The recently released strategic report from the new Horse Welfare Board should be welcomed by all of those in racing who care about the wellbeing of our horses and the sport.
The plan, which is wide ranging, sets the tone by highlighting the two cross-cutting enablers as robust evidence and data, and high impact communications and engagement. Implementing both recommendations is vital if the welfare of horses, and therefore the sport, is to move forward.
Breeders have already embraced the 30-day foal notification system to begin the process of a collective lifetime responsibility through traceability, which gives us a good start. This initiative sits well alongside the ‘breeder education’ section of the strategic planning report, and the TBA already provides guidance, policies and codes of practice to support breeders in achieving the best welfare outcome for their horses and to promote sustainable and responsible breeding practices.
We are currently developing an online learning platform that will launch later this year to improve the reach and accessibility of our learning and guidance materials and support breeders and their employees in continuing their professional development.
Consideration of breeding methods is a wide-ranging subject, which we will discuss with the Horse Welfare Board and the BHA, before taking further steps with other international jurisdictions.
A life well lived is something we plan for every one of our horses, and if engaging with the HWB and others can help achieve this, everyone involved with breeding thoroughbreds should embrace the ethos wholeheartedly.
Meanwhile, the administration of British racing can be compared with every other sport, being carried out by executives who work hard at keeping the show on the road, and volunteers and non-executives at every level, who tirelessly give their time and energy to a sport or an area of the sport which they love.
As a charity, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association is no different. It mirrors the general set-up with a board and committee members who devote their time for free, while the fully competent executive based at Stanstead House make sure they operate efficiently and in accordance with our aims and objectives in supporting British breeders.
In this day of instant communication, the workload of all of us seems to increase by the year, and in order to continue representing the interests of its members to best effect the TBA needs to keep in touch with numerous activities, initiatives and government proposals that could affect breeders’ lives.
While breeding thoroughbreds is a fascinating process, it inevitably operates through a much longer timescale than many of the other spheres involved in racing. However, it is vital that we at the TBA keep on top of everything that is going on now, so that when the initial mating plan turns into a racehorse on the track, the breeder can be sure there is a clearly defined set of rules and regulations in place when that horse is ready to race, and a suitable race programme exists for which breeders were able to plan when making those mating arrangements.
As I have said, as far as the TBA is concerned, managing and contributing to this process covers a myriad of activities and engagements across a wide spectrum. We need to be involved in all aspects of administration on behalf of the thoroughbred breeding industry, in order to ensure that any changes do not have a detrimental effect on breeders but, where possible, enhance the breeders’ and the breed’s chances of success.
This reflection on the TBA’s responsibilities brings me to an important point by illustrating why we need active support from members both on the TBA board and in committees.
It is crucial for the future of breeding in Britain that the TBA has access to a cross-section of experience and expertise, from veterinary, finance, corporate governance and education to the fundamentals of hands-on breeding itself. If you have any of these skills, or just possess an abundance of common sense, please consider joining the TBA board or being a regional representative.
Two board members will be elected this year. I urge anyone who has the time and interest to put their names forward. It is an opportunity to gain a real insight into the racing and breeding industries and to give something back to the sport that so many of us enjoy. The closing date for nominees is May 15.