By Emmanuel Jeangirard
Photography: Courtesy GFE
GFE (Groupe France Elevage), a major player in stallion keeping in France, has the particularity of being organized as a group of breeders, and is celebrating its 20-year existance in style: 2021 was a record year, with nearly 6,000 mares covered around the world (including 4,000 in France), by stallions in its catalogue.
This is sufficient to consolidate its status as the leading French stallion keeper, and member of the club of European leaders in the showjumping sector.
In our global world, we have become accustomed in all areas to models being copied, imported, disseminated, reproduced. It is easy to forget that each country has its own history, its own cultural, historical and political references. Thus, the history and development of Groupe France Elevage (GFE) are not unrelated to those of the French equestrian industry over the past 20 years.
GFE is not the result of pure mimicry, of a simple desire to reproduce what was possibly done among France’s European neighbors. It was born within a particular framework in 2002 – a remarkable year in several respects, with its share of new facts and reforms which changed the landscape, and authorizes us to speak of a pivotal year in France.
A pivotal year in 2002
After many decades of very French administrative centralism and, as such, the subjugation of equine breeding to a dedicated administration – namely the Haras Nationaux (National Stud Farms) – the appetites of private actors were growing stronger, resulting in them gaining strategic ground.
The Haras Nationaux had, in fact, been repeatedly forced to reduce their ballast over time. Then, in 2002, for example, there was an all-out hatching of ‘private’ insemination centers. In particular, April 2002 saw the Ministry of Agriculture stripped of it’s responsibility to manage the studbooks, which henceforth passed to the breeding associations themselves (such as ANSF and Selle Français, for example). It was an historic date for the French national studfarms, which then officially became ‘partners’ to the breeders – no longer their exclusive masters and decision-makers – but propelled the breeders to control their own destiny. However, it is contingent upon them to demonstrate their ability to unite, organize, and generate their own resources, in the same way that foreign associations such as the KWPN, the Holsteiner Verband or the Hannoveraner Verband have managed their affairs for a long time... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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