Harness racing in New Zealand has approximately 1,300 breeders who appear as the first name on a breeding certificate and approximately 2,900 individuals who are registered as a breeder. NZSBA has nearly 600 financial members (totalling over 1,100 associated people with partners) who are actively engaged within the industry. The association has three affiliated bodies: North Island, Canterbury and Southland.
The New Zealand harness sport is based on hobby breeders with large breeders (10 or more mares) representing only 2 percent of participants. Harness breeders are predominantly male aged over 60, often jointly with their partner, typically breeding between one to four mares. Breeders are passionate about this sport and have a share in over 50 percent of the horses racing.
There are many paths to becoming a breeder. In New Zealand a family association is often the lead-in. For others attending the races or owning a horse leads to retaining ownership of a filly or mare. People breed standardbreds for many reasons but a prime one is chasing the dream, the challenge, of breeding the next Adore Me or Terror to Love.
The Senior Sports writer for The Australian newspaper, Patrick Smith, recently put it this way:
“Racing is a bug. It bites you. Deep. Whatever the little critter releases into your blood stream it causes a chemical reaction. Endorphins gallop about your body. What looks mundane from a distance has an excitement, charm and a thrill that makes the smallest function something fantastic.”
Profit-making is not the main driving the reason to breed. For most breaking even from breeding and racing is a preferred outcome. Few in our sport rely on breeding as their sole source of income.
NZSBA’s activities are outlined in our Strategic Plan click here to read plan. The Plan is the road map for the next three-years. The Plan is built around four themes: Advancing Breeder’s Interests, Advocacy, Breeding Health & Animal Welfare and Enhancing Revenue. Within each of these NZSBA will contribute to achieving positive outcomes for standardbred breeding and harness racing in New Zealand. NZSBA will seek to achieve this with integrity and transparency being a respected industry participant.
Part of any Strategic process is reviewing the previous plan. I’m pleased to report that we met our objectives set out in 2012. In brief we have:
Provided member breeder recognition including: Group race trophies, NZ Record certificates, breeders names in racebooks, regional awards, gold pins, Australian Group race trophies and a miniature NZ Cup to the breeder of the winner.
Represented member views at HRNZ, Racing Board and internationally at the World Trotting Conference. We have an open door policy and welcome all feedback from members. This is an area we are wanting to improve on over the coming years.
Held industry forums nationally with good attendance numbers and discussion.
Continued to support Generation Harness a forum for younger participants
Have a seat on the HRNZ Animal Welfare Sub-Committee
Have an ongoing research program into wastage and reproductive efficiency (see page 18)
Increased membership by over 80% since 2008
Continued to attract commercial sponsorship
Provided a FREE foal alert service with high success rate for matching foals with foster mares.
We regularly evaluate our progress and being a pro-active and open organisation can easily adapt to challenges we face. We are only one small part of a multi-million dollar industry, however our voice is heard and we are making progress. Addressing the declining mare and breeder population is high on our Agenda, however we cannot be expected to have a magic cure, it is a highly complex issue with many facets affecting participant’s decision making.