belief, she fits the demographic of riders who are unlikely to have much interest in breeding, or knowing her horse's pedigree. You might expect the "you don't ride the papers" response - but you'd be very wrong. 

Lauren and I had a three-hour conversation on a wide range of topics - and breeding was one she was quite intrigued by. She was very interested to learn what I do and what the challenges are that breeders face in the US. Her response startled me, because I didn't expect it.

"As a hunter-jumper rider, I know I would love for there to be some way to track the performance of US-bred competition horses. I used to love following race horse bloodlines when I was little and it would be fun to be able to follow the progress of American-bred horses at the shows!"

Perhaps Lauren is exceptional in this interest. She certainly seemed exceptionally smart, sensible, and thoughtful. But didn't we all do that? When I was a kid, I had a stable of imaginary horses - and I had sire and dam names for every one of them. Some had even longer pedigrees. I loved it; it was part of the romance and the magic. 

Maybe that's worth thinking about. We assume that riders today are not interested in knowing about pedigrees, but maybe that's not true. Perhaps Lauren is the tip of the iceberg. The horse-crazy kids who are lucky grow up into horse-crazy adults - and perhaps they would love to have all the romance and magic of names and pedigrees back in their horse world. Perhaps we should not let the vocal nay-sayers discourage us from sharing our enthusiasm for breeding and bloodlines. I'm thinking the rider audience might be more receptive than we believe.

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