The final day of our trip to Germany saw us finish off in style. After a leisurely breakfast we headed to Gestut Sprehe to look at some of the stallions they have standing at their stallion station in Loningen.
We were shown around by Nadine Heidrich who gave us a frank and informative insight into some of the 40+ stallions they stand. The ones that stood out for various reasons were Hickstead White, De Niro Gold, Diamond Hit, Erdinger and Marc Cain.
The only stallion son of the late great Olympic champion Hickstead, out of a mare who is just starting her own international career, this young grey stallion stood out among the jumpers. A lovely modern type, with a strong topline, he is already impressing with his first crop of foals, being awarded the Oldenburg Main Premium in 2016. This premium is awarded to young stallions based on their performance test results and the quality of their first foal crop.
He scored 9.5 for jumping ability at his performance test in Neustadt/Dosse and will be aimed at Bundeschampionate qualification in 2017. We were also lucky enough to be shown his dam, who is a very athletic modern type with a wonderfully kind disposition. Having seen Hickstead White under saddle in November, he jumps with a lovely technique and scope, and at least one of our party added him to the top of her short list for her jumping mares.
De Niro Gold
With the loss of the great De Niro as a breeding stallion in 2016, it is always interesting to look at stallion sons who may be able to pass on some of his great genetics. De Niro Gold is a 4 year old, out of an Elite daughter of Florencio and he impressed on two counts. Firstly he had a magnificent presence about him combined with a kind temperament. Secondly he had super strong limbs, with great hocks, definitely a stallion to add some substance to a lighter mare.
He is certainly a stallion that I look forward to seeing under saddle and also to the quality of his first crop of foals.
The elder statesman of Sprehe, this ex international Grand Prix horse was not overly impressed with being asked to pose for his British visitors. He looked very well for a 20 year old, and being one of the best entire sons of his great sire Don Schufro, he will no doubt be in demand as a breeding stallion for many years to come.
This coming 3 year stood out for his sheer size and powerful frame in such a young horse. A son of dual Bundeschampion Escolar, he has an interesting jumping pedigree on the dam’s side. Sprehe rate him as one of the best moving of their young stallions. However I felt his pasterns are too long and sloping, which may well contribute to his movement, but would be a concern for longer term soundness.
The elegant black son of Millenium, was the Vice-Bundeschampion of 3 year old dressage stallions in 2016, scoring 9s for his trot, canter and conformation and 19/20 from the test rider. He carries Don Primero and Akzent II blood on the dam side with the immediate mare family producing good sport horses and premium mares and further back is the dam line of Louella Inschallah.
Although he has very modern lines, and is very athletic, he doesn’t have the boldest of eyes and wasn’t as friendly and inquisitive as some of the other stallions.
A number of the other very interesting stallions were away training at the sister sport stable and so we were not able to see them. Overall Sprehe offers such a wide range of stallions, at differing budgets, that there is bound to something to suit most mare owners whether looking for dressage or jumping stallions.
Schockemohle Stallion Show
The final leg of the tour was a trip back to Vechta, for the Schockemohle stallion show. Always sold out well in advance, this is the most popular of the Oldenburg stallion shows. Although originally a show jumping yard, the dressage stallions now out weigh the jumpers.
Show Jumpers 1
The show opened with a some of the rising 3 year old stallions being shown down the jumping lane. All the team were beautifully drilled to show off each young stallion at his best.
First to come in was a Casall son who was very stamped by his sire with a pretty head and medium sized frame. Casallato had a very relaxed and easy technique and although he did nothing wrong was not spectacular. He was followed by Classino, another Holstein stallion. Although his pedigree is not the most inspiring, he was very good in the jumping lane. He was very tidy in front, with very good reflexes and a natural tight tuck of the hind legs. He had a good attitude and was light on his feet.
The third young stallion to loose jump was the grey Calido’s Son. Very pretty but a little herring gutted, he was very quick down the lane. He had a lot of scope and gave the fences a lot of air, but was not as tight in his limbs as the previous stallion. As well as Calido he carries Stakkato and Contender on the maternal side.
With the jumping lane cleared in super quick time, the first dressage stallion was presented. Great Schufro is a 3 year old son of the Gribald son Grey Flanell out of an Elite Don Schufro x Akzent II daughter. I had seen him licence last November and had noted then that I was impressed by the use of the hind leg and naturally uphill way of going. Although he was ridden a little short in the neck, he did impress with the good reach and pushing power of his hind legs and he was good through his back. He has a nice attitude as well and could be a bit of a dark horse among the collection of stars.
The year older For Cruise was a typical Furstenball son. He was a handsome dark brown horse with a good walk and very rhythmic canter but had slightly soft hind pasterns. He was followed by Da Vinci Code, a Dancier son that was not in the printed catalogue. He is jointly owned with Hengst Station Holkenbrink and will stand with them for 2017. Very stamped by his sire in his type, he was ridden nicely forward. His paces, especially the walk were good through the body but he could have opened his shoulder more.
Another, older Dancier son was next – the popular Danciano. He has matured very nicely, is stronger in the body and had a very nice rhythm and cadence to the canter. The 7 year old showed good working pirouettes and the start of piaffe and passage. Bordeaux was the final stallion in this section. He looked supple and kind. Although his tempi changes were clean, the hind quarters were swinging. He showed lovely joint articulation without being extreme. The outside hind leg had a tendency to step wide in the pirouettes, but his passage was always in a good uphill carriage.
Show Jumpers 2
With the fences rapidly replaced, Kanndarco was the first of the jumpers to come back in. He jumped some big fences for a 4 year old , giving them plenty of clearance. The black stallion takes more after grandsire Darco in appearance than his sire Kannan. He was followed by Diatendro who is a a long legged version of his famous sire Diarado. He jumps with the same extravagance, with a particularly flashy hind leg. Interestingly he brings the blood of Grannus and Akzent II on the dam side and is related to the Westfalen state stud stallions Diathago and Pilothago.
Next was the very blood type Cascallco, another Casall son. A pretty head and a lighter frame, he could have more front. He was very athletic over his fences with a good bascule. He was followed by the tall Chacco Blue son Chacoon Blue, who is already competing at S** level. He is a little light through the body and loin, with a slightly straight hind quarter. He had very quick reflexes with a lot of scope and a good technique in front.
I was particuarly interested in the first of this group of dressage stallions, Feinrich, as I am expecting a foal by him shortly and was keen to see how he was developing under saddle. He is already developing quite a stallion crest for an only 4 year old and certainly has a super temperament as you would expect from his excellent motherline. The canter has very good jump and balance, and the trot has very correct mechanics.
He was followed by the liver chestnut Flinstone, a son of Fidertanz. He could have had a quicker hind leg and more articulation of the hock in canter. The walk was workmanlike. The next stallion Top Gear, a Totilas son, had good mechanics but didn’t wow the audience. His neck set is slightly awkward and he could be stronger across the loin.
The second son of Fidertanz to be shown was the popular Foundation. He has a lot of strength in his body but remains supple and elastic. The trot is huge with the hind leg reaching so far under that you worry it is almost too much reach for the higher levels of the sport. The motherline is proving interesting too with Hans Peter Minderhoud riding the very promising full brother Glock’s Flavio.
The Grand Prix stallion Delatio is new to the Schockemohle stallion roster and impressed with his forgiving nature and trainability. He was ridden in a nice open frame and was correct in his training with the tempi changes and passage being the highlight.
Show Jumpers 3
The final section of show jumpers started with Action Blue. This Action Breaker x Chacco Blue 5 year old really impressed last season but on this day looked a little flat. A modern, athletic stamp, he is worth watching as he has the potential to be a little bit special. He was followed by the 2014 Bundeschampion Caroly (Calio x Contendro). He has a lot of scope, with a big front. He was powerful off the floor and gave the fences plenty of air.
Messenger is a beautiful bred son of Montender from the immediate mother line of Stakkato. He has been very consistent in his sport career, now winning at S*** level. He has strong limbs and power and was very consistent. He is not a flashy horse but I know from personal experience he has a super brain and should be more popular with mare owners than he is.
The final jumping stallion was the star sire Diarado. He was as lovely as ever and is still extremely popular with the crowd and breeders.
The finale to the show and the whole trip were a final tranche of dressage stallions. The first of these was Don De Niro, who was sadly fatally injured a week later. My observations were that he was light of bone when you saw him without his bandages on, with nice balance under saddle for a 3 year old and a very good loin connection.
He was followed by the 4 year old For Romance II, a full brother to the stallion we had seen at Lodbergen just 2 days earlier. His neck set is very similar to his ¾ brother Feinrich, but a little less cresty and he is maybe slightly better through his body. He is still a little narrow in the chest but the hind leg had good reach under in the canter.
Sir Donnerhall next was as consistent as ever. His hocks are always a little out behind but he is such a popular sire, especially through his daughters. He was followed by the great Balou de Rouet, shown in hand and with a retired stallion’s tummy. But his lovely character showed through his soft eye and ears, and the audience showed their appreciation.
Furst Jazz was the penultimate stallion, a son of Furst Romancier x Painted Black x Jazz. He hails from the dam line of Charmeur and Zhivago. Furst Jazz is long legged with nice hind quarter angles. He is still a little narrow but is only 4. Even though he showed a little tension at times, there is definitely a natural ability to collect.
Finally the show finished with the Nuremberg Burgpokal winner Vitalis and Isabel Freese. He was beautifully ridden with a soft curb and a nice open frame. He has a very expressive front leg and finished the show on a high.
Heading back to the airport, the whole group were filled with motivation about stallions they had seen but also the production and presentation of all the stallions. It really was an inspiration for breeding programs back in the UK.