BREEDING FOR THE FUTURE
“My goal is to breed horses that are rideable; the temperament is really important to me, because I’m a rider as well as a breeder,” says Christan. “I want horses that are going to be competitive on a European scale; we can breed just as well here in Australia as anywhere in the world. It’s been really exciting to use some really cool stallions, including some young ones that are really improving the breed.”
While Christan acknowledges the proven bloodlines that have produced countless dressage stars over the past decade or more, she is excited about some of the emerging stallions. “I think you have to be a little bit daring as a breeder, to not just use the 20-year-old stallions that other people have all used and are proven. You’ve got to be looking a bit ahead.”
Totilas is one such stallion that Christan believes is just starting to make his mark. “A couple of years ago when we started using Totilas, and I had purchased a Totilas foal, some said ‘It’s just the rider’. He’s a polarising stallion; people seem to love him or hate him. I’ve always loved him. I think, yes, the rider is an amazing rider, but the horse is pretty darn special. And the entire Dutch dressage team [at the Tokyo Olympics], bar one, was by Totilas.
“I think Franklin is also pretty exciting. There’s going to be a lot more Franklin [progeny] that we’re going to see in the next few years in Europe; he’s now doing Grand Prix, and his foals are just coming to that four-year-old age.”
Although Christan is enthusiastic about some of the new bloodlines, she also notes that the older, proven lines won’t be going anywhere. “There’s always going to be a mix, to have the older lines as well… you see it a lot with Don Schufro, in the mare lines with horses such as [Isabell Werth’s] Weihegold OLD.”
Where we’ll be in terms of breeding come the Brisbane 2032 Olympics is anyone’s guess, but Christan does believe some of the stallions just starting to reach Grand Prix now are the ones we might see a lot more of in the next few years. “Breeding jumps ahead rapidly with each generation; the breeders around the world are amazing. And here in Australia, there are amazing breeders too that are doing some super work.
“They are breeding for rideability. I sometimes hear, ‘It moves amazing, but nobody can ride it’ or ‘Australians can’t ride it’. I don’t agree with that; I think Australians are amazing riders, number one, and number two, having bred these types of horses ourselves here at Glenhill, and we’re riding these lines ourselves, they’re incredibly rideable. If they’re bred for it, they’re soft to sit on, even though they have big movement. They are naturally already on the bit because we’re improving the breeding to have them already ready built for it. I’m finding that the horses are actually staying sounder because they’re built to do it easily.”
Christan is full of optimism and praise when it comes to Australian warmblood breeders, and she believes that we as a country are capable of breeding and producing dressage horses to rival those found anywhere else in the world. “I’m not just saying that because we’re breeding them; I’ve seen that with a lot of other people’s breeding here in Australia as well. We’ve got some really super horses being bred and produced here in Australia, definitely as good as what’s in Europe.” EQ
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO READ:
Training the Piaffe – Equestrian Life, November, 2021
Breeding for Brisbane, What Tokyo Taught Us – Equestrian Life, September, 2021