Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holsteiner Licensing, 2015

Last month, in October, I attended my first Holsteiner stallion licensing and auction. I was both surprised and pleased by what I saw. I had not expected the quality of movement that the stallions displayed, clinging I suppose to the old idea that Holsteiners are for jumping, and not so much for dressage. However, most of the stallions I observed were very good-moving. Stallions like Contendro I and Diarado, respected as dual purpose stallions both in terms of their own and their offspring's ability, seem to be more common nowadays. Based on what I saw at the approval, more like them will become available in the future. Gone are the days when a breeder used Holsteiners only for their jumping capacity. Using modern, dual purpose Holsteiners to inject performance blood without diminishing movement is also an exciting opportunity for dressage breeders.
I was very impressed by the strong type, and couldn't help wondering how a population with a studbook that is relatively closed and so linebred to the C and L-lines remains so vigorous, strong  and athletic. The athleticism is palpable. Maybe someone more astute in the bloodlines of Holsteiners could tell me this secret. I also noticed that the Landgraf I line seems to be receding back in pedigrees, but the Cor de la Breyer line is still prevalent closer up.
Cascadello I (Casall / Lavall I), had the best performance as a sire at the licensing. He had the most sons present, four, and of those three were approved, two were premium, with his son Charleston named Siegerhengst (champion). This guy was a crowd favorite due to his uphill movements, great jumping ability and enormous charisma. He topped the auction at 300,000 euros. 

My personal favorite of the licensing was the Casall son, Central Park, who ended up as vice champion stallion. Top jumping capacity and spacious movement combined with a noble beauty garnered a 100,000 euro auction price. The Casalls were overall quite impressive. 
The licensing committee is not too generous with their premium awards and there were a lot of very nice stallions who did not get approved. Perhaps this accounts for the overall uniformity and quality of the presented horses. 
The dressage stallions presented were quite interesting and an Ampere / Lorentin I son, Alsandair, was approved and sold for 55,000 euros. DeVille, by De Niro / Linaro, was not approved but was a very nice stallion. Another dressage stallion that was not licensed, Kracker by Krack C / Accord II, was a great favorite with the crowd. Tocanto, by Totilas / Canturo, another crowd favorite was licensed. None of the dressage-bred stallions achieved premium status. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Visit to Katrinelund

Whenever I go to Denmark for a stay with my friend Jytte Jarl, one of the founding members of Dansk Varmblood, I also have a visit with her neighbor Ib Kirk. His stallion station, breeding farm and training center, Katrinelund is right next door. Ib Kirk is one of the nicest guys in the sport horse business, not to mention a first class horseman. Not only is he welcoming to visitors, he loves to show them around and talk about the horses. He takes time out from his busy day to guide visitors on a lengthy tour of his farm. He talks about the stallions at length, mentioning both their strengths and shortcomings as sires in a fair and balanced way. He brings them out so one can have a good look at them. I have been to many stallion stations where the person showing me the horses points to the stallions standing blanketed in their stalls and never offers to remove the blanket or bring the horse out. I have never been in such a relaxed and peaceful training center. Each horse is an individual whose quirks and preferences he understands and works with. It's obvious they adore him.

Katrinelund is situated on the edge of the Limfjord on the island of Mors, northern Jutland, Denmark, and is one of the most lovely settings imaginable. The horses run out in huge pastures, where they spend their lives until winter feeding, training, foaling or show preparation requires them to be brought in. Their environment is perfect for rearing sound, happy, healthy horses. The view from my friend's windows is of the Katrinelund horses running along the horizon between the land and the sea. There could not be a more ideal way to raise horses into well-grown athletes.

Among the stallions offered for breeding by Katrinelund are Crelido, a marvelous dual purpose Holsteiner son of Calido I / Raimondo who competes at S level in dressage and Grand Prix level in showjumping under Stein Endesen, achieving international successes all over Europe and in North America. His offspring are highly placed nationally and internationally, and in 2012 he was honored as Danish Warmblood's "Sire of the Year."

Skoven's Raphael is another top stallion for Katrinelund; he was Danish national young horse champion at four and represented Denmark at the World Championshipsi n Verden at five and six, where he placed well. His offspring inherit his charming personality and high rideabillity. Among the other stallions on the Katrinelund roster are Freestyle, Zodiac and De l'Or.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hanoverian Stallion Licensing and Auction, 2015

The new world record price for a sport horse at auction was set at the 2015 Hanoverian stallion licensing in Verden, Germany. By Rocky Lee (a son of Rock Forever), out of a Rouletto/Wendenburg mare, the large, elegant, uphill-moving stallion was knocked down for 1.2 million euros to Andreas Helgstrand of Helgstrand Dressage, Denmark. The record crowd roared its approval as the gavel fell.
Rocky Lee sale topper
The Verband must now update their auction display board to reflect one more digit! When the bid went over a million, the board had to be rebooted to continue posting the bids. The under bidder on the stallion was the Danish stud farm Helgstrand once rode for, Blue Hors.
The catalog number 102 Rock Forever grandson is lovely in all regards, with beautiful gaits, a kind, relaxed manner and enormous presence combining into a breathtaking stallion. His sire, Rocky Lee is out of a Justinian xx mare; Rocky Lee stands at and is trained at Jo Hinnemann’s Krusterhof in Voerde/Rhineland. He is ridden by Stefanie Wold, and has collected his first wins and high placings in advanced dressage competitions.
Top-priced stallions
One of my favorite things about attending auctions and licensings in Verden is staying at the Hotel Hoeltje in the Verden town center. Just slip through a passageway between the beautiful old buildings and one is in the town center. The cobbled center is closed to cars and is a lovely place to stroll and window shop or have a drink or a meal. A nice walk loops through town and along the Aller River, past the John Lennon memorial; in 1966 he filmed part of an anti war film in Verden. And of course, the abundance of horse breeders in the area makes in a perfect place to stay a few days.
The top-priced jumper was by Comme Il Faut, out of a Calido I mare, and was knocked down for 65,000 euros. I really liked the Contendro I’s, the Lordanos and the Perigueux’s. And of course the Stakkatos are always impressive. My favorites of the jumpers were the Stolzenberg colts, both of whom were licensed, one as a premium who sold for 45,000 euros.
A per usual at stallion licensing auctions there were predictable high sellers, some that one thought would sell higher but didn’t, some that seemed to over sell and others that appeared to be bargains. In the dressage stallions, I really liked the Belissimo M sons, the Bon Bravours and of course the Danciers always look fabulous. The Devereauxs also impressed, as did the Floriscounts and For Romances, one of which was purchased by the Landgestuet Celle. I also quite liked the Londontimes. Not that there weren’t plenty other excellent stallion, these just stood out for me. And, of course, my favorites are always those stallions that I know to have excellent quality frozen semen that results in conceptions!
Final auction results
I mainly go to the stallion licensings to get an idea of the stallions' strengths and consistencies. There’s nothing like seeing several sons of a stallion at the same time and same stage of development to get a good idea of what he sires. I don't claim to be an expert, but I am always happy to share my observations with others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Trakehner Licensing and Riding Horse and Foal Auction, Neumuenster, Germany

My first trip to the Trakehner Verband stallion licensing, and just getting there was the hard part. After inching along the autobahn in gridlock from about 25 miles south to 25 miles north of Hamburg, I arrived in Neumuenster, Germany. Unlike the Verden (Hanoverian) and Vechta (Oldenburg) areas, most people I encountered in the north don't speak much English. "Kein Deutch. American," has been my most useful German phrase

The first view of the horses was of them in-hand on hard ground, which occurred outdoors on a cold day with intermittent rain. Not the best environment for watching anything after arriving hours late after being stuck in traffic. It rained every day I was in Neumuenster.

My first impression on seeing the most Trakehners I've ever seen in one place, is how strong the Thoroughbred type is. I know, duh, but it really brought home to me the importance of Thoroughbred and Arabian blood for refinement, beauty and type. The Trakehner Verband allows only Trakehner, Thoroughbred and Arabian bloodlines, including Anglo Arab and Shagya Arabian. This concentration of "blood," with no outcrosses to other warmbloood breeds, makes theTrakehner the closest thing in warmbloods to a true breed (as opposed to a type named for a region). They are most deserving of an old fashioned term for them: "the Improver."

In North America, and to some extent in Europe as well, there has been a long held opinion that the Trakehners were substandard to the other warmblood breeds. And as for the perception that they are all hot, I think it is natural that they are a bit more spicy that some warmblood breeds, but no more than would be expected according to their level of hot blood. And, there are many warmbloods I've encountered that could use a bit of "waking up." I was impressed with the overall quality, temperament and movement of the horses I saw.

During a conversation with Ludwig Christmann of the Hanoverian Verband a couple of years ago, he remarked that he thought many American warmbloods were becoming too heavy. Now might be the time for American breeders to look to Trakehners as the source of blood and refinement to lighten up their mares' produce. Caprimond and his son Hohenstein have had a major influence as purveyors of type in the Hanoverian breed in recent years. And it looks like Gribaldi and his son Easy Game and grandson Millennium are the next dynasty to assume the mantle. The Easy Games and Millenniums retain all the best Trakehner traits while giving up nothing in terms of quality movement. Their type is stunning.

The Champion Stallion of the 2015 Trakehner licensing was Perpignan Noir, by Schwarzgold / Maizauber, who also topped the auction at 340,000 euros. He is a gorgeous animal, and a super uphill mover exuding confidence and class. As expected, the Millenniums also sold very well. The second highest priced animal was Sir Samoa (Millennium / Cadeau) at 240,000 euros and the third highest seller was Heaven (Millennium / Friedensfuerst) at 180,000 euros and Helium (Millennium / Induc) at 170,000 euros. He was my personal favorite, the Reserve Champion stallion. The crowd literally moaned everytime he trotted. 


The best jumping stallion was Edmonton, by Horalus / Abdullah, an American bred stallion, who was also the top selling jumper at 45,000 euros.

Another stallion whose offspring really impressed is Berlusconi. He is sired by EH Axis, out of a mare by EH Friedensfuerst. I hope his semen will become available in North America.

The venue for the licensing, the Holstenhalle, is a beautiful light-filled building with excellent seating and visibility from the grandstand. The Saturday night gala was great fun. I loved the pack of beagles and the rider who jumped the rails held by the human jump standard-bearers in rollicking fashion. I'm sure he could sell the horse he rode a thousand times over based on his performance.


On to the Hanoverian Approvals!








Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015 Trip to the German Stallion Approvals

In October, I'll attend the Trakehner, Hanoverian and Holsteiner stallion approvals and auctions. These venues are an excellent place to see the best young warmblood stallions in the world presented for licensing. In addition to being a great opportunity to see the individual stallions, many of whom will end up on the Superior Equine Sires website, it is most instructive to view multiple offspring of stallions already on the roster. This is when one can really get an idea of a stallion's strengths and consistency as a sire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

France's Camargue Region

The final stop on my 2013 equestrian tour of Europe was to the Camargue region of Provence in southern France. The sturdy little white horses that originated in the Camargue marshes, known simply as Camargue horses, are raised for riding horses and as stock horses to work with the bulls the region is also noted for. They say they originated in the marshes, but my money says they came from Spain or Portugal. They have a decidedly Iberian or Lippizan look to me. I love their compact size, and despite being a small gene pool, they remain hardy and correct with almost indiscernible differences between individuals.
The bird life is vast in the Camargue, with dozens of species along with flocks of flamingos that have taken up residence.
And of course, the Camargue also produces the world's most prized gourmet sale, fleur de sel or "flower of salt," which is harvested from the Camargue's marshes.
The black fighting bulls are distinct to the region. The fields are full of large herds of them, beautiful to behold. On a walk from the 1700s farmhouse I stayed in, down the lane past their pastures I enjoyed pausing to look at them. Of course every ear and eye was turned toward me, as they are alert and wary and have been trained since youngsters to consider humans as sparring partners. When I stared too long, they all began lowing in their throats and advancing toward me. They are used for bullfights but with a wonderfully humane twist. The bullfights do not involve killing the bull. Instead, a medallion is fastened to the horn of the bull. At the end of the "fight" whichever possesses the medallion, the man or the bull, is the winner. If it's the man, he receives the prize money. If it's the bull, its breeder receives the money. Bullfights were over for the season, but I was lucky enough to arrive in town on a weekend when there was a special festival of bringing the bulls onto the beaches of Saint Maries de la Mer for a herding exhibition.
White horses, black bulls and pink flamingos! Ah, the fantastic color scheme of the Camargue.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haras de Couvains and Haras de Hus, France

A brief stop in Paris to visit friends was followed by a trip west to Normandy, to pay a visit to the Haras de Couvains. I was most interested to meet Sophie Levallois, whom I began doing business with last year when I began selling the frozen semen of the excellent Selle Francaise stallion, Diamant de Semilly. The Diamant semen is sold by the individual straw, yet it has an excellent conception rate when used deep uterine. This stallion is one of the kindest, most generous of horses and is in the top percent of the world's best sires of showjumpers. Their temperaments and characters are excellent, not at all the hot, hard to ride type that some have come to associate with some of the Selle Francais lines. Sophie mentioned how different this line is from the lines that come from Alme Z and Galoubet. I saw several Diamants last summer at Spruce Meadows and was very impressed by their type, jumping style and the correctness of their legs and feet.
I plan to offer two more stallions from the Haras de Couvains in 2014, as a source of blood, which North American showjumpers are in need of according to some experts. They are Calypso D' Herbiers (Hurlevent / Double Espoir), who features a wealth of impeccable Thoroughbred jumper blood.  Calypso D' Herbiers was the winner of the Grand Prix CSIO and the Derby de La Baule 2004. He was the triple French Champion of Hunters, Dressage and CSO at four, triple French Showjumping Champion at four five and six and French vice champion at seven. He is ranked "elite" at eventing and "very good"  as a Selle Francais jumping and dressage stallion.
Also available soon via frozen semen is Herald 3, a 3/4 Thoroughbred son of Heraldix xx, out of an own granddaughter of Ladykiller xx. Herald's sire, Heraldik xx, is the leading sire of event horses in the world and his Holsteiner dam, Alissa, is a direct granddaughter of the great Ladykiller xx, making Herald a 3/4 Thoroughbred of the most exceptional breeding. He is a multiple international Grand Prix winner, reactive but with a cool mind, tested at the top level.
The Selle Francais lines should be of special interest, due to their ability to impart blood through a slightly different way than strictly Throughbred crosses.
The French/German cross seems to be working very well, as evidenced by the recent success of the sires Diarado (Diamant de Semilly / Contendro) and Balou du Rouet ( Baloubet du Rouet / Continue by Contender).
I also stopped by the Haras de Hus, a showplace stud farm if ever there was one. Their dressage stallions, Don Juan de Hus and Solimon de Hus, are making names for themselves as dressage sires, but they have begun to produce showjumper stallions that we will no doubt be seeing more of in the future.