The following is a summarised extract from an article by Christopher Hector, the Australian editor of “Breeding News for Sport Horses”, and sport horse specialist, on the above topic, one which we know is close to the hearts of many of our readers!
The full article can be read in the April edition of Breeding News for Sport Horses (no 160), website:  Although the annual subscription is quite high, this monthly publication is always a fascinating read, with a wide spread of international news on the breeding, competition results and sales of sport horses, and well worth the price
The extract below is reproduced by kind permission of “Breeding News for Sport Horses”.

It is a question that divides breeders. On one side you have expert breeders like Bernard le Courtois, who clearly separates the two. “Dollor du Murier, as his sire before him, has a reputation for producing horses that are too difficult for amateur riders. But what stallion with a reputation for producing high-level stars also turns out riding hacks for gentrified ladies to ride in the Bois du Boulogne? There are many other stallions for this purpose”

On the other hand, an equally respected French breeder, Arnaud Evain, takes the other view: “It is not two markets. A champion is a meeting between a better than average horse and good luck. Kraque Boom Bois Margot became the European Champion, not because of the choice of the father and mother, not because of all the good training, but also because Okidoki missed the first fence in the final” Arnaud Evain believes that he would be a nice horse for his wife to ride out in the forest on a loose rein ... and gives the example of a friend who owns one of the most successful horses in the world, Jovis de Revel, who is ridden all week by the owner and by the professional only at weekends.

People often say for example of Jazz horses that they are horses for the professional. Do they need to be a little crazy to go to the top? “Remember Rubinstein, he was easy to ride and he made horses for amateurs and professional riders too. With Jazz, maybe some stallions have high quality but their progeny are not so easy to ride, but we have to breed, in my opinion, horses like Rubinstein, that have the possibility to go to the highest level, and also horses for the amateur rider”.

Martina Hannover, who rode Rubinstein says “It is very very difficult to have everything in one horse. You have to make compromises, that is clear, but if we breed only for Olympic riders that are less than 1%, that is a problem – what do we do with the rest of the horses who are not of a very high quality but have a complicated temperament? In Germany we think we need horses that are good in temperament even more than movement. I would say that a top jumper must be a little different, and they must have a lot of courage.”

Dutch breeding expert and leading horse dealer Paul Hendrix feels it depends on the particular stallion “I am a professional, and if I buy a young horse or a foal you cannot know all the answers, so you have to always look on the downside, and with a stallion like Indoctro, you know there is always a positive downside in the form of a great amateur horse. Indoctro produces from Olympic and World Cup finalists to a fantastic amateur horse with fantastic riding qualities and minds, rideability, that’s what you get from Indoctro”

American jumping guru George Morris makes much the same point “If I wanted to breed a horse for my aunt, I wouldn’t go to the TB Forrest line of Shutterfly, but if you breed the best to the best and you are over-horsed you can always sell it and buy another one”

Further north, in Sweden, the aim is to breed for both the amateur and the pro, according to Karl-Henrick Heinsdahl, the Breeding Director of Flyinge. “Some lines have a temperament that is perfect for the riding schools and also for sport horses. For instance in Sweden we have the Irco Marco line for jumping, they are very rideable horses, very sensible, a little bit late developers but you can use them for anything. Irco Marco is one who has produced a good sire line in Sweden, with several approved sons who are doing well in the sport and in the breeding as well”

Ulf Möller, the producer and trainer of some of the most exciting young dressage horses in Hagen, Germany, makes the point that. “The horse must be willing to take pressure and hard training. But often in the beginning these horses are for normal riders a little too difficult. If you have such a diamond, you have to find the right rider for this horse. For a dressage horse it is 40 per cent quality and 60 per cent training, and maybe with the jumping horse it is the other way round, 60 per cent quality and 40 per cent training.”

Wolfram Wittig is unique in that he is a Grand Prix dressage rider himself, and trainer of some of the world’s most successful competitors – including Isabell Werth – while at the same time he and his wife have bred and produced an enormously successful line of home-bred dressage horses, mostly by their own stallion Breitling. Wolfram feels that there are dangers in the present breeding trends “So many dressage riders are asking for hotter horses, okay we can focus on that and breed in that direction, but if the horses don’t reach the top sport level, what are doing with these horses? Then they are dangerous to the riders if they are not good enough! We must have really talented horses with good movement, good character for the top level, and if they are only hot with no movement – what are they going to do with them? A good horse is a good horse. A good example is Satchmo. He is never scared. He goes in all the prize-givings, every time, beautiful walk, he was never scared”

“The Grand Prix horse should be good in the mind, and we should be focused on breeding that, otherwise we are taking the wrong direction. If riding is dangerous, we will lose our acceptance, we have to find a way in the middle, the horse must be useful for everybody.”

Links :

Dollar du Murier :

Rubinstein :

Irco Marco :

Christopher Hector in The Horse Magazine (Aus) :

dollar du murier


Dollar du Murier

rubinstein photo courtesy of Bernd Eylers

Above: Rubinstein, photo courtesy of Bernd Eylers

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