What a great trip! It was one of my favorite years in Den Bosch. Fun people at our table, some high quality stallions, catching up with friends in Holland, and some interesting horse shopping all made for a super time. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about each accepted stallion, but I would like to share some general thoughts, then get more specific about the premium stallions. Additionally, I’d like to request some feedback from you folks about some stallion possibilities for North America. If you can take a minute to comment on FB, send me a text, shoot me an email, or give me a call after you read this, I’d appreciate it.
Overall, the quality of stallions was high. It’s been a real learning curve for me to attend both the First Ring and the Stallion Show the last couple of years. The development of these horses over the course of the two months between the first viewing and Den Bosch is interesting and good for my brain to see and recognize. Three of my favorites from the First Ring became premium stallions, and a fourth didn’t only because he was born in Germany. One of my favorites wasn’t even selected. Certain sire lines significantly developed between the two viewings, and a couple of the sire lines I really liked didn’t so much. Of the four year olds under saddle, which I have now seen in all three of their public presentations, again, some haven’t developed as I would have expected, and others have developed much better than I would have thought. I haven’t completely processed all of the information now stored in the old noggin, but I gained a lot of new insights this year. That being said, there are fewer and fewer stallions I’m excited about or even interested in using for our program. I don’t know if it’s an overabundance of information flooding my sensibilities, or if it’s the development of a deeper base of knowledge and more specific breeding goals leading me to stricter selection criteria. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
All about Totilas and Vivaldi Sons
The Jazz, Ferro, Krack C, and Flemmingh influence is still very present in the breeding population, but these influences now show up most successfully in the mare lines. In the sire lines, it’s all about Totilas, Vivaldi, and their sons. Given that there have been so many Totilas detractors on social media from the beginning, and I have always felt both protective of him and dumbfounded by the vitriol that many people have expressed, I feel a sense of pride for Totilas and a sense of vindication for believing in him as a breeding stallion from the beginning. Granted, Totilas can produce a short-legged, more compact horse, but he also can produce a leggy, modern type with super balance and athleticism. In contrast, I was not a Vivaldi fan in the beginning. I focused too much on the negatives he brings to the table, such as the weak back, his tendency to throw out the front legs and not really lift in the withers, and his lack of power in the hindlegs–and focused not enough on the positives, such as really good ridability, beautiful types, beautiful fronts, and lots of suppleness. This began to change for me the year I attended the offspring inspections of his first sons. Over time, seeing the crosses that work so well with Vivaldi, I really appreciate the contribution he’s made to Dutch breeding.
General Comments on Accepted Stallions
There were only two Apache sons this year, one accepted and one not. The Apache x Desperado x Ferro was one of my favorites in the first selection. Really top horse. A little weak in the back coming from the UB-40.
Bon Coeur Son
Didn’t love this horse in the first selection, but I ended up liking him better and better every time I saw him in Den Bosch. Super conformation. Maybe a little heavy and could have a better front in movement. He’s completely German bred, Bon Coeur x Don Index x Rohdiamant.
Only one was accepted, the Bordeaux x Florencio x Vivaldi. He’s owned by VDL stud, so we should have access to his frozen before long. I’ll go into a bit more detail about him when I talk about the Premium stallions. Bordeaux is one of those stallions I’ve learned a lot about by seeing the first selection. Granted, he was just named a keur stallion, but there is a huge variety of type in what he produces from my perspective. The good ones are really good, but there are a number I’ve seen over the last couple years that are quite weedy.
Daily Diamond Sons
I was really hoping Daily Diamond would be a fantastic addition to Dutch breeding. He’s produced some incredible foals that have sold really well at the auctions. His overall collection of sons was not that impressive to me, however. A number were presented in December–only a few made it to Den Bosch. One was accepted, the Daily Diamond x Dreamboy x Silvano N. Overall, they can be heavy and need more power in the hind end. The types vary. They strike me as good riding horses, but not necessarily breeding horses.
This was a good collection of horses and a good example of the positive impact Vivaldi is having in the breeding population. Desperado is the heaviest of the Vivaldi sons, and this shows up in his offspring. Yet, they are super supple, and some have exceptionally good bending and use of the hindleg. My favorite horse of the entire show was the Desperado x Jazz x Juventus.
I like this horse. Super balance. Supple. Dettori is Desperado x DeNiro, so this horse is a Vivaldi great grandson. Dettori x Krack C x Hitchcock.
Three Dreamboy sons made it to Den Bosch, and all three were accepted. The best by far is the Dreamboy x United x Jazz, who was invited to the Premium ring. Overall, I think Dreamboy is a better producer of mares than stallions, but when he hits, he hits big.
Ebony is Painted Black x Jazz x Contango, so interesting pedigree, but not a super strong mare line. This colt, Ebony x Vivaldi x Sunny Boy is OK. I haven’t seen many Ebony offspring, so not much to which to compare, but he’s long in the hindleg and a little hocky. Really nice walk, and he was super in hand.
This is a nice Expression son. Expression x Uphill x Darlngton, classic Van Norel lines. Really good bending of the body, lots of power, supple, a bit short in the croup. He was the only Expression son in Den Bosch.
I really liked the Ferdinand sons, both in the first selection and in Den Bosch. Consistent types, lots of expression, maybe a little long in the hind leg. It’s too bad Ferdinand was sold to Russia. He is a good producer.
For Dance Son
Interesting horse. For Dance x Sir Donnerhall x Rohdiamant.
For Romance Sons
I love what For Romance produces. Gorgeous types, uphill, great bending in the body, supple. I didn’t see one as nice as the For Romance x Totilas colt I have in my stallion paddock right now…but they are good horses. I thought the jury would take both of the For Romance colts, but they only took one, the For Romance x Lord Leatherdale x Vincent.
Four Legends KS Son
Four Legends is Gaudi’s nephew, so I’m admittedly biased, but this was a top colt. Of course, this is balanced out by the fact that I don’t like Furstenball. Four Legends x Furstenball x Esteban. This is a really chic, beautiful horse, with incredible suppleness.
I was confused during the first selection because the jury selected almost all of the shorter-coupled, shorter-legged Franklins, instead of any of the taller, longer-lined ones. Franklin can really produce a top mover, but many of the offspring need significantly longer lines. Two were selected for the testing. One is out of a mare line that also produces smaller horses–the other is longer lined, but has Ferro in the damline, giving the colt Ferro three times in the pedigree. Not something I would do.
Not a fan.
The jury took one Glamourdale son, a Glamourdale x Son de Niro x Ulster, grandson of the famous mare, Dolly. For my tastes, the Glamourdales are consistently short legged and a little old fashioned in type. I’ve seen some very good movers and good sporthorse types, but he’s just not a stallion I’m particularly interested in for our program.
Glock’s Toto Jr Sons
To be fair here, I was not a Toto Jr fan when he was selected with Gaudi and Governor. I thought he was old fashioned and heavy with the weakest movement of the three accepted stallions in Totilas’s first KWPN crop. Under saddle, he’s certainly proven me wrong. His offspring have a similar effect on me, however, and we certainly saw enough of them this year to make a fair assessment. The type is all over the place; they can be exceptional, or they can be really heavy and need longer lines. Nonetheless, they all look like good riding horses. Toto Jr x Jazz does seem to be a niche. Five of the colts presented in Den Bosch were either out of Jazz dam or a Jazz-line dam.
This is a nice horse. Easy mover. Maybe a little stiff laterally, but nice. He’s Hennessy x Bordeaux x Ferro. Last year, eight or nine colts were presented in the first selection, but only one was sent on to Den Bosch, and he was exceptional. The rest of them were quite heavy and short legged. This year, I think there were only two in the first selection, with this one going on. I love Hennessy’s pedigree and Hennessy himself under saddle, but I’d like to see him consistently produce a more modern type.
Indian Rock Sons
Indian Rock has not produced as well as people expected. None of them blew me away. The one accepted son was the Indian Rock x Bretton Woods x Rhodium. He’s very leggy and has a nice front. The others were quite heavy and not special.
Johnson makes a really specific type. Sometimes that type comes with a really good hind leg, and sometimes it doesn’t. The Johnson x Negro x Wisconsin is a special horse. He was selected for the Premium Ring.
Sezuan is not one of my favorite producers. For the most part, from what I’ve seen, his sons are heavy. Granted, I have not seen many of his German offspring, so it may be a different scenario crossed on that mare base. I don’t know. This son that was accepted, Sezuan x Johnson x TCN Partout has a pedigree I love…because it’s my mareline, but he’s a little heavy. I’ve seen a lot of horses out of this mareline. This is a nice son. Super supple. Really good mover. But, he’s pretty heavy in type for a three year old. That’s not coming from the mareline.
Sir Donnerhall Son
Beautiful type. Slightly long hind leg. Doesn’t really carry.
Total US Sons
Jury is out on these boys until I see them under saddle. I liked them better in Den Bosch than during the first selection, but they’re still all really normal horses. Nothing special. Given that Total US is so incredible himself and not breeding any more, it makes sense to give a son or two a shot. The committee took three out of the four presented.
Three good sons this year. My favorite is the Totilas x DeNiro (familiar pedigree, anyone?). He would have been selected for the Premium Ring if he hadn’t been born in Germany. Absolutely gorgeous horse. Best conformation and type of any horse in the selection. His movement was not as good as it was in the first selection. This colt was recently sold to Helgstrand, so maybe we’ll have access to some frozen semen in the next year or two. The Totilas x Krack C was selected for the Premium Ring. The Totilas x Metall x Krack C got better and better as the weekend went on. He is the smallest of the three, but still a really nice type and a good mover. My guess is that he would have gone for a lot more money in the Select Sale if someone had a crystal ball to see how special he’s going to be under saddle.
This is a Glock horse. I think they presented him in Germany, and he wasn’t accepted. He’s Vitalis x Bon Bravour x Rosario x Dream of Glory. That’s a super interesting pedigree. Since it’s a German mareline, there’s no information in the program, so I’m basing it only on the stallions–nonetheless, it’s an interesting line up. The horse is very long lined and supple. Maybe a little heavy. I liked him better in Den Bosch than I did in the first selection. The second Vitalis son selected, Vitalis x Sir Donnerhall x Filigran, didn’t do much for me. Completely different in type. Short legs. Built downhill. Needs more power.
As I mentioned in my intro to this entry, and as you can tell from reading the pedigrees of the accepted colts, Vivaldi is having a huge impact on Dutch breeding. The committee only accepted one direct son this year, Vivaldi x Sandro Hit x De Niro. He’s not the best Vivaldi son I’ve seen. A little small and quite spastic. But, there are a couple of international GP horses coming from the damline, so I’m sure that’s why he was sent on to the testing. We’ll see if he can measure up to his approved brothers.
Wasn’t a fan. All needed more power and a more rectangular frame.
I like the new system. I like it a lot, as a matter of fact. In the previous system of naming a single champion, that horse received all of the attention. Sure, breeders and owners could say their horse was invited to the Championship Ring, but, other than the Champion, none of those horses got their moment in the spotlight. In the new system, each of the six Premium-selected stallions has a moment at center stage with his breeders and owners. One is not placed over the other–they all receive equal time and attention. This is better for the breeders and the stallion owners. Whichever stallion is named Champion in Den Bosch typically gets an inordinate, and, often, undeserved, number of breedings. Recognizing the very top tier of the stallions could “spread the wealth”, as it were.
#314 Bordeaux x Florencio x Vivaldi x Houson
As I mentioned above, this is a VDL-owned horse, so North American breeders will have access to three Bordeaux sons. Since VDL does such a good job with frozen semen, Merlot VDL will be a great option for people. He’s a super nice type and really supple. He’s a lovely horse. His granddam is the mother of the approved stallion Incognito, by Davino VOD. He’s an interesting stallion for VDL.
#342 Desperado x Jazz x Juventus x Rubenstein I
Mowgli VOD! Love this horse. Movement wise, he was my favorite of the entire Stallion Show. Really top horse. Such good bending of the joints and really supple. He’s tall already, 1.72, and he’s by Desperado, who tends to throw heavy, so I’m not sure he’s going to be right for a big mare, but I love this pedigree for my program. He’s not available frozen yet…good thing we have a mare in Holland!
#362 Dreamboy x United x Jazz x Vincent
This guy’s name is Monte Carlo TC. I have one note written for him, “Top.” Fantastic horse. Fantastic pedigree. Fantastic mareline. There’s been a recent thread on FB about Dreamboy vs. Desperado as producers. When Dreamboy hits, he really hits. This is a special stallion.
#464 Glock’s Toto Jr x Jazz x Hotline x Alabaster
I would not have put Majestic Taonga in the Premium Ring. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of the Toto Jr’s, but my only note about this guy is, “better topline”. Meaning, better topline than many of the Toto Jr’s. As I remember, I wasn’t blown away by his movement or his type. His dam was Reserve Champion of the PAVO Cup in 2016, but, otherwise, there’s nothing to write home about in the mareline. He is owned by Helgstrand, and Mr. Andreas has certainly proved to have an eye for horses, so I’m probably missing something here.
#516 Johnson x Negro x Wisconsin x Amor
Maxson was absolutely fantastic in hand. He’s very uphill, but still has a bit of the Johnson hindleg, which is odd for being so uphill. It tells me, however, that he will be really good undersaddle. I wrote something that starts with, “top”, and ends with a word starting with, “m”, but I can’t read my own handwriting. Regardless, he’s a super horse. The mareline is really top, as well. That’s probably what the “top” and “m” mean! It’s produced multiple approved stallions, GP dressage horses and GP jumpers.
#547 Totilas x Krack C x Jazz x Sultan
This is Mansion. He was my second favorite from the first selection. He’s a super horse. Maybe he could have a hair more power, but there’s a certain suppleness that comes through from the Sultan way back in the pedigree that doesn’t look like as much power as it really is. I’m not sure how he’ll be as a breeding horse; he’s just a bit old fashioned in type. But, for sure, he’s an interesting Totilas son.
In summary, for our program, there were three or four really interesting stallions this year. Wasn’t blown away by any of the 2019 stallions undersaddle. Given my dismissal of Furstenball above, I liked the Furstenball x Dancier the best of the stallions presented having passed the testing. All and all, I continue to believe there are breeding types and riding types–our current selection committee tends toward riding types. In an ideal world every top riding horse would be a great producer, but it just doesn’t always work that way. There’s a certain “breed type/stallion type” that has to be considered. As I’ve said before, I know it’s counter intuitive, but selecting for the best riding types, even though we’re breeding for riding horses, isn’t always the right path forward. Oh, well. The jury can only work with the horses in front of them. And, I wouldn’t have selected much differently from the horses presented, so I’m not sure what I’m bitching about.
Potential Stallions to Import
Due partly to my years of connections in Holland, but, probably, due more to the success Gaudi has had in North America, I was offered six or seven different stallions to import for the North American market. Some for purchase, some for lease. A couple of them are really big-name stallions. I found one to buy I like a bunch, but I’m not sure he would breed enough mares here to cover even the cost of importing him. Since I don’t have unlimited funds to purchase stallions just for my own use, I don’t think that situation is going to fly. At the beginning of this post, I asked for some feedback. Here’s the first item:
If we were to bring him over, would you breed to a KWPN-approved stallion who is not especially popular in Holland just because I think he’s under used and under appreciated? His pedigree is a complete outcross for all but one or two mares in North America. He’s out of a top, top mareline. He had a really solid score in the testing. He’s producing top characters and beautiful fronts. But, he hasn’t done especially well under saddle to date, and his pedigree is not trendy. In many ways, he is exactly what the North American market needs, a complete outcross, produces amateur-friendly horses, and he’s beautiful. But, it wouldn’t justify the cost to bring him over for only my mares. What are you looking for for your mares? Would you be interested in him?
Here’s the second item: Alexandro P. I’ve been friends with his breeders for years. They are some of the kindest, most honest people I’ve met in Holland. They, along with Alexandro P’s owner, want me to bring Alexandro P here for breeding on a lease arrangement. I love this horse. I’ve loved him since he was a foal. He is the highest scoring Gelders stallion in history, a phenomenal producer on a wide variety of mares, he has 70 offspring competing in international driving, he has upper level dressage offspring, and he’s been recommended by the KWPN as an outcross for Dutch Harness mares to diversify the gene pool. I agreed to test the waters and see if there is enough interest in him to import him for the 2021 breeding season. So, that’s the second question: Would you breed to him? Importing a stallion costs between $15,000 and $20,000. If he only breeds 20 mares, it’s not worth it for his owner or me. How many of you would be willing to pay a booking fee by next January to convince me to import him?
Let me hear from you. You can leave a comment in the comment section at the end of this journal entry, post on Facebook in the thread announcing this journal entry, message me privately, text me (603-209-3243), or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to hear your thoughts.