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breeders’ & trainers’ POINT OF VIEW The Temperature of Today’s Warmbloods By Liz Cornell

lacking stamina as compared to the popular Thoroughbred. Warmbloods then didn’t quite fit the criteria that jumpers and eventers had for speed and athleticism. For dressage enthusiasts, however, the breeding and importing of these gentle giants was not happening fast enough. As in any industry, market conditions and products evolve


and mature over time, and it’s no different for our Warmblood sport horses now heavily used for more than just dressage. Eventing, jumping and driving have now embraced the breeds. So what has happened in the last twenty to thirty years to expand their careers? What’s going on with the nature, character and abilities of these horses in the 21st century? Several breeders and trainers share their opinions about the latest breeding trends to understand the temperature of today’s Warmbloods.

SPECIFIC BREED TRENDS Dressage trainer and breeder Pam Pentz of Derby Farms in Woodinville, Washington says the biggest thing that has changed in Warmblood breeding is their “modernization.” She embraces the Oldenburg because breeders created a very modern type Warmblood from what was essentially, in the beginning, a carriage horse. Breeders both in the U.S. and Europe have introduced Arabian and Anglo-Arabian blood to their mares, with Inschallah being the best example of this. Thoroughbreds have also definitely had an impact. The French Norman Furioso II, for example, is one of the most noted stallions in Warmblood registries. Other

Pam Pentz

Thoroughbreds, Angelo, Praefectus and more recently Prince Thatch, have all contributed to the lighter body build, more responsive nature and athleticism of the Oldenburg—as well as other Warmblood breeds. Another thing Pam believes has changed about the modern

Warmblood is its richer, fuller character with a bigger heart than its “work horse” predecessor. The Warmblood of today has tremendous abilities, she says; “he jumps higher, dances lighter, is sounder and is doing it all with a smile on his face!” Regarding the Holsteiner breed, Karen Reid of Fox Fire Farm reports that many changes have taken place over the last

58 September/October 2011

n the 1980s, Warmblood horses had a stigma attached: while they were considered big movers, kind and generally quiet in temperament, they often appeared slow, lazy and

Karen Reid

20 years. “With the addition of a lot of Thoroughbred blood (see “Foundation Sires of the Modern Holsteiner,” May/ June 2011 Warmbloods Today), your average Holsteiner is now very modern in appearance, faster on course, and among the highest and best jumpers in the world. This could not have occurred without 'lightening' up the

breed. Holsteiners still have great minds and movement and super hindquarters. “Holsteiners were never dull Warmbloods,” she says, adding that they are smart and attentive to their handlers, sensitive to training and charming in personality. Scot Tolman of Shooting Star Farm in Spofford, New

Hampshire, breeds Dutch Warmbloods (KWPN). Scot remarks that the KWPN horse of 20+ years ago was an all-purpose, farm/ family-friendly horse, with an especially good hind leg at the trot, because the Dutch farmers liked to show off their horses in harness, up and down the street in front of their neighbors. The KWPN horse of today, by comparison, is an athlete bred for a specific discipline. Although the selection process has maintained the importance of power and quickness in the hind leg and at least makes mention of producing a tractable, trainable individual, the best of today’s KWPN horses are sensitive, supple athletes, probably not suitable to work in the fields by day, cart the kids to swim in the dyke after

Scot Tolman

school, and then parade in harness in front of the neighbors on the way to church on Sunday! Scot also points out that it’s difficult to argue with the

international success of the KWPN horse. “My particular interest is in Dutch dressage breeding, so how happy am I that the top three horses, representing three different countries, in the recent Aachen freestyle were Dutch: Totilas (Gribaldi x Glendale), Ravel (Contango x Democraat), and Parzival (Jazz x Ulft). Therefore, although one can lament the loss of the all- purpose, family horse of a couple decades ago, there’s much to celebrate in these sensitive, supple athletes who have taken the sport world by storm.” “The Trakehner horse is truly a special case, quite a different

story from all the other breeds above,” says Dr. Tim Holekamp of New Spring Farm and president of the American Trakehner Association. “Most Warmbloods made the transition from a

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