In Italy, all horse breeding concerns are under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture (Ministero per le Politiche Agricole) and are therefore regulated uniformly on a national level. In order to devise and carry out necessary measures and steps, the Ministry of Agriculture relies upon different organisations and entities whose focus lies on breeding or sports.
Italian associations of equestrian sports
- U.N.I.R.E. (Unione Nazionale Incremento Razze Equine) – National Horse Breeding Union: Italian umbrella association of horse breeding and equestrian sports - F.I.S.E. (Federazione Italiana Sport equestri) – Italian Equestrian Sports Federation - C.O.N.I. (Comitato olimpico nazionale Italiano) – Italian National Olympic Committee - F.I.T.E.TREC – ANTE – Italian Federation of Equestrian Tourism and Cross-country Riding
Italian breeders associations
- U.N.I.R.E. (Unione Nazionale Incremento Razze Equine) – National Horse Breeding Union: Italian umbrella association of horse breeding and equestrian sports - A.I.A. (Associazione Italiana Allevatori) – Italian Breeders Association: umbrella association of Italian breeders - A.N.A. (Associazione nazionale di Razza) - National Breed Association: umbrella organisation of Italian breed associations - A.P.A. (Associazione provinciale Allevatori) – Breeders associations on national and provincial level
Framework for Haflinger breeding in Italy
The National Association of Haflinger Horse Breeders (A.N.A.C.R.HA.I.) is in charge of the Haflinger breed herd book. The National Association is a member of the A.I.A. and acts in accordance with the guidelines and specifications given by the U.N.I.R.E. and A.I.A. The breeders associations on national and provincial level are members of the National Association. Individual breeders in turn are members of the breeders associations on national and provincial level. The Provincial Federation of South Tyrol Haflinger Horse Breeders is one of the 36 members of the National Haflinger Horse Breeders Association and constitutes approximately 40% of the entire member population on a national level.
Technical standards regulate the breeding of Haflinger horses. In these specifications, the breeding objectives and the requirements for registration in the herd book are established and recorded.
Only selected stallions may be used for covering. Furthermore, the stallion needs to be healthy and the covering station must have the required authorisations.
After the covering, the owner of the stud or the staff in charge at the covering station must fill in the covering form, which will be handed to the owner of the mare. Choosing the right stud is an important task, in which the breeder needs to bear in mind a whole lot of criteria for distinction. The Provincial Federation of South Tyrol Haflinger Horse Breeders offers valuable support and advice in order to enable the breeder to make a well-reflected choice. Breeders will find numerous experts' articles and contributions on the topic of breeding and genetics in the journal published regularly by the Federation entitled Haflinger Info (available in German and Italian).
Notification of birth
After foaling, notification of birth must be given to the corresponding herd book station within a maximum period of 10 days. This communication must indicate the date of birth, sex and name of the foal. The name of colts must begin with the initial letter of the sire's name. In accordance with the blood lines, the letters are A, B, M, N, S, St and W (History). All of these lines can be traced back to the founder of the breed and first Haflinger, Folie 249. In fillies, the year of birth decides about their names. Fillies born in 2008 are given names with the initial letter "O".
Appraisal of foals
The appraisal of new foals is organised by the breeders associations on provincial level. An inspector responsible for the breed delegated by the National Association of Haflinger Horse Breeders identifies the new foal, after which it is enlisted in the foal register, provided that it meets the established breeding objectives and does not present any serious defects (Technical standards). After the registration, the foal is branded on the left thigh and at the same time tagged with a microchip in order to guarantee its identification. At the appraisal of new foals, the foal is presented alongside its dam. The horse's passport is also issued at this occasion.
Registry of mares
From a minimum age of 30 months, all young mares can be presented for evaluation. For this assay, the expert for the Haflinger breed relies on the linear evaluation scheme generally used in Italy and assesses the future breeding mare according to the following criteria: Type and nobility, harmony, limbs and positioning of legs, walk and trot. The criteria are laid out in the technical standards. In order to evaluate the above criteria, the mares are assessed in a standing position as well as walking and trotting both on a lead and running free. Upon entry in the mare's book, the young mares are branded with the edelweiss symbol on the left side of the neck. In accordance with the evaluations they received, the mares are then categorised in different classes of breeding value.
excellent: IA very good: IB good IIA+ good IIA satisfactory: IIB sufficient: III
The registry of mares is held every year in spring. The absolute highlight of the event is the line-up of mares with the highest evaluation and the award ceremony.
Selection of stallions
The evaluation of colts and subsequent registration in the breeding register is called selection of stallions. In Italy, all young stallions are evaluated at the National Selection of Haflinger Stallions, which takes place every year in autumn, in order to guarantee that all horses are assessed under the same and consistent conditions. This has now been the case for over 10 years. The colts are assessed in a standing position as well as in walking and trotting. Colts are also assessed while running free, which is the part of the presentation where the horses demonstrate their quality of gait. The evaluation of colts follows the principle of the evaluation of mares. The minimum grade required for entry in the breeding register is IIA.
The basis for the evaluation of a horse's breeding value used in Italian Haflinger breeding is the so called linear evaluation system. It is based on the Animal Model of the BLUP method, which is a calculation method allowing judges to assess animals as thoroughly as possible and thus compare the evaluated animals in a correct manner. Mares and colts are assessed at the same time. Information regarding well-known parents of the horse are also given during the presentation. This information is weighed according to the respective degree of relationship. The Index of the Total Breeding Value (IMT - Indice di Merito Totale) is an estimate of the genetic value of the animal based on established evaluation criteria. It is adapted every year and provides a basis for the different measures taken to improve the quality of breeding.
All colts and mares can be presented for a second evaluation. A breeder can apply for a horse to be evaluated for a second time if in his/her opinion the animal has significantly improved in terms of properties or qualities. A second evaluation is only possible once per horse. The inspector responsible for the breed records all applications for a second evaluation on a separate page in the horse's passport.
Selective breeding Programme
The programme for selective breeding is aimed at promoting the systematic breeding of the best studs with the best mares in the Italian Haflinger population. By doing so, the programme helps to reach the established breeding objectives in less time and also guarantees the conservation of rare blood lines.
At the moment, the programme comprises 500 mares and 50 studs. The selection is based on specifications given by the Central Commission for Breeding.