The first three-day stallion-sport-tests in North America after the model, which was introduced to Germany in 2016 took place at Hilltop Farm in Maryland and Pollyrich Farm in California from October 31 until November 5. They were organized by North American Stallion Sport Test LLC, an organization, which was established by the American Hanoverian Society and the German Oldenburger Verband to organize this test. The test, however, was open to sport horse stallions of all breeds, as many studbooks in North America see the need to have a stallion performance test in the US.
The organization took almost a year and was supported by the German Equestrian Federation with lots of know how. The judges Gerd Sickinger and Dieter Stut as well as the discipline experts Jürgen Koschel, an internationally renowned dressage trainer, and Sebastian Rohde, an experienced jumping rider and trainer, came from Germany. Test riders were Jessica Wisdom, Richfield, Washington, for dressage and Marion Ostmeyer, Calgary, for show jumping.
The test at Hilltop Farm saw dressage stallions only with three out of five participating stallions passing with the required passing score of 7.5. The undisputed high-scoring stallion was the big and powerful five-year-old KWPN-stallion Harvest by the Hanoverian stallion Connaisseur out of a mare by Ulft, who was ridden by his owner Alice Tarjan, New Jersey. He had three outstanding gaits and a super attitude to sport, rewarded with the overall high score of 8.61. This made him the high scoring dressage stallion of both tests. “He has a very high potential as a dressage horse”, said the judge Dieter Stut. Jürgen Koschel even remarked “a world class horse”. Alice Tarjan said that her main aim is to develop Harvest as a dressage horse and to continue competing him. “I like the testing format as I can accompany the test as a rider. I would never have given Harvest to a 70-day-test.”
The other stallions who passed the test were the Oldenburg stallion Boreas FRF by Bordeaux/De Niro and the Hanoverian Debonair MF by Dr. Wendell/Rotspon. Boreas FRF was bred in Germany by Heinrich Gerriets, Wilhelmshaven, from the Hanoverian dam line of Nachnahme and is owned by Five Rings Farm, Wellington, Florida. His highlights in the test were a good canter and a super walk. His overall final score was 7.92.
Debonair MF was bred and is owned by Maryanna Haymon, North Carolina. He is the full brother of Danae MF, Grand Champion at Dressage at Devon 2017. “He has lots of expression and three good gaits. We see good potential for him as a dressage horse and he is on a good way with his training,” stated judge Gerd Sickinger. His final score was 7.89. Maryanna Haymon liked the testing format:”It gives the horses more opportunity with their own rider – compared to a stationary test. The transparency is very good. The scoring made sense with the explanations given.” Debonair will be further trained as a dressage horse. “The aim is that he follows the footsteps of his sire Dr. Wendell as a Grand Prix horse. Michael Bragdell will take him to Florida in winter and Hilltop will stand him as a stallion.”
On the second day approximately one hundred people came to observe the test and attend a lecture about the training of the young dressage horse by Jürgen Koschel and Sebastian Rohde.
The feedback to the testing format was positive, said Natalie DiBerardinis, director and head organizer of the test at Hilltop. “It is a good format for participants and spectators. The transparency is very important. This is the reason why the young horse classes, where the judges’ decisions get explained have become so popular.”
Immediately following the conclusion of the test at Hilltop, the judges rushed to the airport for a six-hour flight to Los Angeles and a further three-hour drive north to the charming Danish style town of Solvang. The following day the second group of five stallions arrived at nearby Pollyrich Farm, where Buffy and Rick Oas were great hosts.
Three stallions were jumpers at ages 4, 5 and 6. This made the test more demanding as the courses were different for each age group as regards height – the maximum height for the six-year-old was 1.20 meters – but also with regard to course design. A spectacular horse was the six-year-old American Holsteiner stallion Leapfrog WT by Liocalyon out of the Oldenburg International mare Grandessa by Carthago, tracing back to the Hanoverian dam line of Weißenburg. Leapfrog was bred by Wild Turkey Farm, Wilsonville, Oregon and is owned by Barbara Ellison, Wilsonville. He was superbly ridden by the international jumper rider Mandy Porter and excelled in all five judging criteria for the jumping horses – canter, scope, technique, rideability and overall impression. In each trait, he scored nine and better, finishing with a final score of 9.28. Judge Dieter Stut:”Although Leapfrog is a big horse, he is very flexible and elastic in his canter. He is able to lengthen and shorten easily. At the jump, he had a powerful take-off and his scope seemed to be without limits. He showed nearly perfect style and technique and very good rideability with high consistency. One jump was like the other.” With this result, he got the cooler for the best jumping stallion of the test.
The second jumping stallion who passed was the four-year-old Holsteiner stallion Centre Point by Chambertin/Cassini, bred in Germany by Kai Gerken and presented by Darlene York from Delta, BC. From the first day on, he showed a super attitude, but also improved day by day with his jumping performance. A highlight was the course under test rider jumping Marion Ostmeyer, where he showed scope with a good technique. The reward was a final score of 7.96.
Both dressage stallions passed the test. The highest score was 7.88 for the five-year-old Oldenburger stallion Rohmeo by the Hannoveraner stallion Royal Prince, who – while standing at Hilltop Farm - has been so influential for the breeding of dressage horses in North America, out of the Oldenburger mare Lady Rubina by Liberty G/Castro, who combines an old Oldenburger mother line with Holsteiner blood. He was bred and is still owned by Carol Di Maggio from Walnut Creek, California. Rohmeo is a very correct and well built stallion with lots of presence. He especially stood out because of his rideability and showed talent for collected work.
The second dressage stallion, the Württemberger Delta Force from Dreamscape Farm, Langley, BC, was a jumper stallion by pedigree, sire Diarado out of the mare Cäcilia by Cassini I. He was bred by Gerhard Pfeiffer from Southern Germany and is a late born four-year-old. He was not ready yet for the jumping, therefore he competed as a dressage stallion. He is elegant and light-footed and showed a good walk and a good elastic canter so that he scored a 7.84 at the end. “He will come back next year and be tested as a jumper,” promised his owner Armin Arnoldt.
The new test format was also well received at Pollyrich by participants and spectators alike. “I especially like the idea, that many organizations work together for this test”, said Mandy Porter, rider of Leapfrog WT. However – it also became obvious, that the test is demanding. The participating stallions have to be really fit physically and well trained by good young horse riders. The key for a good final score is a good rideability.
Judge Dieter Stut’s resume: “The two tests at Hilltop and Pollyrich showed that the new format of three-day sport tests is suitable for North America. With the coaching of the two discipline experts Jürgen Koschel and Sebastian Rohde and the experience of the two highly qualified test riders Jessica Wisdom and Marion Ostmeyer we saw a positive development of nearly every stallion over three days. Therefore, we felt confident to judge the stallions’ own performances and identify their natural talent, applying the same judging standard as in Germany. We were glad, to have seen a good overall quality with two really outstanding horses – one the dressage stallion Harvest at Hilltop and the other one the jumping stallion Leapfrog WT at Pollyrich."