Thursday, September 12, 2013

I drove home from Calgary through the gorgeous grasslands of Alberta and on over the Continental Divide, back to Washington state. Alas, no woodland caribou sighting on my return either.
The final tournament of the Spruce Meadows season, The Masters, was of course spectacularly thrilling. A showcase of the best world showjumping offers, it provides thrills, excitement and inspiration. To watch the best riders on the planet coax superlative performances from their mounts under intense pressure provides a lesson in finesse and communication.
The winner of this year's final event was Pieter Devos of Belgium on his wonderful mare Candy, by Nabab de Reve (Quidam de Revel  / Artichaut). Candy's dam, Etretat, is a full sister to Canadian equine superstar, Big Ben. Devos and Candy were part of Belgium's previous day's second-place (to Germany) Nation's Cup team. The beautiful and poised eleven year old Belgian Sport Horse mare had no peer in the competition, posting the only double-clear. More amazingly, the duo had fallen on Wednesday and Devos was riding with a swollen and bruised leg. Candy, miraculously, showed no ill effects from her fall. Even during the awards ceremony when many a horse was reacting badly to the crowd, the brass band and all the hoopla, Candy stood like a dude horse. A testament to temperament if ever there was one. Unfortunately, the frozen semen from her sire, Nabab de Reve, proved to be virtually worthless. Still, there are many horses with good frozen semen with Nabab blood in them.
It seemed like there were more French-bred horses than ever in the top twelve in the Masters, i.e. those who competed in the final round.
The second place horse was by the Holsteiner, Cumano (Cassini I), out of a French mare.
Third place Nayana, by Royal Feu, is of French breeding. Her rider, Penelope Leprevost of France, was very impressive and a rider to watch in the future.
Taloubet Z came in fourth and he is by French sire Galoubet A, out of  a German mare.
My personal favorite, though was fifth-place Lacan 2, an Oldenburg by Lando, out of a Contender mare. I loved his blood-look and his tactical speed was awesome. He could turn on a spurt and then easily come back to his rider as asked. I offer his full brother's frozen semen from the Landgestuet Celle lineup.
Here is a link to the final rankings of the Masters:
For more information, consult:
Next year the Masters will offer a 1.5 million dollar purse!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The German team won the Nations Cup on Saturday. Alas, the two North American teams, the United States and Canada, placed fifth and seventh, while Belgium and France were second and third.
The competition was fierce, made more difficult by the footing after torrential rain for most of the morning. (This morning the sun is shining, which bodes well for the million-dollar Masters today.)
While the pedigrees of the competitors' horses weren't posted, it appears from their names that many of them are of French or Belgian breeding. Though I don't have actual statistics I think there are more of these bloodlines than in years past, when German breeding dominated. And of course, the Dutch jumpers have often been infused with French and Belgian lines. The Irish horses are another distinct bloodline group. They interest me quite a bit, though I've never been aware of much interest in them in the U.S. However, I have been approached by several people with stallions in the UK in the past few months about possibly offering their frozen semen, and I did an importation for a client of semen from the eventing stallion, Chilli Morning this year, so maybe the trend will continue. The UK and Canada share the same predominate interest in jumpers, while dressage interest seems less, the opposite of the United States.
I'm off to the most exciting jumping venue in North America!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Calgary watching it pour rain! I dread that it will continue into the afternoon and make the course for the Nations Cup this afternoon a mucky mess. But, I guess that's outdoor competition is about. You gets what you gets weather-wise and that's the footing you have to deal with.
The $205,000 Encana Cup was contested in the rain, and was won by hometown hero Ben Asselin, who happens to be married to a Southern family granddaughter. The Southerns own and operate Spruce Meadows. There is no more robust a crowd than at Spruce Meadows when a Canadian wins an event. In fact, they are devoted fans of jumping and even the average Joe, knows quite a good deal about showjumping. They follow international jumping the way racing buffs follow Thoroughbred racing. Encana Cup results  
Spruce Meadows is truly an event not to be missed if you love horses, jumping and beautiful surroundings, not to mention great shopping. There are several rings running simultaneously, brass bands playing, royal guards, mountain men brigades and horse artillery companies. The pomp and pageantry are part of the fun.
This year, they changed from presenting a Landgestuet Celle dressage quadrille to a contingent made up of one stallion from each of Germany's ten state studs, or landgestuets. Here is a link to the information on the stallions.  Stallions of the German State Studs  A link to more information is included along with photos of the stallions.
For their exhibition, some of the stallions are ridden, some driven, and some shown in hand. The stallions driven in front of a mounted rider reminded me of when I used to drive my young racehorses in front of my faithful racetrack pony-horse. I drove them around the farm fields and up the mountain logging roads too. It worked quite well for getting them fit and teaching them how to carry and respond to a bit. The trouble was, by the time they had been driven a while they were quite fit, so when I started getting on them, they could be quite a handful.
It's still pouring rain, but I'm off. A perfect day for shopping at the trade fair. Thank goodness I sprang for seats in the covered grandstand.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Yesterday, I drove to Calgary, Alberta, following highway 3 for a couple hundred miles across British Columbia, just north of the Canadian border. Alas, my bucket-list wish of seeing a Woodland Caribou when I passed through their mountainous range did not materialize. Though there are only 45 of these critically endangered animals left in the USA, a snowmobile group has filed a suit to attempt to gain access to their habitat. Woodland Caribou Facts
This morning, I await my friend Jane, who will join me in heading to the show grounds at Spruce Meadows. The event opened on Wednesday but the more prestigious events occur over the weekend. The Rolex Grand Slam million dollar incentive made things extra exciting this year. However, Nick Skelton and Big Star have withdrawn from the competition, so we'll have to wait until next year to see who wins that prize.
I can't wait to see the statue honoring Hickstead. Eric Lamaze on Spruce Meadows and Hickstead
I look forward to the competitions, the bands, the Celle dressage quadrille performances, the battle of the breeds and the general hoopla (not to mention the best equine trade fair ever). I hope you will also have a good time as you follow along.