The International Stud Book Committee (ISBC) first
met in October 1976 and
did so as a Conference not the Committee which it later became.
What could have brought about this momentous gathering? An examination of the records of the Tenth International Conference of Racing Authorities (Paris Conference) and the notes of the ISBC proceedings indicates that procedural and policy differences and unresolved issues between Stud Book Authorities around the world were becoming a barrier to free and effective movement of horses.
These differences involved subjects which required special expertise and the Paris Conference, whilst not the appropriate forum for their discussion, was becoming embroiled in trying to resolve them. Thus the Paris Conference suggested to the major Stud Book Authorities that they should meet to find a better way to tackle and resolve these problems. An effective means of communication and decision making amongst Stud Book Authorities was urgently needed.
Stud Book Authorities had spent decades if not centuries in relatively insular pursuit of their task of accurately recording and publishing details of all thoroughbreds. The growing movement of racehorses and the breeding stock required a new consistent and modern approach and it was in 1976 and specifically, the formation of ISBC, which saw positive steps taken to tackle this requirement.
EVOLUTION OF POLICY
Weatherbys and their then Chairman, Christopher Weatherby, were asked by the 1976 Paris Conference to organise the first gathering took place on October 21st 1976. Immediate progress was made. The minutes of this gathering record that it was decided to:
The early years of operation were not without difficulty, even some tension, as the different approaches and practices of the major Stud Book Authorities, which had built up over centuries, were tackled and reconciled.
When studying the minutes of those first years, one can record that these early challenging times taught the ISBC some lessons which still guide the conduct today. Records indicate that the members accepted, over time, that:
Importantly in 1995 the maturity of the ISBC was further demonstrated when it agreed a Mission Statement which was and is as follows:
The mission of the International Stud Book Committee is to establish standards of Stud Book operation that will ensure the integrity and future development of the Thoroughbred breed and provide the foundation necessary for a healthy international Thoroughbred industry. To accomplish this mission, the Committee will:
- operating and maintaining a Thoroughbred Stud Book,
- breeding and identification of Thoroughbred horses,
- the movement of Thoroughbreds between Stud Book Authorities.
- Publication of foal crop information
- Sharing of pedigree information
MEMBERSHIP AND COMMUNICATION
The ISBC started its life as a Conference but by 1979 it had moved on to operate as a Committee. Interest in the forum in those early years grew rapidly and it was clear to the original membership that they needed to find an effective means of communicating with the many and varied Stud Book Authorities around the world.
But, the nature and complexities of the subjects on the agenda meant that convening a meeting attended by all the Stud Book Authorities of the world was an impractical proposition and would make decision making most difficult.
It was decided that a better approach would be to operate via an annual meeting of a limited membership of principal Authorities timed to convene prior to the Paris Conference and tasked with communicating to all other Stud Book Authorities through Area conferences.
This arrangement prevails today. The membership of the International Stud book Committee is therefore restricted and each member is charged with representing its Area of the globe and with liaising with all Stud Book Authorities in their Area. The members and the Areas they represent are as follows:
Great Britain & Ireland
European & Mediterranean
Southern & Central Africa
North America, Central America & Caribbean
Johnny Weatherby is the latest member of the Weatherby family to hold the Chair and Weatherbys also provide the Secretariat. Members contribute to the costs of operation on a per country basis, and meetings are held annually. In the past the meetings have all been in Britain but it is now planned that they should take place every other year in Britain and by rotation in other member countries in intervening years.
The area conference and communication channels bring 70 Stud Book Authorities together. These are interesting given their diversity. The great majority are now Approved Stud Books but a number have yet to achieve this status so remain in the emerging Stud Book category. These are shown with an asterix in the following list of countries under their Areas:
Trinidad & Tobago
Serbia & Montenegro*
Effective communication has been greatly enhanced by a comprehensive Internet web site which allows members to place papers, proposals and reports on the site for others to consider and view. Meeting agendas appear in full as of course do minutes. The site also provides an interactive 'chat room' for members to discuss issues and develop discussion between meetings.
The breadth of the subjects which the ISBC has tackled and the depth of discussion and analysis of them is impressive. In fact it now seems inconceivable that the Stud Book Authorities of the world did not meet annually prior to 1976. Any examination of the history of the ISBC would be woefully incomplete without showing a selection of the subjects which the ISBC has addressed. Some are constant entries on the annual agenda.
This is far from an exhaustive list of subjects tackled by ISBC merely an illustration. Other subjects addressed have been many and diverse of which the following is merely an illustration.
Naming issues including international protection of exceptional stallions and mares.
The ISBC members also provide other Stud Book authorities technical and practical Support whenever required. A good example concerns the diligent, patient and dedicated work carried out on behalf of the Russian Stud Book to deal with the major problem of the thousands of horses displaced during the Second World War whose documentation was lost. The ISBC Secretariat spent three years sifting through records and visiting relevant studs to take statements before resolving all the issues.
The emergence of racing and breeding as a truly international industry and sport has brought with it the need for its leaders and executives to maintain effective communication and a harmonised approach to administration. Only then can horses move freely without the risk of encountering frustrating bureaucratic barriers. The International Stud Book Committee came into existence to meet this challenge and is now firmly established as the body which oversees and co-ordinate the policies and practices of all Stud Book Authorities around the world.
It does of course work firmly alongside this organisation, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, working to ensure maximum commonality of approach amongst both Racing and Stud Book Authorities and will continue to do so. Its meetings will no doubt continue to take place before the IFHA meets in order that its proceedings and decisions can be recorded at the Paris Conference each year.
The ISBC will deal with all subjects which emerge to pose questions for Stud Book Authorities and it is already evident that scientific advances will bring new challenges. It is not too difficult to envisage that future ISBC agendas might include subjects such as :
Emerging Stud Book Authorities will be assisted and approved if they can meet the ISBC's exacting standards and there will be still greater use of the Internet for documentation transfer. Electronic publication of Stud Book records will be pursued if it continues to ease the path of the ever increasing number of thoroughbreds travelling the world.
Above all else the ISBC will continue to:
All the members of the ISBC have to be thanked for the tremendous contribution they have made over the years. Here we have the Members at Newmarket last week who worked extremely hard in the interest of the subject of all our efforts, the magnificent thoroughbred.
2002 ISBC meeting held at Newmarket