The New Zealand Warmblood Association has achieved great things in 2018. Read on to find out our news and upcoming events...
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**December 2018 Newsletter**

In this issue:

Report on the WBFSH meeting in Budapest  <
The NZWA Assessment Tour coming up in late March  <
Results from the South Island Warmblood Showing Champs <
The 2019 Land Rover Horse of the Year Show Bonanza. <

Dear <<First Name>>,

Season’s Greetings to all of our past and present members!

The best Christmas Present the NZWB horse could hope for….  World Recognition of our studbook.

I have just returned from the WBFSH meeting in Budapest where I am delighted to be able to report to you all that the NZ Warmblood Assn has been officially accepted in as a Studbook by the World Breeders Federation for Sport Horses.  The NZWA spent the last year as a probationary member but managed to fulfil all the requirements to become a fully-fledged member.

Several years ago before the current Executive took on their roles with NZWA,  Kieryn Walton asked at her very first AGM as a member why we were not members of the WBFSH.  At the time it seemed impossible.  Our database wasn’t good enough, we had an at-best stagnating membership and certainly didn’t have the funds, the volume of foals required to be registered, nor the strict operating protocols in place that we would need.  Nor could we foreseeably spare the funds to pay an annual membership to the WBFSH.

Jump ahead just three short years and we have all the above and so much more.  And things are only going to get better for the NZ Warmblood!  Thanks to the vision of now Vice-President Kieryn Walton and myself, and supported by Jeanette Russell, Christine Hartstone and Bronwyn Van Roon on the executive committee, we have forged ahead.  I was so proud to be at the WBFSH Congress representing the NZWA and learnt much from the experience that will push us forward yet again.

There are some pretty exciting times ahead for breeders in NZ with the tide of “why would we need to register our horses” starting to turn.  Equestrian Sport NZ have some exciting initiatives in the pipeline that are about to change the face of breeding in New Zealand and it is about time.  We have been far to slack on pedigree and age recording for far too long.  Its time to pull our socks up and bring NZ Breeding up to international standards.  So watch this space!



2018 WBFSH Annual Assembly
– Budapest, Hungary


It was agreed at the NZWA AGM earlier this year to send a representative to the World Breeders Federation for Sport Horses Annual Assembly in Hungary.  This is the first time NZ has been represented there, and the Assembly marked the end of our first year probationary period as a member of the WBFSH.  The General Assembly this year was to be the official acceptance of the NZWA as an officially recognised stud book globally.  A big day indeed for warmblood breeders in New Zealand!

The NZWA President Jody Hartstone was nominated at the AGM to be our representative in Budapest and here is her report on the trip.


Firstly, I would like to thank the members of the NZWA who voted to allow me to take this opportunity to travel up to Budapest to represent the studbook.  I feel it is a very important step that we be seen at these meetings, in order to be taken seriously as a studbook on the world scene, and also to keep abreast of all the developments that are happening in the breeding world and the issues all studbooks are facing.  The third component is without a doubt the ability to network and find all the right people in one room to help us on our journey to becoming a world class Studbook.

It was a long journey up and back to Budapest with over 24 hours of flying time, so I took a day off before the proceedings began in order to acclimatise and get over the jet lag.  Of course, December is the start of winter in Budapest – I think the warmest day was still below zero.  Couple that with some snow and the darkness of night starting from 4pm, it wasn’t an easy job to get into the time zone!



We were lucky enough to have our own guided bus tour of the wonderful city of Budapest – the guide was amazing and for three hours non-stop we saw the sights and learnt the history of the city.  For those of you unfamiliar with Budapest, its actually two cities combined.  There is Buda, on the hilly side of the river Danube.  Buda has a lovely Castle, amazing Cathedral and among other things, a war-time hospital made inside the limestone caves under the castle hill.  After the second World War it became a nuclear bomb shelter which thankfully was never needed and now is a great museum.  Over the other side of the Danube is Pest- the flat city.  And together they form Budapest.  Pest is noted for the Parliament buildings, the second biggest synagogue in the world (the largest is in New York), some amazing Christmas Markets, and Hero Square – a huge monument at the end of a long avenue, reminiscent of the Champs Elysees and L’Arc D’Triomphe in Paris.


After the tour was a welcome dinner and wine tasting at a restaurant close to the hotel where a local sommelier presented us with a range of Hungarian wines perfectly matched to our three-course meal.  I sat with a group of people from the Canadian Warmblood Association and the representative for the USEF.  It was interesting hearing the trials and tribulations of the Canadian Warmblood Stud Book as they face very similar challenges to the NZWA.  One of their biggest challenges is to get Canadian bred horses to be registered with them instead of with the North American variation of the European mother book – of which there are many. For example, you have the North American Hanoverian Assn, the NA Holsteiner Assn, the NA KWPN Assn, the NA Oldenburg Assn and so the list goes on.  These books are not focused on Canadian breeders and their horses.  But still they attract many breeders to register with them in the hope that somehow their horses are better if associated with an off-shore book.  Also, Canada and the USA are very much like NZ.  They don’t have the state and government support that studbooks in the EU have had for as long as anyone can remember.  They, like us, don’t have a tradition of horse breeding, so convincing people to register their horses and make wise breeding decisions is not second nature like it is in Europe.




WHIRDEC is an acronym which stands for World Horse Identification and Registration Data Exchange Committee.    This meeting was chaired by the Department of Breeding, operated by the IFCE in France which is the French Institute for Horses and Equitation.  It operates as the French Database collection agency, the centralised horse database system in France.  One of their jobs is to gather data and issue passports. 

This meeting focussed its attention on problems that not only plague us here in New Zealand but are actually world-wide.  These problems include issues surrounding horse identification and database systems. 

The first issue is that all horses need to be permanently identified and have a passport.  This is especially important in Europe where horses are a regular part of the food-chain.  Each horse needs a passport that can be used to sign them out of the food chain if they have ever had drugs administer that make them unsuitable for human consumption.  So, in the EU and the UK it is law that all horses need microchips and passports...  Obviously this is not the case in New Zealand, where a great many horses have no means of identification and no papers.

However, the only way to know if a horse has ever had a passport issued is if its Unique Equine Life Number and Microchip (which is also a unique number) can be stored on some international database.

At the moment the IFCE receives data from other EU Nations.  This arrives in different formats and contains different sets of information.  Some countries provide information on the death of horses only, others provide it only for those horses entering the food chain.  Others still, provide information on passport, pedigree etc.  So currently there is no specific way to send and share data.  This is being worked on right now as an urgent matter.

There has been a pilot study created by Delta Horses in the Netherlands.  This is a web-based data exchange – it does not store data.  Different organisations can have different levels of access to the data stored ie one organisation may be allowed access only to the name, microchip and UEL Number of the horse. 

There are 4 main features to this system:

  1. Search for a horse via microchip number or UELN.  
  2. Retrieve data for each horse
  3. Dashboard so you can see incoming and outgoing requests for information to your studbook
  4. Management Access. Data on each may contain pedigree / name / age / UELN / Microchip and whether it is allowed into the food-chain.

“Horselink” was developed so that you can search for a horse and see its UELN and microchip number.  Then horselink will search all the databases from various stud books and let you know the horses DOB / Date of Death/ Pedigree, microchip number, UELN etc.  This is something we so badly need in New Zealand to be able to track all sport horses and to gain some integrity back in our breeding and competition registration systems.

One stakeholder really pushing for better data exchanges are the stallion owners.  Now with advances in technology including ICSI, potentially hundreds of foals can be born from just one straw of semen.  Stallion owners are concerned they have no way of tracking how many foals have been bred unless all the databases for registering horses can work together.  Stallion Owners would like the WBFSH to help solve this issue for them.

There was also an interesting presentation on the uses of new technology for studbooks.  There is now an Ap for putting the markings onto the passports.  There is a protype in France where the vet draws the diagrams and the computer program transcribes these into the words for the description.  They are also working on technology where the vet takes a photo on the cell phone and the white markings are automatically drawn in to a diagram and as a written description. 


The last part of day two was taken up with a special trip to the Lazar Equestrian Park. 

The Lazar brothers are multiple World Champions in the FEI sport of Driving and their facility just an hour out of Budapest is truly world class. 

It was very dark and cold when we arrived with snow on the ground to make the scene even more surreal.  We were served a traditional Schnapps type drink called Palinka which soon warmed the cockles. 

At this facility They not only train their horses at the establishment, but also run it as a tourist attraction with a brilliant evening show featuring both driven and ridden horses including the “puszta-five” which is where a man is roman-riding two horses whilst driving another three in front of him – very impressive!  This was followed by another large, traditional Hungarian dinner and yet more Hungarian wine.

DAY 3 – Seminars on Welfare, Workshop on Welfare, Guided Tour and Gala Dinner

The Hungarian Sport Horse Assn.

The third day started with an introduction to the Hungarian Sport Horse Studbook.  It was interesting to learn how this studbook was formed after some fairly tumultuous times as a nation.  Horses have been part of Hungarian heritage for centuries.  Traditionally it was the army and the state studs that controlled the breeding here.

There are now two specific breed types in Hungary – the more heavy type and the more modern type which is more like a Trakehner.  During its Communist era 1945-1989, the state controlled the breeding and no private breeding was allowed.    By 1984 the focus was turning towards sport horse breeding and in 1984 a studbook was formed.  After Hungary was freed from the communist regime two different studbooks were formed to keep the two distinct half-bred types.

Today it is all private breeders along-side two remaining state studs.  Some very influential sires were imported into Hungary to improve the sport horse breeding program.  These included the Ramzes son Ramzes Junior who was very influential.  Another influential stallion was Aldato.  In the 1990’s good stallions were brought in from the KWPN, Holsteiner and Selle Francais books.
By the mid 2000’s there were private stallions being leased and frozen semen being imported freely from other parts of Europe.  The Hungarian Sport Horse office has three employees, 700 mares and about 500 foals per year.  They are mostly focused on breeding showjumpers.

Stallion Screening

The next speaker was a Surgeon talking about the clinical relevance of screening stallions for OCD’s and other disorders.  OCD’s in young horses can be caused by a number of factors.  These include being overfed on high energy feeds; too quicker growth rate; exercise regimes and hormonal factors.  There is also a very large genetic factor – ie OCD’s have been shown to have a large component of hereditability.  Different joints have been shown to have varying hereditary components.  Some are easier to breed out of a population than others. 

Therefore, screening stallions for OCD’s via x-rays before they are licenced to breed is very important.

Navicular too, has a large hereditability index.  Of course, some navicular disease is bought on through poor shoeing and concussive influences,  but if a horse is under 6 years old and has navicular syndrome you can be sure it is likely to be congenital.

Bone spavin in the hocks has been seen to have a genetic component to it as well, but can of course be caused through excessive loads and pressures being exerted on the hocks (eg reining horses).  Roaring and other wind problems can also have a genetic component.

The take home message is that in order to prevent the spread of disorders such as these Xrays should be taken of all stallions being bred from and those stallions excluded who have OCDS and other malformations.  Care must also be taken to ensure these animals have not simply been operated on, so they have a set of “clean” x-rays to go forward to the stallion selections with. 

WFFS And Other Hereditary Diseases

Next was a fascinating talk about Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome by Sofia Mikko from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.  It was a very informative talk and backed up the recommendation of the WBSH that all breeding stock should be tested for this disorder.

Maternal Transmission of Behaviour

One of my colleagues from the International Society for Equitation Science, Associate Professor Janna Winther Christensen, gave an interesting talk about the maternal transmission of behaviours from mare to foal.

Prenatal effects:  What effect does the mare have on the unborn foal?  Not many studies have been done yet on horses, but it has been studied in other mammals.  It is very likely that if the mare is exposed to stressful environments whilst pregnant that the stress can be imprinted into the brain of the unborn foal resulting in the foal being born with less ability to cope in stressful situations ie it is more flighty and less curious.

Postnatal effects:  Studies in rats have shown that “Good Mothering” has led to baby rats growing up to be more social and less fearful.  However, those rat mothers showing “Poor Mothering” had babies that turned out to be less social with high fear and stress sensitivities.  It is considered that a good mother rat is one that has a lot of close body contact with her young and spends time grooming them etc.  So, if the same is true with horses, can we agree on what good mothering is?  Is it the mare that overly protects the foal or the one who lets it explore and play with others?  Is it the mare that grooms her foal a lot?  Or simply one that lets the foal feed all of the time?  There is a yet unpublish study which showed that the amount of time a mare let the foal suckle made no difference to the temperament of the foal, but time spent grooming did.

One study has shown that handling of the mare including feeding and grooming her for 15 mins (without any interaction with the foal) for the first five days of the foal’s life made the foal much easier to handle when compared to foals not exposed to this regime.

Another study habituated mares to potentially scary stimulus whilst pregnant and then once the foals were at foot the mares were exposed in the same way (to umbrellas / walking over tarps / plastic bags shuffled around their legs etc).  These foals were not scared either, since their mothers were not.  And later studies showed these same foals were less fearful and more inquisitive when put into other potentially fearful situations once weaned.

Why is this important?  It has been shown that horses who are curious and show exploratory behaviour have the best performances in learning tests compared to those horses who are fearful.  These may well go on to be the most easy to train sport horses.

So what is the take home message?  Make sure your mares are habituated to potentially scary influences.  Keep pregnant mares out of stressful environments as much as possible.  Spend at least 15 mins per day with the mare in the five days post foaling.  And choose your embryo transfer recipient mares wisely – they may not have a genetic impact on the foal but they can play a huge role in its ability to learn and its fearfulness once born.

Welfare, Global Ethics and Responsibilities – Welfare Aspects from Birth to Death

The next talk was from the CEO of World Horse Welfare, Dr Roly Owers.
The pace at which the world we live in is changing is both huge, bizarre and frightening.  Great opportunities exist for Horse Sports but along with them come great challenges.  These days we need a Social Licence to Operate or SLO – and if we are not careful all horse sports will lose this Social License.

What is a social licence?  It is an unwritten, non-legally binding licence given to you by society.  It is all based around “trust” and how your sport or business is perceived by the wider public.  People need to believe what they are hearing, and it needs to match up with what they are seeing or being shown.  Australian Greyhound racing is  good example of a sport that has lost is SLO.  They ignored the public and social media and kept doing what they have always done and now the sport is being shut down.

Responsible horse ownership is the cornerstone of gaining a Social License to Operate.  This means responsible breeding, care, training, post-career rehoming, and end of life decisions.  What is the state of our current Social Licence to Operate?  Actually, It’s pretty lousy right now.  Be aware that the public don’t see dressage or show jumping as any different than polo or racing or even rodeo.  To most people it is all just people playing sport with horses.  So, what can we do to improve this?  Live by our ethics and put the horse first.  Consider the future of all foals born.  Recognise the bigger picture of responsible horse ownership.  Be willing to change and improve practices through experience and scientific research.

World Horse Welfare actively promotes the horse-human relationship and supports responsible horse sport.  But it is not just the welfare of sport and companion horses that the WHW deals with.  There are also over ¾ billion people around the world who rely on horses, ponies, mules and donkeys in order to survive. 

In the 1960’s the “Five Freedoms” were developed as markers of good horse welfare. 

These are:
1) Freedom from hunger and thirst 
2) Freedom from discomfort
3) Freedom from pain / injury and disease
4) Freedom from fear and distress
5)  Freedom to express natural behaviours.

Now however we can put a more positive spin on these welfare markers and calling them the five provisions – for a life worth living.
1)  Good nutrition
2) Good environment
3) Good health
4) Positive mental experiences
5) Appropriate behaviour.

We have made some extraordinary advances in medications / diagnosis / training methods / equine behaviour and application of equine learning theory.  But at the same time we are operating in a world of changing public scrutiny.  People these days have an increased interest in animal welfare.  There is a growing expectation that horses will be well treated.  The age of social media is such that if one negative act is captured on camera in one part of the world, it can spread like a wildfire across the globe on minutes.  There are huge animal rights groups forming all around the world, many of who would like to see all equestrian sports banned.  The general public are also changing their views on what they think is and is not acceptable.

It is important to recognise the difference between animal rights and animal welfare.  Think of the two sides of the argument – “Use but not abuse” from the animal welfare side and “Any use is abuse” from the animal rights side.
We as breeders are in the spotlight too:  *Oversupply *  Selling to markets with no horse knowledge  *  What happens if a horse is not suitable for sport?  *  What happens after a horse’s sporting career is over?

Workshop on Horse Welfare

For this part of the program we all got into groups to talk about aspects of horse welfare that may endanger horse sport in the future.  This was a very interesting exercise.  Some of the issues being brought up included:

Group 1:  Breeding – need to focus on longevity and lifetime performance and on temperament not just performance.  Poor breeding choices lead to poor welfare.  Education and training of riders / trainers and the public.  Equipment (nosebands draw reins heavy bits etc) Training aids / Drugs and Doping.  Some FEI rules lack basic knowledge of learning theory.  Post competition life:  horses must have a career after sport / responsible euthanasia policies.  Reputation – commercial influences can be both positive and negative.

Group 2:  Poor interaction with the public – we are not sure how to deal with them so we are always on the back foot.  Concern for long term career prospects when started so early eg 3yo stallion shows.  Biosecurity / Food chain issues.

Group 3:  Horsemanship is decreasing so we need to increase education.  There needs to be a better internal acceptance and enforcement of rules.  Commercialisation – there is too much pressure to perform too often eg chasing points in world series etc – perhaps top horses should be limited to one international show a month.  Management of the horse’s lifestyle needs to be looked at.

Group 4:  Animal activists are an issue – we need to get the general public on our side from the beginning.  Horses must be kept in good facilities with adequate turnout etc.  We need better communication to the public with more transparency over what we are doing.  Enforce existing rules and laws and keep updating them.  Education – especially in the new equestrian markets around the world.

Group 5:  Lack of understanding from both within and outside the industry on what pain / relaxation etc looks like in the horse.  Selection for breeding traits may be leading us down the line of extreme breeding.  Biosecurity issues.  Modern breeding techniques icse / cloning / semen sexing.

After such a busy and intense day, it was great to go on another bus ride and city tour which this time had a twist to it…  Our bus was an amphibious one – and we ended up splashing down into the Danube for a boat ride – that was kind of surreal as we were still sitting on the bus that moments before had been driving us around the city streets.

And then it was on to the Gala Dinner, where I was in the privileged position of sitting beside some of the movers and shakers of the horse breeding world.  Everyone was very welcoming and excited to see New Zealand finally represented on the world stage.



The General Assembly is of course the “business end” of the conference.  It started off with the adoption of the minutes from last years GA.  There were reports from the five departments and the all-important Financial Report and budget as well as annual plans.

Next was the election of Board Members and Audit Committee members.
After this, the Studbooks applying for new memberships were discussed.  And then came the best part of all – when it was announced that the New Zealand Warmblood Association had met all of the criteria during our probation period and can be officially instated as a member of the WBFSH.  This was indeed a great moment!

Once again I would like to thank the members of the NZWA who agreed at the AGM to send a representative to the meeting.  I hope you have enjoyed my summation of the proceedings – much more can be found on the WBFSH website in the coming months.

Classification Tour 2019

The NZWA is delighted to once again be able to provide members with a Classification Tour for 2019.

This year’s assessor is Frank Weisskirchen from Germany.  Frank will be coming to us on or around the 15th of March direct from a very busy tour of Australia where he will have been assessing a great number of horses across the entire continent.

Frank has over 20 years of experience in the Warmblood breeding industry, particularly with Trakehener horses.    He has a lot of experience in the international horse marketing business and is a well-known breeder and agent for top class horses across the disciplines of Show Jumping, Eventing and Dressage.  Interesting too he has had a career in the military, can fly a helicopter and has worked for NATO as their Public Affairs Officer.  Frank speaks perfect English and he comes highly recommended for the Australian Trak Assoc who have used him in the past.
Click here to read Franks CV

One of the most difficult parts of running a Tour as big as the NZWA Tours generally are is that we need to have entries in nice and early in order to formulate a plan.  The tour is dedicated to travelling all over New Zealand from Northland to Southland and everywhere in between – but only if we have sufficient numbers in each area to make it worthwhile.

So please get in early with your registrations and if you live in an area a little off the beaten track then please orgainse others in your area to get horses assessed as well – we will make a commitment to come to you if there are enough numbers (Generally ten horses in an area will pay for the flight of the Assessor and an Assistant.

Speaking of Assistants:  WE NEED YOU!!!!

Have you ever wanted to increase our knowledge of warmblood horse breeding and conformation?  What better way than to Volunteer some of your time to join the NZWA Tour.   Your job would involve being able to take photos of all Merit and Excellence horses, record marks, calculate totals and drive from one venue to the next.  Basic skills in the following areas are required:
  •  Basic Calculator Skills
  •  Camera Skills – a good camera or decent cell phone is a huge plus
  • Ability to drive and possibly use your own car (funded)
  • Organisational and Communication Skills
This will be a tremendous learning opportunity and it is hoped there will be two members travelling with Frank at any one time. 

Contact Jody : to find out more
Remember that all horses including foals must be microchipped and registered before the tour commences and all fees need to be paid.

This year we have lowered the cost of Classification and Inspection considerably.
NZWA Mares to be assessed into the Stud Book are just $100 but do require a DNA test if not previously recorded.

Foundation mares (TB, Arab or Anglo Arab) ae $150 including the Pedigree Transfer Fee (and need DNA recorded as above – note that most TB mares will all ready have their DNA on file at Massey)

Mares form other registries will be charged $150 as above.

Foals are now $60 to inspect if out of studbook mares
Foals out of non studbook mares are $100

NZWB Registered youngstock (under three years of age) are $100

All Derivatives are $125

There is extensive information about Inspections and Classification on the NZWA website – which can be found by following this link:
Remember that time is running out if you have a horse on Derivative papers you would like to get put onto full papers under the Amnesty Clause.  Again, go to the website or contact a committee member for more details.
We have two very generous sponsors all ready putting their hands up for the tour – but there is space for several more so if this appeals to you and your business please get in touch.


South Island
Warmblood Championships Report

The South Island Warmblood Championships were held on Friday 7th December at Canterbury Agricultural Park in conjunction with the South Island Premier Showing Championships. The committee did an amazing job at sorting all the little details so that everything ran smoothly. The judges and competitors alike enjoyed the show and commented that they couldn’t wait until next years show. The led championship was judged by Natalie Toeke from NZ and the ridden championship was judged by Mark Kiddle from Australia and both were impressed with the standard of the competitors put before them. Natalie commented “I think the breeding is on the right track. The quality is definitely there, especially in the youngstock, and I think they are going on to do great things”. Mark commented “The horses were all really nice types with good movement. My one criticism would be that they need to be ridden more uphill and sit back on their hocks, especially in canter. They need to learn how to use their backs and necks correctly”.

Well done to all the competitors and we look forward to seeing you back again next year.
Led Warmblood Championship:
Champion – Nichola Hamburger with Bellwood Cergio
Reserve Champion – DG Equine (Amy Stewart/Matt Ryan) with Gravitate DG
3rd – Tania Boyd with Arcoda’s I’m Xceptional
4th – Marie Clark with Gaiamea Lilly
5th – Joy White with Astek Gangsta Girl
Above:   Vanessa Pickens with Rubinesque (Reserve Champion)
Ridden Warmblood Championship:
Champion – Marie Clark with Gaiamea Lilly
Reserve Champion – Vanessa Pickens with Rubinesque
3rd – DG Equine (Amy Stewart/Matt Ryan) with Rovale Grassiano DG
4th – Joy White with Astek Gangsta Girl
5th – Nichola Hamburger with Bellwood Cergio
Champion – Marie Clark with Gaiamea Lilly


The 2019 Land Rover Horse of the Year Show Bonanza

SO I will sign off by wishing you all the best for the Festive Season – may it be filled with family, joy and happiness.  And the safe arrival of all your foals.

Best wishes,
Jody Hartstone
NZWA President.
Copyright © 2018 New Zealand Warmblood Association, All rights reserved.

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