A uniques aspect of the European Brabant in America is the focus on verifiable European Brabant blood. The European Brabant Registry of America uses a percent system to measure how much of a horse is genetically European Brabant and how much is contributed by other draft breeds. High percentage horses in America are characteristically and aesthetically much like their full-blooded counterparts in Europe. On the other hand, a 50% European Brabant Stock horse, whose sire is European Brabant and whose dam is a draft mare of unknown origin, will likely have physical and behavioral traits echoing both parents. Thus, a horse’s European Brabant likeness is directly correlated with its percentage of European Brabant heritage. The higher the percentage, the truer to European Brabant type.
To understand the concept of percentages, let's evaluate horse together. We’ll call this mock horse Daisy. To determine Daisy’s percentage, we must look at her sire and dam as well as her grandsires and granddams. First, we’ll start with her sire, Jake, and then look at her dam, Star. Jake’s sire is Judd, a 100% European Brabant stallion, and Jake’s dam is Jenn, a 100% European Brabant mare. Since Jake is genetically half (50%) of his sire, Judd, and half (50%) his dam, Jenn, Jake would be considered 100% European Brabant. Now let’s look at Daisy’s dam, Star. Star is sired Sunny, a 100% European Brabant stallion, and Star’s dam, Sara, is a 0% draft broodmare of unknown origin. Since Star is genetically half (50%) of each parent, we simply take half of her sire, Sunny, who is a 100%, and half her dam, Sara, who is 0% and add those percentages together. In short, 50% Sunny + 0% Sara = 50% Star. Star is a 50% European Brabant. Knowing Daisy is half (50%) of each parent, we simply take half of her sire, Jake, who is a 100%, and half her dam, Star, who is 50% and add those percentages together. So, 50% Jake + 25% Star = 75% Daisy. Thus, Daisy is a 75% European Brabant. Another way to look at it is through this mathematical equation.
Another way to look at it is through this mathematical equation:
This calculation can be carried out for additional generations, with each generation further back in the pedigree contributing half of the genetic makeup of the next generation. As one looks at a horse’s pedigree, they can quickly determine the percent of blood that a given ancestor contributes to a horse based on which generation they appear in the pedigree.
The contributions of each generation are as follows:
Let’s say Daisy is bred to a 94% European Brabant stallion named Diego. Their offspring will be 50% Daisy and 50% Diego. Since Daisy is 75% and Diego is 94%, that pairing would result in an 84.5% horse. If Daisy is bred to a 100% stallion, that baby would be 87.5%.
There are cases where a horse’s parents are not registered, or perhaps do not have documentation to prove their European Brabant percentages. In those cases, more work is required to trace the pedigree and determine which ancestors are European Brabant horses and how much genetic contribution they’ve made. The easiest way to do this is take a copy of the pedigree and study which horses are European Brabants imported since 1965, then calculate the contribution those ancestors made to the horse’s genetic profile.
Continuing our hypothetical horse, Daisy, let’s explore the pedigree tracing scenario. Perhaps one day, Daisy is bred to an older stallion named Dusty, whose paperwork was lost sometime during ownership transfers. The current stallion owners provide the European Brabant Registry of America with the previous known owners of Dusty, and they in turn share his lineage through a pedigree affidavit. From there, Dusty’s percentage can be calculated and confirmed, and in so doing, his and Daisy’s offspring can also be determined. We’ll name their foal Daphne.
Again, as we consider Daphne’s pedigree, it’s important to remember the percentages annotated on her chart reflect European Brabant heritage only. Therefore, a percentage of her blood coming from non-European Brabant ancestors – 15% of Daphne’s genetic make-up is draft horses of unknown origin.
While the system of tracking a horse’s European Brabant percentage may seem cumbersome, or at times arbitrary, the calculations are based on sound principles of inheritance. These are calculations anyone can perform when researching horses, but it is critical to keep a few things in mind.
The European Brabant Registry of America has the final say on determining the European Brabant percentage of a specific horse. The registry reviews are more in-depth than those performed by prospective buyers or breeders and may reveal anomalies that were not noted in a quick pedigree analysis.
Other European Brabant heritage registries such the American Brabant Association, a new draft breed in the USA, has slightly different rules for determining which European breeds are recognized as 100% purebred imports, therefore the same horse may have two different percentage ratings depending on the organization with which it is registered. It is important to review the European Brabant Registry of America’s recognized breeds list to best know how the percentage assignment will be impacted.
Understanding the foundations behind the calculations will help breeders develop a “Breed Up” strategy to produce higher-percentage European Brabant horses. As the number of registered and documented horses grows, the process of percentage calculations will become simpler. Parents will have known percentages, which may be averaged easily.
The EBRA acknowledges some registries admit animals that are 87.5% as purebred, however the minimum requirement of 94%, or 15/16, reflects the Registry’s high standards and expectations for what is deemed purebred European Brabant. A horse that is 93.75% will be rounded up and eligible for inclusion only after the evaluation process. No other exceptions will be made. As the population of purebred European Brabants grows, the EBRA reserves the right to raise the minimum percentage requirement for purebred status.
The Breed Up Program is completely voluntary and >93.75% horses may remain in the European Brabant Stock Studbook at the owner’s discretion. Those horse owners who wish to “Breed Up” their horses to the premier European Brabant Studbook may do so when the horse reaches a minimum of 24 months of age. It should be noted, the Registry encourages horse owners to wait until the animal is >36 months to ensure the most accurate evaluation.
Horses who are >93.75% and >24 months old may apply for European Brabant Studbook registration and undergo the Breed Standard Evaluation process straight away, while horses who are >94% and <24 months will be registered within the European Brabant Stock studbook until they are old enough for evaluation.
A full color panel test is required for all Breed Up Program applicants prior to evaluation. Horses who carry a dilute color or color spotting pattern gene will be disqualified and designated as a European Brabant Stock horse. If the applicant’s progenitors have been color tested and are negative for dilute color or color spotting pattern genes, no testing is required.
All >93.75% European Brabant Studbook eligible offspring from QM status European Brabant Stock Studbook mares and European Brabant Studbook registered stallions will not be subjected to the evaluation to achieve purebred European Brabant status.