Morscher: separate studbook would be welcome

EQUINE academic Soraya Morscher believes a separate studbook would be welcome in helping breeders identify stallions with the traits required to breed an eventing horse.

She also, however, yesterday rejected that her recent, widely-reported study into eventing horses concluded there was an “urgent need” for a separate studbook as stated by the RDS in a press release.

“My own personal belief is that there should be a separate studbook. While I want to stress that I do not know enough about the Irish [sport horse] studbook to comment in detail, breeders need access to distinct information if they are to breed an eventer. A separate studbook could be the solution to providing the optimum required traits to breed a top-class eventing horse,” she said.

The Austrian-born University of Limerick lecturer’s study into eventing horses included interviews with four-star riders in the World Cup qualifier at the 2008 Tattersalls, combined with evaluation of the conformation of 422 potential event horses. The study, An Analysis of Conformation and Performance Variables in Potential Three-Day Event Horses in Ireland, was conducted on behalf of the RDS Committee of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and presented by Morscher at Ballsbridge.

Morscher yesterday said the accompanying RDS press release was wrong to state the study highlighted an “urgent need” for a separate studbook, but she regretted “overselling” at her presentation that there was a “requirement” for a separate studbook, even though her study did not draw such a conclusion.

“The press release was incorrect in saying there was an ‘urgent need’ for a separate studbook for eventing horses on the basis of my study,” said Morscher yesterday. “The recommendations and conclusions as contained in the actual thesis said: ‘Based on the interview results with competitors, it is apparent that the selection criteria for event horses should be distinct from those used in the selection of show jumping horses’.

“In my presentation at the RDS, I did say there was a requirement for a separate studbook. Perhaps, I should have not made this conclusion as part of my study, but I stand over this requirement as necessary to identify eventing horse traits.

“It’s a pity that only this was highlighted. What was more important to convey was what the event riders wanted in an event horse,” said Morscher. “From the study, you can see the profiling of an event horse and a show jumping are totally different. I stand over the study and its findings.”

The RDS yesterday said its press release “was based on Morscher’s “thesis summary and her presentation of the thesis” and the society referred to slide 35 of her presentation, which noted: “There is a requirement for distinctly defined breeding objectives and a separate studbook specific to eventing.”

The RDS in a statement: “As a studbook is compiled on the basis of a selection criteria for a breeding objective you will see this matter is also raised on page 31 of her thesis summary where she distinguishes that the ‘selection criteria for event horses should be distinct from those used in the selection of showjumping horses’.”

However, the RDS statement did not explain how it had concluded there was an “urgent need” for a separate studbook.

Morscher’s study highlighted “a number of unfavourable conformation traits” in the 422 potential eventing horses she profiled, including weak loins, long backs, while more than a quarter had a straight shoulder and more than a third of horses were in a rectangular shape, as distinct from the square shape preferred by most riders.

Almost all of the 24 riders interviewed at Tattersalls said temperament and attitude were the most important traits.

lPATRICIA RYAN’S eventing horse Fernhill Clover Mist has been retired after being injured in the World Equestrian Games in October.

The Bandon woman’s husband Mike yesterday said the horse was still in Kentucky, but a Christmas homecoming was planned.

“The horse is returning on December 22 and is in great form, but will not compete again,” said Mike yesterday. “His owners Tom and Carol Henry are bringing him home to retire. Tom said: ‘We don’t leave our injured on the battlefield’.

“The horse slipped a tendon off his hock and has been recuperating in Kentucky on the stud-farm of bloodstock agent Jim Fitzgerald, who is originally from Watergrasshill.

“Trish was, originally very upset, but is now accepting of it and ready to move on.”

Fernhill Clover Mist, now aged 14, carried Patricia to success in the World Cup class at Tattersalls last year.

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