The 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics began on August 5 and we’ll start with a little history of the Olympics and Equestrian sports. The first Olympics was held in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC and featured track and field disciplines, chariot racing and boxing. Yes – horses were included in those first games! However, over many centuries, the Olympic tradition has evolved to include water sports, team sports, winter sports and, of course, our traditional equestrian sports. The first time equestrian sports were included in the Olympics was at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. The separate disciplines of dressage, eventing and show jumping were not present in this Olympics but they did perform a military test. The military test was very similar to eventing as it consisted of both dressage and jumping portions. Eventually, in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, the equestrian sports separated and formed the three factions we recognize today as dressage, eventing and show jumping.
The athletes, both horses and riders, that will compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics will come from all parts of the world. The United States, alone, has horses that were born in seven different countries. The US is not only being represented by their riders, but also by the horses we have bred here in this country. Four US-bred horses, competing for four different countries, traveled to Brazil: Selten HW, competing for the Danish team; Quincy Car, competing for the Columbian team; Blackfoot Mystery competing for the US; and Muggle as the traveling reserve horse for Brazil.
Selten HW (Sandro Hit-Hohenstein) was bred by Irene Hoeflich-Wiederhold in Cape Coral, Florida. His competition career began when at 2-years old when he was Reserve Grand Champion of Dressage at Devon. At 3 years old, Selten was started by Michael Bragdell of Hilltop Farm in Maryland. Elizabeth Ball purchased Selten late that year, but had Michael begin his undersaddle showing the following spring. With Michael, Selten won the 4-Year-old US Young Horse National Championships in 2008. Michael qualified Selten for the 5-Year Old Championships the following spring and then Beth took over the ride. She won both the 5 and 6-year-old Young Horse Championships with the talented gelding – the first horse to win the ‘Triple Crown’ of Young Horse Championships here in the US. In 2012, Selten was sold at the Netherlands’ Equine Elite Auction for €500,000 ($647,000) to Fiona Bigwood. She’s based in the UK with her husband Anders Dahl, who eventually took over the ride. Selten and Anders had very successful CDI outings in the small tour with wins at Hickstead, Hartpury, and Barcelona. They moved up to the Grand Prix this year and are now representing Denmark at the Games.
In the showjumping ring, Quincy Car (Galiani Car- Amour Parfait) and Fernando Cardenas will be representing team Colombia. Quincy Car was bred by Fernado’s father, Fernando Cardenas Sr., in Ocala, FL and the Fernando family continues to own him to this day. Fernando and Quincy Car have a special relationship since they have been a team from Quincy Car’s first show to now. Quincy Car is fast and careful as he soars over the 1.6 meter (5’3”) jumps. In 2014, they won the $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix and in 2015, they won the$25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, just to name a few. It is very rare to see a rider ride a homebred horse through all of the levels, let alone to the Olympics. They are already part of a fairy tale so let’s hope they have a fairy tale ending!
In eventing, we have traditionally seen higher percentages of US-bred horses – often due of course to the influence of the Thoroughbred in this sport’s history. Blackfoot Mystery (Out of Place- Proud Truth), bred by John O’Meara, also known as Big Red, began his athletic career on the racetrack in California but retired as he lost his first 3 races. Lisa Peecook bought him off the track and rode him up to CCI1* with the occasional help of Kelly Prather. Kelly fell in love with Big Red and bought him from Lisa in 2013 and competed him up to CCI3*. Kelly was a student of Boyd Martin and as Kelly and Blackfoot Mystery maintained her success in CCI3* competitions, Boyd continued to be impressed by Red’s athleticism. In 2015, Boyd and the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate bought the 17.2 hand thoroughbred from Kelly and progressed to the CCI4* level on Big Red. With Boyd’s experience and Red’s natural ability, the pair dominated the challenging courses and qualified for the 2016 Olympics.
Muggle (Obadiah-Fair Play) was bred by Laurel Hill Farm in Laurel Hill, FL and is owned by the Phoenix Syndicate, LLC. Muggle and Nilson Moreira Da Silva, his rider, met when Nilson moved from his home in Brazil to the US in 2011. Nilson never competed in eventing until he came to the US and met Melissa Stubenberg and Muggle. Melissa owned and rode Muggle up to training level but handed the reigns over to Nilson who took the mount and competed Muggle from training level to CCI3* in 4 years. Even though both horse and rider were green, the team earned 2nd place at their first CCI3* at CHC International in Fairburn, Ga. The pair continued to exceed expectations in CCI4* competitions and earned the Traveling Reserve spot on the Brazilian eventing team.
We wish all of the US bred horses and their riders great success at the 2016 Rio Olympics!
Susanne Manz, Manz Dressage Horses
Twin Cities area, Minnesota
I’ve loved horses my whole life and always wanted to ride. But, in the last couple of years, I’ve been able to devote some of my time to my other passion – breeding dressage horses. Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the things a breeder of sport horses needs to know in order to successfully and responsibly breed sport horses:
· History and Strategy of Sport Horse Breeding
· Conformation and Form to Function concepts
· Genetics and heritability
o Breeding values and statistics
o Selection of breeding horses
· Equine reproduction techniques
· Riding concepts and how they shape your breeding goals
· Registries for Sport Horses
· Business concepts for breeders
· Advertising and Promotion techniques
o Including photography, video, showing, social media, etc.
· Nutrition and feeding of breeding horses
· Bloodlines and their strengths and weaknesses
There is obviously a huge body of knowledge that is important in shaping our goals for breeding as well as our ability to achieve those goals and market (or keep) the results. I wish there were a Sport Horse Breeders Comprehensive Handbook, but there isn’t. I haven’t found one source of information that fulfilled all my needs in a comprehensive manner. But, the following sources of information have been helpful to me:
· Organizations such as USSHBA focused on Breeding of Sport Horses
· Organizations such USDF, USEF, USHJA, FEI that determine expectations and standards for competition
· Organizations/Registries that provide standards and criteria for selection and registration of sport horses
o Stallion Shows, approvals
o Auctions and other marketing outlets
· Various books, magazines, on-line forums
· Registry meetings, courses, tours
· Competitions for sport horses
· Riding instructors
· On-line forums and social media
· Formal education such as equine studies, business school, etc.
· Networking, meeting, and talking to other breeders
I have voraciously consumed all the materials I can get on breeding dressage horses. But, there are lots of gaps in the written materials currently available. I live in Minnesota (for now anyway) and I don’t have many opportunities here to interact with other breeders of dressage horses. As such, I’ve had to travel quite a bit to network with other breeders and see horses and inspections/keurings. I take advantage of Registry tours and structured seminars (like the USSHBA Breeders seminar) for educational opportunities. And there are some excellent breeder groups on Facebook that allow good discussion.
USSHBA has a mission to support US Breeders through education, recognition and outreach. They have already conducted seminars and are planning additional seminars. Tell us what areas of education are most interesting to you. We welcome your comments.
A collaborative effort produced by the USSHBA Education Committee, USSHBA members, and our partners.