FIRST BREEDING CONFERENCE "Where lies the future of the Arabian horses in Poland"
The beautiful town house situated at the corner of Krakowskie Przedmieście and Plac Zamkowy in Warsaw hosted on September 11th, 2021 a breeding conference organized by the Pure Polish Arabian Society. The main objective of that conference was to find answers to the dilemma: where lies the future of the Arabian horses in Poland. Due to pandemic complications, the date of the event was delayed for almost ten months. Fortunately, all obstacles have now been overcome and the conference could take place at last. The House of Literature at Krakowskie Przedmieście 89 with its cosy conference hall provided a beautiful setting to be enjoyed by the participants of the conference while exchanging views on the past, present and future of the Arabian horses in Poland. The meeting held in the Art-Deco styled premises accentuated the connection existing between tradition and present day issues under discussion, as did the painting featuring a horse displayed at the logo of the Society. Miniature of the original picture, inspired by a 17th century print and painted by Michał Siemiński , a well-known artist, served as a beautiful and unique present offered to each and every participant of the conference.
A painting by the painter Michał Siemiński with the image of a Hussar horse, based on a drawing by Georg Eimart from 1678, photo: Hanna Sztuka
The assembled guests were greeted by Przemysław Sawicki, president of the Pure Polish Arabian Society, who thanked everyone for coming. Przemysław Sawicki also pointed out that his invitation was extended to all persons interested in the Arabian horses and their breeding, irrespective of political views held. He recalled that the Polish Arabian horses, stemming from purebred horses bred on the Polish soil for many centuries and ameliorated by desert blood, have been so unique that they were often called pure Polish. Drawing upon that concept, the Pure Polish Arabian Society undertakes efforts to preserve the brand of Polish Arabian horses and to maintain their identity denoted as “Pure Polish”. The term “Pure Polish” has gained worldwide recognition as synonymous to quality, beauty and bravery of Polish Arabian horses. Nowadays, the world breeding is dominated by new breeders with preference for show horses and race horses selected either for a specific type of beauty or for speed on racetrack. Faced with a threat of being absorbed by global fashion, the Polish Arabian horse, being “beautiful and brave” needs special care and attention. Przemysław Sawicki, president of the Pure Polish Arabian Society, stressed the need to support and promote native horse breeding by the Polish breeders themselves as well as all those for whom that heritage is important. In a final word he declared that the Pure Polish Arabian Society will be working to preserve and continue the tradition of the Polish Arabian horse breeding conducted in the studs of Eastern borderlands ever since 1778, as proven by historical documentation, and continued in the centuries to follow on the Polish lands. He also declared a return to the Breeding Program formulated in 1926 by the founders of the Arabian Horse Breeding Society and present day application of the principles underlying that that Program.
Conference participants, photo: Jarosław Sokołowski
With reference to the logo of the society and the picture displayed in the conference hall representing a 17th century hussar horse, Hanna Sztuka, the Secretary of the Society, presented the history and historical connotations of that representation, as well as the place of the hussar horse in the tradition of the Polish cavalry and horse breeding.
Krzysztof Jurgiel, deputy to the European Parliament, was one of those persons who accepted the invitation to participate in the conference. Given floor, the former Minister of Agriculture explained concisely the reasons necessitating changes in the state studs that took place in 2016. Additionally, Krzysztof Jurgiel offered the breeders his help and support in their efforts to develop the breeding of the Polish Arabian Horse and to promote the brand, including on the forum of the European Parliament.
Guest of the conference, MEP Krzysztof Jurgiel, photo: Jarosław Sokołowski
The agenda of the conference included several presentations, followed by discussion on the issued raised. Professor Wanda Olech-Piasecka from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences gave a presentation entitled “The management of horse population”. That presentation made the audience aware of certain genetic aspects of horse breeding, the importance of the breeding elite in improving the breed, as well as the traps and disappointments resulting from the use of commodity crossing. Professor Olech also pointed out that the practice of selling embryos is very harmful as viewed from the perspective of population genetics, because it eliminates the breeding elite. During the past twenty years, state studs have been selling embryos to the detriment of the breeding elite held there.
Due to links existing between the state owned breeding and private breeding, the situation of the state owned breeding is always important to the latter. Thus, the issue “Present and future of the state studs” was addressed by Tomasz Chalimoniuk, a person most apt to do so in his capacity of plenipotentiary of the Minister of Agriculture in charge of horse breeding in Poland. Tomasz Chalimoniuk showed statistical data illustrating the situation of the Arabian horse breeding in state studs. He also discussed the financial condition of the studs concerned and auction results. All these data proved as entirely wrong all theories that the state studs and state owned breeding are on the verge of destruction. This presentation gave rise to a very animated discussion among the participants of the conference upon the condition of horse breeding in Poland. Additionally, many questions were directed to the plenipotentiary. The discussion that ensued led to a commonly shared conclusion that the entire sector of horse breeding needs a new impulse. Considering the positive attitude of the present Minister of Agriculture, changes favouring horse breeding in Poland will be initiated, as Tomasz Chalimoniuk assured the audience.
Presentation by Tomasz Chalimoniuk, photo by Jarosław Sokołowski
In her presentation entitled “Breeding of the Arabian horses as Polish cultural heritage” , Hanna Sztuka discussed how important to our country and how dear to the hearts of Poles the Arabian horse really is. Using images of beautiful paintings by Polish artists such as January Suchodolski and Wojciech Kosszak, Hanna Sztuka told the history of the Polish Arabian horse breeding, so closely connected with the violent history of Poland. Destroyed by many wars ravaging our country, Arabian horse breeding was carefully rebuilt times and times again, each time progressing beyond the previous epoch. The presentation of Hanna Sztuka also related the story of the Polish state studs after the Second World War, where all the surviving Purebred Arabian mares and stallions were assembled. Simultaneously, a breeding program was introduced there, unique on a worldwide scale, based on the dam lines and sire lines cultivated since the end of the 18th century. One of the basic principles of that breeding program was an obligatory bravery trial on racetrack. After many years, private breeding was restituted using mares from state studs. Presently, the private breeding of Arabian horses represents a world level. Post war years, very successful to the Polish breeding, confirmed that the Polish Breeding Program build upon the experience and knowledge passed from generation to generation and based on a centuries long tradition of Arabian horse breeding on Polish land is unique and constitutes our cultural heritage.
Hanna Sztuka, photo: Jarosław Sokołowski
The Polish breeding is flooded with foreign sires, both in the case of show horses and races horses, but especially among race horses offspring of foreign sires dominate. Such a situation provokes questions about the identity of the Polish Arabian horse breeding. The problem was addressed by dr. Maciej Paweł Grzechnik in his presentation “ Is the Polish Arabian horse Pure Polish”, where he also defined the concept of the Polish Arabian horse called “Pure Polish”. A very important element of that definition, not mentioned earlier, is the obligatory bravery trial to be passed by the Polish Arabian horses. Obligatory bravery trial would distinguish the Polish Arabian horses from other and constitute a decisive factor in preserving the Polish type of the Arabian horses.
The last point of the conference was a meeting with the “creators of the legend” invited by the organizers, meaning former employees of Animex who witnessed the birth of the “Pure Polish” brand. Maciej Paweł Grzechnik moderated a debate on the “Origins of the Pure Polish brand” with Jerzy Milczarek, former manager of horse exports division and Marek Grzybowski, a well-known auctioneer. The exclusive character of that conversation enabled the audience to better understand the beginnings of international promotion of the “Pure Polish” brand, while the eminent guests imparted in a fascinating and colourful way their memories and views on the subject Last but not least, Jerzy Milczarek and Marek Grzybowski shared their opinions about the future of the Arabian horse breeding in Poland as seen from the perspective of their own knowledge and experience.
From the left, Maciej Grzechnik and special guests: Jerzy Milczarek and Marek Grzybowski, photo: Hanna Sztuka
The conference addressed many issues vitally important to the Arabian horse breeding in Poland. These issues not only constitute an obstacle to the development of breeding, but also create a problem of identity of that horse race in Poland. Solving these problems largely depends on the politicians and especially on the minister of agriculture. However, the breeders themselves can also influence the decisions made by people responsible for horse breeding in our country, as they possess a thorough consciousness of the needs and objectives of that sector. If that consciousness was raised among the participants through addressing chosen problems and discussing the issues raised, with a subsequent formulation of certain conclusions, then the conference fulfilled its goal.
After the conference, the participants and the invited guests could pursue their discussions during the Breeders’ Evening. Let the exquisite menu served and the important themes discussed remain a well-guarded secret of that evening.