10 STALLIONS I WISH I OWNED
In my experience one of the most important keys to success if one wants to breed horses that can compete in international sport is to develop both a deep analytic and intuitive understanding of what and how your mares produce and what and how the stallions produce that are under consideration for use in your breeding program. These skills are hard to develop and implement, I believe, but they are absolutely essential if we are to breed athletes competing in international showjumping (CSI), international eventing (CCI/CIC), or international dressage (CDI) on anything other than a random basis.
With this key in mind during the last few years I have been encouraging breeders in the North America to use less imported frozen semen in their breeding programs and more semen from the ever-increasing number of good mature (and also very promising young) showjumping, eventing, and dressage stallions standing in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. I have done this because it is impossible for a North American breeder to truly understand what and how a stallion produces if that stallion is standing in Europe and you are not able to see his progeny on a regular basis -- and not only see the successful progeny that are in top-level sport but also the failures that never make it to the competition arena or to the level in sport that is shown on North American television -- and to share insights with other breeders about these progeny. With this in mind I thought it would be interesting for me to identify 10 stallions owned by North Americans that I wish I could use in my own breeding program. If I moved my mare herd to North America tomorrow these are the stallions I wish I owned. This list is admittedly idiosyncratic and it omits some good mature and young stallions; however these are the ones that interest me the most. Here they are in alphabetical order:
A FINE ROMANCE XX
A Fine Romance xx is one of those rare thoroughbred stallions that is producing good athletes as direct progeny. (In modern sport horse breeding, which has become so specialized during the last two or three decades, it is almost always unrealistic to expect a TB stallion to sire multiple international showjumping or dressage horses, although we would expect that a TB stallion can sire international eventing horses. Usually the most we can hope for is that his grand-children will be the international athletes.) Although A Fine Romance xx has sired a relatively small number of foals he has produced a Grand Prix showjumper (South Bound xx), two international eventing horses (A First Romance, which appears in the 2011 FEI ranking of international eventing horses, and My Romance, which appeared in the 2004 FEI ranking ), and is the damsire of an international dressage horse (Viva’s Veroveraar, which was selected to represent Guatemala at the 2011 Pan American Games). This stallion also has several progeny that are moving up the ranks in eventing and hopefully some of these horses will advance to CCI/CIC competitions in the next few years. These eventers include Romancing, A Jack of Hearts, and Landmark’s Ginger Rogers. A Fine Romance xx is ranked by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) as the country’s 48th best showjumping sire and the 55th best eventing sire.
If my mares were in North America I would use A Fine Romance xx in my eventing breeding program on thoroughbred mares and on warmblood mares whose progeny would benefit from some of the attributes a successful “blood “stallion like this one can bring to the table. This stallion is getting on in years (born in 1991), and I would be using him in 2012 while he is still sound, healthy, and fertile.
Capone I is a beautifully-bred Holsteiner stallion that has proven himself to be a top-class showjumper under US rider Kyle King. In 2011 Capone had excellent results in international sport by winning at Spruce Meadows the CN Performance Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier and a second international Grand Prix, placing 4th in a 1.60 m. class, and placing 9th in the Derby. These victories are backed up by results earlier in his career when he was ranked by the FEI among the top 200 showjumpers in the world in both 2006 and 2007 before an ownership dispute, which is now thankfully resolved, led him to be sidelined for several years. The USEF ranks Capone in 2011 as the 108th best sire of showjumpers based on the results of his progeny Castalano. Capone’s success in showjumping verifies the value of his Holsteiner pedigree and specifically his damline, number 890. Capone has a full-brother and a half-brother that also are approved stallions in Germany and, more importantly, another half-brother that is competing successfully in smaller international Grand Prix classes in Europe. And the icing on the cake for me is that Capone’s second dam, Maltia, is also the second dam of the world-class showjumping stallion Casall la Silla. Capone’s damline has produced many other international showjumpers and approved stallions and is precisely the type of damline we look for in a showjumping sire.
If my mares were in North America I would use Capone I in my showjumping breeding program with a great deal of enthusiasm. I suspect he requires long-lined mares that tend not to produce too small. He should be given every opportunity by North American breeders to prove his genetic value.
Contucci is an important and valuable stallion for North American dressage breeding. Although he was never afforded the opportunity to pursue a sport career, Contucci has firmly made his mark in the breeding shed with an outstanding production record. In 2011 this stallion is ranked 12th as a dressage sire by the USEF and he has 50 progeny contributing to this ranking. Contucci’s most successful dressage progeny this year include Calimar, Flash Forward, Commonwealth TRF, Carmel Creme, Cash Advance, and Cobra. And we should not forget the outstanding gelding Cabana Boy that unfortunately had to be put down in 2010 because of a pasture injury; this youngster already had achieved considerable success in international young horse classes and seemed destined to a very good career in CDI sport. I find it interesting that Contucci also produces the occasional showjumping and eventing horse. El Cid’s four wins at preliminary level have earned Contucci a USEF eventing sire ranking of 13 while Contrad’s results at 1.30 m. and below have led to a showjumping sire ranking of 303. While these results should not lead breeders to try to produce eventers and showjumpers with Contucci they do show that this dressage sire transmits athletic traits that can be expressed beyond the dressage ring.
If my mares were in North America I would use Contucci in my small and occasional dressage breeding program. Although Contucci does not have as strong a damline as I usually require of stallions in my breeding program the large number of his progeny performing well in dressage and the fact that his full-sister is an international dressage competitor alleviates much of that concern. And simply the fact that he a good number of progeny on the ground and competing in sport means that I could quickly learn what type of mare helps to unleash his genetic potential.
A few disclosures: First, I owned for the last third of his life the Dutch stallion Ekstein, the dam-sire of Hickstead. Second, I have three approved stallion sons of Ekstein, one licensed stallion grand-son, and over a dozen daughters and grand-daughters in my sport and breeding program. Third, I have arranged to use Hickstead in my breeding program in 2012. And fourth, Hickstead’s rider and part-owner competes one of my stallions in international showjumping. So I have a very soft place in my heart for Hickstead but also some insight into his genetics. That said, how can there be any debate about the potential value of Hickstead in a showjumping breeding program? With Eric Lamaze this stallion was the world’s number 1 ranked showjumper in 2008, 2009, and 2010 and is ranked 2nd in 2011. He won the individual Olympic medal in 2008, was 2nd in the World Cup Final in 2010, and 3rd in the World Championship in 2010. And he has won the world’s most prestigious Grand Prix: Aachen and Calgary. To use Hickstead successfully in a breeding there are a few things that I would keep in mind. Hickstead’s athleticism, mind, stamina, and size are all reflective of his dam-sire Ekstein and not his sire Hamlet. If I showed you videos of Hickstead, Joel (Ekstein’s very successful son that was on the Dutch team that placed 4th in the 2008 Olympics), Wind Shear m2s (a son of Ekstein bred by Morningside Stud that was sold to Latin America as a foal and was recently relocated to Italy to pursue an international showjumping career after proving himself to be one of the most exciting young showjumpers in South America), and a variety of other Ekstein progeny bred from a wide range of mares in Ireland and the Netherlands, and then showed you a video of Ekstein winning the 7-year-old KWPN stallion championship in 1993, you’d see that Hickstead’s unique cocktail of energy, scope, carefulness, bravery, enthusiasm, and desire to “attack” the fences comes from Ekstein. The apple did not fall far from this tree!
I will be using Hickstead on mares that have rideability and size consolidated in their damlines. And even more important when my foals are old enough to be started under saddle and then competed I will put them in the hands of highly competent and patient producers of young horses who will not extinguish the competitive fire I surely will find in my Hickstead progeny. Hickstead is a once in a century showjumper and the opportunity to use him should neither be lost nor squandered.
A few disclosures: First, I have been a huge fan of Hunter’s thoroughbred sire Heraldik xx ever since I travelled to Germany in the spring of 2004 specifically to see this then relatively unknown (outside of southern Germany) thoroughbred sire, his full-sister, and their progeny. Second, I used Heraldik xx in my breeding program and offered his semen for sale in Ireland. Third, I own a mare called Heresy m2s, a daughter of Herka xx, the full-sister of Heraldik xx, that I use in my breeding program. Fourth, I am negotiating at this moment to buy from the owner of Hunter the entire inventory of Hunter’s frozen semen stored in Europe. Hunter is a Holsteiner stallion sired by the best thoroughbred stallion in sport horse breeding during the last three decades: Heraldik xx. Hunter was born in Germany, was approved by the Holsteiner Verband, completed a good stallion performance test, and in the USA has been competed lightly in showjumping by his owner. Hunter descends from Holsteiner damline 3317, a relatively small but productive damline that has produced several CSI showjumpers and approved stallions and one CDI competitor. Hunter’s second dam, Atlanta X, is a full-sister of the useful stallion Lord Liberty (the sire of approximately 20 CSI showjumpers) and to two international showjumpers. Hunter is ranked 41st by the USEF as an eventing sire and 519th as a dressage sire based on the results of his progeny High Times and Happenstance; he has additional progeny in the eventing pipeline. In total Hunter produced approximately 15 progeny in Germany before he was exported and 14 progeny in the USA and in my opinion he is a stallion that should be used by a lot more mare owners.
I hope to use Hunter in both my eventing and showjumping breeding programs. In eventing breeding he will be used on thoroughbred mares and on mares with a high percentage of thoroughbred blood to increase jumping scope and power and to improve the canter. In my showjumping breeding program he will be used on mares that would benefit from an infusion of “blood” that will not weaken the jump and canter.
Quinar is a Holsteiner stallion that was leased to the USA several years ago. This stallion, which was formerly owned by the Holsteiner Verband and Studfarm Zangersheide but is now owned solely by the Germans, sired approximately three dozen CSI showjumpers for the Holsteiner, Zangersheide, Dutch Warmlood, and Belgian Warmblood studbooks before he left Europe for the States. Quinar is already ranked by the USEF as the 85th best showjumping sire with five progeny contributing to that ranking. The inspections of Quinar’s progeny conducted by the Holsteiner Verband show that he produces very good-looking and correct foals that move slightly above average. The mare inspections confirm the foal results: All of the traits receive above average scores and, in particular, he tends to produce mares with very good toplines and front legs and exceptionally good hind legs. The under-saddle mare tests reveal that his daughters tend to score average or slightly below average with rideability being 11 points below average. These scores, and the undisputed success of Quinar’s progeny in international showjumping, suggest to me that his offspring often may be more suited for professional showjumping riders than amateur riders.
If my mares were in North America I would use Quinar for several reasons. He has produced many international showjumpers and his strike rate (number of international showjumpers per 100 foals sired) looks to be quite high (he produced under 500 foals for the Holsteiner studbook). Quidam de Revel, the sire of Quinar, is a stallion that I use extensively in my breeding program through his sons despite the compromised rideability Quidam often introduces. I would select carefully the type of mare to use with Quinar: Only use Quinar on mares that have high rideability firmly consolidated in their damline. Since few studbooks except the Holsteiner assess rideability of approved stallions and approved mares, I would tend to use Quinar on German Holsteiner mares and on other warmblood mares that I know have high rideability firmly established in their damlines.
Orlando is a Dutch Warmblood stallion that brings together two of the most important sires in recent years: Heartbreaker and Darco. Orlando had a good international showjumping career with Belgian rider Dirk Demeersman and, after his purchase by a USA farm, Irish rider Darragh Kerins. Their sport results included very high placings in CSIO5* Nations Cup and Grand Prix classes. Orlando was one of the very first stallions used in Morningside Stud’s breeding program. He produced for me the mare Airborne m2s, the dam of the international showjumper Wind Shear m2s. So far Orlando has produced over two dozen international showjumpers competing at levels from 1.40 - 1.60 m. Orlando’s dam competed in 1.40 m. classes and he comes from a good Hanoverian damline that has produced multiple international showjumpers including his full-brother Versace van de Ruiteshoeve, which had a good sport career (albeit less successful that Orlando’s). It is interesting to me that this damline has also produced the occasional national dressage horse, an international eventing horse, and the FEI World Pairs Driving Champion!
If my mares were in North America I would use Orlando on mares with blood in their athletic expression. The stallion has been standing in France for the last few years because, I suspect, he did not receive enough support from North American breeders. This is a real disappointment as we have here a stallion with a good international sport career at top-level, many progeny competing in CSI classes, and a pedigree and damline that are truly worthy of inclusion in many showjumping breeding programs. Frozen semen is available from his owners in the USA and I believe it would be worth the time and energy to figure out what type of mares best suit this impressive stallion.
REBOZO LA SILLA
HH Rebozo (birth name Rebozo la Silla) is a Mexican-bred stallion that burst on the world scene in 2010 by placing 4th in the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky with Brazilian rider Rodrigo Pessoa. Rebozo also has had very good results in 5-star Grand Prix and other big classes in Rome, Calgary, Geneva, Paris, Turin, etc. The dam of Rebozo is Renata la Silla (birth name Anja), which successfully competed with Mexican rider Jaime Guerra in venues such as the world famous Aachen show grounds in Germany; they placed 11th in the 1995 Aachen Grand Prix. Along with Rebozo, Renata la Silla also produced the international showjumpers Almira la Silla, Fine Line, Nelson Z, and Regia Q LS. The extended damline has produced more international showjumpers and is the type of damline I like to use in a showjumping breeding program.
If my mares were in North America I would use Rebozo in my showjumping breeding program for several reasons. He has competed successfully at a very high level in international showjumping; his damline is exceptionally strong close up (meaning that one does not have to look far on his family tree to find exceptional athletes); and it would provide me another opportunity to use the blood of Quidam de Revel through the sire of Rebozo, Dollar de la Pierre (also known as Tlaloc la Silla), himself a successful CSI jumper. I suspect that Rebozo has not sired many foals so it would be wise, I believe, to consult with the La Silla stud farm in Mexico about the type of mares that might best suit this stallion. I predict they will recommend taller, rectangular mares that come from damlines with high rideability.
Harmony’s Rousseau is a Dutch Warmblood stallion that has the potential to make a huge contribution to dressage breeding in North America. Before he was purchased by a US stud farm and exported to the States he produced three consecutive champions of the KWPN Stallion Show, three stallion performance test champions, and four approved stallions sons in Germany. From those early breeding years in Europe he has many progeny going up the levels in national-level dressage, especially in the Netherlands, and in the next two to four years we hope to see a significant number of these athletes compete successfully in CDI classes. In 2011 the USEF ranks Rousseau as the 145th best dressage sire with six progeny contributing to the ranking. The damline of Rousseau is extensive but not very impressive: It has produced only one CDI horse, a great-grand-son of the dam of Rousseau. However the dam of Roussea competed at Z2 level in the Nethelands as did her progeny Jalisco and Pandora while her famous stallion son competed at Z1 level before his breeding career took priority over his sport career.
If my mares were in North America I would use Rousseau in my small and occasional dressage breeding program but I would try to do so intelligently. By that I mean I would spend a lot of time consulting with the KWPN’s inspectors and officials, and breeders in the Netherlands, about what type of mares best suit this stallion. He produced a lot of foals before he left Europe for the USA and his successful progeny in sport should be studied as closely as his failed progeny in sport. I also would keep a very close eye on the progeny of Rousseau competing in the USA and perform the same type of analyses. If we do not see a lot of Netherlands-bred and German-bred progeny breaking into international dressage in the next two to four years then I would remove this stallion from my wish list. But I believe that Rousseau will become a significant sire of international dressage horses.
A few disclosures: First, I am friends with the owners of Windfall. Second, in 2004 I petitioned the Irish Sport Horse Studbook to approve Windfall, which they did. Third, I will be using Windfall in my eventing breeding program in 2012 and beyond. Windfall is one of best stallions ever to compete in international eventing. Germany’s Horse of the Year in 1999, the stallion was purchased and exported to the USA for both a sport and breeding career, and he has excelled in both jobs. The Individual Gold Medal winner at the 2003 Pan American Games, Windfall also won a Team Bronze Medal at the 2008 Olympics with his rider Darren Chiacchia. In 2004 Windfall was ranked by the FEI as the world’s 3rd best international eventing horse. Because of his long sport career Windfall does not have many progeny old enough to be in sport. However in 2011 his son Project Runway is ranked 373rd in the world as an eventing horse; he was short-listed for the US team for the Pan American Games. Another international eventing horse sired by Windfall is Karambeu M. Windfall’s dam is the thoroughbred mare Wundermaedel xx, which raced nine times and won in eventing up to Advanced level. Along with Windfall, Wundermaedel xx also produced the international eventing mare Windspiel, the “Trakehner of the Year” in 1997; among her accomplishments was placing 7th in the Luhmuehlen CCI***.
I will be using Windfall in my eventing breeding program because he is a world-class eventing horse, he has an exceptional dam and sibling, he had a very long competition career, and as a true 84% “blood” horse he will bring the thoroughbred and Arab genes I require in my eventing breeding program. For me, and for eventing breeders in North America, he is a “must use” sire.