Welcome to the World of Sport Horse Breeding
In the late 1970's and 80's, as the warmblood began to develop into a more athletic horse, sports performance in all Olympic disciplines was increasing. But the connection of the sport to breeding did not exist. The breeders and studbooks had little to no visibility. Pedigree information on starting lists was lacking or completely absent. There was little to no co-operation and communication between individual studbooks and no exchange of information.
Rankings for riders existed, but there were no horse/breeder rankings in those days, neither were there any studbook rankings.
In the late 1980's the discussion of how to grow the recognition and visibility of breeding, breeders and the studbooks led to the idea of developing a world studbook competition. The concept to provide breeding, studbooks and breeders more visibility and recognition was spearheaded by French journalist and publisher Xavier Libbrecht, and supported by Max Amman and Joep Bartels , the FEI Jumping and Dressage Directors at the time.
HRH Princess Anne was the FEI President from 1986 to 1994. On the 4th of September 1988 she invited a group of people from the main European countries, where the sport horse was starting to have a great economic influence, to a meeting in Appeldoorn (Netherlands). This was followed by a meeting at Buckingham Palace in December 1988, and Badminton in May 1989, to further discuss how to create a network of contacts, what guidelines to set for a championship of the studbooks, as well as how studbook rankings could be produced.
Over the next three years further meetings, diplomatic efforts and logistical planning took place until finally in November 1992 a pilot project called the World Breeding Championship for Sport Horses (WBCSH) took place in Maastricht (Netherlands). This was not yet a young horse competition.
The Hanoverian studbook won as a team, with 6 of the best horses of the year. Leon Melchior, the founder of the Zangersheide studbook and breeder of the Olympic Champion of Barcelona 1992 Ratina Z, was awarded Breeder of the Year, and Ratina Z (Ramiro Z x Alme Z) was named Horse of the Year.
Measures still needed to be taken to enable a closer relationship with the FEI. This was important to ensure that the new International Horse Passport would include breeding details, as well as printed pedigree information, and that this breeding information would be shown on the starting lists and result sheets of competitions. So, it was recognised that there was a need for a federation that could try and fulfil these goals.
Then, on the 19th of November 1994, the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses was officially founded in Berlin/Germany. The first president to be elected was Gert-Jan van Muijen (KWPN). HRH Princess Anne was the Federation’s first patron. At this time there were already 25 studbooks involved.
After the success of the World Breeding Championship for Sport Horses (WBCSH) in 1992, it was decided to hold an annual World Breeding Jumping Championship for Young Horses. The first one was held in 1995 in Lanaken/BEL. The event has become an institution and the competition is high. Studbooks and their national federations carefully select the horses that will represent them at this prestigious event. The purpose of the Championships is to highlight the achievements of breeders and studbooks in the sport, which is why the competition is only open to horses that are born into a WBFSH member studbook. The horses compete in age groups for 5,6 and 7-year-olds.
After the first jumping championship in 1995, it was decided to expand the competition into the disciplines of dressage and later also eventing.
A pilot project for the world championship of young dressage horses took place in 1997 in Verden GER, the home of the Hanoverian Studbook. The first official World Breeding Championships for young dressage horses then took place in Arnheim NED in 1999 and again in 2000. From 2001 until 2015 the Dressage Championships became a regular feature in the Verden calendar, until it was moved to Ermelo from 2016 to 2019.
In 1999 Jan Pedersen (DEN) was elected as the next WBFSH president, a position into which he has been re-elected ever since. At the same time, HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark became the next Parton of the WBFSH, and her support of the federation continues to this day.
Since its inception in 2000 the World Breeding Eventing Championship for Young Horses has taken place at the Haras National in Le Lion d’Angers (FRA) on the Domaine de l'Isle Briand. The grounds of the Haras National today span about 160 hectares and the cross country course is spectacular, characterised by the uniquely themed obstacles.
Today, the WBFSH has 80 studbook members and two associate members in 35 countries, on five continents representing the interests of around 150,000 breeders worldwide.
The launch of the new WBFSH signals a new era for the organisation as we find ways to further develop and champion breeding across the world for sport horses.