Spain Reported Weighing Proposal to Give Preference to Spanish-Bred Horses for World Breeding Championships

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Rudolf Zeilinger (center), Spanish team coach, with Luis Lucio (light jacket), Spanish dressage director, and Ton de Ridder, a top international trainer, at the Madrid Horse Week. © 2017 Lily Forado.

MADRID, Nov. 27, 2017–The Spanish federation is weighing a proposal to give preference to Spanish horses for the dressage World Young Horse Championships, according to sources.

Pressure for the change, reported by sources that insisted on anonymity, came mainly from ANCCE, Spain’s National Purebred Spanish Horse Breeders’ Association known by the acronym for the Asociación Nacional de Criadores de Caballos de Pura Raza Española that provides funding to the federation.

A catalyst for change was the controversy over a combination of a Spanish rider on a German-bred horse that was selected for the world championships–officially called the World Breeding Championship for Young Horses–in Ermelo, Netherlands last summer. The qualifying competition was marked by numerous errors. A video showing side-by-side comparison with another pair performing the identical test has been widely circulated.

The selection of horses for the world young horse championships has been an issue in some countries with breeding programs, Spain among them with a global base of breeders and competitors of P.R.E. horses.

“Why,” one source said, “should Spain fund German horses at world championships when Spanish horses could be performing and promote our breed?”

Danish and Dutch programs were cited as examples.

Since the selection controversy, the Spanish federation, or RFHE, has made several changes in its dressage programs.

Rudolf Zeilinger, the German trainer who was coach of the Denmark team for two decades, has been named coach of the Spanish team. Briton Nicky Barrett has been replaced as youth team coach.