Though the sport of trotting had been under way in New Zealand for some time prior to 1896, it was not until July of that year that some overall control was set up at a meeting held at Wellington. Out of this came the decision to draw up a set of rules for the whole country. The meeting also decided that there should be two associations – one for the South Island and one for the North Island. The associations were replaced in 1899 by the New Zealand Trotting Association, whose nine members were elected by the affiliated clubs. This one association remained in force until 1950, when it was abolished, its duties being taken over by the New Zealand Trotting Conference, which, prior to that time, had been more of an administrative and legislative body.
Thanks to the early studmasters and breeders of trotting horses, some well bred stallions and mares were imported from America. These greatly improved the stamina and speed of the country's horses. In 1882 Robt. Wilkin imported the stallions Berlin and Blackwood Abdallah and the mares Blue Grass Belle, Fannie Belle, Jeanie Tracey, Messenger Maid, Queen Emma, and Woodburn Maid. These mares later passed to other breeders and many were foundation mares for their studs. A year or two later John Kerr, of Nelson, also imported several horses from America. Other studmasters followed this practice and most of the Dominion's horses can be traced to this early stock.