[The picture above is Earl 'Tommy' Thomson on the American sport horse Masquerade back in the day when we PROUDLY rode our horses to the medals. Thomson is one the greatest Olympic medal earners: five medals with three silver and a gold in Eventing and a bronze in dressage--he always rode American Sport Horses--Library of Congress collection]
This is a revision of my original webpage. When I have written about this market share problem in the past I attributed the motives of the WBFSH and its European member breeds to just an aggressive and brilliant marketing strategy: they came here to take our sport dollars and to ultimately have a monopoly on the world sport horse market--plain and simple (see While Your Were Sleeping). Some American equestrians reading my words on this subject have thought I was seeing a conspiracy where there was none--I guess their thinking being our cousins are in our country with their breeds just for the sake of sport. And I adapted my original article to respond to that criticism. But with further thought I could see that I am dealing with true believers here in the States, and no matter what evidence I put in front of them they will absolve the market stealers of all ill intent. They believe the WBFSH and its member breeds are a benevolent force in our sport horse industry.
Of course it is only the breeders who are feeling the hit on their industry anyway, the competitors are not--although there may be in some of those riders the nagging feeling that we should be riding American horses in an international competition; but those with such sensitivity are in the minority.
I would have just left the article alone, except for now I have had further revelations that surprised even me on the depth of this whole movement. Causing me to see finally just how calculated their organized assault has been; far more unconscionable then I first dreamed. The strong loyalty and faith in the rightness of the WBFSH by their American proteges, even while their own ability to market their horses has shriveled and died, is a big clue to what has happened.
We are all familiar with the WBFSH mantra of the centuries of experience professed by their European member breeds in both their inspection system and their sport horse breeds. It is this alleged experience that gives them the credibility and authority to speak down to the rest of us. For instance, we saw an article on their lauded 500 year old inspection practice written by Dr. Englehardt appear in one of our trade journals last year. And all the warmblood registry branches here in the States proudly proclaim everything from 200 years experience (Isr-Oldenburg) to 400 years (Hanoverian) to a whopping 700 years (Holstein) of experience in breeding up their fine warmblood breeds. Of course their official trade union: the WBFSH has published not just about their centuries of experience, but have used it as a club on the Americans who they report in contrast unable to breed good sport horses because we are new to sport horse breeding, are uncultured, and are so materialistic that we just buy up the products of those countries who have actually taken time to carefully breed up their superior horses (Breeding News for Sport Horses, 4/2003). Too bad their foundation of experience is all a lie---every bit of it!
I may have woken up earlier on this, but several years ago I found out where true sport genetics actually came from, and so I had abandoned the study of the warmblood breeds for our own breeds (which carry far more sport genetics than theirs does)--so I really wasn't paying attention. I have a database that has assembled most sport bloodlines back as far as they go, and it has been corrected and adjusted through the years with DNA findings and historical research (there are lots of inaccurate traditional pedigrees and some of the online databases are horrendously erroneous even to the point of assigning breed identification to horses born hundreds of years before that breed existed etc.--it has been a long process and it is not finished yet). Through this practice I can now recognize true sport bloodlines, and usually spot a horse that is claimed to be of some other breed then it belongs to, and most important I am able to determine the root sport bloodlines.
But even knowing all that, I just assumed that what they published far and wide about their state run inspection system was true--that it was in place as long ago as they said it was--and it appeared to make sense, but then really effective lies always do. It was when I followed back their warmblood stars; not just a few generations, but all the way back to see which of the root sport bloodlines were powering their horses, it was then that I saw there was just empty air where their breeds should have been. THEY ARE NOT THERE.
What do I mean by 'they are not there'? We are told that European warmbloods have had an organized inspection system for hundreds and hundreds of years (some claiming a ridiculous 700 years), and that the system is the same one that they use today, and that their modern breeds are a result of that masterful breeding program. For instance, when I wrote North American Sport Horse Breeder I reported that the Hanoverian was a breed from 1735--that was what was published at that time as their history (our American Hanoverian branch has added one-hundred years to that saying it is now four-hundred years-that means in the 1600s). Of course, seldom mentioned is that the breeds being bred then were farm horses not sport horses, but my question now is are even their inspections systems claims valid? If it is then there are records, pedigrees, an unbroken line of descent or at least some historical record of them performing in sport. So let's look at one of their foundations to test the validity of their claims:
Here is a pedigree of Nord HA--born in 1866, a coach horse sire. He is a product of the Mecklenburg Stud; at the time they were trying to produce a coach horse out of their farm horse base. Nord HA is a significant sire, the dam-sire of the ever present Alnok HA, a foundation sire of both the Hanoverian and practically all other warmblood breeds--he is usually found in multiples, sometimes hundreds of lines, and so he is a typesetter and a clear window into what was actually going on. You can see he is 3/4 Thoroughbred--this is very typical in all the extended pedigrees I have done (for other examples see Loretto HO, Duellant HA and Donnerhall OL).
Mecklenburg imported huge amounts of Thoroughbred, Yorkshire Coach Horse, Irish Hunters, Norfolk Trotter, and some lesser amounts of Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Arab to cross on their agricultural horse base in order to improve their stock so it could be an effective coach horse. Here in Nord HA you see either they failed to record the ancestry of their own base breeds (unrecorded or ?) or the bloodlines run into Yorkshire, Thoroughbred, English Hunter or Irish...otherwise it is empty. Where is the centuries old European warmblood breed? Why are its lines not recorded if it was inspected carefully in their famous centuries old system? Why are the only extended lines Anglo?
Now according to their fables, it should be some century's old European bloodline, a Schwere Warmblud perhaps, or a Holland Black, or a Norman line behind those empty spaces? That is what they say: that it is they that have the centuries old breeds. But those breeds are extinct--and I can find no evidence any of them contributed to their modern breeds--no one recorded the European horse because they are not in their pedigrees--that means there is NO centuries of inspections either because they would have recorded those horses they allegedly inspected. Instead when I follow their lineages back through time what I find consistently is the European lines end with 'unknown' usually in the later 1800s, but some travel back to the mid-1800s--like in Nord HA, and the extensions that actually continue on are Anglo lines: Yorkshire Coach, Norfolk Trotter, Thoroughbred etc. So where are the products of their State inspection system? They recorded their inspections of course with what the breeding was, the performance, the conformation etc. like they do now, or so they say--so where are those horses? THEY ARE NOT THERE.
What about those horses they slapped their 'Mecklenburg' breed label on in the 1800s (the foundation sires like Napoleon, Jellachich, Zerneborg, Hector, Malcolm etc)? Those are mostly English breed horses in their extensions as well. But are they at least sport horses? No--not at all, they are heavy, coarse coach horses. The evidence shows they lightened up their agricultural breed (whose parentage they didn't bother to record--we call those 'grade' horses here) with massive continual injections of imported Thoroughbred, Yorkshire, Norfolk, Anglo-Arab, Anglo-Norman, Irish Hunters--in some cases even our American Running Horses and Trotters! So the whole thing is a colossal fraud, a smoke screen, a CON JOB--aimed at us, and we fell for it--believing their claims.
Here is what I have found through historical research and pedigree study: sport ability arose from the Anglo breeds, and I can even trace the sport talent back through history to the Irish Hobby and from there back to the Celtic Horse--and the DNA studies back this up. Continental Europe bred a draft horse--a farm horse and evidently not even in that endeavor did they keep records or ancestry that can be traced back. When I research their pedigrees past the mid-1800s (if they even get that far), what I find is all Anglo ancestry.
(In contrast those American breeds and breeders, who the WBFSH reports have no sport basis and no history of sport breeding, the opposite is actually the truth: Americans have always bred sport horses and all their native breeds are sport in their genetics. Yet we have allowed them to speak over us and about us and our breeds these tremendously damaging slanders, painting our breeds as worthless and ourselves as rank novices. How did we allow this to happen? I have a answer for just how this happened below.)
By believing their claims and accepting them as the authority in these matters we have lost our market share, our heritage and our pride in our own breeds. When I recognized how much time and effort was required to build up their false credentials, over a long period of time, while at the same time working to pull down any belief we had in our own resources--it had a familiar ring to it. It was like a long con, a massive confidence trick.
What do I mean by 'false credentials'? The continental Europeans never bred a sport horse until the 20th century (with the exception of France)--so there is no centuries of experience in sport horse breeding. And there is no evidence of a centuries old inspection system either---quite the contrary, when I extend their lineages back through time their breeds vanish and only the Anglo breeds carry on. Then there is their 'world' rankings deception, tricking you into thinking the breeds they list as leading are the best in the real world--thereby diverting your breeding dollars to their breeds instead of your own. This means all the confidence you have had in them as experts was developed by a huge smoke screen. Why would they do this? To get our assets--the goal of the long con is to take the mark's assets and put it in their own pockets.
The organizer of the long con is called the grifter or con artist, the target of the scam is called the mark or dupe, and the people or organizations that help convince the mark to trust the grifter is called the shill.
In this long con, the European warmblood registries led by the WBFSH is the grifter, the mark or dupe is the American breeder and competitor, and the shill is the American participant in their system. American's helped con their fellow Americans? Yes, and I was one of those shills myself. A shill might not recognize the part they are playing, but are still essential to deliver the mark and their assets to the grifter. We had to go along with them blocking all American breeds of sport horses from their registries and now in the next stage of this con (which we are in now) agreeing with them in the blocking of American breeds from the international market place and sport arena. They can't do it unless we agree to it--it is a con, not an open informed deal.
Our confidence was carefully built up in their system, and their control, until like automatons we are marching to their tune entirely. How was this carried out? They first established themselves in our country which was simple to do because we are democratic. Most of you don't remember this, but at first you could use you American breed mare to breed to their stallions, but shortly they began tightening the 'allowed breeds' until today only certain Jockey Club registered Thoroughbreds are allowed, and even then the American Thoroughbred is strongly discouraged. It is a key of a long con to get the mark to participate, to play, so they made it very easy in the beginning to play this new breeding game. And they subtlety blocked the American-bred stock from standing as stallions, even when it had passed their inspection, it then had to establish an excessive performance record in a measured period of time, and if the stallion did not quite make it in the time allowed, then it was out in the cold--no breeding license. In contrast any imported stock of their own breeding was allowed in.
Most of the American participants never realized they were dealing with governments and the government products for that is what the warmblood breeds are: national products, and their judges, riders, grooms, breeders, registry operators or overseers are government employees, trained and supported by the respective government. They could afford to put their own stock through their breeding system because it was all made possible by their country, whereas the American participant was an individual with no structural support. The game was rigged so the house would always win--and they are the house.
Essential to our continued participation was that they disarm us. They had to make our own superior sporting stock undesirable to us. The psychological aspect of our breeds put in a 'not allowed' category did some of this work for them resulting in most of you unconsciously assuming that there must be something wrong with our breeds if they are 'not allowed'. And they ridiculed and belittled our own sport records to the point that now you will read continuously on blogs and in articles that America is new to sport horse breeding, and America never had a good sport horse and our past Olympic performances were abysmal. None of that is true however, yet most of you now believe it.
Here is an example of the doublethink they have deposited successfully into the minds of our equestrians. I heard from a North American that the Thoroughbred is not a true sport horse breed--meaning it is not a real breed for Olympic style sport. She went on to say that only those 'stud books' that follow the European model are true sport horse breeds. And she said because the Jockey Club does not have a division expressly devoted to Olympic style sport, then our Thoroughbred is not a true sport horse. So right there is the crucial doublethink implanted into her mind: that the Thoroughbred, arguably the greatest all around sport horse breed in the world, now in her mind it is not a legitimate sport horse.
How can a Thoroughbred not be a sport horse? Believe me, this woman was absolutely certain she was right. Our Thoroughbred and the Running Horse before it have always excelled not just in racing, but in the Hunter sports and those sports that developed from them such as cross-country, show jumping and under saddle disciplines--but somehow now because they are a pure-bred racehorse, all of a sudden they are not okay to use as a show jumper or an event horse or a dressage horse? The key to this thinking is the acceptance of the WBFSH studbook model as the be all--end all of sport horse type. That reasoning makes all our other sport breeds not real sport horses also--even our traditional Hunter Horses--that is unless we put them under a European brand. Once they own our minds they also own our bank accounts.
Listing our sport breeds of Morgan, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Saddlebred, Tennessee Walker and others as 'not allowed' crosses or even not allowed as a bloodline, and even making it so our own 'warmblood', our Hunter Horses, could not be used in upper level competitions unless it is under one of their own banners, has effectively put our breeds out of the international market place, and worse is that over time it has had the effect on the American breeder of them thinking our own breeds are sub-standard (not allowed)--as you saw an example of above, and so most of us no longer look to them as sport resources. And those of you, and I was one also, who participated in this rigged game have contributed to this--while we were surely duped we have also played the part of the shill, by agreeing with them in blocking our domestic breeds.
Has our own USEF played the part of the shill or were they also the dupe in this long swindle? I only question their role in this at all because after several years of attempting to interact with them on aspects of this problem, the consistent result was to be put off or just plain ignore my concerns, and seeing the unswerving lack of action to protect the interests of the traditional American breeder of sport horses, I have given up on them acting for our best interests.
Last year when I was voicing my frustration to a friend at the lack of response from the leaders in our industry, and suggested what I was thinking of doing next was to compose a thoughtful and fact filled letter to an upper level manager at the USEF about the American breeder's situation. He laughed at me. He said I was naive and stupid if I thought that they would listen or respond, and that they certainly would not take positive action to protect and preserve the American breeder. His take was that they are 'in on it' or at the least getting some benefit out of the betrayal of the American breeder. What he said disturbed me, but I could not dismiss it entirely, yet I wasn't quite ready to accept our own organization was selling us out. So I kept trying to reach someone to awaken them that they should be looking out for us. In the winter I even contacted the president of the USEF about the problem, but was brushed off by her.
This spring and summer (2016) I couldn't stop myself from responding when the communications department of the USEF/USET sent out their weekly announcements of the teams that would be going to Rio, listing the American riders with their mounts. Because I am a member I get press releases, and over the summer I responded to those messages with a return email (to firstname.lastname@example.org who is the identified issuer of the releases--I have never received a response.)
In those messages not one of the mounts is identified as American-bred, and I knew personally some of those horses were indeed bred here by American breeders, and so they should be identified as American sport horses, whether they hold registration in a foreign registry or not. But in this literature put out by our USET/USEF, if the horse was a registered Holstein or Dutch or Irish they said so, whether it was imported or bred here, it is all the same to them--it is all European Union, which adds to the perception that our American breeders had nothing to do with these horses and the American bloodlines were of no account as well.
Technically, according to the game rules set up by our European buddies, if it is bred here it should be labeled as an American Sport Horse, because that is how the game is played across the pond, but they changed their own procedures when they went after our market (we weren't supposed to notice). Matter of fact, one of the keys of a long con is that the mark doesn't realize he had been taken until long after the grifter (con artist) has absconded with the goods. And I can tell you from the blogs, articles and statements made by the majority of our American equestrians and even our organizations, that still to this day they believe in the good intentions of this grifter.
Maybe the USEF-USET doesn't realize the scam being played on us? And maybe the staff at our national organization is totally unschooled in our own international sport horse history, which is 100 years longer than that of Europe. Maybe they don't realize the American breeders have been systematically breeding a Hunter Horse since 1700 with performance testing in place, and that we have continued to do so consistently up to this day. If any of my 'supposes' is right, then I wonder how they hold a position of representing us in the international arena. It is the USEF after all that is the overseer of our international competitions and it is they that choose which riders and which horses make the team. Or maybe it is that they are ashamed to be American, and that our national sport horse that was developed by Americans individually, without royal or government supervision (all European members of the WBFSH are government breeds) is not worthy of their consideration? Perhaps they have swallowed and digested the European company line, that Americans don't know how to breed sport horses and that Americans are new to sport horse breeding, to the point that they too believe it? But how could they, when America has produced the three leading racehorse breeds in the world, and America has won international competitions on our homebred horses since the early 1800s? Well, that would mean then they have been duped as well.
We are now operating in an international arena that has its 'rules' set by the WBFSH, either alone or in concert with the FEI. But our USEF could change all that, almost instantly, just by requiring that American bred sport horses be identified as such on their papers, in the publications and certainly on their passports--as first and foremost as American Sport Horse, and second in their European affiliation if they have one. That is how our competition does it, so why don't we? For example, the great stallion Ramiro HO--a Holstein that also was registered as Ramiro Z because he was approved as line for the Zangershiede Stud...but Ramiro is first of all a Holstein bred horse (even though he carries significant amounts of Thoroughbred and Anglo-Arab). How then are we handling this differently? Well our sport horses bred here are American Sport Horses, and second they are other things as well--but we are not demanding the American recognition. If we stood up and took care of this, it would also allow our non-European contaminated sport breeds, like the Morgan, Saddlebred, Quarter Horse, Standardbred etc. or any horse carrying those banned bloodlines to compete equally in the international arena--because they too would be covered by the American Sport Horses label also--and they can't block our national sport horse breed from competition if we stand up and demand they be recognized as American first of all. But once again this would require an action by the USEF--'united we stand/divided we fall' should be ringing in our ears.
Part of the con, has been to promote the 'world rankings' via the WBFSH, usurping the title 'world' in their closed organization with the stupendous pay off of most equestrians in the real world believing that the breeds identified as the leaders in each sport are taken from the entire world results, when in fact it only tallies their own member registry points--thereby over time, via propaganda (building confidence via deception--long con), succeeding in monopolizing the world sport horse market. We could counter this biased reporting by posting the American sport horse points that come from all our breeds, even our non-warmblood approved breeds. For goodness sake the Thoroughbred is the greatest producer of jumping horses in the world, and it is never given the credit in the EU published world rankings. It is a brilliant scheme, and absolutely successful in its relentless quest for world domination, and you have to give our cousins credit for patience, skill and planning, because they have almost all of us marching to their band music under their flag--rather than our own.
The quickest and easiest way to remedy the situation here at home is for you, the breeder, to stop using their registries--unless you really believe you need a foreign government to tell you what, when and how to breed--register your horse somewhere else. And demand it be given the opportunities those foreign invaders get here--it has always been up to you, and you the breeder can change the dynamic almost immediately. Maybe if you realize what has occurred you will--that is my hope, that you decide you are proud to be an American, proud to breed American horses and proud to ride under our own flag.
The whole idea of sport is an open playing field isn't it? Shouldn't anybody or any country or any breed be able to compete if it qualifies by performance? Isn't that the original idea the Olympic equestrian sports was founded on?