The Merry Go Round of Stallion Choice

by Ginny Smith

The constant complaint heard from British breeders in the past has been about the lack of quality stallions standing in the UK – although some still reiterate their determination to go to Europe to find their ideal stallion, the problem, it seems to me, is increasingly that of so much choice here in Britain that mare owners can find their heads in a whirl!

As a broad generalisation, studs and stallion owners in the UK have in the past been much less sophisticated in marketing their stallions, and because of the economics of breeding over here, have been reluctant to spend the huge sums on promoting, marketing and advertising that you see in Europe. The result is that there are some very, very good stallions that are only just emerging into the light of day, but many have been around for a good few years! Of course, the professionals in the industry will almost certainly have known about them, but they may not have hit the radar of the small amateur breeder. As organisations like the BEF build an enthusiasm for educating breeders, both amateur and professional, so those of us who are more recent to the world of breeding, or are small amateur breeders are upping our standards, doing our research, and becoming better informed! Which leads me to Carousel …….

First coming to wider attention as the sire of Oli Townend’s extremely successful eventer Carousel Quest, Carousel has, in fact, sired an impressive percentage of high achieving offspring over the period that he has been standing at stud at Broadoak Stables. His youngstock are competing successfully in the showjumping and dressage rings, as well as eventers; Clockwork III, a Grade A showjumper and Conquest, currently competing at Medium Advanced dressage, are just two examples. He has the classic Holstein breeding of the Cor de la Bryère line behind him – his sire is Caretino, the Grand Prix showjumper, who was owned by the German State Stud and ridden by Ludger Beerbaum. Caretino’s sire Caletto II is himself one of the greats looked for in pedigrees.

Carousel was the overall champion of the 1994 AES Stallion Gradings (out of 93 stallions presented), and scored extremely highly in all the categories assessed – jumping technique, ability and scope, balance, free movement and conformation. We went to visit him on a cold February day where he stands at Broadoak Stables in Hampshire, and when his owner Shirley Foley led him out we saw a horse that belies his 19 years. He is a powerful bay stallion, standing at 16.2hh, looking in the peak of health, with a glowing coat and a cheeky spark in his eye! He has tremendous presence, and grew a good hand when he set off on the trot-up, subsequently quietly but very professionally posing for photographs. I would describe him as a slightly more “old-fashioned” type of Holsteiner, with more bone and mass than some of the modern types being bred recently – and, as we can see from Carousel Quest, adding substance and athleticism to a TB mare. Shirley describes him as very much an all-round stallion, and the offspring that we saw at the stables would bear that out – he works well on many different types of mare. During our visit we saw two very nice youngsters – a four-year-old out of a Rock King mare, and a yearling filly out of a Voltaire mare.

He moves beautifully for a 19 year old who had eventually to be retired as a result of a meniscus injury – much to Shirley’s disappointment, who was obviously very much enjoying competing him in the dressage ring. He has strong cannons and feet, essential for an eventer, and a well-built sloping shoulder and good extension in trot. He moves well through his back, with strong loins and hindleg action. The video on YouTube taken during our visit, (see below) is a good demonstration of his uphill canter and viewed from behind, how straight he moves.

Shirley acquired him from her neighbour when Carousel was twelve, having admired him ever since he was brought over from Germany, and has obviously very much enjoyed her ownership of him. She is keen to breed a colt by him before he is retired from stud that she can ride herself, and is hoping that this year might just be the year!

If you were looking to breed from a warmblood stallion who has an outstanding pedigree, has an excellent competition record in dressage and showjumping, and has proved his worth as a sire in all the key disciplines – why would you choose to cross the Channel? With his son Carousel Quest hitting the headlines, Carousel also becomes a very attractive commercial proposition as a sire. Stop the merry-go-round, the choice is made!

Ginny Smith

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