Three day eventing is a sport that places large physical demands on the equine athlete and is a considerable export earner. However there are no published data concerning the size or scope of the New Zealand event horse production system. Quantification of the current production system is important for development of animal breeding programmes and the minimisation of wastage. Retrospective data were obtained from the Equestrian Sports New Zealand horse and rider databases for the 1994/95 to 2000/2001 competition seasons. Basic descriptive statistics were used to describe the horse population. The competitive life of horses registered for the sport of eventing was tested using survival analysis (Kaplan-Meier). Log rank test was used to test the effects of age, sex, breed, horse grade and rider level on survival. In the 1994/95 season 1612 horses were registered for eventing (5% in advanced, 15% intermediate and 81% in novice grades). Mean horse age was 9.7 ± 3 years and 75% of the horses were geldings. Thirteen breed categories were identified, most horses being either Thoroughbred (46.2%) or unrecorded (43%). Only 56% of the horses registered in the 1994/95 season were still registered six years later. There was no effect of sex, breed, or rider level on survival. Advanced and novice horses had poorer cumulative survival than intermediate horses (40%, 55%, and 64% respectively; log rank 12.06, P < 0.001). Not unexpectedly, survival was related to age with horses aged >10 years in the 1994/95 season having a lower cumulative survival (47%) than horses aged < 6 years (60%) or aged 7-10 years (63%) (log rank 25.15, P < 0.01). It appears that novice horses leave the system because of sale or lack of talent. The greater relative loss of advanced horses may reflect either the age of the horses once they reach advanced grade, or possibly the relentless work associated with training and competition. Further prospective study is required to quantify the reasons for loss in the various age and grade categories. KEYWORDS: horse; event horse; wastage; industry structure.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 372-377, 2005
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