4 July 2014, France ~ The recent announcement of the sale to private parties of some of the last stallions from the historic French National Stud seemed like the final nail in the last horseshoe of a 300+ year-old model—that was working.
The continued sell-off of stallions from pedigrees that served the French Cavalry, won tournaments of endurance and stamina, were tested for speed and came out champions, and became the backbone of the breeding industry of France, has been cause for alarm in the French breeding industry.
In a last-minute effort to save the remaining horses, a proposal to the Minister of Agriculture has been made to continue the genetic legacy that has been nurtured for over three centuries. A group of top officials have penciled a recommendation that would not sell, but would lease stallions of the National Stud, leaving them under the ownership of the people of France. This proposal is on the table and is awaiting offers from qualified breeders, according to the French news agency.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Controller General of Finance under Louis XIV, founded the Stud institution in 1665 in order to ensure the standard of stallions used mainly for French cavalry remounts at that time. Making the stallions available to breeders encouraged the production of horses so badly needed. The Studs were reorganized in 1806 by Napoleon with the same objective, e.g.— the production of horses for military campaigns. In 1874 the name became “Haras Nationaux” (National Stud Department) and policies were adapted according to the demands of the changing needs for horses in France: support and incentive to production for military purposes, then production of horses for farming and industry after the First World War (1914-1918), and, finally, horse breeding for sport and leisure activities.
At one high point, the National Stud provided:
*20 Stud farms for breeding and promotion of horse-culture
*110 technical centers for local assistance to breeders and owners
*800 stallions including those for racing, sport and leisure, draught, ponies and donkeys
*a database with technical and economic information
*a study and training centre for horse-related employment
The National Stud works under the provenance of the Ministry of Agriculture and is funded through the State budget. It was re-organized as a public establishment in 1999 and is managed by a Board of professionals from the horse sector.
In the last few years, funding issues have led to the closure of many of the Studs, and horses have been sold and transferred to the private sector.
~end Pamela Burton