A Critical Shortage of Thoroughbred Blood in Eventing?


Pam Fisher and Sea Lion. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Is there a critical shortage of Thoroughbred blood in eventing? Tom Reed, of the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland and Morningside Stud in Co Clare, Ireland, tackled that topic in the most recent issue of Horse International. He kindly passed the article along to us, and it’s very much worth the read.

When it comes to the hot topic of safety in eventing, Tom suggests the influx of “faux blood” horses in eventing may have contributed to this latest safety crisis, as horses that lack the stamina to go cross country at the upper levels can tire more easily than their counterparts with a higher percentage of blood, and “tired horses sometimes become dangerous horses.”

In looking at the breeding of the top 50 eventing stallions in the 2014 World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses rankings, Tom found that the prevalence of full Thoroughbred or half-bred stallions has dropped from 84 to 32 percent since 1991, while warmbloods and other breeds have quadrupled from 16 percent to 68 percent over the same time period.

Only 23 of the top 100 eventing sires from last year’s WBFSH rankings are full Thoroughbred. Most of these sires are no longer living, with no frozen semen available for breeding.

“Looking further down in the ranking of eventing sires, I see no Thoroughbred stallion that might have in the future a profound influence on eventing breeding,” Tom said. He calls the lack of using Thoroughbreds in sport horse breeding, and particularly event horse breeding, a “tragedy of the commons.”

“To prevent eventing from becoming even at top levels a sport for failed show jumping and dressage horses, and to prevent further ‘dumbing down’ of the sport by transforming the cross-country phase into a showjumping exercise on rolling hills and plains, the rules of eventing must change so that success at medium to upper levels requires the use of true blood horses,” Tom said.

There’s much more to sink your teeth into in this meaty piece, including a list of Thoroughbred stallions currently standing around the world that Tom believes should be used in eventing breeding programs. Pam Fisher’s Sea Lion is one of the few stallions that makes the cut, and the only one standing in North America.

Click here to read the whole article, and be sure to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments below.

[A Critical Shortage of Blood]