Tom Passmore attended the British Stallion event for E-Venting and here are his thoughts of the day.
Having followed this event since its inception, it’s great to see it grow and develop into such a useful and important tool for British breeding. This year was held at Bury Farm in Buckinghamshire and all praise to the organisers and venue team for producing an educational and professional day. The venue itself provided comfortable facilities, plenty of seating, good food, and it was easy to find our way around all aspects of the event; stables, trade stands, bathrooms and cafeteria. The only thing we found that could have been better was that stallions stationed in the second stable block needed more light to see their brilliance, maybe a sign of the popularity of the show that not all the stallions entered could be housed in the top barn? The dedication of the organisers was evident in the clear and concise structure of the day, with great commentary, particularly apt trade stands and plenty of information at our fingertips!
There was certainly something for everyone present, with a vast array of stallions from the pint-sized to the massive mega-stars! A focal point of thought that must be considered though, is who is breeding and for what purpose? And following on from this, is the mare in question a suitable breeding option? Professionals will all know their starting point (the mares), their aims (the foals) and the market open to their aims (sales). For amateur breeders however, it is more often a case of the heart ruling the head, which is absolutely fine if the product is to remain in the family, but needs careful consideration if it is destined for the sale ring!
So you’ve decided that your mare is worthy and will bring great qualities to a foal, this event provides the vital next step – insight and options into choosing a worthy husband, whatever your personal preferences! There are stallions to improve speed and stamina, movement, jump, conformation, size and temperament, bone, brain and colour, in some cases all of the above! We were particularly delighted that each individual stallion displayed great indications of what he could bring to the party. But was also glaringly aware, as we listened to comments around us, that everyone sees through different eyes, so if you are thinking of breeding your own mare then make sure you see the stallions for yourself!
We were looking from a viewpoint of two very different mares, an ex-race mare who evented successfully at Novice level BE, and a very sharp young pony mare with international potential (if she can focus long enough!).
First in was KYZYL Double or Quits, an Anglo-Teke stallion bringing so much athleticism, speed and stamina via his TB and Akhal-Teke pedigree. A rather green, erratic display, due mainly to this being his first time in such an environment, ruled him out for our mares, but he was athletic on the flat and over a fence that he could certainly bring some life to a rather plain mare!
Opposition Bombshell has some famous relatives that must make him an interesting option. He gave a pleasing show on the flat, balanced and rhythmical but not excessively flashy.
Up with the Lark is an advanced event stallion, with both parents also advanced horses, you cannot overlook him as an eventer. He is a great moving horse for one with so much TB, which coupled with his good looks, could make him a worthy show sire also? We felt he was better presented this year, a little less body condition.
It was fabulous to see that at 22yrs, Ramiro B retains all his athleticism and character. Movement to bring dressage to event breeding with lovely light suspension, proven jump pedigree and offspring leaves little doubt that he is an exciting stallion for blood type mares. Sadly for us, he is a touch small and rectangular for our TB mare.
Amiro Z came over from Germany specially to show us what he can offer and he did not disappoint! The epitome of elasticity, a springy warmblood despite the 70% TB blood, with a truly super jump and very careful. It will be interesting to see his foals out of British event mares in the future. He will be available in the UK in 2016 via Stallion AI Services and it is thanks to Lorna Wilson of Elite Stallions that we are privileged to meet him here today.
Ardbear Spirit was a delight. A lovely kind looking pony stallion that was neat and correct in every way. Unlikely to produce the next Olympic Gold in eventing, but has the potential to sire so many horses and ponies that will make a lot of people very happy and sometimes its not just about breeding the elite horse that only 5% of the population can ride.
Exclusive arrived on the back of a break from work and he appeared very fresh and very well. Ridden on the flat by Emily Llewellyn, he has lovely paces which are clearly a huge asset, but we would have liked to see him jump and view his attitude over fences. Exclusive had an excellent season at 1* last year and it will be interesting to see him go 2* this season with the increased demands of speed and endurance because he is only 46% TB.
For coloured lovers out there, the Jumbo son, Free Spirit II, rounded up the section for event stallions. An established and rhythmical ride on the flat, correct and straight with a consistent contact, he struck us as being a good all-round, even tempered stallion that would breed for the show ring and give amateur riders a nice horse.
Overall the eventing stallions on offer were disappointing but its a hard area to get right with the influx of more and more showjumping lines into eventing. What is clear is that blood is still required in modern eventing and 70% is the golden number, so this should be a careful consideration for those breeding an eventer.
We were also keen to scrutinise the stallions presented in the show jumping section to see if there was anything they could bring to event mares. Of particular interest was FHS Diamond in the Rough, with his TB dam and SJ sire, on paper he is an interesting event sire in our eyes. But when he entered the ring with all the panache and suspension of a warmblood, he certainly didn’t look out of place amongst the jumpers. He was a bit too fresh and cheeky on the day but clearly talented enough to show off! Having evented to Novice level, his owner Maddy Gardner, decided to re-focus his career toward show jumping as he was proving very careful over his fences. A true athlete with all the moves and attitude. He was one of our personal top picks of the day!
Second of intrigue was the flashy chestnut, Espen R, whose dual purpose pedigree caught the eye for use with our TB mare. Super elevated movement for the dressage phase, neat and efficient over a fence and a real work ethic, he didn’t falter once, rhythm, balance and focus. A type of stallion to suit a multitude of mares, sadly by the time we reached his stable to meet him up close and personal, he had gone home already.
Another to do no wrong, in our eyes, was Sandro Boy Z, by the great Sandro Boy and out of a Welt As (Weltmeister) mare. Very easy tempered and put on an effortless, careful jumping display. He is a more compact stallion, less blood in type than you would usually look for in an event sire.
The other two to tick boxes for us were: The tiny rubber ball, Balou Star, who moves and jumps with power and lightning reflexes, a definite refiner for large framed, slow brained mares. Also, the opposite in type, NPS Supernova, was as big as Balou Star is small, but moved and jumped with the same athletic desire and loose, soft paces. He also showed his exceptional nature, taking in the atmosphere, belying his tender age.
The jumper that must be mentioned is The Stallion Company and Michael Whittaker’s Valmy de la Lande, the sensational grey showed us that the sky is his limit, if you are looking for jump, check out this horse.
The dressage stallions showed everyone the importance of production and presentation, the Woodlander stallions looked exquisite and the Danish stallions, here again courtesy of Elite Stallions, blew everything else out of the water with their spectacular movement – Don Deluxe was auctioned for almost a million euro following his 2013 Oldenburg Champion title.
There has to be questions about long term soundness with such flashy moving horses and I will be interested to see if there are two distinct types of dressage horses being bred – flashy auction toppers and those who actually produce the goods for Grand Prix?
This video adds an interesting perspective to the debate especially for long term soundness.