It was another wonderful trip at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeder's Mare Course. It was a small group including myself, Laureen Megan of Twin Willow Farm in VA and Elsie Parkins of Gondor Stud in South Africa. This small group allowed such one on one attention it was great!
A few things I noted on this trip: I already loved Florsicount and seeing his mares just solidified that! What a super producer he is turning out to be with solid riding type conformation and well above average gaits. Herzensdieb, a Trakehner owned by the Leatherdale family, is also proving to be a consistent producer of very nice mares and most of all very high rideability. Quaterhall also sired a consistent showing of mares with lovely conformation and very good gaits. Bennetton Dream is a stallion that for me epitomizes power and beauty. After having seen his 1/2 sister (same dam) she too showed pure power and beauty.
The judges are definitely wanting to see a modern sport horse type that is lighter and more refined. Strong toplines with nice heads and necks, good saddle position and strong backs are desired. They want a rear limb with good angles and strong pasterns (a few mares with weak paterns were either not accepted or not awarded 1a prizes). Forelimbs they were a little more lenient as a toe-in stance was not too uncommon, but it was still required to have correctness of gaits. Loose, ground covering trots with free shoulders and active hind legs are the ideal. Mares should accept the bridle and carry themselves when moving in-hand. Walks also need to be ground covering, tracking up with a free shoulder and good movement throughout the body.
When judges are deciding which mares will garner the coveted 1a prize (needed to become Premium) they take so much into consideration...conformations, walk, trot, MPT results if available and bloodlines. Mares that may not show themselves great that day but have a stellar MPT (more common with the jumper bred mares) may still be awarded a 1a. Mares with strong pedigrees, particularly strong mother lines, are also desired.
On Day 1 we had the morning lecture about the history of the Hanoverian horse, the structure of the Verband and process of licensing of stallions. There is a new scoring system for the Stallion Performance Test. The goal of the new system is to make scoring more fair amongst the attendees. With this new system you will no longer see a ranking of the stallion within the group.
In the afternoon we "inspected" four mares. We were given score sheets and graded each mare's conformation, walk, trot and correctness of gaits. Then Dr. Christmann gave us what he would have scored and why. Laureen did the best in our group! It is harder than you think to break each mare up into her parts and give scores. After we finished with our "judging" we watched the end of the foal selection for the Elite Auction held at the end of August. We saw some really nice foals but the stand out for all of us was one by Don Frederic.
Laureen with Furst Nymphenburg
Day 2 started at Adelheidsdorf, which is a central stallion station for stallion training, performance testing and EU collection center. We took a tour of the facilities which including watching some of the training of the stallions in the indoor arena, visiting the large and airy stallion stalls and walking the grounds of the event course. It is fun to watch all the talented young riders working the young stallions in the indoor and then they took them all out for a nice hack on loose reins. All the stallions were so well behaved!
We then had lunch in historic downtown Celle with our Verband guide Britta (who was hilarious). She took us to a traditional German lunch where we ate eggs, ham, fried potatoes and asparus as big as celery! Note to future attendees: wear comfortable, expandable clothing!
Stallions at work in Adelheidsdorf
Wood carvings on a building ca 1534
Outside the restaurant
After lunch we drove to the State Stud at Celle. During breeding season very few stallions are living at Celle as they are out at the smaller stallion stations around Lower Saxony allowing for easy access to the local breeders. However, we did get to see Escudo I, Dauphin and Asti Spumanti (who looks fabulous at 20 years old!). All three of them were very relaxed and friendly stallions who enjoyed the attention.
After Celle we visited the farm Wiechmannshof-Ahrsen. It is a breeding farm as well as riding center. They have large open grass fields for the mares and foals to live in a large group. They also turn all their riding horses out in pretty large groups which is nice to see. Thier barn is a traditional German post beam and brick building. I just love these old barns!
Gorgeous old barn
Mare and Foal stalls
Day 3 morning was spent with a lecture on bloodline by Dr. Christmann. Even though this is the third time I have listened to this lecture I always hear something new. He gives such great little bits of knowledge during the lecture! For example, he discussed that Escudo I works well with mares that are a bit long and improves the topline. Similarly his grandson Edward works well with more refined mares. Just an example of the type of things that are discussed during this lecture!
After the lecture we drove to the mare show at Dobrock and thankfully the weather held out for us! Unfortunately I did not get any great pictures to share as I was focused on listening to Dr. Christmann discussing each mare as she was presented. One of the top mares was jumper bred by the stallion Uccello who could easily become a dressage horse as her movement was lovely. We also got to see a good amount of Furst Nymphenburg offspring. He consistently passes on a nice topline and shoulder as well as good movement. However, front limb structure is often a bit toed in with a paddle. Therefore, it is generally recommend using him with a mare with very correct front limbs. This is further confirmed with stats in the Stallion Yearbook.
Sign made of horse shoes
Day 4 we had the pleasure of starting off by visiting the farm of the Wahlers, Gestut W.M., that stand the sensational young stallion Finest. On their farm we saw a goregeous little filly of his that was so friendly she just walked away from the herd to come visit with us and get some scratches. Finest is by Fustenball out of a Wie Weltmeyer-Prince Thatch dam. He was the crowd favorite at his licensing and will be taking the 70-day test in the Fall. Once completed he will get his lifetime licensing.
Finest (Furstenball-Wie Weltmeyer-Prince Thatch)
Finest (Furstenball-Wie Weltmeyer-Prince Thatch)
After Gestut W.M. we went to the stallion station in Dorum and saw the jumper stallions Diacontinus and Gem of India and dressage stallions Dancier, Hochadel and Dr. Watson.
Dancier has been very consistent in producing nice dressage horses with long lines. There appears to be a "nick" with Rotspon mares as there have been a few licensed sons with this cross. For example, Gestut W.M. also represents the stallion De L'Or that is Dancier-Rotspon-Argetan.
Hochadel is a son of Hohenstein, which is clearly eveident in his looks. Dr. Christmann's daughter is a vet working at the stallion station in Dorum and told us his temperament is absolutely fantastic. Recently he was taken to a local fair to meet children and be a representative for the Hanoverian! She said he was a perfect gentleman.
Dr. Watson is a new young stallion with a fantastic pedigree of Diamon Hit-Florestan-Sunset Boulevard xx. He had a very good SPT and I look forward to seeing what he produces.
Dancier (De Niro-Lancier-Espri)
Dr. Watson (Diamond Hit-Florestan-Sunset Boulevard xx)
After lunch in a seaside restaurant overlooking the North Sea we visited the stallion station of Jens Meyer. They have an impressive line up of stallions with the majority being owned by Doug and Louis Leatherdale of the USA. The first thing we saw upon entering their yard is a gorgeous memorial to the late stallion His Highness. At the mare show in Ehlmlohe, which we attended later in the week, there was an absolutely gorgeous mare by His Highness. She came in second behind a mare by Herzensdieb, another stallion also owned by the Leathedales.
The stallion Damsey FRH by Dressage Royal-Ritual-Grande is an impressive stallion that is competing very successfully at Grand Prix. He has a 10 walk which he seems to pass on quite consistently. He comes from a family line on both his sire and dam sides for producing succesful dressage horses in both the young horse classes and upper levels.
Hampton is the absolutely stunning black stallion by His Highness out of the champion SPS mare Red Chili by Rotspon.
Next on the roster is the Trakehner stallion Herzensdieb. His ancesty can be traced back for hundreds of years! I just find that amazing. What a fabulously consistent producer he has turned out to become. Laurie's Crusador was stationed in that region for many years so he is often seen in the mare base. They initially were hesistant crossing the Trakehner with the Tb mare base, but it has turned out to be quite successfuly. We saw many of his mares at various mare shows and each of them were very correct in not only conformation but well above average gaits. Also to note were the mares that had already been MPTed had very high (8 &9s) for rideability. Suzanne Meyer noted that that is very typical of the Herzensdieb horses.
The next two stallions shown to us were First Dance, a direct son of Florestan I out of a Donnerhall dam. He was quite lovely in person and a mare by him did quite well at a mare show. Beltano, the new young stallion by Belissimo M out of a SPS Hohenstein-Donnerhall dam was quite impressive in person. Standing well over 17h he commands your attention. Despite his size his conformation is super and he does not initially appear so large. He has already completed the 30-day test and just qualified for the Bundeschampionat so now has his lifetime licensing. He had a wonderful temperament and I think might be a great choice for mares needed size and what blood lines!
His Highness Memorial
Beltano (Belissimo M-Hohenstein-Donnerhall)
Damsey FRH (Dressage Royal-Ritual)
Herzensdieb, gorgeous Trakehner stallion by Hohenstein
Hampton (His Highness-Rotspon)
First Dance (Florestan I-Donnerhall)
Thursday was a very long day! After stallion station Jens Meyer we were on our way to the mare show in Bargstedt. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures as we spent a lot of time in the center of the triangle watching the mares. The winning mare was a lovely mare by Floriscount. It was a close competition though as the reserve mare was by Royal Classic out of the mother of Bennetton Dream. The Royal Classic mare was absolutely stunning and had a trot to die for, but was tense throughout the show so did not show a great walk. Throughout the week we saw many mares by Floriscount and the consistency of what he is producing is quite good. All the mares were very well put together and has well above average gaits. He is for sure a great producing stallion and he himself doing quite well in upper level competition.
Friday was the day of the Safari Adventure! We started off by visiting a training and breeding farm. Immediately upon our arrival we were invited into their house and served champagne! After taking a tour of the barns and riding facilities we all loaded up into the van for a driving tour of their expansive properties where they raise different herds of mares and young stallions yet to be gelded. We drove along some back coutry farm roads that led to some bouncy rides and hence the start of our Safari! What was so nice to see were large herds of young horses of mixes ages, from 1-3 years, separated by sex rotated through very large fields to maintain good pasture lands. As with many horse farms in the area he was aslo a farmer growing beet pulp, potatoes and hay.
The afternoon was spent at the mare show in Freiburg. It was an exciting show to say the least! The winning mare, a two year old by Quaterhall, was super and a fabulous mover. We were explained that for a two year old to win the show the judges really felt her quality was super. The winning mare is almost always a three year old as they are more mature in development. The other interesting thing we saw at this show were some of the jumper mares shown in traditional rope halters instead of bridles. Some of the mares at this show were excitable to say the least and quite a few got loose from their handlers with one causing injury to herself and a young girl.
The Triangle at Bargstedt
Traditional Rope Halter
Champion mare by Quaterhall
Champion mare by Quaterhall
Saturday was spent at the mare show in Ehlmlohe. There was such a stong presentation of mares at this show with many coming from Jens Meyer/ Leatherdale stallions of Herzensdieb, Damsey, First Dance and and even His Highness. My favorite mare was the High Highness mare as I thought she was just stunning with a lovely walk and nice trot. The winning mare was by Herzensdieb and was super in both walk, rot and conformation. This is the second year I have attended this mare show and the second time it was won by a mare by Herzensdieb! I think he is a wonderful stallion to use for someone considering adding some Trakehner blood to their breeding program. Also to note was that of the Herzensdieb mare presented that had already been MPT'd they had very high rideability scores (8s and 9s).