It’s in the Blood

I am probably one of the few bloggers nerdy enough to follow the young horse competitions in Europe, but this year I’m kinda glad I did. The Bundeschampionate (basically a big fancy word for the German Federal Championships for Young Horses and Ponies) is held in September every year features the best young sporthorses and sportponies in Europe. If you’re into breeding it’s a pretty cool thing to keep up with because you can compare and contrast a lot of different bloodlines at once.

The Bundes is no joke. Both sections of the eventing championship – the 5yo and the 6yo – have some pretty serious courses to conquer. The format isn’t exactly the same as a regular event – the courses are shortened, the gallop is assessed, they are scored numerically, etc. Basically they are evaluating the horse’s potential to go on and be successful at the upper levels of the sport. More like the Young Horse competitions here in the US, but on steriods. This is last year’s winner of the 5yo section.

I haven’t paid much attention to the dressage or jumping sections lately, but this year I did keep an eye on the eventing sections. Two horses in particular jumped out at me in the 5yo Finals. The first was a familiar name – QC Diamantair. We saw that horse when we were in Belgium at the awesome castle-like barn of Lara de Leidekerke’s.

QC Diamantaire at BuCha
QC Diamantair when we saw him in Belgium

The second that caught my eye was the eventual winner of the 5yo final, Michel 233. He’s by Mighty Magic out of a Hanoverian mare. Some of you may remember that I’m planning on breeding Sadie to Mighty Magic next year. Some of you might also remember that Sadie is Hanoverian/TB. So naturally when I saw Michel I perked right up and dug a little deeper into the pedigrees. Turns out that Michel’s dam has 4 relatives in common with the Hanoverian side of Sadie’s pedigree – Gotthard, Wendekreis, Abglanz, and Der Lowe. Granted, nothing super close up in the pedigree but definite similarities nonetheless. Very interesting, and pretty encouraging, that the 5yo Bundeschampionate winner is bred kind of similarly to what will hopefully be my next eventer.

I’ll take one of these, please

Does anyone else pay attention to – or care – about young horse competitions, either here or abroad? I will be keeping a close eye on our Young Event Horse series as the time comes…



13 thoughts on “It’s in the Blood

  1. I know this is standard practice in our world, but I have a problem with five-year olds jumping that high. If they’re doing courses like that at five, it means they were likely started over fences at three, when their bones are still fusing. This causes lameness issues VERY early in life, when they should be in their prime and their careers shouldn’t even be close to over. On one hand it’s absolutely admirable and fun to see what these young horses are capable of after just a couple years under saddle, and on the other hand it’s really hard to ignore the internal damage that kind of work is doing to their bodies and what that inevitably means for their future.


    1. It makes me cringe a little too but these young horse competitions actually do produce a lot of upper level horses that go on to long careers. I think it has a lot more to do with how they’re managed and what they do day-to-day… which ISN’T jumping a lot of big fences or a ton of galloping. I think the Europeans in general are much more masterful at bringing along young horses, and keeping them sound, than we are.

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  2. very cool about the commonalities with Sadie. i continue to be mostly ignorant about pedigrees and breeding operations – seems to be a topic you have to be highly motivated to learn yourself vs by osmosis (my favorite method of learning haha), but it’s interesting none the less


  3. Lovely horses! I follow show jumping and the stallion shows in Europe. I’m planning to breed my Westphalian mare (Landjonker x Ramiro’s Son x Adlerorden), within the next year or so, so I’m always looking at bloodlines and new up and coming stallions. I really want to breed her to Cornet Obolensky (Clinton x Heartbreaker x Randel Z) but I’m not hearing great things about his semen. Another stallion I’m looking at is Bellini Royal (Balous bellini x Cornet Obolensky x Power).


  4. The video you posted is absolutely lovely–the uphill gallop, forward-thinking ride, and efficient jump are excellent event qualities.

    And as much as I’d like to own a horse like that, I never, ever will, not in any permutation of any future that exists for me. I’m a middle class, one-horse ammy on a limited budget. I’m not going to sell my soul (or take my chances breeding) to acquire an animal like that and they certainly don’t happen by accident. So while I’m happy to admire them and certainly not judging those who pursue them (and pumped for your Sadie baby!), there’s precious little point to my paying attention to them.

    There is a much stronger argument for me knowing modern thoroughbred bloodlines inside and out, and I can’t even seem to manage that. I’ll just have to keep getting by with a little help from my (bloodline-knowing) friends.


  5. I definitely try to keep an eye on them. Being knowledgeable about breeding and bloodlines is incredibly important, both for amateurs and professionals. It can potentially tell you quite a bit about a horse (though of course there are always exceptions, they’re horses not machines!) and can give you an idea of what to expect if you’re looking to buy or breed. Also, popular/proven bloodlines are more marketable.

    Also, in regards to concerns about jump height and age, honestly if you’re schooling regularly on good footing and the horse is strong and fit, I don’t see a huge issue. (Please note most of my experience is show jumping based. I eventing for quite a while but never worked with young horses and bringing them up the levels.) Starting “over fences” at three is normally just popping over some individual fences now and then, nothing really much more than that. Mostly you’d be doing some simple arena-work 3x a week, if the young horse is quiet enough/rideable enough taking them out and working them outside a bit as well. It really isn’t until mid-later in the 4 y/o year that you really start putting them to “serious” work (as in like flatting 4-5x a week inside and out, maybe add in a jump school weekly depending on the horse and your ideal show schedule, if you’re not showing any time soon, flatwork and conditioning generally take precedence to jump schools).

    For the young jumpers, at least, if your horse is good enough that you want to take it to the young horse classes/championships, scope isn’t an issue, and likely the horse is quite brave as well as careful, so you’d probably not even be doing a lot of large jumping until closer to shows. In between would likely be mostly grid work, some small courses with maybe one or two single jumps larger, then as you approach the show start schooling a larger course maybe the week or two weeks before. Of course with flatwork days and rides outside in between the jump schools.

    If you constantly have to school large courses to prep a young horse for a big show then, frankly, your young horse either a) isn’t ready and needs more time to mature and get stronger before showing or b) just isn’t high enough caliber to even be competitive anyway. There are plenty of horses that do well in the young jumper classes that go on to lead successful and long careers.

    Okay, I’m off my soapbox now but I couldn’t not say something. As someone who works in a barn where we bring up quite a few young horses I think a lot of people have misconceptions. There are always bad “trainers” who just jump bigger, bigger, bigger all the time and yes, that can harm the longevity and success of a horse’s career, but IMO there are much more people that really do it right.


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