ISSUE 67
JUNE 2021
TAYLA & MAUS
MAKE MAGIC

REGARDEZ MOI,
LOOK AT ME NOW!
SAM LYLE & BF VALOUR
5 STARS IN THEIR EYES

PLUS: BRETT DAVEY STEPS INTO NEW ROLE, ROGER FITZHARDINGE’S GRAND PRIX TIPS, KERRY MACK’S LUNGE LESSONS, KAREN PET’S PROPERTY, GERMAN PONIES, WINTER HEALTH, BARNYARD CHEMISTRY, WILLINGA’S EQUINE HOSPITAL, OTT VETERAN’S NEW START, PLUS A ‘CONCRETE COWBOY’ & A SINGING DENTIST!

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 67

CONTENTS

JUNE 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

NEW ERA FOR AUSTRALIAN DRESSAGE

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

TAYLA & MAUS MAKE MAGIC IN GERMANY

BY ADELE SEVERS

Eventing

ALFIE & SAM LYLE, GOING THE EXTRA MILE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Off the Track

GENERAL READY TO CONQUER AGAIN

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Property

PET PROJECT: KAREN’S ARCADIAN SHOWPIECE

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Dressage

REGARDEZ MOI,
LOOK AT ME NOW!

BY ADELE SEVERS

Health

HEADS UP
FOR THE BIG CHILL

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Breeding

THE VERSATILITY OF THE GERMAN RIDING PONY

BY STEPH HALLIGAN

Health

REPRODUCTIVE EXPERT HEADS WILLINGA’S EQUINE HOSPITAL

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Training

TAKING THE PLUNGE WITH THE LUNGE

BY DR KERRY MACK

Lifestyle

‘CONCRETE COWBOY’ SETS RECORD STRAIGHT

BY SUZY JARRATT

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE GRAND PRIX TEST

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE / EQ LIFE

Health

BARNYARD CHEMISTRY: pH & THE EQUINE DIGESTIVE TRACT

BY KENTUCKY EQUINE RESEARCH

Lifestyle

LEITH RYAN, THE SINGING HORSE DENTIST

BY SUZY JARRATT
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Heath Ryan and Regardez Moi. © Michelle Terlato.
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From Heath Ryan’s “little breeding scheme in Germany” came a horse that forever changed the Australian dressage scene — and as Heath explains, his time in the saddle of Regardez Moi, who turns 25 this year, simultaneously delivered the greatest and saddest moments of his career.

Born in 1996 by Rubinstein out of Clothiloe (Consul), Regardez Moi is an Oldenburger stallion who captured the hearts of Australian dressage fans in the competition arena, and greatly influenced the gene pool here amongst both dressage horses and eventers. Today, he is very much looking a picture of health, living out his retirement at the Ryans near Newcastle, NSW, where he remains the king of the stable and is walked twice a day, shampooed twice a week — and still covers the occasional mare or two!

Heath Ryan, who piloted the horse throughout his career, recalls how Regardez Moi came to be in his stables — and it all began with a little breeding program he had going in Germany during the 1980s.

“I had a few owners that had warmblood mares at Grönwohldhof (east of Hamburg in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s northernmost state). Herbert and Karin Rehbein were based there at the time; it was the home of the famous Donnerhall and later on the place where Kristy Oatley was based when she first moved to Europe,” begins Heath.

“We had the mares in foal to stallions we selected, and if we got a filly we would sell it to another Australian owner. And so the Australian owners that had these mares were delighted, because we had an inbuilt market. If we had a colt foal, well they were in huge demand… they would bring a fortune if they were bred right at the top.”

Heath recalls that Ed Richards was one owner that had a few mares at Grönwohldhof at that time, and one of the colts he bred was Duntroon. “Duntroon won the stallion licensing test and that was the be-all and end-all in Germany; that was the pinnacle of achievement in terms of warmblood breeding at the time.” The stallion was later sold for a lot of money, and his name appears in the breeding of many horses worldwide. “Anyway, he was one of the colts that was bred by that little scheme!” explains Heath.

“One of the other owners was a lady called Margaret Evans, and she had bought a mare bred by Ed, named Clothiloe (Consul x Donnerhall). We put her to Rubinstein — so a dressage-bred mare, and a dressage-bred stallion. Well, nobody did that in the ’80s and we were just about thrown out of Grönwohldhof; in those days the stallion licensing was determined by the all-round performance… the winner was the colt with the highest dressage, the highest show jumping, and the highest cross country scores. [European breeders] weren’t specialising; it was the all-round horses that were winning stallion licensing. Anyway, in the end we were too big a client for [Grönwohldhof] to throw us out,” jokes Heath.

That foal produced was a black colt, and Margaret called him Regardez Moi (which translates from French to English as ‘look at me’), since it had to be an ‘R’ name after his father. “Margaret was very keen on not selling him and maybe bringing him home,” says Heath, explaining how Regardez Moi ended up in Australia. “So that’s where he came from… one of my mad little schemes, which was a breeding program in Germany, getting my friends to pay for it!”

COMPETITION DAYS

Regardez Moi was a mainstay of the Australian dressage scene, competing in Big Tour CDIs from 2007 through to 2016 and winning nearly 30 of these CDI starts. Together with Heath he was crowned Australian Big Tour Champion on three occasions (2008, 2010 and 2014), and also had an incredibly successful run in front of adoring fans at Equitana where he won the Freestyle on numerous occasions. He enjoyed many wins at some of the country’s most prestigious CDIs, and competed on the world stage in Las Vegas at a World Cup Final.

“Regardez Moi competed during a very special time of dressage in Australia,” recalls Heath. “The Freestyles had just become really significant. The crowds would pack out venues like the Sydney International Equestrian Centre and Werribee Park; there would be no seats and it would be standing room only.

“It was wonderful because the crowds recognised Regardez Moi; they were following him. He would come into the arena, and I’d be trying to just be very focused and quiet to set up our Freestyle… and the crowds would be screaming out, yelling good luck and sometimes even clapping when we came in!”

Heath says Freestyle tests today have changed: “I think what happened is the degree of difficulty today is a significant contributor to whether you win or lose. In the early days, it was of ballads and stories — moments that everybody felt a part of — that won Freestyles. The sport has just completely changed now, so being part of that era with Regardez Moi was just brilliant. It was lots of fun.”

Heath explains that as a nine and 10-year-old, the stallion was looking very exciting. Together they qualified for the 2009 World Cup Final in Las Vegas, USA, where they finished 11th in the Grand Prix and 10th in the Freestyle amongst the world’s top combinations.

Heath barely remembers where he placed; after backing up at a CDI in California shortly after, he then had to rush home and prepare for a one-day event at Camden the next weekend. Bree Tillitzki, who practically grew up with Regardez Moi, stayed with the stallion through quarantine and was charged with bringing him home.

It was very early in the morning, sleeping in the back of the horse truck at Camden, that Heath suffered a stroke, caused by undiagnosed DVT. “I went down and it really wrecked me; I lost my balance, and I wasn’t talking well,” he recalls.

“Regardez Moi came home and was definitely flexing muscle and showing signs of being very, very good. He was just peaking at the top end and looking like he could have taken the world on. And there were lots of international enquiries to buy him and to get involved with sponsoring and that sort of thing; it was really heady times.

“However, it certainly took me a good six years to get right and before I was pounding around the countryside again. And in that time, Regardez Moi grew old. It was one of the saddest moments in my life, not so much the stroke — I was really lucky with that and I’m back belting around the countryside, telling everyone how good I am — but I think it stole some moments from my life and more importantly, his whole career crashed. He was mega in Australia… but we were definitely eyeballing the world and wondering whether we could take the world head-on after Vegas; we felt like we’d fired our first shot. And that’s what nearly happened there, but that dream came to a crashing end. We never got quite back to where we were [before Las Vegas].”

Having said that, although Heath feels he and Regardez Moi never reached their full potential, the pair continued to compete with great success at home. In fact, they went on to be crowned Australian Big Tour Champions twice more following their World Cup venture — the very next year in 2010 and again in 2014. Heath explains that the stallion’s scores gradually waned as he aged, as he began to run out of endurance. He never went lame — he is still as sound as bell now at 25 — but he just ran out of puff to continue performing at the highest level in a gruelling Grand Prix test as the years progressed.

Although Heath laments what could have been, he realises that what he did achieve with Regardez Moi was truly special. “At the time, he was the highest scoring horse in Australia. And he was in the 15 top horses in the world. And that’s a wonderful honour to be in that group. His timing was fantastic. He was technically really, really good in the piaffe, passage and pirouettes. And so it was a wonderful time to be in Australia performing at the top end of the sport with him.”

Despite Regardez Moi’s incredible competitions success, Heath says there was never even a remote consideration of selling the horse. In 2011, while the stallion was still competing, his dedicated owner, Margaret Evans, sadly passed away. “When Margaret died, she left him to me, which was very beautiful. He was never for sale, ever,” says Heath.

“Regardez Moi has been just

sensational as a sire.”

A SUPER SIRE

As Heath explains, Regardez Moi was a bit before his time in terms of being very dressage bred. Heath followed the same path in terms of his use as a sire, however, in more recent years he’s realised the stallion’s value in breeding jumping horses as well. “Regardez Moi was so dressage bred that we just went straight dressage with everything. But in hindsight, it was a massive mistake, because he might have been straight dressage bred, but until more recent times all those [performance bred European warmbloods] were multi-purpose stallions.”

Today, Regardez Moi has produced numerous four-star and even five-star eventers, which Heath says isn’t something they ever really pursued — it was just through outside clients that recognised his value as a jumping sire that these progeny came about. “We didn’t ever really take that eventing aspect of him seriously, which was really silly because I was very full-on, and still am, with eventing. So I don’t know how we overlooked that!”

Today, Heath’s four-star eventer Bronze Boy R carries Regardez Moi blood, as does Jessica Rae’s four-star eventer Rascal. “[Rascal] is really good and you just don’t know how far he’ll go in the next few years,” says Heath of the 12-year-old son of Regardez Moi, who is now qualified to compete five-star.

Of course, Regardez Moi can be found in the breeding of hundreds of warmblood horses in Australia — including Utopian Cardinal who partnered with Heath to be crowned Australian Grand Prix Champion in 2016 and is now going great guns in the CDI-U25 Grand Prix classes with young rider Mary Nitschke. “Regardez Moi and [Rozzie Ryan’s successful Grand Prix stallion] Jive Magic came out together, and sometimes in the Grand Prix classes over the years here in Australia, half the class will have either had Regardez Moi or Jive Magic bloodlines,” notes Heath.

Breeding horses is certainly a never-ending learning process, and one thing Heath has learnt over the years is that if you want to get the best progeny out of a top stallion, you really do need first-class mares as well. “We were really silly; we didn’t have super-duper mares for him in the early days. We just thought we’d breed up. It doesn’t matter how good a stallion is, if you don’t have a really good mare you’re watering the progeny down. You just have to have a really good mare and a really good stallion if you’re going to have progeny that’s super-duper. So we were just fumbling along, making the rules up as we went. And sometimes they were great ideas and sometimes they were really dumb ideas. But we were having a lot of fun, and involving a lot of people. Having said that, Regardez Moi has been just sensational as a sire. Just about every single one of our broodmares carries Regardez Moi blood.”

One thing that has stood out with Regardez Moi over the years has been his soundness. He was always — and still is — a very sound horse, and this is a key ingredient in the making of a champion. “The horses that perform well are the horses that work every day; they’re not always the best horses. You can have really, really good horses, but if they keep having injuries, they just never get to a point where they achieve their potential. Whereas something that’s just resilient and comes out and works every day, they end up becoming the horses that are truly outstanding.”

Today, Regardez Moi lives a life of leisure and still serves the occasional mare at age 25. Remaining the king of the stable, Heath still loves to spend time with the stallion. “I still watch him and talk to him every day!”

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Heath and Rozzie have bred many fantastic horses over the years, but to make a living they couldn’t keep the fanciest Regardez Moi and Jive Magic progeny for themselves. “The ones we rode, they generally weren’t selected because they were outstanding individuals; they were the ones that we couldn’t sell or the ones that we were being paid to ride,” says Heath, referencing Rozzie’s current Grand Prix horse, Jarrah R (Jive Magic x Salute), who was sold five or six times but was continually returned.

However now, well over a decade on from the height of his competition partnership with Regardez Moi, Heath has a special Regardez Moi x Jive Magic mare that he’s finally keeping for himself. “I’ve got a young mare right this moment who has had a couple of foals… I’m weaning a magnificent foal from her now, and she didn’t go into foal this season as she’s getting broken in. I think she’s really, really fancy. She’s five years old, so she’ll be an older mare when you’re talking about Novice, Elementary and Medium. But if she applies herself and is as good as I think she’ll be, she’ll catch up. By the time she’s 12 years old she could be at Grand Prix, and that’s young.

“It’ll be the first time I’ve kept one that I thought was really special to break in and then train on. So that’s about to happen. And you know, it’s a little too late…. but better late than never!”

And so the legend of Regardez Moi continues. EQ

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