24.10.2016 - Information on the planned European breeding program for reining horses (EFRHA)
During the last months several discussions and speculations around the new European breeding program have emerged. In the annex please find an interview with Gerd Wilhelm, Vice President of NRHA Germany, who has accompagnied this pathbreaking project from the beginning. With this interview, Petra Feilen, press officier of NRHA Germany, wants to explicate to the public and the members of NRHA Germany the backgrounds, targets and highlights of this program.
The board members of NRHA Germany kindly invite all members of NRHA Germany and especially the SSP stallion owners to an informative meeting. Details on the European breeding program for reining horses will be introduced and any questions will be answered. The meeting will take place on 12 November 2016 at 2:00 p.m. at Ramada Hotel Frankfurt Airport West, Casteller Straße 106, D-65719 Hofheim-Diedenbergen.
The board of directors of NRHA Germany is looking forward to welcoming many interested participants and thanks you for your coming by now.
Interview with Gerd Wilhem,
Vice President of NRHA Germany e.V.
The European reining affiliates had a meeting with NRHA, the mother association, to discuss the future of the different breeding programs. As representative of NRHA Germany Gerd Wilhelm has closely attended this project from the beginning. Petra Feilen (press NRHA Germany) has visited him at home at his beautiful ranch in Franconia.
PF: From press releases and at the internet we could read about the foundation of the European Federation of Reining Horse Associations (EFRHA). What is it about exactly?
GW: Basically, EFRHA is an European breeding program for reining horses, which brings together the three important breeding programs in Europe, the German SSP, the Italian IRHBA and the NRHA European Foal Nomination Program. Differently from e.g. the American NRBC, which more or less is directed by private persons, EFRHA was founded as an umbrella organization, all European reining associations can affiliate and are invited to participate.
PF: Gerd, maybe tell us first in sequence, how and why EFRHA has been founded.
GW: Both, the German SSP and the Italian IRHBA are based on paid-in stallions. Due to different developments, not at least caused by the introduction of frozen semen, the number of stallions in these programs has considerably decreased during the last years.
Thus, the number of stallions in the SSP was nearly halved during the last ten years and the percentage of stallions owned by Germany decreased from 70% to 35%. At this time approx. 170 stallions are paid in but this number is declining. This development is a great challenge for NRHA Germany to organize our Breeders Futurity and Derby attractively and to provide substantial prize moneys in the future.
Many people might remember the discussions a few years ago, to extend the SSP by a foal nomination program, to make the SSP fit for the future.
The same discussions and plans occurred in other countries too, among others in Italy. For more than 18 months the persons in charge of NRHA Germany and the Italian Reining Horse Association have been discussing, how the financial basis of our big shows can be secured and how a vital European breeder’s community can be developed even better – no breeding program without breeders.
The initial discussions, just to extend the existing programs by a foal program were rejected. This would have led to an unjustifiable increase of cost for the breeders. Especially the “smaller” breeders would have refrained from paying in their offspring into different programs. Thus, the idea was born to create a common European breeding program based on stallions and foals.
PF: Why has taken the foundation of EFRHA such a long time and why information have not been published earlier, to refute by facts the speculations which meanwhile have widely spread?
GW: I don’t even think the foundation of EFRHA took such a long time. After some preliminary talks last November during the Italian Futurity in Cremona, Italians, French, German and further unofficial representatives of other reining organizations have met and discussed first ideas. If I remember the different ideas of Germans and Italians at the beginning, it’s almost a miracle that we already have an agreement today.
Another important task is the integration of the NRHA European Foal Nomination Program. We, NRHA Germany and IRHA, from the early beginning have intended to avoid, that the EFRHA program is seen as competition to the NRHA European Foal Nomination Program. We imperatively wanted to integrate it. At this place, competition won’t be beneficial at all. It’s certainly easy to understand, that some discussions and meetings are necessary to make this happen. Certainly, it’s easy to know better in hindsight and we certainly could have informed with more details earlier. On the other hand, we didn’t want to evoke expectations which at the end can’t be met or realized.
PF: Could you please outline the high lights of the EFRHA program?
GW: Like I said, this program is based on the enrollment of stallions and foals. Foals of non-nominated stallions can be paid in too, however at a higher rate. Enrolled foals, after reaching the corresponding age, are eligible to start at the big European Futurities and Derbies. With the nomination money, a 3-year Snaffle Bit Futurity in Germany, a 3-year Futurity Bit in Italy, a 4-year Futurity Bit in Germany and a Derby for 5 to 7 years-old in Italy will be organized. Furthermore, each affiliated association will get a refund of 25% of the nomination payments coming from the respective country. For NRHA Germany, we will finance the Breeders Derby with the refund. In the future, EFRHA intends to organize a Reining Horse Sale for nominated horses and to promote especially elder reining horses.
PF: Why a new federation EFRHA was founded? How are the structures and how is it administrated and organized?
GW: Breeding programs are always a matter of money and if money is involved people are quite skeptical. We, the Germans, didn’t want to entrust the money to the Italian association and vice versa. Therefore, a federation was founded to administrate the program and money. This is the only reason for this federation. Members of this new federation are the European affiliates, which are presented by members of the national affiliates. The number of seats the national affiliates are entitled to in the ERFRHA board is calculated by parity, proportionally to the number of members of the national affiliate.
PF: As rumor has it, EFRHA was founded in competition to the American NRHA and wants to cut it off sooner or later…
GW: Excuse me; this is nonsense, to put it mildly. It’s really undisputable that we can only develop our reining sports with common efforts and not with fragmentation and conflicts. It is true, NRHA Germany and NRHA didn’t have an optimal cooperation until some years ago, but that’s history and long ago. EFRHA is the roof organization for a common European reining horse breeding program with the above mentioned tasks and goals and not a horse sports association like NRHA or NRHA Germany. All shows based on EFRHA nomination fees have to be NRHA approved imperatively. At the same time as the preliminary talks to EFRHA, the board of NRHA has decided to restructure NRHA. NRHA will concentrate more on global duties and responsibilities, like show rules, judging system, earnings, etc. The different regions North America, Europe, South America and Oceania should handle more independently, but also with more own responsibility, their regional interests in the future.
This will bring new duties to the European reining affiliates. Which role EFRHA will act in this context has to be discussed unhurriedly and in mutual consensus with all associations and above all with NRHA. A further sign for in the meanwhile good relationship between NRHA Germany and NRHA is the organization of the NRHA European Futurity in 2017. On behalf of NRHA, NRHA Germany will organize the European Futurity. The necessary agreements will be completed within the next few days. This requires a high degree of mutual trust and appreciation and certainly is a clear sign to our members and the public.
PF: Some people fear that the number of big shows could suffer from combining the different breeding programs. What do you think about this?
GW: Yes, we are aware of these concerns. During the last years more and more shows in Europe have emerged and the show calendar is more than tight. There are big shows nearly weekly. As everything in life this development hast wo sides. On the one hand, more shows bring a bigger choice for our riders, but also create new challenges and duties to the organizers and affiliates. Furthermore, not every rider or owner is able to attend all supra-regional important shows on a weekly basis. As per our experience and evaluation, some shows are not only in schedule-competition, also for our sponsors, supporters and exhibitors it becomes more and more difficult, to support these numerous shows and to be present. We are convinced that the combination of some shows, especially the Breeders Futurity with the European Futurity, organized by NRHA Germany, and the Italian Derby with the Euro Derby, organized by IRHA, will mostly be of advantage. As a consequence, there will be two really outstanding European shows with really attractive prize money, which will allow offering big prize moneys in level 1, 2 and 3 too, both in Non Pro and in Open. The merger of these shows will only become reality in the coming years, while already now it’s on discussion to combine the Italian Derby and the Euro Derby in 2017. For that purpose, NRHA and the European Affiliate Council has appointed a task force. This task force has met at the Breeders Futurity for the first time and we certainly will hear the recommendations of this group in the near future.
PF: The existing national and international breeding programs shall be transferred to EFRHA. What’s the procedure for that?
GW: The most important and basic principle of EFRHA is voluntariness. We don’t want to force any affiliate to participate. Italy and Germany are by far the biggest reining affiliates in Europe and want to go ahead. Already now, other European associations have signed a Letter of Intent and announced their cooperation. The EFRHA program will start in 2017. In 2021 the first shows will be supported and financed by the EFRHA program. Until then, the shows will be organized according to the today’s rules and contracts. Anyhow, possibilities are presently discussed, to organize the combined shows already earlier by providing generous interim solutions.
PF: How will the money, which is paid into the breeding program, be distributed?
GW: 25% of the nomination fee goes to the national affiliate of the nominator, as long as it is member of EFRHA. Relevant is the place of residence, so that the national associations motivate their members, to enroll the foals in EFRHA Program, even if the national association has not yet a breeding program. With the remaining nomination fees the prize moneys of the 3-years Snaffle Bit Futurity will be financed with 12%, the 3-years Bit Futurity with 33%, the 4-years Futurity Bit with 33% and the Derby with 22%. In total we expect prize money of about one million Euros for these shows.
PF: For many people any changes at first mean something bad. In this context you certainly have met with criticism on this project. How do you handle this and what is your motivation to continue nevertheless and fully commit yourself for this matter?
GW: Indeed, I’m old enough to know that improvement and development cannot be realized without changing the existing. Criticism, if based on facts, isn’t bad at all. From open minded communication and discussions the best solutions emerge. It’s quite human wanting to hold on the existing and to evaluate anything new hypercritical at the beginning.
Especially if there are complex tasks and necessary data and information are not available. We, the board members of NRHA Germany and of course me too, understand as our first duty to foresee future developments and to adjust NRHA Germany and it’s programs in a way, that they can be successful in the future and a basis for a further growths and promotion of the sport of reining is ensured.
I myself slipped into the reining politics by chance in 2009. Since those days, reining in Germany and Europe has developed considerably. Together with others, I had the opportunity and pleasure to work out and oversee some essential programs, e.g. the (re-) affiliation of NRHA Germany to NRHA, the NRHA European Futurity and Derby, the NRHA European Foal Nomination Program, the quite successful partner- and sponsor program of NRHA Germany or the new look of the Breeders Futurity and Derby, to name a few. All projects have one thing in common. They will only succeed, if you are willing to discuss and communicate in an open and fair way with as many parties involved as possible and to balance the different interests. This requires patience and compromises. On the long term good ideas will always make their way. I’m convinced EFHRA is a good idea.
PF: What will happen next, what are the next planned steps?
GW: As already said, the time has come to inform the NRHA Germany members in any detail and consequences. For that reason, there will be a meeting in Frankfurt/Hofheim on November 12, where the Board of NRHA Germany will inform in detail about EFRHA and will answer any questions. All SSP-stallion owners and all members of NRHA Germany are invited and we are looking forward to welcoming many interested people.
PF: Thank you, Gerd, for the detailed explanation of EFRHA.
24. Oktober 2016