About the Equine Bridge

 

The purpose of the Equine Bridge is to support the transition of British-bred young horses into the sport. Centered on the equine athlete’s needs it brings together all stakeholders, riders, owners, breeders, trainers and the Olympic disciplines to identify and nurture talent.  British Breeding has expanded the scope of the project to provide additional ongoing opportunities for owners and breeders.

The Equine Bridge is an annual two-day “performance test” style event.

The Equine Bridge is open to horses and ponies aged 4 to 6 years, who have completed a BB Futurity evaluation as a 3, 4, or 5 year old and achieved a score of 8 or above and have demonstrated a level of ridden competence. 

The Equine Bridge provides opportunities and support for the equine athlete as they transition into the sport. 

 

The Healthy Equine Athlete

With the growing need to maintain a “social license to operate”, equines in sport can no longer be taken for granted and we must respond positively to the challenges and concerns over equine welfare in modern competition from within, and importantly, from outside the equestrian community.

The British Breeding Futurity and British Breeding Equine Bridge programmes support breeding and management of horses and ponies for longevity and soundness by collecting data and resources to improve future breeding decisions and by providing detailed professional veterinarian and allied professional feedback to optimise the management and production of young horses and ponies.

As part of the Equine Bridge programme, every horse or pony undergoes a detailed soundness and performance evaluation with our senior veterinarian and her team of allied professionals, comprising:

  • Evaluation under saddle
  • Evaluation in hand on the soft
  • Evaluation in hand on the hard

The allied professional team comprises an experienced master saddler, a master farrier and a qualified nutritionist, providing a holistic assessment of the horse or pony’s overall wellness, conformational traits, muscle development, saddle fit and foot balance.

 

Identifying Equine Talent

Conceived as a continuation of the British Breeding Futurity, the aim of the Bridge is to identify young horses and ponies who have the potential and talent to represent Great Britain at FEI level. Investing in the training and production of a young horse represents a significant economic commitment. By identifying horses and ponies not only with the ability to reach the highest levels in the sport, but with the constitution and longevity to stay successful at that level, the Bridge provides invaluable information for those seeking to invest their resources, from owners, to riders, to other stakeholders such as the Olympic disciplines.

The basic structure of the Bridge event is inspired by the German-style “performance test” for young horses, in that the candidates are observed by a team of highly experienced evaluators over several days and challenges to determine their individual abilities. Where the Bridge differs significantly from other performance tests is that it offers the detailed veterinarian and allied professional input described above, as well as an introduction to the benefits of technological and behavioural advances to facilitate horse care and management, aimed at supporting the key objectives of longevity and the promotion of equine health.

To determine the talent and potential of the Bridge candidates, the horses and ponies are presented in a two-day programme.

 

Programme Overview

Day 1:

45-minute training session with a senior discipline trainer with a proven track record in training horses to international Grand Prix and equivalent level.  In 2019 we had Yogi Breisner, Peter Storr and Corinne Bracken, all of whom provided excellent training input and experience. 

The trainers also provide verbal feedback to the evaluators and to the rider/owner/trainer of the horse, as well as a mark for trainability which will feed into the final rideability mark (1/3 of the total rideability mark).

45-minute veterinarian and allied professional evaluation session as set out above.

Ongoing: taster sessions with physio, sports psychologists, equine physio etc.

Evening Programme:

Presentations & Discussions, Dinner

 

Day 2:

Under saddle presentation with own rider completing a set programme

Under saddle presentation with test rider.  There is a test rider for each discipline with a proven track record in producing for and competing in the young horse classes at national or international level.  The test rider rides the horse on Day 2, observed by the evaluators who will be able to form a view of the horse’s ability and gaits with a different rider, and will be able to better compare abilities of different horses if presented under the same rider.

The test rider provides verbal feedback to the evaluators, as well as a rideability mark (1/3 of the total rideability mark). The test rider’s feedback will be passed on to the rider/breeder/owner/trainer of the horse.

Ongoing: taster sessions with physio, sports psychologists, equine physio etc.

 

The Pool of Equine Talent

The Bridge candidates have undergone qualification via the BB Futurity Programme and will have scored an overall mark of 8 or above (Gold Premium) as a 3, 4 or 5yo at one of the BB Futurity events. At the Futurity, 3-year-olds are presented in hand, 5-year-olds are presented under saddle, and 4-year-olds can be presented either in hand or under saddle.

New for 2020/21 is the additional requirement that Bridge horses must demonstrate sufficient ridden experience. To facilitate this, they must demonstrate either:

  • A Gold Premium at in-hand presentation at 3 and/or 4 years old at Futurity + a minimum of two outings at affiliated competitions in the relevant discipline
  • OR: A Gold Premium at ridden presentation at 4 and/or 5 years old at Futurity + a minimum of one outing at affiliated competitions in the relevant discipline
  • OR: 70% or above at the NexGen Young Horse Final at Hickstead + Futurity Evaluation at Hickstead at 4 or 5 years old

This is to ensure that horses arrive at the Bridge well prepared and able to complete the two-day assessment.

 

The Route into the Sport

The Equine Bridge programme seeks to provide meaningful support to riders, breeders and owners to ensure the Bridge horses fulfil their potential. We recognise that while the annual Bridge event itself provides excellent feedback and PR opportunities, and while the proposed ongoing activities to support optimised management and equine health are worthy, concrete financial support (or its equivalent) are necessary to facilitate the ongoing production of talented young horses.  We are therefore offering a bursary to the top scoring horse in each discipline of £2,000 to support further training and career development. 

 

“Ride British” Project

Our vision for the Bridge is to create a mechanism to fulfil the need to the industry to source the best horses for the best riders and to understand and overcome the impediments that are currently leading to good horses not fulfilling their potential, and talented riders being unable to find good horses in this country.

Riders and investors tell us that they need to be able to come to one place where they can see a good range of suitable horses to choose from for the future. The Equine Bridge provides an excellent opportunity by bringing together the best crop of young horses forward from the Futurity and putting them through a rigorous 2 day programme designed to provide reliable information about ability, soundness and rideability via its public, livestreamed events, webinars and public database, which provides pedigrees, linear profiles, evaluators’ comments, videos and photographs. All evaluations are carried out by an independent team of experts.

British Breeding invites all interested riders and investors to attend the Bridge to take advantage of the opportunities to meet the horses and their breeders.

British Breeding will publish a “catalogue” of equine Bridge candidates including pedigrees and relevant background information (such as previous Futurity scores and linear descriptions).


The Tim Holderness-Roddam Memorial Fund

Tim Holderness-Roddam was a great supporter of British Breeding and the sport of eventing.  A fund has been set up in his memory in order to raise funds to continue to support the further development of the top-scoring event horse in the British Breeding Equine Bridge.  100% of the fund will be used to provide a bursary towards further training for the top event horse.  To donate, visit our Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/british-breeding




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