Friday, November 17, 2017

Hanoverian Stallion Licensing, Verden, Germany, October 25--28, 2017

Okay, so I'm running behind with this post. Blame it on exhaustion and acute jetlag. But I wanted to at least offer a few comments on my favorite stallions' offerings and post the judge's comments on the premium stallions at the licensing.
Among the jumpers, the offspring of Grey Top (Graf Top / Singular Joter I) really impressed as a group. His eventing Bundeschampion son, Gentleman, made an appearance, along with several other of his kids, and they are a beautiful, athletic and impressive group. I have liked Grey Top since I first saw him several years ago at the Langestuet Celle. He's the new best hope for saving the venerated G line in Germany. Plus, his semen works really well, so that makes him even better in my book.
I also particularly liked the Stolzenbergs and the lone Cascadello I son who topped the jumper sales at 85,000 euros.
Seeing the first crop of nine sons of Finest presented reminded me of when I saw the first crop of his sire, Fuerstenball, presented at the licensing a few years ago. I remember looking down at a group of them from the top tier of the arena, and thinking they walked like "snakes," with a sinuous swing rippling through their toplines. The Finest sons were an equally impressive group and six were licensed. The second high seller of the auction was a Finest. His frozen semen is working very well, so I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of these charming horses in the US in the future.
Fuerstenball himself presented four sons at this licensing, all of whom were licensed. The rest of the entries were of varied and diverse pedigrees.
Prices and comments on premium stallions in auction:
7.  Cascadello I / For Keeps, 85,000 €, "Ability, movement, and genetics."
14. Contendro I / Stakkato, 45,000 €, "The best bloodlines for sport."
15. Cristallo Boy / Cassini II, 24,000 €, "Elegant, eager and a quick takeoff."
28. Quidam de Revel  / Cassini, 50,000 €, "Power, technique and demeanor."
30. Sivlio / Vulkano, 24,000 €, "Leaves nothing to be desired."
44. Dancier / Bonafatius, 90,000 €, "Elegant, powerful and light-footed."
46. Danzador / Royal Highness, 74,000 €, "Shines in his movements."
62. Finest / De Niro, 360,000 €, "Smooth, beautiful and a calm character."
75. Franziskus / De Niro, 55,000 €, "Energy and swing."
93. Livaldon / Worldly, 120,000 €, "Combines the genes of two top stallions."
96. Millennium / Donnerhall, 140,000 €, "Presence and very dynamic basic gaits."
97. Negro / Christ, 70,000 €, "Power and stability with special bloodlines."
102. Scuderia / Belissimo M, 54,000 €, "The powerful hind makes the front light."
105. Sezuan / Donnerhall, 650,000 €, "Well made and powerful with a good frame."
109. Toto Jr / Sandro Hit, 360 €, "Beauty and movement combined."


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Gerd Sosath for Stud and Sport

Gerd Sosath
October 26, 2017
A visit to the family owned and operated Gerd Sosath Stud is always interesting. You can count on Inga, Gerd’s wife, to ply you with cakes and coffee. Our group was shown around by Inga and daughter Janna, as Gerd and son Hendrik were busy at the Verden stallion licensing.
We looked at the stallions currently in residence. What a super group; though the stud has focused on jumpers (with Gerd riding many/most of them in the past), they maintain some nice dressage horses too. I particularly like that they are good legged and good footed horses. Many of their broodmares feature the bloodlines of Landadel, Lordanos and Landor S. All of their stallions are quiet and well manner, in beautiful condition and people oriented.
Adoro (Ampere/Donnerschwee/Landadel) is a typical Ampere: pretty, with a beautiful neck and smooth, powerful hindquarter.
Beniro (Bretton Woods/De Niro/Placido) is also a model of his sire. Tall, elegant and eye catching.
Casino Berlin (Berlin (Caspar)/Landor S/Carolus) is a tall fellow with a friendly demeanor who reeks of athleticism. “Impressive” doesn’t do him justice.
Casiro (Cassini II/Landgraf I/Ramiro) has a pedigree full of legendary sires but is amazingly modern in type. He’s charming and gregarious.
Florenz (Florencio/Sandro Hit/Donnerhall) This Bundeschampionat qualifier is as pretty as he is talented and is a real people horse.
For Dance (For Romance I/Rubiloh/Ehrentusch) A stallion with a “10” character that everyone loves to love. He brings a bit of a outcross dressage bloodline via Ehrentusch.
Diamant de Plaisir (Diamant de Semilly/For Pleasure/Landor S) This stallion’s pedigree combines several legendary sires and. He is made in the model of a Diamant—big and correct, with great caliber and those fabulous Diamant feet, which are good-sized with wide heels. These horses are built to hold up. And they can jump over your house!
Fuerst Fabrice (Fuerstenball/Sandro Hit/Castro) The utterly charming winner of the Oldenburg licensing in 2016 is one of a growing number of stallions out of Sandro Hit mares, who brings just what you’d expect (beauty, elegance, type, gaits).
Levisonn (Levisto/Lennon/Roman) This guy is a bona fide jumper, with the smooth gaits, prettiness and temperament to make lovely hunters. In fact, Sosath stallions Catoki and Lordanos have already produced champion hunters, indicating the carefulness with which they choose their breeding stallions for top performance, good characters and rideability.
Of course, the grand old man of the barn Lordanos (Landos/Ahorn Z/Calypso I) was very pleased to have company visit him. He is sweet natured and knows he’s a bigshot. Use him for making hunters or jumpers with really nice gaits. The cover of the most recent catalog features a picture of him with the Sosath grandbabies, one astride and one holding his lead.
Ogano (Ogano Sitte/Diarado/Cantus) This tall, modern stallion with the hard to find Darco bloodline is the model of a jumper. This is the kind of stallion that makes you say, “Yes! That’s a jumper.”
 Bundeschampion Devonport (Dancier/Ravallo/Westbury) was not at the farm on the day of our visit but we had the pleasure of seeing him in an exhibition ride at the Niedersachsen Hall the next day. All superlatives apply: beautiful, elegant, light footed, tactful movements and charisma all wrapped up in a shining black package. He knew he was on display and loved it.

The Sosath Stud makes good semen and stand behind their product. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Dressuerpferde Leistungszenrtrum Lodbergen

October 25, 2018
Dressuerpferde Leistungszenrtrum Lodbergen
Located in the pastoral German village of Lodbergen, the Dressuerpferde Leistungszentrum Lodbergen is a world class dressage center. We met with Lars Schoon for a look at most of the stallions currently in residence:
Best for Me (Bretton Woods/Latimer/Brentano II) is a large framed, strikingly beautiful stallion son of Bretton Woods, with the bling that gets him extra attention.
Dominy (Diamond Hit/Pour Plaisir/Piaster) is and elegant stallion in the mold of his sire, Diamond Hit. He is charming with an alert personality, exuding quality and class.
Finest Selection (Follow Me/Lauries Crusador xx/Donnerhall) was under saddle and in the ring for a training session when we arrived. He was going quietly and nicely for his age and has a lot of eye appeal and should offer some refining ability as a sire.
Frascino (Fuerst Wilhelm/Don Frederico/Wolkenstein II) is interesting for his relation to Desperados on the sire’s side and Don Frederico on the bottom, combined with Wokenstein II, called the “jumping Weltmeyer.” An interesting way to bring performance blood to a dressage pedigree.
Herakles (Gribaldi/Michelangelo/Arthus) brings the best Trakehner blood to sport horse breeding. Trakehners are sometimes looked down on in North America, but I’ve noticed many top breeders in Europe regularly use them. Look at a photo of a Trakehner from 1929 and a Hanoverian or Oldenburg from 1929 and it’s apparent why they have been called “the Improver.” This guy brings their best qualities forward.
Quel Plaisir Quantensprung/Placido/Corlando) is one of the first crop of stallions by Quantensprung, from which seven of his sons were licensed. Lars Schoon commented that he was a bit “sensitive” when worked with as a youngster on the ground, but under saddle became a focused and willing worker.
Rock for Me (Rock Forever I/Florencio I/Longchamp) is a typical Rock Forever, a model of a horse with a beautiful burnished-bay coat and a charming disposition.
A couple of “oldies but goodies” we saw at the station are Royal Doruto (Royal Hit/Rubinstein I/Matador), Rubin Royal (Rohdiamant/Grundstein II/Akzent II) and Couleur Rubin (Cordalme/Grannus/Ramino). These grand older fellows need no introduction, having proven themselves through the years.
The highlight of our visit to Lodbergen was the serendipitous opportunity to happen into the arena viewing area when Dante Weltino (Danone I/Welt Hit II/Noble Roi xx) came out under Swedish rider Therese Nilshagen for a training session. As if that wasn’t enough, Klaus Balkenhol soon arrived to coach her lesson. Unfortunately, they won’t be making frozen semen from him for a couple of years, while he pursues his dressage career.








Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Verden, Germany, October 24, 2017
Hengststation Boeckmann, Lastrup
A visit to the Boeckmann station is always a pleasure. Wibke Hammermann is welcoming and friendly and gladly showed me and my guests and around the farm. Its white brick buildings, spacious, well-kept pastures and surrounding forest create an idyllic haven for horses.
Many of the stallions were absent at this time of year but we still had a nice tour of the stallion barn:
Checkter (Cellestial/Lord Pezi/Ile de Bourbon) was one of the best four year old jumpers in Germany last year. He is a calm, confident young stallion with an appealing character and a nice type for sport.
Fire and Ice (For Contest/Coronino/Lados) represents the For Pleasure line, which continues to exert its influence at the highest level of international sport. This young stallion is moving up the ranks.
We enjoyed watching Floriscount (Florencio/Donnerhall/Waldorf) training. He is a beautiful stallion with a strong impression of athleticism and is very serious about his job, making it apparent that he enjoys his work.
And of course we saw the star of the stable, Fidertanz (Fidermark/Ravallo/FruehlingstraumII). So gorgeous, harmonious and noble—he is the epitome of a warmblood stallion. He is quiet with impeccable manners and knows he’s on display, relishing the admiration.

While at the Boeckmann station, I got to meet Wibke’s new colleague, Christoph Rowald, who offers breeding advice. I look forward to another year of working with both of them. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Verden, Germany, October 22, 2017

Verden, Germany, October 22, 2017
We began our trip in Italy and spent four days in Venice sightseeing, shopping and eating pasta. Then we traveled to Vienna, where I met with my colleague/friend Dr. Sven Budik of the University of Vienna Veterinary School. Dr. Budik is one of the world’s foremost authorities on freezing and transferring embryos and doing ICSI. He sometimes comes to the United States and is always interested in speaking with people about his specialties. During our conversation, he informed me that DNA testing has proven that all women are descendants of one of eight different women, while all men are descended from one single man. Of course I exclaimed “this explains so much.” Being a bit doubtful, I did a little web research and it backed up his assertion. Food for thought.
While having an after dinner digestive in the Hotel Holtje bar last night, I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me who represented the Haras de la Gesse in France, which prompted the guy next to him to exclaim, “Hey, I know you!” It was Dr. Miguel Bleibernicht who produced the Rubi AR (Lusitano) semen that I have offered for the past couple of years and which is excellent. Turns out he studied at the University of Vienna under Dr. Budik, whom he contacted for verification of the all-men-from-one-man theory.
My assistant/daughter Annie and I attended the pony koering for a while yesterday. They inspect New Forest, Welsh, Shetland and Hanoverian Riding Ponies. I discerned that many of the riding ponies contain Frierenhof Stuecker bloodlines, which I offer on my roster. I loved the Shetlands, which are the old-school Thelwell Pony type I learned to ride (persevere) on: shaggy and funny and cute as heck. They haven’t yet evolved into the miniature Saddlebred type of our American Shetlands, though I suppose there are some North Americans breeding the same type as Germany.
Gestuet WM
On Saturday we visited Gestuet WM and were shown the stallions curently at the stable, by Ecki Wahlers. It was very kind of him to take time with us, since they are building a new stable area and have six young stallions to take to the Hanoverian Stallion Licensing on the 25th. He took the blankets off each stallion and let us take our time looking at them and ask questions. (At some stations they rush you down the center aisle, pointing to heads hanging over stall doors and calling out the names of blanketed stallions, so I really appreciate it when they take the time to actually show you the horses.)
Based on the viewing, I have a few observations about the stallions we saw:
Martinez (Millennium/Laurentio/De Niro) is a charming young stallion who exhibits his Trakehner influence in his finely chiseled head, beauty, elegant type and alert demeanor. He is active and likes to play in his stall, “killing” on average one rubber play ball per day.  
Fantastic (Fuerst Romancier/Sandro Hit/Welt Hit II) is, well, fantastic. He is a handsome and friendly fellow, interested in meeting his visitors. He is a beautiful and harmonious individual as his pedigree would indicate.
Bon Coeur (Benetton Dream/Sandro Hit/Carismo) reminds me very much of his sire in type and conformation. He is cordial but somewhat reserved in his demeanor.
Finest (Fuerstenball/Wie Weltmeyer/Prince Thatch xx) is referred to around the stable as the “king.” He is incredibly wide between the eyes and has a huge, kind eye. One of the most intelligent looking horses I’ve ever seen. He is charming and friendly and as gentle and kind as a kid’s horse. Ecki Wahlers told us that he is so special to the family because he was orphaned at ten days old and bottle fed around the clock by his wife and children.
Secret (Sezuan/St. Moritz/Rotspon) is the stallion everyone’s been waiting to hear about, and it’s no secret that he’s sensational. He is a handsome and charming stallion with a deep heart girth and capacious body well-connected to a big, smooth-muscled hind end that helps account for his dressage excellence. We look forward to offering his semen in 2018, and have pre ordered it, contingent on the frozen semen quality being acceptable.
Gestuet WM has provided us with great semen quality in the past and stands behind their product. I was impressed with their stallions, who have obviously been well reared and well trained and love their owners. This is a wonderful family owned and operated facility whose horses are part of the family. 

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.