Horses - a living heritage
For centuries horses were bred to match the pattern of human needs: for transport, for agriculture, for military purposes or as partners in sport and leisure. The national studs document in a specific and unique way the social development of European history - the horse, as engine and companion, was a factor in the lives of everyone for countless centuries. The historic horse studs continue to preserve and cultivate the living heritage which is evoked by the powerful term "horse". Moreover, by ensuring the survival of less popular and endangered breeds the national studs make an important contribution to the preservation of biological diversity.
Historic stud premises
With their historic building ensembles and associated cultural landscapes the state studs are of outstanding cultural importance. Yet they have been comparatively little studied and their profile is less high than it should be. The architecture of the studs is characterized by a strong emphasis on functionality while, at the same time, those rulers and others who established the studs gave them an equally strong representative role. The large studs document a special way of life, characterised by the intensive cohabitation of humans and animals. Last but not least, a significant portion of their heritage value lies in the continuity of their use.
Tradition and knowledge
Not only the horse itself, but also knowledge of its requirements, its breeding and its formation to fulfil roles in the lives of men, represents immaterial heritage of high significance. Over centuries the state studs managed - almost miraculously during the century of the motor car and the aircraft - to preserve traditions and professions that elsewhere have disappeared. They are places of horsemanship developed and refined over many generations aiming at harmony between men and horse.
A Voice in Europe
The national studs of Europe are important stewards of tradition and history, but they are also modern enterprises and educational institutions. They are living heritage sites, yet with urgent contemporary tasks. They need policies and principles of sustainable development which recognise their traditional values and specific characters. Due to changing ways of life, including social and economic factors, many of these unique institutions were in the past dissolved, strongly limited in their roles or used for purposes other than intended. It is imperative that we reverse these trends in the face of contemporary needs and opportunities.
Since 2003 the Directors of the European state studs have met annually to share experiences, discuss common problems and develop strategies to solve them. In 2008 they decided to establish an official organisation, the "European State Studs Association" (ESSA). With the adoption of statutes the previously loose network of studs became an official representation and voice in Europe. In 2009 ESSA was officially registered in Germany. The seat of the association is the Principal and Federal Stud of Marbach, located in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany.
ESSA campaigns for the preservation of the European state studs' heritage. To share experience and knowledge, the ESSA partner studs cooperate in different fields:
- Education and Training
- Marketing and Tourism
- Modernising of stud administration
- European Law
- Research in breeding and welfare of the horse
- Exchange of genetic material, especially with regards to sport horses and endangered breeds