Use and characteristics of the Anglo European Studbook Horse
The main purpose of the Anglo European Studbook (AES) is to create a British-based registry and database of outstanding sports horses for all three major disciplines: Eventing, showjumping and dressage. Equestrians who buy an Anglo European Studbook horse can select from the best horses and youngstock in Europe and Britain for their discipline. AES horses are highly rated performers globally, making registration a valuable endorsement for those who sell an Anglo European Studbook horse. The AES phenotype registry standards for the three disciplines are different, as they each need somewhat different conformation and character. Dressage horses have more of an “uphill” build, with long shoulders, a short back, and sloping croup. AES approved show jumpers are longer with powerful quarters and a level back. Event horses tend to be lighter with excellent lung capacity revealed through the depth of girth.
Origin and history of breeding Anglo European Studbook Horses
The Anglo European Studbook was set up by Henk Minderman in 1985. Originally from the Netherlands, horse breeder Minderman has lived in the UK since the 1970s and set up the Renkum Stud in 1978. The AES grew from the notable success of the Dutch Warmbloods in the 1960s and 70s, and the establishment of the Warmbloed Paardenstamboek Nederland in 1969. To begin with, the AES was heavily influenced by the culture of Dutch breeders, and the Dutch studbook, which gained royal approval in 1988 to become the famous KWPN registry. However, Minderman soon realised that Britain needed a studbook that met the needs of British competition riders to breed sports horses that could “take on the world” at the highest level. Leading showjumper John Whitaker was an early supporter of the principles behind the AES.
Describing his studbook as “educational” and “broad”, Minderman set strict standards regarding the quality of youngstock, stallions and mares entered into the registration process. The AES has a vision of the three best types for the three leading equestrian disciplines, but beyond that, it is an open book, not specific to a breed or breeds. Rideability, sporting ability and temperament are the key factors for an AES registered horse. Whatever the discipline, they are recognisable by the development of the top line and the length and strength of their limbs. The AES is a leading horse passport provider for sports horses. It has been recognised by the World Federation for Breeding Sport Horses (WFBSH) since 1993, becoming a full member of this international organisation’s authorised studbooks in 2000.
When Minderman moved on to other projects, the new director of the AES became fellow Dutchman and internationally recognised breeder of sports horses, Kees van den Oetelaar. With a proven record of identifying top stallions, including Lord Z, Spartacus, Verdi, Marius Claudius and Cannabis Z, among many other prominent names, van den Oetelaar had been a stallion judge for many years for the AES before becoming its director. He noted that one fundamental difference between Dutch and British sports horse culture was that in the Netherlands, people discussed horses and breeding, while in Britain people talked about riders. This is perhaps not surprising, since from the 1950s to the 1980s, the sport of show jumping was a popular spectator sport that frequently drew large TV audiences. Fans followed the riders and their horses, who became household names. The horses were an eclectic mixture without a unifying registry. Today, at the international level, the focus is much more on the selection, conformation and testing of horses. It is as good a development for the small-scale breeder of sports horses as it is for larger studs since it offers them an equal opportunity to apply for the testing and registration procedure.
Anglo European Studbook horses in equestrianism
It might be argued that the AES “came of age” in 2010 when the AES was twice recognised in the top 10 rankings of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH). The testing and grading procedure is available across Europe and the UK, with specific tests for stallions carried out at various ages and four levels of licensing: Registered, licensed, approved and elite. For youngstock and broodmares, the AES has a star-rated grading system based on key qualities.