Higher and wider
The latest courses are a lot more technical and require horses who are extremely fast and agile. They also need to be naturally careful – too many horses were man-made in the past. The international showjumping sport has never reached a higher and wider level than today. There have never been as many top-level showjumping organisations with more competitors as there are now.
Thousands of horses are in action at a level that has never been higher, faster and more sophisticated.
Years ago sport horse breeding used to be something of a gamble because most people bred horses out of mares they didn’t know much about. So the mare could have been unhealthy, have average jumping ability with very little competition mentality, but she was beautiful with lovely movement and she produced lovely foals. Even with a top stallion on such a mare your success rate is going to be very low and with the increasing costs to raise and produce a normal showjumper it’s not worth the effort.
The first key to success in breeding a top jumper is the mare. The dam and the direct dam-line are responsible for 70% of the genetic package of your foal. Take a look at three to four generations of the dam-line of the top 100 horses in the world and you will see that in 95% of the cases there are a lot more showjumpers out of the same dam-lines.
When you breed you have to sell some day, so it’s quite important to know what kind of horses the international sport requires.
The second thing the sport demands is blood and quality. Heartbreaker adds tremendous quality and blood and that’s exactly what the Quidams and the Nababs need.
So another keyword in breeding is ‘dominance’.
If you know the dominant factors of your mare-line and you know the dominant factors of the stallion, then you are going to be in a far better position to make the right choice.
Another very important name is Furioso II. He is the sire of For Pleasure and Voltaire, who is the sire of Kannan. The influence of both Kannan and Voltaire in the breeding of top showjumpers on the sire side but also on the dam side is invaluable.
The rising star on the scene is of course Cornet Obolensky. This BWP-bred stallion was himself a great performer but far from an easy horse. Luckily his offspring is easier than he is. When you use Cornet in breeding make sure that your mare breeds big enough as he can breed irregular in size.
The only stallion on the list who is still active in the sport is Casall ASK who is today the stallion who keeps the hopes high in Holstein, the proud German studbook.
Another stallion who is still very popular with the breeders in Europe is Diamant de Semilly. It’s amazing how many of his sons are already approved all over Europe. Diamant matches very well with blood-typed mares like Laudanum xx daughters in France. He also requires a mare with a longer back and one who has a very good front-leg technique. His dominant point is that his offspring have an excellent canter and use of the back and hindquarters over the jump.
Blood is still needed and at this moment we don’t have enough stallions who have the blood/quality combination of Heartbreaker, Laudanum xx, Caletto II and the like. Scope is well available in most sires and dam-lines but the sport horse must also remain an athlete, and therefore you need a quality stallion.
The use of Thoroughbreds is at a very low level at this moment and it’s not really an alternative because of the ‘cost’ – too much of the first generation of TB progeny isn’t good enough in top sport. So for the moment we are looking at some interesting youngsters who are busy trying to prove themselves in the competition.
Text: Henning Pretorius; Photography: FEI
For the full article, get the May 2015 issue of HQ Magazine.