By Celia Clarke

The widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the horse world continue to surprise even the most hardened viewers of equestrian politics. In a year when the WBFSH had to cancel all of its usual face-to-face General Assembly and its related seminars, workshops, visits, and social events, and the worldwide sport horse breeding industry had suffered considerable financial loss due to the cancellation of many spectator-reliant events, the surprisingly upbeat tone of President Jan Pedersen’s introductory remarks and annual report to the now Zoom-based General Assembly came as a pleasant relief to many. Some 110 on-line participants representing 50 studbooks voiced scepticism of both the ‘new’ technology and the ‘new normal’, especially the more senior ‘virtual’ attendees.
However, Jan Pedersen set the tone of the General Assembly from the outset with a rallying cry for ‘onwards and upwards’, when he highlighted the fact that neither the number of breeders nor the number of coverings had decreased in 2020, and the new format of on-line auctions was proving very popular. (They have now joined by equally successful ‘hybrid’ auctions.)
He also pointed out that the increasingly swift development and progress of such projects as the Strategic Plan for 2021 to 2025, and the soon to be formally announced and launched Studbook Data Services scheme were in many ways the result of having to adapt to a different Covid-driven approach to planning and meetings. This had led, in turn, to a more efficient and, in many cases, a considerably more innovative approach to a variety of WBFSH projects, both managerial and scientific.
Sadly, some prestigious ‘live’ events, such as the presentation of the studbook and breeder awards (now had to be arranged remotely), the cancellation of the showjumping WBCYH, and the dressage world championship for young horses postponed until December when it’ll take place exceptionally indoors. Thankfully, the eventing WBCYH was able to take place, but behind closed doors in terms of spectators.

The five-year plan

The major project since the last General Assembly has been the development of the Five-Year Plan for 2021 to 2025. This had taken place under the guidance of Jan Paul Steenburgen, who — as the President pointed out -- had also played a key role in the development of the previous and very successful plan.
The new plan has now been adopted by the Board and as such it requires the WBFSH to:
1 Position the WBFSH as the overarching representative body for sport-horse breeding (by developing all-encompassing policies, developing incentive programmes and advocating, representing and lobbying for the sport horse breeding industry)
2 Become a service provider for the entire sport-horse breeding value chain (by maintaining and aligning its services for studbooks, developing additional services for the breeding community, and creating additional and direct sources of revenue)
3 Advancing sport-horse breeding worldwide (by supporting international exchanges in breeding information for sport, developing a public presence and delivering strategic projects), and
4 Developing its collaboration and operating model (by developing a collaboration platform, enhancing the professionalism of the operating model and attracting additional resources).
Naturally these objectives were referenced in a number of subsequent General Assembly presentations, most directly concerning the priorities of the current and future marketing plan, which – based on research done by WBFSH General Manage Nadine Brandtner – has identified that the WBFSH currently flies below the radar of many potential audiences and sponsors.
In order to improve its marketing profile, the WBFSH therefore needs to refresh and modernise its image and internet presence by becoming more mobile friendly. The involvement of the WBFSH in the development of International Breeding Values (IBV) – based chiefly on the format already used for cattle -- was another key opportunity for collaboration and increased market profile, as was its now close formal links with World Breeding News... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber