By Caroline Ironside (Apr 10)
If I was to say one word -“Zangersheide” - I do not think there would be one person in the world of horses who would not know what this meant. This name is well regarded the world over when it comes to the production of top showjumping horses that have performed at the very pinnacle of their sport around the world, at World and European Championships and the Olympics.
The pioneer and great visionary behind this great domain is Léon Melchior, who, as it states on their website, “turned the breeding of showjumping horses into his equestrian magnus opus”. He has been the drive behind this great showjumping machine, where they use practical experience along with scientific techniques in equine reproduction to produce the modern day showjumper that is able to perform at the top of the sport.
(Picture on right) Léon Melchior and his wife receiving the Lifetime Award at the P.S.I. Auction from organisers Paul Schockemöhle and Ulrich Kasselmann.
Léon Melchior received the award because of his major role and significance in the horse breeding and horse sport.
Their advances in equine reproduction over the years include being the first to perform AI, x-ray examination, embryo transplantation, and endoscopic insemination, and now today they are seen as one of the world leaders in the technique of cloning. Not only this but through their own breakthrough techniqes, they have stallions standing at stud that are completely OCD free.
Léon Melchior and the Studbook Zangersheide are no strangers to standing up for what they believe, having encountered conflicts with institutions along the way, but their strength and determination to continue developing the modern day showjumper is what makes them one of the leading breeders and Studbooks in the world! The results of their stallions and offspring speak for themselves, and they always put their money where their mouth is, holding the “FEI World Breeding Showjumping Championships for Young Horses”, the “Sires of the World” and the ”Z Festival” - some of the biggest equestrian events in the sportshorse calender each year.
Studbook Zangersheide also have a first class support network for their breeders, supporting them from the selecting of stallions right through to offering them the best marketing in the world for their offspring through the Z Festival and Quality Auctions.
I was thrilled when Léon Melchior agreed to give our magazine an exclusive interview, and we would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with us, especially during the busy breeding season that we find ourselves in.
As is stated on their website, the reason that Studbook Zangersheide came into being was that they noticed a need for an Open Studbook that would concentrate its breeding efforts on the sport. A Studbook that was open for change and development, that devoted itself to the improvement of “the showjumping horse”. They felt that something had to be done to bring breeding and sport closer together.
I asked Mr Melchior what the starting point was for Zangersheide:
“Studbook Zangersheide was founded in 1992, but already in 1963 the first horse arrived at Zangersheide. This was Richette Z.”
I went on to ask him how he first become involved in horse breeding, and what made him decide to start breeding horses.
“In 1972, the mare Heureka Z got injured and she had to stop with the sport. That is when we started with breeding."
For those who have not heard of the famous mare "Heureka Z". This was a mare born 1960 out of the Holsteiner mare line 8145. Under Hermann Schridde she was one of the most successful international jumpers during 1969-71, where she had many wins in Hamburg, Aachen, Bruxelles, Vienna, Berlin and Noerten-Hardenberg. She won the Grand Prix in Aachen and was 2nd Place in the Hamburg Derby.
Mr Melchior continues.....
"Heureka Z" Foundation Mare & International Showjumper
"In the seventies, Zangersheide purchased hundreds of mares of mainly Hanoverian descent. We explored the European studbooks and made an analysis of the pedigrees based on the results achieved by several offspring."
"An important aspect was the age on which these horses achieved results in the sport. Most of these had a successful sport career behind them or came from proven sport families. After many examinations and thousands of X-rays, 50 mares were selected to breed with, specifically by out-crossing."
"They were mated to the Anglo-Normandy bred Almé Z. The female products from these out-crosses were then combined with another out-cross stallion, the Holstein-bred Ramiro Z.
In 1985 Zangersheide was able to lease the legendary progenitor Cor de la Bryère for one season.
The Z success soon followed and is demonstrated by the fact that there is not a single studbook in the world that has not used or is not using Zangersheide-bred stallions. "
Foundation Sire "Almé Z"
"Numerous international showjumping products are for instance Ratina Z (Ramiro Z x Almé Z), Artos Z (Almé Z x Gotthard), Rinnetou Z (Ramiro Z x Winnetou), Cor d'Almé Z (Cor de la Bryère x Ramiro Z x Almé Z), Aerobic Z (Almé Z x Gotthard), Robin I and II Z (Ramiro Z x Almé Z x Gotthard), Amadeus Z (Almé Z x Graphit) and Lux Z (Lord Calando x Ahorn Z x Caletto I).
There is no important event that has not been won by a Zangersheide horse. Zangersheide horses won for example Olympic gold and silver, European gold, World Cup Silver and a lot of other victories.”
The Legendary Stallion "Ramiro Z"
Following on from what Mr Melchior said above I think we have to make special note of the outstanding star, that is "Ratina Z".
Ratina Z, has been called the “Mare of the Century" and is perhaps Ramiro Z's best known daughter. On top of this she was once described as the best horse in the world after several Gold and Silver Olympic medals and winning World Cup performances. She is the oldest daughter of Ramiro Z and Argentina Z, and was ridden by Piet Raymakers and Ludger Beerbaum. She won World Cup Finals, the Grand Prix of Aachen, an individual Olympic Silver, double Olympic Team Gold, Team Gold at the WEG, and twice team Gold at the European championships. Her dam "Argentina Z" was another Heureka Z daughter, when mated with Ramiro Z produced the following stallion sons: Rebel I Z, Rebel II Z, Rebel III Z and Rock Z.
"Mare of the Century" - Ratina Z"
Studbook Zangersheide is regarded as one of the best in the world, so I went on to ask Mr Melchior what he thought were the most important aspects to becoming a top breeder in the world.
“From the beginning we were and still are focused to breed on pedigree (by which we also mean the results achieved in breeding by relatives), health, character and jumping qualities.”
There are many famous horses to have come from Studbook Zangersheide, and Mr Melchior told me which one was his first stallion, how he came to find him, along with what contributions he felt he made to his breeding programme.
“The first important stallion for Zangersheide was the Anglo-Normandy bred Almé Z (Ibrahim x Ultimate XX x Cyrus). We noticed him during a showjumping show. He gave us valuable daughters for our breeding, such as Argentina Z, (the mother of Ratina Z), Alpha Z (the mother of Robin Z), Amusette Z (the mother of Cartoon Z) and countless other ones on both, mother’s side and father’s side.”