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horses from Europe. The first PSI (Warmblood) auction was held in Florida. But nothing was written down. Unlike today, there were no Warmblood breed associations. Yes, there was the Thoroughbred, and Standardbred, but that was it.” Without access to correct and

comprehensive lineage records on the American horses, Augustin turned to Europe to buy horses. “People would say, ‘I don’t care about bloodlines. I want to see the animal.’ I would ask, how do you produce better and better animals if you don’t study the bloodlines?”

“I am a big fan of the old Trakehner. Those breeders had horse sense. They had vision and understood the importance of bloodlines. In the 1936 Olympics, they won six gold medals. They were using the English Thoroughbred to add fresh blood. Then World War II nearly destroyed the breed.” He points out that today Trakehner breeders can only go outside the breed to Thoroughbred blood to increase the gene pool. He finds that restriction limiting the breed’s ability to produce horses strongly competitive in today’s arena. As a German, Augustin has always been attached to the horses of his home country. “I use the foundation and the foundation comes out of Germany,” he explains. He has, however, admiration for horses of other

nations, those of the Dutch in particular. “It’s in a Dutch- man’s blood to do things better than anyone else. After World War II with the availability of machinery, so many horses went to slaughter because there was no use for them. But many people would not give up their horses and found a place for them in sport.” He points out that while the Dutch had Gelderlanders,

these work horses “are too weak. They don’t stay sound. So the Dutch used the best out of Germany and France. About 30 years ago the Dutch started to produce really good sport horses.” “They knew to breed the best to the best to get something good. You don’t breed a mare because she’s lame. Only the best will improve the herd over the years.” “Line breeding is most important,” he continues. “When

you breed you are putting ancestors together so you are sure that the genes connect. Sometimes the parents are not so important. You have to go back to the grave, to the dead ancestors, to be sure that the right genes are connecting.” In the late ’90s, W. Charlot Farms took a turn. Augus-

tin’s marriage ended and he was in debt. “I couldn’t figure out how to pay for that by working somewhere,” Augustin

confesses. “So I found that buying and selling horses worked better.” As a way out of his dilemma, he became more involved with selling hunters. “Hunters can be used earlier. More people can buy hunter prospects,” he says.

He recalls selling a hunter gelding by his stallion Rio Grande, Eye Remember Rio. “The owner was legally blind.

She couldn’t go in the ring before at least six horses had gone before her so that the horse would follow the trail made by the previous horses.” [Editor’s note: Augustin is referring to Tory Watters, a legally blind hunter rider that Warmbloods Today featured in the May/June 2009 edition.] His view of hunter competition today is not so

generous. “I don’t agree with recent developments in the hunter world. When I talk to the old people, they say the judging was 20 percent on how bold and light the horses were. Today they do everything they can to make the horses slower and quieter and quieter, from overfeeding to drugs.” Though quite successful as a hunter breeder, Walch

has never bred specifically for one discipline or another. “My goal is to breed an athlete, whether it is for dressage, hack, or three day. I don’t breed Grand Prix horses. The rider makes the Grand Prix horse. So you try to sell to the right people that have enough money to bring the horses along,” he comments. Augustin recalls several horses that have influenced his

breeding career over the years. Foremost is the late elite Hanoverian stallion Rio Grande, which Augustin purchased as a three year old. Winner of several international show jumper classes, the 17.1 hand dark bay qualified for 1996 Olympics and was honored as the 2005 USEF Leading Living Sire of Hunters. Further, he sired Catwalk, winner of two World Cup qualifiers, as well as WEF Hunter Champions Rio Bravo, Rio Bronco, Eye Remember Rio, Rio Renoir, Due North and Rio’s Echo. “Rio Grande was a Cadillac,” Augustin recalls. “His

rideability was fantastic. He was so willing to work.” The 1986 stallion died in 2007 leaving W. Charlot Farms’ six stallions to carry on the extraordinary sport horse legacy created by the German farmer’s son, Augustin Walch, who came to this continent 30 years ago.

WT

PHOTOS. Opposite top: Foals and mares at the Walch’s farm.

(photo courtesy of Christine Walch). Opposite bottom: Augustin Walch

and one of their stallions, Cabardino (photo by Michelle C. Dunn). Above: The Walch’s famous Hanoverian stallion, Rio Grande, 1986–2007.

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