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European Commission Clarifies Studbook of Origin with AQHA and DQHA

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On January 27, leaders and staff from the American Quarter Horse Association met with representatives of the German affiliate (DQHA), the German agricultural ministry and Bavarian competent authority at the European Commission offices in Brussels. The goal of the meeting was to close the contested topic of studbook of origin for the American Quarter Horse.

As a result of this meeting, DQHA signed a statement of intent to modify its breeding program to become a daughter studbook of AQHA. DQHA indicated, per the statement of intent, its commitment to take appropriate steps to secure a vote by its membership and make application to modify its breeding program to the Bavarian competent authority by May 1.

AQHA and DQHA announced this commitment to a shared path forward at the recent AQHA European Summit, which hosted representatives of 18 European affiliates, in Rome, Italy. Breeding societies in Austria, France and Hungary currently operate daughter studbooks of AQHA, and additional EU affiliates are working through approval processes with their competent authorities to establish recognized breeding programs.

“The response to the announcement at the European Summit was resoundingly positive among the affiliates in attendance,” said Anna Morrison, AQHA chief international officer. “As the studbook of origin for American Quarter Horses, AQHA has successfully protected data related to the registration, ownership and membership records of millions of American Quarter Horses and hundreds of thousands of AQHA members since 1940. AQHA wishes to maintain the multi-decade relationship with DQHA as a daughter studbook and in alignment with its obligations as an AQHA affiliate.”

History About the Studbook of Origin

In the spring of 2018, in response to request by several of its European affiliates, AQHA took the steps to list its breeding program (rules of registration) with the European Commission. This was completed in alignment with the EU law that went into place on November 1, 2018. Among other things, this iteration of EU law included clearer guidelines regarding studbooks of origin that exist outside of the EU. While EU law does not govern studbooks of origin outside of the EU, it does govern breeding societies within the EU that operate as daughter studbooks of such studbooks of origin.

Under a previous iteration of EU law, DQHA made application to its competent authority in Bavaria as a studbook of origin for the American Quarter Horse. Despite the fact that AQHA had an established breeding program for the American Quarter Horse and was the holder of the historical records for the breed, thus making it the studbook of origin, the Bavarian competent authority approved DQHA’s application as a studbook of origin. As a result, there were two breeding societies that were concurrently making claim to studbook of origin status for the American Quarter Horse: AQHA and DQHA. DQHA’s breeding program, which includes additional standards and sections of its studbook, creates a standard for the American Quarter Horse that is different than that laid out by AQHA. Should DQHA’s breeding program continue to exist as a studbook of origin, it would change the standard of the breed, ultimately creating a different breed.

Over the past several years, AQHA has made multiple attempts to resolve this situation by seeking clarity on EU law. While AQHA participated in meetings with the European Commission, as well as DQHA in January 2019, the meeting on January 27, 2020, represented the first time all three parties met as a group and were able to receive the same information from European Commission authorities. Key points shared by the European Commission authorities include the following:

  • Regarding Studbooks of Origin: The terms “studbook of origin” and “mother studbook” are used interchangeably.
  • The EU does not list or make declaration of studbook of origin status.
  • Studbook of origin is defined by EU law as the establisher of the breeding program and holder of historical registration record for a particular breed.
  • It is the role of a breeding society in the EU to make application to its competent authority as a daughter studbook (operating under the principles of an established breed studbook) or as a mother studbook (establishing the breeding program for a new breed).
  • It is the role of the competent authority to deny applications for a mother studbook, if another breeding society within or outside of the EU is operating a breeding program for the same breed.

  • Regarding the American Quarter Horse:The Bavarian competent authority approved DQHA’s application as mother studbook for the American Quarter Horse, despite AQHA having operated a breeding program for the breed since 1940.
  • To resolve, the European Commission indicated two possible paths forward for DQHA:Reapply to the Bavarian competent authority as a daughter studbook of AQHA.
  • Reapply to the Bavarian competent authority as a mother studbook for a new breed named differently than the American Quarter Horse.

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