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What Breed Is My Steed?

All you ever need to know about how to correctly describe your horse’s breed and its breeding

Author: Jody Hartstone/Saturday, March 21, 2020/Categories: Blog

What Breed Is My Steed?

As a long-time horse breeder and current President of the NZ Warmblood Association I feel compelled to help New Zealand horse people upskill their knowledge about the way to describe their horse’s breeding.

Reading through class lists on Equestrian Entries and on the ESNZ Website Horse Information Portal it is astonishing to see the amount of horses who have either

a)  No breeding / breeder recorded

b) Spelling mistakes

c)  The horses breed listed completely incorrectly

In most overseas countries these kind of mistakes simply do not exist as each and every horse has a passport which states the correct breeding and breeder and indeed breed.  In New Zealand there is no such Government regulations so the horse breeding and sport industry has been allowed to get very slack. 

Here are some pointers on the ins and outs of how to record and describe your horses linage:

By and out of who?

“By” and “Out of” are two commonly used and misused expressions in horse breeding.  Think about it for a second here… The words “Out of” should be a bit of a give-away even if “By” isn’t so apparent to you.  Since foals come “out of” mares it stands to reason that this is how you describe the dam.  So the correct way to describe the breeding is by (the stallion) and out of (the mare).

How do I tell people my horse’s pedigree?

When we talk about the generations of our horse’s breeding it is correct to mention three names.  For example, if I was to describe my stallion Landioso’s breeding to you I would say he is Landgraf / Calvados II / Farnese.  These are the names of his Sire / Dam’s Sire / Dam’s Dams’s Sire.  It is not correct to mention the dam’s name in the pedigree line when presented like this.


What about XX, OX , X?

Have you ever seen the Suffix’s XX, OX or X in a horse’s written pedigree and wondered what they represented?  XX is the way Thoroughbred is written in a pedigree.  OX represents pure Arabian blood and X is an Anglo- Arab.

And what breed do I say my horse is?

Each and every horse should have its parentage and date of birth recorded into a Stud Book.  What ever stud book your horse has been registered with is your horses breed.  A horse can not / should not be birth recorded with more than one studbook.

There are horse’s on the ESNZ database whose breed is recorded as TB / Welsh / Quarterhorse / Arab.  THIS IS NOT A BREED!!!  In this case simply putting Crossbred would suffice which means it is of mixed breeding and not associated with any studbook.

The use of the term NZ Sport Horse is also not correct as there was once a Registry for New Zealand bred horses called the NZ Sport Horse Association which is no longer in existence.  The only horses that should be called NZ Sport Horses are those that received registration papers from the NZSHA when it was still an Incorporated Society.

There has been an influx of stallions imported from Australia in the last decade or so who have been called various names such as Oldenburg or Westfalian when advertised in New Zealand.  Some of these stallions have no papers at all (were never registered and therefore have no proof of breeding) or are actually registered as Australian Warmbloods.  Calling them anything else is both deceptive advertising and very misleading.


My horse’s sire is an Oldenberger – surely that makes my horse an Oldenburger too?

NO!  The only horses with the right to be recorded or called an Oldenburger  (or Holsteiner / NZ Warmblood / Hanoverian / KWPN etc) are those who have Passports / Papers from that particular Breed Association or Studbook.  If the breeder of your horse never registered it, the horse should simply be called a crossbred until it has papers to prove its parentage and age.  In the case of a non-registered full Thoroughbred these are often listed as NSB – or non-studbook.


Where can I register my horse?

In former times the breeding districts of Germany were split into various areas and horse’s basically got branded and issued papers from the area they were born in.  However, the various European Stud Books have gone global now and it is possible to get a horse born anywhere in the world put into the studbook of choice so long as it meets the breeding criteria and regulations from the studbook in question.

The New Zealand Warmblood Association registers all horses with 25% warmblood breeding or more.  These are divided in to the Warmblood Register (for horses by Licenced stallions whose dam line contains only Warmblood / TB / Arab blood in its first 4 generations) and the Derivative Register for those horses by unlicensed stallions or with blood such as CB / Clydesdale or Unknown blood in the five generation pedigree.  Only those from the Register can move up into the studbook ensuring that the only blood used in the Studbook stock is considered “”Pure” warmblood (with Thoroughbred and Arabian blood in there as refining blood when needed and for Foundation Stock).  Horse’s from both Registers now receive an FEI Approved International Horse Passport.


What is the WBFSH?

These letters stand for the World Breeders Federation For Sport Horses and there are currently two studbooks in New Zealand that are represented here on the world stage.  These are the New Zealand Warmblood Association and the New Zealand Hanoverian Assn.  Both stud books have proven that they meet the strict and exacting standards to call themselves an international stud book and have the right to have their horses recorded on the FEI Database as a recognised breed.  This allows horses registered in these two studbooks to fly the NZ Flag high wherever they may be competing around the world. 

Sadly there are many wonderful New Zealand bred horses competing at the very top internationally who have no studbook affiliation, which means New Zealand and New Zealand breeders get no recognition which sadly means less international buyers know just how special the horses we are breeding here are.

Thankfully it is possible to remedy this situation as those horses competing internationally can still apply to be put into one of the NZ Studbooks represented internationally.  It is simply up to the rider /  owner or breeder of the horse to do so.  It would be great to see NZ Studbooks up high on the WBFSH rankings list for the Olympic Disciplines, but it is very hard to do this with a massive percentage of out top horses not being linked back to NZ Studbooks and breeders.


On a different note….   When is a warmblood not a warmblood? 

I often hear people describe their crossbred horse as a warmblood – as if mixing cold blood with hot blood makes a “warmblood”.  Once again this is simply not true.  Warmbloods have continental breeding and have been produced for a great many years as sport horses – not by crossing a draft breed with a hotter breed.


What can you do to remedy the situation?

Firstly simply go on the ESNZ website and check your horses Breeder, Pedigree and Breed are all recorded correctly.  Remember the rules above – if your horse has no breeding papers it should simply be recorded as a cross bred.  If you have a Thoroughbred horse registered you can follow this link to find its breeding if you do not know it https://loveracing.nz/stud-book/search or there are various facebook groups that can help you search the brands.

Email the ESNZ on this address with any changes mail nzef@nzequestrian.org.nz 


If your horse has at least 25% Warmblood in its pedigree you can apply to get an FEI Approved Passport for it by heading to www.nzwarmbloods.com and clicking on the Register a Horse tab.



Let’s take some pride in the wonderful horses we are breeding in New Zealand and give New Zealand breeders and horses the chance to shine both Nationally and Internationally.


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