The State of the PRE in the US: 2012
The United States is home to the second largest population of PRE horses in the world, with close to 1100 active PRE breeders registered with the LG-ANNCE in Spain, the official PRE Studbook. At the present time there is more support and available services than ever for the PRE breeder, owner, rider and prospective purchaser in the United States due to the efforts of the United States PRE Association (USPRE), of which I have the present honor to be President.
The recent collaboration between the LG-ANCCE and USPRE, which provided for direct management of studbook activities by our office, has strengthened the US breeders’ relationship with Spain through improved services and accessibility. USPRE’s renovation of its website, new facility, and staff appointments have helped to make documentation and approvals a quick and simple process, and to allow pending issues with paperwork to be resolved in a manner in which time is of the essence. In recent years, USPRE has seen an increase in both individual ownership of PRE horses and numbers of active breeders. A measurable increase in the numbers of professional riders training PREs can be attributed directly to our work to promote the PRE horse within the equestrian sport community, and our marketing and sponsorship programs have sent news of our horses’ successes around the country and the world, where now the PRE Horse is a distinguishable animal from the generic “Andalusian” label.
Following a number of years of economic depression, at USPRE we are seeing signs of new growth in 2012 in the breeding community, primarily powered by the California sector as the market is beginning to recover and demand new stock. Requests for inscriptions and revisions are on the rise, as are changes in ownership documentation. While USPRE does not participate in show organization, we support all ANCCE-sanctioned shows with sponsorship and personnel, assisting Spanish delegates and providing registration services on site.
The largest segment of breeders of PRE horses in the United States consists of breeders for morphology, that is, those who breed for conformation bloodlines. Morphology breeders range from small “back-yard” breeders (covering only one to three mares) to large professional stud farms producing up to 80 foals per year. Most large operations are in Southern California, closely affiliated to the Mexican community and market. In all breeding segments of the United States, breeders who value the PRE Carta (Spanish papers) are highly versed in the champions of the race, elect to breed to Qualified stock, often import semen, and compete their own progeny when and where they can. There are currently 40 Qualified (a higher rank of breeding stock) exemplars in the United States and many imported SICAB and morphology winners. Many, if not most, morphology breeders are strongly linked to Spanish culture, travel to Spain, and maintain relationships there within the PRE breeding community.
There is a steadily increasing number of PRE breeders in the US who advertize that they are breeding exclusively for a particular function—what ANCCE North American Delegate Alexander Zilo calls “strategic breeders”. The dominant sport for strategic breeders of PREs in the US is dressage, and breeders are producing performance horses by developing their breeding programs in one of two ways: by proliferating an established dressage champion bloodline—be it Spanish or American—or by campaigning their own dressage horses as breeding stock. After many years in development, it is safe to say that there are now recognized PRE bloodlines in both the United States and Spain that are consistently producing offspring that are competitive within the sport.
As mentioned above, the popularity of the PRE horse is growing among the larger dressage community (professionals as well as amateurs), supported by USPRE’s various performance programs designed to encourage high performance for PREs. We are seeing a significant trend toward more professional riders of PREs, evidenced by the participation in our programs and the results being achieved. In the past ten years in the United States, a small number of PREs have won regional and national championships or recognition at the FEI levels and Young Horse rankings. At this time, many more promising young PREs are in the hands of professional riders and coming up the ranks with Regional Championships, competitive international showings and high national rankings, however, there are almost no PREs at the international Grand Prix level in the United States. While the popularity of PREs for dressage is growing in other countries and a few examples have appeared in international competitions (ie, France and Mexico), it is safe to say that the United States is second only to Spain in the number of PREs competing in this sport.
There is more work to be done, however, at the level of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), and the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), where the PRE Horse is not a recognized breed apart from the “Andalusian” category. USPRE and ANCCE filed formal requests over two years ago that the breed be listed in the United States register of horse breeds, but to date the request has not been honored. This state of affairs in part may contribute to the low numbers of PREs competing at the international Grand Prix levels, or at least suggests a source of the “glass ceiling”. Top athletes need a Federation in full support behind them, and many riders in the United States still believe that competing with an alternative breed may hinder their aspirations for Team selection.
Most recently, USPRE has had the opportunity to become a Founding Sponsor of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. This 10-show series with five CDIs in one location is a revolutionary concept for the sport and brings together world-class competition to one place for an extended period of time. The series attracted more corporate sponsorship in its first year than any other show series in the US, with the exception of the World Equestrian Games. As a Founding Sponsor, we have the opportunity to have prominent name exposure as well as disseminate our message through a promotional advertising, award and event campaign that runs the entire 12 weeks of the circuit. At the inaugural USPRE event in February 2012, over 400 Wellington equestrians attended a Spanish-themed party and riding demonstration featuring celebrity riders and exciting young PRE athletes.
USPRE believes that the United States, which has no official national breed of sport horse, is the ideal place to develop top quality PREs for international sport. The groundwork has been laid, but progress takes time. At USPRE, we are proud to represent the PRE horse and excited to work with LG-ANCCE and ANCCE President Javier Conde in particular, to improve the quality of the American herd for the future. We believe that the United States presents a healthy market for the PRE horse and we will continue to be innovative and current in our programs and promotion, working together with Spain to protect and promote an exceptional equine product.
by Kimberly Boyer
United States PRE Association
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