What a show!  Super high quality horses, a brilliant champion, and one of the most emotional and satisfying presentations in my 20-plus years in Den Bosch. This may be one of the best photos I’ve ever taken. It’s so hard to capture the emotion, the history, and the relationships that led up to this presentation, but this picture comes close for me.

 

Having attended the first ring in December, I was interested to see if my impressions of the horses would change significantly.  Well, two months makes a huge difference in the development of a young horse. My favorites were still my favorites, but many horses I hadn’t cared for in the first round had developed enough to be much more impressive. Overall, I thought the quality of both the jumping and dressage horses was high.

 

In particular, the Totilas grandsons really stood out for me. As anyone who has ever read my opinions probably knows, I’ve been a Totilas fan from the get go. I’ve always believed that he would be as good or better as a producer as he was as a sport horse. It’s pretty hard to argue with that statement at this point in time. His sons are consistently producing some of the best horses in the studbook.

 

The only moment in my many years at the Stallion Show that stands out to me as more special than the presentation of Totilas and his sons and grandsons this year was the first time I Totilas himself was presented. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a crowd of so many people all so emotionally struck as they were when Matthias Rath walked out with Totilas. Tears, screaming…it was crazy. As Matthias walked Totilas around the hall, you could literally hear and see the swell of emotion pass through the crowd as if someone had orchestrated a wave around the Brabanthallen. It was amazing.  There have been lots of haters on social media about the presentation and the way Toto Jr and Total US were ridden, and I don’t get it. It’s so clear what talent these horses have naturally. Yes, they’re ridden to accentuate that talent, but it’s not manufactured or forced–the propensity for it is genetically passed on by a stallion who may become the most important KWPN stallion in the history of the studbook. Totilas had begun to demonstrate his abilities long before Edward Gal got into the saddle. Maybe he would never have developed as completely as he did without Edward, but the ability and the brain were there from the beginning. The only sad moment for me during the Totilas presentation was when it hit me that Gaudi should have been out there. As I’ve said before, if Gaudi hadn’t been injured, we never could have afforded him, but I felt a moment of sadness for both him and his breeders that he wasn’t part of the presentation. He is completely on par with the rest of the Totilas sons in his natural abilities. It’s a shame he never got to demonstrate that. Hopefully, he’ll prove his value through his babies.

 

Speaking of Gaudi, it was a pretty good year for him, even though he wasn’t there.  Not only was there the whole Totilas show, there was also a certain Bordeaux x Ferro x DeNiro colt that wowed the crowd and easily walked away with the Championship.  Le Formidable! Gaudi’s nephew, out of his half sister. What a horse! What a mareline.

 

As I mentioned after attending the first round, I’m not going to comment on every horse.  I do have copious notes if there’s a horse you’re interested in hearing more about. Happy to speak privately with people, but I’m not going to go horse by horse and put my thoughts into writing.

 

That being said, I will mention one horse who’s available via frozen in North America, Kjento (Negro x Jazz x Juventus).  His pedigree is at least a generation behind what I want to be breeding, but there’s nothing “behind” about him. Super supple, great bending, nice type–shows real talent for the upper levels. It will be interesting to see what his first foals look like this year. He was one of my favorites of the show.

 

I’ve got a few more observations about this trip to post in a bit.