Poland’s incomparable Arabian horse breeding program has been recognized as a national treasure — but recent political moves leave the breed’s future in doubt. Shya Beth details the controversy.
The history of the Arabian horse in Poland traces back to the sixteenth century, most notably building itself back into a position of global dominance through the World Wars. An estimated 89% of Poland’s Arabian broodmares were lost in World War II alone. (For more history on the Polish Arabian, click here.) The Arabian horse has become such a fixture in Poland that three official State Studs were established at Janów Podlaski, Michałów and Białka, as well as multiple private stud operations around the country. The State Studs are managed by civil service directors, non-political positions within the Polish government.
A new government was recently elected in Poland and passed a new law allowing more than 1,600 civil service directors to be fired and replaced. The World Arabian Horse Organisation (or WAHO) president Peter Pond originally stated that he hoped the change would not affect the Arabian State Studs, “which have always been protected by Poland’s previous governments, whatever their politics, as they were considered as National Treasures because of their importance to the nation as a whole.”
Unfortunately on February 19, Mrs. Anna Stojanowska (Inspector of Horse Breeding at the Agricultural State Property Agency), Dr. Marek Trela (Director of Janów Podlaski Stud and WAHO Vice-President) and Mr. Jerzy Białobok (Director of Michałów Stud) were fired from their posts. Since then, there has been numerous protests and campaigns for them to return to their work.
The Agricultural State Property Agency (ANR) has appointed new officers at both Janów Podlaski and Michałów to take over the management. According the the President of the WAHO, “from available information neither appears to have the level of experience necessary for such an important task. We believe that the safe future of these iconic State Studs with their long history and continuity of breeding has been put at risk.
“Allowing inexperienced people to take the many and important decisions which are necessary for the successful and sound future of these world-famous establishments could, without a doubt, lead to the rapid and serious diminishing of their present high standards.”
Pond has written letters to many of the high-standing directors, including Poland’s president Andrzej Duda, Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydło, Minister of Agriculture Krzysztof Jurgiel and others.
“This potential loss of such an invaluable and unique heritage – the great National Treasures that are the Polish Arabians of which the Polish people are so rightfully proud and which have been nurtured for so long – is unthinkable to the international community of WAHO.
“We respectfully urge that your due consideration be given to allowing Dr. Marek Trela, Mr. Jerzy Białobok and Mrs. Anna Stojanowska the opportunity to return to their posts, in order to be able to pass on their wealth of expert knowledge to their successors in an orderly and timely fashion, as has always been the case through the long and illustrious history of Arabian horse breeding in Poland.”
The future of these precious Polish Arabians rest now in the public and the Government’s hands. Maybe, with enough letters written, petitions signed and protests carried out, the public can change the future for these horses who have called Poland their home for generations.
To see and sign the petition, go here.
Check out The Flying Shetlands, a blog by equine artist and rider Shya Beth. Her mission is to showcase and highlight unique and exceptional equine art and artists across the globe. Growing daily, The Flying Shetlands has new articles every Tuesday and Friday. It is also the founder of the first ever #EquineArtHour on Twitter for equine artists along with art and equine enthusiasts to share their work and interact with each other for an hour every Sunday, 4-5 p.m. See the official page here.