Article by Anne-Sophie Levallois
Editor’s introduction: In response to the articles published in our July and August issues (pages 29 and 27, respectively), under the headings: ‘The semen market: Like playing Russian roulette!’ and ‘Semen traceability: Is this a problem without a solution’, Anne-Sophie Levallois from Haras de Semilly has provided the following editorial, as well as an overall plan, that can be found on the following two pages.
If sport horse breeding is to continue improving, it is important to protect each level. Without effective guarantees, stallion owners will not be willing to invest time and money in developing and launching new stallions – resources that are necessary to test their reproductive value with sufficient mares. It’s an important step in the process of finding the best, because only a small percentage will be fully successful. A lack of guarantees means the whole system becomes much harder for the breeders.
Nowadays, it seems that the winners are those who circumvent the system, and studbooks who will accept any horses if it earns registration fees, but such practices will destroy the foundation of the sport horse industry.
Initially, concerned breeders contacted the WBFSH to search for a solution, believing that if we could find one organization that could endeavour to bring the main studbooks together and employ one independent entity to deliver covering cards for sport horse sires, it would be easier to control and track the coverings. This would enable stallion owners to sell their coverings with a ‘live foal guarantee’ and, therefore, provide greater security to the breeders. A win-win situation for both stallion owners and breeders alike. The WBFSH has always provided support so would appear to be the most appropriate organization to determine how best to create and establish rules between the various studbooks so everyone can move forward in the same direction.
The music industry has a global organization that serves its creators, publishers and visual artists in terms of licenses and royalties, and their example has been used as a role model for many other industries, so why not sport horse breeding?
To preserve the health of the sport horse breeding industry, it is necessary to forge a protective infrastructure for the creators, which simply requires a willingness to find the right solution.
The Selle Français system
According to Bérengère Lacroix, Director of the Selle Français studbook, the Levallois proposal emulates the existing French system in many ways. “Here in France, all covering certificates are delivered by only one entity, and each stallion’s manager requests cards from that entity through a personal online account. This is how they also deliver the birth certificates (which can only be done when everything has been paid = security).
The fact is that in France, as everything is online, individual identities are able to check the information that has been recorded. Take the example of Andiamo Semilly: You can find the full list of coverings recorded: https://infochevaux.ifce.fr/en/andiamo-semilly-1Ysfl2iFTHeK0jb03tVuSQ/reproduction/liste-saillies-naissances as well as the full list of foals recorded https://infochevaux.ifce.fr/en/andiamo-semilly-1Ysfl2iFTHeK0jb03tVuSQ/production/production-totale
This works for horses recorded in France – Selle Français or any other – but it does not record foals registered in other countries.
This means that information is also available, even for a stallion from another studbook, but with foals born in France; i.e Cicero Z: https://infochevaux.ifce.fr/fr/cicero-z-181ZzwCTRD6fdjNrVgJUqA/reproduction/liste-saillies-naissances and https://infochevaux.ifce.fr/fr/cicero-z-181ZzwCTRD6fdjNrVgJUqA/production/production-totale
Using these URLs, we were indeed able to learn that Andiamo Semilly (2010: Diamant de Semilly - Tati du Palis x Muguet du Manoir) has serviced 742 mares in France, up to August 2016, with 409 recorded offspring, to date.
Similarly, the Zangersheide-approved stallion Cicero Z (2000: Carthago [Holst] - Rendez vous van Paemel [BWP] x Optiebeurs Randel Z [Hann]) has recorded 287 coverings, with 277 foals. Given the discrepancy between coverings and foal registrations for Andiamo, I asked Sophie Levallois to clarify. She explained that the coverings include the 2019 breeding season for which foals will only be registered in 2020. Also, embryo transfers count as ‘two’ (one for the covering, plus one for the ET, even though there is only one pregnant mare outcome).
Admittedly, cross referencing tools will be vital to any database, as well as creating an ‘international’ platform that will allow studbooks to record information that can be retrieved by stallion owners and breeders alike.