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“A foal’s destiny is sealed before anyone has time to see how the youngster develops!”


‘heavy’ Warmblood horse used mainly in harness to a modern sport horse for riding competition in the last thirty years or so. The Trakehner was always a riding horse, actually a cavalry horse, highly athletic, quite refined, lighter in frame and foundation than all the others. One should remember that ALL the sport horse disciplines evolved from cavalry training and testing. Trakehner horses were winning international show jumping, eventing, and


Dr. Tim Holekamp


dressage competitions in the 1930s, when Dutch Warmbloods were pulling farm carts.” Tim continues to explain that for this reason, most


breeds (except Holsteiners) liberally used Trakehner blood to modernize their breeds. One recent example, Totilas, claimed by the KWPN so proudly, was sired by a purebred Trakehner (Gribaldi). The modern Trakehner has never had any other Warmblood breed used to improve it, only Thoroughbred and Arabian variations. What happened to the Trakehner horse in modern times,


he adds, was that it was rebuilt after World War II from a very small surviving gene pool (its entire "region" was lost to Russia and nearly all the horses died or were taken as war booty), and there was too much emphasis on preserving the unique and beautiful Trakehner type and not enough on athleticism and rideability. Now, with a shift in selection emphasis, the breed is coming back into its own, dominating the eventing sport among Warmblood breeds, still very prevalent in dressage, and gradually improving in show jumping. It will remain the premiere Warmblood improvement source.


GLOBALIZATION As a young rider herself a half a century ago, Kc Branscomb of Branscomb Farm in Half Moon Bay, California, recounts that the majority of riders bought horses from local breeders. Therefore, available bloodlines were restricted to horses living their entire reproductive lives within 500 miles or so of one’s home town. Breeding by artificial insemination (AI) was a novelty and importing frozen semen from European stallions almost unheard of. Embryo transfers and recipient mare foals were still largely confined to university research. “With today’s modern


Kc Branscomb


breeding methods, our farm serves a client base that spans


three continents. A routine breeding might have frozen semen from France, a genetic dam inseminated and embryo flushed in the U.S., and then a recipient birth mother foals out in Brazil,” she says. “Today, North American breeders compete with breeders from Germany, Holland, and South America to serve the larger world market for top young sport horses—with buyers arriving from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Americas.”


SPECIALIZATION Anne Rawle of Watermark Farm in Oxford, Pennsylvania, sees that Warmblood breeding has been engineering a more specialized product, some for top professionals and some for adult amateurs and ladies, with narrower frames and less bouncy gaits and a more Arab type head. Some are bred for high level jumping but not necessarily for dressage. Some are bred for young horse dressage with spectacular gaits but do not necessarily have the ability to sit and collect for the highest levels. Some are targeted to the top of the sport


Anne Rawle


in dressage. And some are intended for all-around sport such as eventing. The amount of [hot] blood will vary based on intended purpose. Kc Branscomb believes that to survive commercially,


breeders have to offer a product that is uniquely tailored to the customer’s interests, and increasingly this is measured by how highly the horse is likely to be competitive in sport. It means horses need to jump extravagantly and have the scope, power, and intelligence to compete at the FEI level jumping competitions. “As kids in the ’50s and ’60s, my friends and I all rode ‘track-reject’ Thoroughbreds or racing-type Quarter Horses in what passed as hunting, jumping, or equitation competitions. There just wasn’t anything else around to sit on. From a horse perspective, it was a more level playing field. A person with great riding/training skills might triumph over a less skilled rider with a bigger checkbook,” Kc remarks. “Similarly, we expected a good horse to ‘do it all,’ and the same horse competed in a variety of events and activities. Most of us rode the same horses galloping cross-country at a hunter trial, competing in a jumping class at the show, or chasing at the local county fair. Then these sturdier, quieter, and generally more athletic European imports starting picking up the prizes over fences and in classes based on rideability. They could jump higher and were generally easier for an amateur to ride. With big bones and a gentle mind, they seemed to last longer as well.” With growth in equestrian sports, shows offered more


Warmbloods Today 59


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