Freshly back from two back to back visits to Germany, I wanted to highlight a few of the stallions I saw that might be of interest to eventing breeders.
The Germans are the current Olympic, World and European team gold medallists. Their victory in Normandy last year came on a Selle Francais (individual gold medallist Opgun Louvo) , a pair of German bred horses – Fisherrocana FST (individual silver medallist) and FRH Escada JS and the British bred Hop and Skip.
With the German registries starting to take more seriously the need to breed more ‘ultimate all rounders’ as mounts for their elite athletes, it is worth considering some of their stallions on offer.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it was on visits to both the Trakehner stallion gala and to the famous Trakehner stud – Gestut Horstein, that we saw stallions most suited to produce eventers. The Trakehner is the most closed of the warmblood registries, the only outcross blood they add is approved Thoroughbred or Arabian blood. The Trakehner is an elegant, responsive, modern stamp, which has been purpose bred as a riding horse for hundreds of years.
The high percentage of ‘blood’ in the breed is part of the reason the Trakehner can be so well suited to eventing. And it was on our visit to Gestut Horstein that we saw two particular examples of that. The first was the half-bred stallion Sky Walker. By the Thoroughbred stallion Beg, Sky Walker has a good rectangular frame that stands over a lot of ground, a well shaped hind end, and real expression and athleticism in his movement. Apart from the strong percentage of blood in his pedigree, Sky Walker’s immediate dam line has produced advanced level show jumpers and he is a grandson of international eventer Habicht, who himself sired the great Windfall.
The other stallion at Horstein that is so fascinating for eventing breeding is the Elite stallion Sixtus. This striking black horse is a direct son of Habicht and was an advanced show jumper himself and has one of the highest jumping indices of all Trakehner stallions. Absolutely fit , sound, supple and fertile at 26 years of age, Sixtus knows he is the main man at Horstein.
His own success in sport, combined with that of his offspring, resulted in him being awarded the Stallion of the Year title in 2001. His son Axis, after winning the best jumper title at his grading, went on to a career as a Grand Prix dressage horse, competing at the very highest level and I expect to see him at Rio in 2016. Axis passed on his jumping talent to many of his offspring including his son Hirtentanz, an International Show Jumper who is uniquely for a Trakehner, also approved with the Holstein Verband.
Another very famous Sixtus son is Buddenbrock, who is grand sire of Grand Prix star Imperio, and sire of another Elite stallion and Grand Prix performer in King Arthur. I would love to see more Sixtus offspring out of Thoroughbred mares, as I think the combination of movement, jumping ability, soundness and stamina would be a perfect blend for upper level eventing.
Trakehner Stallion Gala Show
Every Spring in Munster-Handorf, Trakehner breeders and enthusiasts come together to watch the Spring Stallion Approvals and the Stallion Show. The Spring Approvals is always a quieter affair than the main autumn licensing and gives a chance for the less mature colts and older stallions to be inspected.
In 2015 the breeding commission chose only to licence two Thoroughbred stallions. Although both of those stallions had some very positive points, I had other preferences later in the day. However the two newly approved stallion were the 5yo Asagao, a smaller compact horse who is already performance tested and has victories eventing at the equivalent of Novice level. He certainly looked very trainable and balanced. The second stallion was a much bigger and ranger horse, with very expressive movement called Lucarelli. This 9 year old only retired sound from racing last year and is a Listed winner. Although he had a very well set on shoulder and pleasing hind end conformation, he was a little long and weak across his back. I was especially impressed to see him presented under saddle going very pleasingly, a great testament to his trainability.
However it was an already approved stallion that was presented later in the day that caught the groups eye as an interesting prospect to use on eventing mares, and that was the chestnut Glucksruf. The best jumper of his licensing in 2011, he had lost none of the great balance and scope that highlighted his approval 4 years ago. He looked so rideable and adjustable and had a super walk. He has started his eventing career and also has won in dressage and show jumping classes. With his sire Dramatiker being an advanced level show jumper, and an important influence of jumping blood on the Trakehner breed, I will be watching Glucksruf’s progess with interest.
Away from Trakehners, a Hanoverian stallion that interests me is Licoto, a Thoroughbred stallion that stands at the State Stud at Celle. A good looking well-shaped stallion, he has produced a good Grand Prix horse in Licotus. Having seen some other descendants loose and under saddle, they strike me that they have the attributes to event, being very attractive, scopey-framed horses, with good reactions and ground-covering movements. What would be very interesting would be to see his warmblood daughters crossed back onto a good Thoroughbred sire, to bring the best elements of both.
Celle also stand a very interesting stallion that I think may be considered a dual purpose stallion as he matures. Viscount is a striking, compact and well-muscled stallion that combines the Dutch blood of his sire Valentino with the Holstein blood of Acorado. Valentino himself is known as a very good-moving horse with good elasticity and swing.
Viscount had a really good technique over his fences and combined with his above average movement, I can see why some well respected German eventing breeders are using him on their mares that have a good amount of thoroughbred blood.
The final horse I’d like to mention that stands at Celle is the 3yo Gentleman. The fact this young stallion is being produced by Olympic gold medallist Sandra Auffarth strongly indicates where the Stud see his future! A really complete package in terms of his paces, rideability and modern type. and from a good dual-purpose mother line, this young Grey Top son is worth taking a risk on!
That is a just a small selection of stallions I saw over the last few weeks and British eventing breeders have such a selection to choose from, both here in the UK and in mainland Europe. By knowing your mare’s attributes, knowing what your breeding goals are, and by doing your research, the odds can be stacked slightly more in your favour in the gambling game of breeding.