The Hannoveraner Verband has always maintained excellent relationships abroad, especially to the US. US customers are a standard appearance on the Hanoverian Auction in Verden, and the Hannoveraner Verband has strong roots in the US through the American Hanoverian Association, as well as through the yearly breeding inspection and registration tours.
Besides being the world’s largest breeding association, over the past decade, the Hannoveraner Verband has develop more and more into a hub for training and education of riders and horses, especially through their work with notable trainers like the German National Trainer for Young Horses and for Young Riders, Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen. The initiative Hannoveraner Verband USA is set to bring the same service, knowledge and expertise we offer to our European customers closer to our friends in the US. Through partnerships with local riders and trainers, and an ongoing presence in the US, the Hannoveraner Verband is now a constant resource for the US customer.
Become part of the Team Hannoveraner Verband, learn from the best, make valuable contacts, and have the experience of your life. The Hannoveraner Verband is not only the world’s largest breeding association; it is also an excellent address for training and education. We offer the possibility to spend two month with the Hannoveraner Verband e.V. in Germany. During this time you will experience the Stallion Licensing, Stallion Sales and the Hanoverian Auction first hand.
Hannoveraner Team USA
To further the Hanoverian Horse in the sport, the right riders are needed. The Hannoveraner Verband sees it as an essential duty to promote correct riding and training of the horse based on the essentials of the Training Pyramid. Riding and correct horse management should make the horse feel better and last longer. That is only possible with riders that follow long term goals, uniquely adapt the training to every horse, and always put the well-being of their partner first. We have been able to recruit some of those great riders to join our team and help us promote good riding and Horsemanship by serving as an example with their current Hanoverian Horses.
Kathleen Raine und David Wightman
Based in Murrieta, California, Kathleen already represented the US in two World Cups as well as in the World Equestrian Games. She is supported by her husband David, a successful rider and trainer up to Grand Prix level himself, coaching riders nationally and internationally with a special focus on the development of young riders. David has already represented the US twice in the World Championship for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany.
The picture on the left shows Kathleen with her success horse Breanna by Brentano II/Weltmeyer and David Wightman with their future prospect Silberpfeil by Silberschmied/Boss whom he has qualified for this year’s World Breeding Championships for 6-year old dressage horses in Ermelo.
Based in Wellington, Florida, Endel was finalist in the World Championship for Young Dressage Horses in 2015 with then 5-year old Hanoverian Lucky Strike by Lord Laurie/His Highness whom he has qualified for the 6-year old division this year. Endel is successful up to Grand Prix and is the current trainer of BeBe Davis who is ranking 1st in the Young Riders Division in the US, and 5th internationally. Bebe has qualified for the Young Rider European Tour and will therefore join Endel on his trip to Germany and Ermelo over the summer.
Based in Thousand Oaks, California, Sabine and her success horse, the 10-year old Hanoverian Sanceo by San Remo/Ramiro’s Son II were members of the US Gold Medal Team in the Pan-Am Games in 2015. Sabine successfully shows her horses from the basic levels up to Grand Prix. She and Sanceo have already represented the US in the World Championship for Young Dressage Horses and are currently collecting their first ribbons in the Grand Prix. Sanceo’s owners Alice Womble-Heitman and Dr. Mike Heitman are the ones enabling this success as they have formed a strong team with Sabine in which all decisions regarding Sanceo and its management are taken jointly.
One thing I learned from Christine: You do not need to get this one good horse, you need to make this one good horse. Christine Traurig is one of the most successful riders and trainers throughout the US, and that over almost three decades. In 1988 Nemesis, the horse she trained and showed became USDF Horse of the Year. In 1998 she won the Intermediare I Championships in Gladstone, NJ on Etienne, the same horse with whom she won the team bronze medal on the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. From 2002 to 2004 she trained and showed Limited Edition whom she placed in the Finals of the German National Young Horse Championships each year (!!), just to name some of her success stories. Besides her incredible success as a rider, Christine is just equally as successful as a trainer. In 2015 she served as Chef d’Equipe for the USEF at CDIO Rotterdam and CDIO Hagen. In that same year she was nominated as USEF National Young Horse Coach, and in that role accompanied Endel Ots with his two horses to the World Championship of Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany. Her coaching skills have contributed to the success of international riders like Kathleen Raine with Breanna, David Wightman with Partous, Sabine Shut-Kery with Sanceo (2015 Pan American Games team gold medal), and Jan Ebeling with Rafalca (2012 London Olympic Games) and Rassolini. - A list of achievements that make her the idol of many aspiring young riders.
We met Christine 32 years after she had left the Hannoveraner Verband where she had trained and worked before she made the decision to follow “Amonasro”, a horse she was riding at that time and that was bought by Bernie Traurig, to come to the US. At that time she was attempting to stay here for a couple of months, a couple of months that turned into decades. Christine has now made her life here. She has two children, Natasha and Lucas, her daughter Natasha being a successful show jumper trainer and competitor, her son Lucas a passionate scuba diver and underwater photographer. Despite her coaching efforts and her position as National Young Horse Trainer, Christine still finds the time to further her current horse Louisdor whom she competes at Grand Prix level.
This all sounds too good to be true, but yes, it is. Meeting Christine was enlightening to me in many ways. Not only does it make me as part of the Hannoveraner Verband very proud to see one of “our riders”, one who basically grew up at the Verden Auction, to achieve this success, but also have I been very happy when seeing her training and finding one of the very few people who do not only talk about Horsemanship and correct training methods, but who actually live it! In her riding, training, and coaching efforts, Christine extremely values the establishment of the basic building blocks of the training pyramid: The horse has to be physically and mentally confident, comfortable and trusting in the basic aids implemented by the rider. In Christine’s view horse and rider have to have a bonded relationship in order to achieve their goals. The rider has to lead the horse to understand the concept, which is why Christine does not train horses for the short term. From her early beginnings on, when she started to train with Mrs. Koehler in Verden, then being only 13 years of age, she learned to improve and develop a horse. She has never forgotten this notion and still emphasizes that each training has to be led by a long-term goal that has been set taking temperament, talent and character of the horse into account.
Christine may be one of the most dedicated people I have ever met. She has truly worked her way up from the basis. From the time when she started working at home with her father’s horses, improving herself was always one of her main focuses. She never took success for granted, and despite her huge achievement, she always remained a down to earth person who knew she was only able to succeed through dedication and hard work. That also led her to the decision to return back to Germany in 1999 to train with Johann Hinnemann in preparation for the Olympic Games. She went out of her comfort zone, left her family and friends to pursue a life long dream to compete at the Olympic Games. Only through making sacrifices, dedication, and focus on her goals has she been able to write the success story she did and become this astonishing person she is today.
Christine’s current role as National Trainer for Young Dressage Horses is definitely a perfect fit. Christine is truly passionate about the training and development of horses to the best of their ability, training riders the skills and the Horsemanship needed to succeed, producing horses to contribute to the international success of the US, her home of choice, and finally also furthering young talents to become established riders like she is: Riders that make horses better, that train horses for a lifetime, and that do not only talk about but truly live Horsemanship.
Besides all fame and success Christine genuinely cares about the people and horses in her life with the outmost integrity and passion and professionalism. Trust is the most important basis in the relationship between her and her horses. To say it in her words “Developing trust is good riding which results in obedience and respect based on correct academic equestrian knowledge implemented with common sense and feel”, which she had learned from her very first trainer at the Hanoverian Auction, Mrs. Koehler.
Being this kind of person, I was curious to learn more about her beginnings and what let her way to where she is today. This is her story:
"I was born and raised on my parents farm in Altenbuecken near Verden, we bred Hanoverians and marketed them through the Hanoverian Elite Auction. I thought all horses at my father’s farm were the best in the world. In time I learned that not to be always the case but it never inhibited my passion for one moment. There was not a day since I can remember that horses were not the most important thing in my life except for now my daughter Natasha and my son Lucas. Initially I wanted to become a veterinarian but then I didn’t take school serious enough to pursue the required grades because riding was way more important.
I started to work at the auction when I was 13 years old during spring and fall breaks from school: I helped tack horses, cleaned stalls, cleaned tack etc. During this time I caught the attention of Mrs. Koehler because she thought I was responsible and had a good feel in being around and handling horses. When I was 17 I was allowed to actually participate in the auction itself as a rider. I only got to ride ONE horse, the rest of the time I had to assist other riders in preparing the horses.
During my time at the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden, every single moment was special to me; riding at the Elite Auction was one of the best times of my life. The Auction Team was family to me. The biggest success of my career as an auction rider, riding one of the top priced horses, Amonasro, actually paved my way to the US, when Bernie Traurig bought him, and brought me to the US with him. However, riding auctions had its downside as well, at the end of every sale I cried buckets of tears when my favorite horse got sold.
One of the most important things the Hannoveraner Verband taught me was TEAMWORK!!! We tried our best to produce the best horse for the buyer to get the best price for the breeder. It was special because we as riders and staff represented the Verband and the breeders, we identified with them and we learned to provide excellent customer service to potential buyers. From a riding perspective, the experience of riding many different young horses of various potential and ability had an enormous effect on my skills as a rider. Learning to be versatile in order to adapt to different horses quickly was something I could not have gotten to this extend anywhere else. I had a special relation to all of my horses, which made selling them so hard. One special moment I will always remember though, is when “Wendus” (on the auction ridden by Dr. Ulf Moeller, later in the US named “Nemesis”) was bought and imported to the US for me to train and compete. To this day he is one of the best horses I ever rode and I compare every horse to him.
As far as my riding career is concerned I was very lucky to meet exceptional people that helped me find my way to where I am now: Mrs. Helga Koehler who thought that I had a special way with horses when I was 13, my first trainer and guide at the Hannoveraner Verband. Holger Schmezer whom I met at the auction and who told me “I know you can make horses rideable, confident and make them move better, now it’s time that you learn to teach them to go sideways”, and thus offered me a position as a working student in his barn, where I rode some of his horses until I finally met Bernie Traurig. Bernie asked me to come to the US to “show us how to put warmbloods on the bit!” He is most certainly one of the greatest riders I have ever known and I owe a tremendous amount of opportunities I have had in the US to him. And finally Johann Hinnemann, the master who put it all into place. Besides those professional relations, my family has always played an important role in my life. My father, who always dreamed big. My daughter and my son, without a doubt my greatest accomplishment and then there is the highlight of winning an Olympic team bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.”
We are proud to announce that we have been able to recruit Sabine Schut-Kery to become part of the Hanoverian Team. Sabine is based in Thousand Oaks, California, where she is training her horses, among them the now 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion Sanceo by San Remo/Ramiro’s Son II, bred by Gerhard Dustmann and owned by Alice Womble-Heitman and Dr. Mike Heitman. Sanceo has been discovered by Sabine herself when Alice and Mike sent her to Germany in order to find a horse to follow their older horse “Cacique” who had been trained and competed by Sabine until then. Sabine saw Sanceo on the lunge at Johannes Westendarp’s place when he had only been under the saddle for three times. For Sabine “it was love at first sight” and luckily Alice, Mike, and daughter Jenee felt the same way when they all came back ten days later to try-out the young stallion. Sabine felt what she had seen before: “He had a very steady rhythm, he was energetic, he was my type of horse.” The decision was made. A few months later Sanceo was imported to the US and has been with the Womble-Heitman family and Sabine ever since.
Being under Sabine’s training, Sanceo has been able to note remarkable success every year, among those high placements in the US National Young Horse Championships in Lamplight, Chicago, which are comparable to the German Bundeschampionat, representing the USA in the World Championship for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany, and all the way up to the Pan-Am Games last year, where Sabine and Sanceo were part of the US Gold Medal Team. That caught our attention. We wanted to learn more about how the two work together, and how they have developed over time.
Their success is built on two strong pillars, one being Sabine’s training, and the other one the way Sabine and Alice and Mike manage the horse. Every decision regarding Sanceo’s training and show plan is made by the three in conjunction, which also provides Sabine the freedom to give Sanceo more time before moving him up another level or skipping certain shows if she feels the need to do so. It is this thought through horse management that keeps a horse fit, healthy, and most of all happy with his work over so many years. Sabine makes sure that she does not ask for too much from her horses, and that they get regular breaks in between big shows to relax, enjoy life and collect new energy. Sanceo enjoyed such a three month break after the Pan-Am games last year. Many riders and owners would be nervous to not try to immediately keep going when the horse is in such good form, but Sabine and Sanceo’s owners, Alice and Mike Heitman understood that it does not count to have your horse fit just for one season, but that it needs to be fit for a lifetime. As Sabine just proved last weekend at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, this is the right approach. The pair moved one level up from the prior season and won the Inter II with Sanceo being on top of his game “He felt energetic yet relaxed at the same time.”
To understand how Sabine builds her training, it is important to know where she comes from, and how she herself has developed as a rider. Born in Krefeld, Germany, Sabine is the only one in her family affiliated with horses. Her way into the sport has not always been as easy and paved out as it may seem. She made her first riding attempts when she was 10, cleaning stalls and grooming ponies in a barn in her neighborhood in order to earn her riding lessons. An experience she now values as it has given her the best perspective and understanding of the horse’s needs early on. In the traditional German way, she started very broad, covering dressage, jumping and cross-country. Due to limited financial possibilities, shows could only be attended in the immediate surrounding area that was close enough to ride the ponies to the show. The second half of the pony-barn was at that time rented by Günther Fröhlich who just started promoting Friesians and Andalusians in Germany. Through him, Sabine made her way into exhibition performances and even received her silver driving medal which requires driving a four in hand.
Sabine’s next step was the professional apprenticeship as a German “Bereiter” under Jan Bemelmans who furthered her dressage skills and knowledge. After completion, however, she decided to go back to Günther Fröhlich. For Sabine, riding is about improving a horse, no matter what breed. “My decision to go back was driven by the curiosity how to train a horse that was not so well equipped for dressage. Improving the horse was always the main goal; going to a show naturally came out of it. That was and still is very important to me. I ride because I love my horses and making them better is the first priority. Once I did that I can go to a show and perform.”
Besides, Sabine also highly valued the variety in the work with horses that was offered to her: “With Günther Fröhlich, we performed in exhibitions with Friesians and Andalusians and I really enjoyed the creativity that comes with those performances and the bond you create with each horse when teaching them how to sit, rear, and bow on command or perform in sidesaddle or in front of a carriage. At the same time, it was equally important to us to have all the horses trained correctly according to the German training scale and thus we naturally competed also in open dressage shows.” Sabine was also one of the early core members and creators of the now famous German Horse Musical “Zauberwald” (“Magic Forrest”). What she took away from that work was really the universality and variety in training. “The aim was always good riding, we had to bring the horses to a state of mind where they where able to understand what was asked from them and perform accordingly. Especially working with Stephanie Meyer-Biss, I learned how to develop the gaits of a Frisian or Iberian Horse and to teach these breeds to move more through their bodies, while most of them are considered to be ‘leg movers’”
After Stephanie Meyer-Biss, Jan Nivell has been another trainer that left a remarkable note in Sabine’s way of working with a horse. “From Jan Nivell I learned to always be open minded in my training approach with the horses. There is never only one way. Sometimes you have to take a step to the left or to the right, or find a way to work around a problem in order to move forward again.” The path Sabine took has formed a very clear idea on how to manage and develop a horse. Consequently, as Sabine acts as a trainer herself, for her the most important thing is that her students share the same philosophy and love for dressage she does.
A high variety in the daily work and focus on the basics of rhythm and looseness still form the foundation of Sabine’s training philosophy and decide the way she manages her horses. In her barn, a horse can be a horse. Even Sanceo, being a stallion that performs on an international level, is going into pasture turn-out every day, gets his regular hacking and trail-riding days every week, and should he be a bit tense or not in the best mood, a day on the lunge where he can just relax and stretch without a rider will always cheer him back up. The majority of her training sessions are focused on the basics. To Sabine, the recipe for success comes from the technical side as well as from the horse’s inner readiness. The technical side means the horse has to correctly and willingly respond to every half halt, and the rider has to bring the interaction of weight, leg, and rein aids to perfection. If that is combined with a relaxed and motivated horse, the path to success is build. Fully in line with that, on the question of her most remarkable moments with Sanceo, Sabine mentioned exactly those small moments where she realizes that her philosophy and her way of training enables Sanceo to pick up on new things.
“When I started to do one-tempi changes with him, I thought this would take us a few months until he had them down, but after a couple of tries he just did it, just like that.” Also permanent trainer Christine Traurig sees the reason for Sanceo’s ability to pick up on those things this quickly in the quality of the foundational work Sabine does with him. With a thorough basic education, everything else falls into place. For Sanceo, things have fallen into place over the last years and thus Sabine has set herself and her horse ambitious goals: Young Horse Grand Prix this year and representing the USA in International competition again. – All under the premise Sanceo is ready, as Sabine herself as well as Sanceo’s owners Alice Womble-Heitman and Dr. Mike Heitman have always done it.
The Hanoverian Horse wins through quality, as well as character and ride-ability. However, a good horse alone is not enough; it requires appropriate training, management, and a long-term perspective in everything one does with the horse to succeed. In looking for these qualities, we met Kathleen Raine and David Wightman who now also form part of the Hanoverian team. Kathleen and David live for and with their horses. The couple has been the start to many success stories, like the former auction horse Breanna by Brentano II/Weltmeyer, our cover story of the auction in January, Fidelia, a Dutch Warmblood mare by Beethoven, and the Dutch gelding Avontuur by Ultrazon, just to name a few. Kathleen and David see their horses as partners; they grow together with them and develop each horse over time, having been with many of their protégés from the very beginning.
For Kathleen and David, the relationship to their horses is the most important factor to be successful in the show ring. Each horse becomes a real part of life. As such Kathleen’s first success horse, Avontuur, came to her as a three year old and stayed with her for 29 years. One of David’s horses, Partous, recently re-joined the couple’s barn to enjoy his retirement. After David successfully showed him in Grand Prix, Partous had been acquired by a U25 rider to show in the Young Rider’s division. At the end of that job, Kathleen and David took him back under their wings to ensure he gets a joyful time after his career in the sport. These examples point out the deep relationship Kathleen and David build with their horses. At home the couple also keeps some broodmares and foals, and besides their own breeding stock, they take in young horses from abroad to train them from the beginning. For Kathleen, being with the horse over a long period of time is essential to build up the relationship and to know her horse insight out.
It is this knowledge and understanding of the horse that also leads the daily training. No horse is like the other and no day is like the other. Each training has to be adapted to the horse. For her current success horse, the 16-year-old Hanoverian mare Breanna (Brentano II/Weltmeyer), the daily work is all about staying fit and strong. Breanna gets exercised twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The afternoons are mainly long walks, out on the trail if the weather allows it. In the mornings the main goal besides staying fit and strong is to keep Breanna supple and have her using her whole body. That includes some days where Breanna just goes on the lunge to relax and stretch without a rider.
While the strong partnership is the mental foundation of the success of Kathleen and David, keeping the horses supple and having them use their whole body is the technical foundation. To Kathleen, nothing is more important than making sure the horse engages every part of the body and moves through every joint. The horse has to be loose, there may not be any blockages, and the horse itself has to aim for the supple connection to the rider. Only that will bring the horse to a state where there is nothing forced and a basis to build on is laid out.
The way to get there as well as the time to get there will vary substantially between the single horses. As Kathleen told us, Avontuur for example was very fast to move up between the levels. He was a fast learner, and he was strong and eager. “He was quite a handful, sometimes he could be unpredictable, but that never mattered. I knew him so well, we had grown together over so many years. He was just this kind of personality. That made him special, and eventually that brought us to our success at the World Equestrian Games, at the World Cup Finals, and also into the Olympic team.” Fidelia on the other hand, Kathleen’s second success horse whom she had bought as a foal and trained from the very beginning, just took a little longer in everything. She was the opposite of Avontuur, she could almost be a little lazy at times, and really needed to develop the strength. Kathleen gave her the time she needed and that eventually led her to be selected as the reserve on the Olympic team in Sidney. For me, this is what really makes David and Kathleen so special as riders and trainers –they find what the horse needs and tailor the training to every single horse.
Exactly that philosophy also developed the Hanoverian mare Breanna to where she is now. Breanna came to Kathleen and David from the Elite Auction in Verden in 2004 and Kathleen has been successful with her ever since. As a six year old she had already advanced to the best US horse of her age, but that never let Kathleen to become impatient or ask too much from the mare. “Breanna learned everything fast, but I stayed in Inter II with her for quite a while before taking her up to Grand Prix. She just needed the time to develop the expression and confidence she needed for the Grand Prix ring.” To me, this ability to be patient shows how cemented Kathleen is as a person. Patience to her is essential in the training with every horse. “There are always ups and downs, especially when you work a horse from the very beginning. There will always be the times when you question yourself, when you doubt yourself, when you doubt you can bring the horse up there. But that is when you have to be patient. You cannot force it. You have to invest in your horse, you have to care, you have to believe, and you have to keep building the partnership.” And it proved to be the right thing to do. In 2011 the pair finished their first Grand Prix at Dressage Gateway, winning both classes. Since then the two have been consistently successful in the Grand Prix Ring, among others leading the US team to a second place at the Dressage at Hickstead CDIO3* FEI Nations Cup and the team bronze medal at the CDIO5* in Rotterdam 2015. This is what riding should be. Breanna is 16 years old now, she has been in the show ring from early on in her life, and she is still fit and healthy as ever, thanks to the planned and thought through management Kathleen and David provide to her.
Kathleen and David do all that as a team. They watch each other on the horses, they train together, and they really have each other’s back. David being at home and training the young horses allows Kathleen to go to Germany to train with Johann Hinnemann, the trainer who already brought Christine Traurig to various successes, among them the Olympic Games in 2000 in Sidney. David himself is successful up to Grand Prix level as a rider and equally as a trainer, acting as a coach for many young riders, nationally as well as internationally. He has also represented the US twice in the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses.
Kathleen and David live with and for their horses. They both grew up with horses and found their foundation early on in pony club. At this time, Kathleen has been engaged in three day eventing, and only came to dressage when she joined the team of Hilda Gurney as a working student, originally with the purpose to increase her dressage score at the three-day events. It was here that she met her husband David Wightman, who also worked for Hilda at the time. Hilda taught Kathleen how to ride really accurate and gave her a lot of polish for the dressage show ring. The work with Hilda turned Kathleen’s attention fully to dressage, which does not mean she let go of her roots. The eventing background still leads her to bring variety in the training and to have a special focus in keeping the horses fit.
After 5 years with Hilda, Kathleen and David started their own business in California. Here they trained with Dennis Callin, from whom Kathleen learned to improve expression and gaits of the horse. And eventually, just like for Christine Traurig, Johann Hinnemann brought it all together. Both Christine Traurig and Johann Hinnemann are ongoing resources for Kathleen and David to support them in their daily training here in the US as well as in Europe.
Kathleen is planning to compete in Europe with Breanna over this summer. “Breanna feels very good and very fit at the moment. We hope for her to make the top 8, or even top 4 and be part of the US team again.” David may join the two in Europe later this year as he is aiming to qualify for the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses with Silberpfeil, a six-year-old Hanoverian by Silberschmied/Boss. The pair went second in the US Championships for 5-year old horses in 2015, scoring over 80% in their second round. No matter how far they get this year, we are sure we will hear a lot more of them in the future.
The mission of the Hannoveraner Verband is to further the Hanoverian Horse in breeding and sport. As part of that, training and preparation of young horses for their later tasks is among our main goals. We constantly train a variety of young horses at our facility in Verden, Germany, doing our best to equip these horses with the necessary basics for their future careers.
The basics every horse has to learn are very similar, no matter if the later focus will be dressage, show jumping, eventing or just to be a valuable friend for life. The basic education is the horse’s elementary school. The way of teaching it varies individually from horse to horse, but the content the horse has to learn is pretty much alike across disciplines. In Germany we call that the “Training Scale” or “Training Pyramid”, which both describe the same thing.
It is a Pyramid build of rhythm, looseness, connection to and acceptance of the bit, impulsion, straightness and leading all the way up to collection. These building blocks have to be put in place bottom up and none of them can be left out, as they logically follow each other. The scale creates a fundament for later training and at the same time provides a guideline for the daily work. In this article we want to give an overview of the first main phase of the training scale, the so called acclimatization phase, and go more in depth on the single parts and the following phases in the upcoming weeks.
The basis for every young horse is formed by the first three building blocks rhythm, looseness and connection to the bit. Those have to be a given before any further work would make sense. In the education of a young horse, this is the focus of the early work when the horse makes the first steps under the rider, which is where the name acclimatization phase comes from. For trained horses, reaching these points is the goal of the daily warm-up.
Acclimatization starts starts with rhythm. Rhythm means the regularity of the horse’s steps and strides in every tempo, on straight as well as curved lines. Each step should cover equal distance and be of equal duration, resulting in a regular beat. Inequalities in step and stride length, a horse rushing off or losing the rhythm in the turns and corners will always negatively affect the balance and prevent the horse from relaxing and reaching looseness. There is ongoing argument as to why rhythm comes before looseness, as missing looseness will also lead to stiff and irregular steps. Imagining a human dancer, for example, the dancer will be taught to relax so he can find the rhythm. For the education scale of the horse however, we see that the other way around, because the rider has to influence the horse to find the rhythm, which then in turn will help the horse relax and reach looseness.
Looseness means the horse is free from tension and uses all parts of its body. It is physically and mentally ready for the work with the rider. Physical readiness is expressed by a calm eye, an interested ear movement, a closed but slightly chewing mouth, a swinging back and tail, and the horse snorting. Snorting shows relaxation because the horse’s last 10 rips are not connected to the sternum but tied to the diaphragm and thus move with every breath the horse takes. When the muscles are tensed the breathing of the horse is shortened, only when those muscles relax can the horse take a deep breath, resulting in the snorting the moment that happens. Existing looseness allows the horse to energetically move forward, driven by the hind legs, through the back and towards the bit, into the hand of the rider.
At this point, the connection to and acceptance of the bit is being created. The horse has to be comfortable to find the connection to the bit and trust the hand of the rider. Some horses may tend to push on the bit while others might prefer to stay behind it. Out of the natural development of rhythm and looseness the rider has to guide the horse to find its balance and lead it to the right connection to the rider’s hand, which is a constant, light contact. It is highly important that this contact is created by the horse moving forward into the rider’s hand as described above. A backward pulling hand will always result in blocking the horse’s movement through the body.
With those three basic building blocks the horse should be willingly moving forward towards the rider’s hand, engaging every muscle in its body and naturally stretch down towards the bit. While the building blocks and the results are the same for every horse, the time it takes and the way to get there will be very different, based on the horse’s temperament, construction and perception to the rider. That is what makes the work as a rider and trainer at the Hannoveraner Verband so interesting. We always have a number of very different horses that we train and guide along their way.
One of these youngsters is the four year old gelding Belaggio (Belissimo M/Ehrentanz). Belaggio already had his debut on a big stage when he was three years old and convinced judges and spectators on the International Dressage and Jumping Festival in Verden about his qualities, then ridden by Andrea Müller-Kersten. He received especially high scores for the scale of education and ended up as reserve for the German Championships.
Belaggio had a thorough basic education that leads him to a trustful relation with his rider, which is also what our customers felt test riding this wonderful gelding that was sold for €62,000 ($70,000) this past Saturday on the Hanoverian March Auction. Romy Wiegmink (rider) and Barbara Cadrikova (groom) had taken Belaggio under their wings. Romy underlines that Belaggio is the prime example of a good basic education. “From the start of every training, even with a longer rain, he is always totally with me and fully concentrated on my aids, reacting immediately and correctly. It is so much fun to have a horse like him!” Of course not every horse is a model student like Belaggio, but that is what keeps our work so interesting, and that is what the riders at the Hannoveraner Verband are focused on.
One horse may be too much forward and needs to be trained with numerous transitions, a lot of turns and circles to get its focus to the rider and lead it to concentrate on the rider’s aids while another horse may get bored easily and thus it is more important to constantly change the program and include work over cavalettis and poles and additional lunging days. Yet another horse will be a fast learner and the focus is on developing strength with more conditioning exercises on the race track. While every horse’s training should vary and include all those options, extend and frequency has to be matched individually to every single horse.
Even though these are basics, the work on them never ends. As we heard from our US partners Sabine Schut-Kery, Kathleen Raine and David Wightman already, their main focus in the daily work with their Grand Prix horses is to ensure the basics are in place, especially rhythm, looseness and connection. It is like reading for a person. If we learned it well in elementary school, we will always be able to do it, but only if we stay with it we will be able to read the bigger books and remain focused.
Training and education of the horse is a great topic with a lot of variety and no “one fits all”. Over the coming weeks we will keep on presenting different aspects of the training scale with examples of the daily work of our US partners as well as from our German base in Verden.
Isabell Werth does it, Dorothee Schneider does it, and Kathleen Raine also does it. So does Debbie Mc Donald. They all ride Hanoverians they discovered on the Verden Auction. The most remarkable successes of Dressage icon Debbie Mc Donald’s career were accompanied by Hanoverian mare Brentina by Brentano/Lungau. And Brentina originally came from Verden. In the US Team Brentina was a given number in World Equestrian Games as well as in the Olympics.
Success horse Breanna of Kathleen Raine does not only have the same stallion as father, but also the same place of origin. Breanna was also a discovery at the Auction in Verden. That was in 2004. Then Breanna was 4 years old. Today she is one of the most remarkable dressage horses in the USA. Discovered in Verden – successful all over the world!
But what exactly is standing behind the brand “Verdener Auktion (VA)“? How does an auction work? And how can one buy an Auction Horse?
The concept of the Verden Auctions is very simple and addresses all those who plan on buying a horse. Every two month there is an auction held in the “Ridertown” Verden. Riding horses, foals, broodmares, licensed and unlicensed stallions are auctioned off. The Hannoveraner Verband is hosting these auctions. Essentially, the Hannoveraner Verband is a conjunction of breeders. Through the auctions, Hanoverian breeding products are sold and thereby change their owner. The auction place in Verden thus saves the buyer the tiring and time consuming commute from one barn to another. In Verden the choice is on hand.
Can every horse be an Auction horse?
The requirements for a Verden Auction Horse are high. A selection committee choses from around 500 horses that are presented to them. The choice is strict, the quality requirements self-evident. Thereby horses are selected for every riding discipline from dressage over jumping and leisure to eventing.
In January, March, May, July, October and December Sport Horse Auctions are held. Around 100 horses across disciplines are offered in each. On average the horses are three to five years old. The collections are put together to provide a horse for every taste. Horse health is written in bold in Verden. All riding horses are vetted and have recent x-rays. The results of every horse’s health examination can be viewed directly at the vet’s office or online. One month before each auction the horses are published online and in a well arranged Auction Catalogue including pictures, videos and a text description.
How is the time flow of the Verden Auction?
14 days before the actual auction the horses are brought to Verden. Then the training cycle starts and the auction horses are trained publicly and presented on a daily basis by the riders of the Hannoveraner Verband. During this time interested parties and customers are invited to take a seat in the Niedersachsenhalle and watch the horses in their training groups. Time to have the young horses presented in a way similar to the Young Horse Classes on shows. Time to receive additional information about the horses from the customer advisors of the Hannoveraner Verband. Our customer advisors will help you find the right horse for your needs.
After the presentation prospective buyers have the possibility to test ride their candidates of choice. Accompanied and assisted by customer advisors and the Verden Auction Riders, the customers take a seat in the saddle of their favorite horse. After the test ride the next station is the visit of the veterinary office where x-rays and examination records are readily available. The x-rays of all horses are also available online.
The Day of the Auction
Then the day of the actual auction arrives. The auction forms the highlight of every auction period. It takes place in the Niedersachsenhalle which provides room for more than 2,500 visitors. Seating tickets should be ordered online prior to the visit (email@example.com) to ensure perfect intervisibility with the auctioneer.
Even though one should not miss out on the option to experience an auction first hand, we also offer the service to bid via phone. All you need to do is to send us the filled out bidding order via email. Our employees will call you as soon as your horse of choice enters the auction ring.
At 3pm the auction starts. The horses enter in the order of their start numbers. Number 1 begins. There is a sparkle in the air when the fanfare sounds and the first horse enters the arena. The tension is written on the faces of the spectators: Their views change between the auctioneer, the bidding parties and the horse that unperturbedly trots around the Niedersachsenhalle, unknowing it just forms the center of a captivating spectacle. And then: The hammer falls! The horse is sold, the new owners are cheering, the audience provides appreciatory applause. Scenes like these take place almost every month in Verden. Every auction has its own dynamic, every auction is different, but the principles are the same.
After the award, exhibitor and buyer meet at the horse’s stable. Riders and grooms are happy to help with procurance and communication.
After the Auction
The service around the horse is being provided by the team of the Hannoveraner Verband until the horse is picked up. The horses remain in the same process of training and care. The training consists of many relaxing parts – long and deep is the principle. The auction office can help to organize the transport to the new home and riders and grooms will assist to make the transition for the horse as smooth as possible.
Furthermore the buyer has the possibility to leave the horse in Verden with the professional and experienced team of the Hannoveraner Verband for further training and education. Showing inclusive.
The Way to Verden
...is very easy. Thanks to the good cooperation with the airline “Lufthansa“, prospective customers who arrive via plane receive beneficial rates. Furthermore the offer of the “Service Package” could potentially be an interesting option in which we organize your five day trip including hotel reservations and transport.
The Advantages are on Hand
All in all the Verden Auction is a great possibility for everyone looking for a horse. Every other month attractive collections are put together, providing the perfect fit for every class, purse and riding discipline. Dressage, jumping, eventing and leisure riders receive talented and loyal partners. Not to forget are the Hunters that are especially liked by our American customers. The Hunter Champion Carlson, successful with Alliy Moyer, was also discovered in Verden.
Selected for the market and objectively offered to the customer – that is the credo. 60 years ago – 1949 – the auctions were brought to life by visionary Hans Joachim Köhler to support the breeders with the marketing of their horses. This is the purpose the auctions still accomplish today. And of course the objective is to pair the right horse with the right rider or breeder. To make the wishes of the customers come true, that is the mission of the employees of the Hannoveraner Verband, that is their daily motivation.
The system that was developed in the past is still standing. For sure with changes and improvements, but the fundament remains the same: conscientious selection of the auction candidates, high standards for quality, ride-ability, interior, health, and an appropriate training period locally in Verden before the horse is auctioned off distinguish the auction place Verden – and stand for an internationally first class perception.
In the notion of presenting our US partners, the person to have the stage this week is Florida based dressage rider Endel Ots. I met Endel the first time last year when he had his debut at the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses with the 5-year old Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike by Lord Laurie/His Highness. We approached Endel as one of our partners because observing him in his daily training and his work with the horses before and during the shows, he embodies what we look for and promote in a rider: Horsemanship, sustainable horse management, a thorough basic education and simply good riding are his recipe for success.
In his early years Endel started his career in the mid-west. He already competed as a child, but the breakthrough to succeed in the shows did not really happen until he became a professional. While training with Hubertus Schmidt in Germany, Endel received the offer to show Kristin and Steve Cooper’s horse, KWPN gelding Toscano in the US. He went back to train with Lars Peterson and became alternate for the Pan Am Games in 2011.
Endel talks about his time at Hubertus Schmidt’s place as an eye-opening experience. “It was amazing to me how easy his horses worked and how happy they were. Sure each horse would struggle with something every now and then, but that was never a problem. Hubertus had such a clear and calm mindset; it was amazing how quiet and methodical he was.” Seeing Endel work with his horses today, it seems he has adopted that style with the same patience and methodology. He does not get stressed about problems; he finds ways to solve them. And he constantly tries to get better at that. Therefore, over the course of his career, Endel has trained with a number of well-known names like Evi Strasser, Debbie McDonald, Robert Dover, Joe Hinnemann and Christine Traurig, who each taught him different things and shaped him and his riding to where he is today. “Evi is very good with explaining what the judges look for in the young horse classes and how a horse should look to compete. That helps a lot when I prepare for the Young Horse Championships.” Last year Endel started to train with Christine Traurig, former Hanoverian auction rider and current US National Trainer for Young Dressage Horses. “Christine is very relaxed and understanding. We work perfectly together on shows. She gets me and she gets my horses. She has this ability to create confidence in a rider.”
Today Endel has two main focuses; one is bringing up young horses, the other is bringing up young riders. Working in a sales barn for several years, Endel has gained experience with a variety of different horses, which today he sees as very valuable for developing his skills.
“I learned how to improve all kinds of horses with different abilities and different mindsets.” However, he wanted to train and educate horses over a longer time, which is why he decided to buy young horses himself. One of those being Lucky Strike, the now six year old Hanoverian gelding by Lord Laurie/His Highness with whom he made it to the final of last year’s World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany. Looking for those young horses, Endel prioritizes mindset over quality of gaits. “At Hubertus’ place I learned that you can develop movements and that you can make a normal solid horse look very good through the right training. What is really important is the mindset of the horse. They have to love their job, they have to love dressage and they have to try to understand what the rider is doing. Lucky was like that. When I tried him, he was nice and forward, I put a little pressure on him to see how he takes it and he was fine with it. He did not get stressed or nervous, he tried to figure out what I was asking.” Now Lucky is six and on his second show after a break he had over the winter Endel already qualified him for this year’s Young Dressage Horse World Championships with an outstanding score 0f 87.6% in both CDI classes in Wellington a week ago. Lucky is a fast learner, he is already familiar with everything that is asked from him in the shows this year. That is important to Endel. “My horses are young so I try to take really good care to not overpace them. At home I challenge them, ask them to stretch, ask some higher level than at the show. The show should always be easy and fun. I want my horses to gain good experiences in the ring so they actually like to compete.”
That same attitude is what Endel passes on to his students. Since a couple of month he has Young Rider Barbara (BeBe) Davis under his wings. During this time, Bebe climbed up 194 (!!) spots on the Young Rider World Ranking to rank 5 with her Hanoverian Gelding Feival Mousekewitz (Federweisser/Singular Joter). Asking Endel how he made this steep climb possible, he referred back to the work on the basics. “BeBe was already very good in the ring. She has the right mindset to perform in the show and she does not get nervous. We shifted the focus of her work at home to improve the basics, make sure the horses are supple. That was what moved the needle.” This focus on the basics and education based on the Training Pyramid has to be a given for Endel. To him, the best ability in the ring cannot make up for a lack in focus on suppleness.
The door lock is still damp from the morning dew. As soon as the key is put into the lock and turned with a click, the horses start neighing excitingly. “That is one of the nicest moments when you are welcomed like this from the horses.” Says Bérangère Robineau, the French girl from Angers, a town in Pays de la Loire, who works as a rider at the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden since one year. Every morning she enters the stables at 7am. “It is early, but since all the riders and grooms start at that time, it’s not that bad. In the team, working is way easier,” adds the 24-year old.
Bérangère is an ambitioned dressage rider. For two years she worked for the stud Haras de Hus before she decided to come to Germany. At Haras de Hus she learned from Jessica Michel who is successful in Grand Prix on an international level. In 2015 Bérangère joined the Team at the Hannoveraner Verband. How did she get here? She was in Germany to attend a clinic with Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen, chief trainer of the German Young Riders, the German Young Horses, and permanent trainer of the Verden Auction Horses. He took her to the Gala-Evening in Verden, a traditional show program, which takes place the Friday before each Elite-Auction to herald the Auction weekend.
Impressed by the presentation of the Verden Auction Riders, she immediately knew: “I want to become an auction rider”. And that’s what she is now. After 6 months as an assistant rider she had her debut on the 7th of November 2015 in the November Auction. One of her protégés was Del Magico II, full brother to vice world champion Del Magico I. Bérangère was very proud to have such a prominent candidate in her collection.“ From the first day I felt at ease in Verden. The team is great and I was warmly welcomed from the first day. I learned the German language in a very short time,” she explains with her sympathetic French accent. “I was so excited that I would be taught by Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen on auction horses for the first time. I was aware how much responsibility I had in the saddle of the sales horses. Everything went smoothly and I will always remember that moment when I presented my horses in front of the audience for the first time. That was a great experience – it is fun to be the binding point between the vendor and the buyer!”
The daily routine at the Hannoveraner Verband is well structured. At 7am the horses are fed and the stables cleaned. From 7:30 to 8:00am the team has breakfast together. On her first day Bérangère was sitting next to Melanie Schmerglatt, another auction rider of the team. When Melanie asked her: “May I have the butter please,” Bérangère knew she wasn’t the only person from another country here. As she found out, Melanie is from Australia and a team member since 2014.
At 8am the training of the horses begins. Every rider works with a groom and cares for about 10 to 12 horses. Bérangère was assigned as assistant rider for Anna Peters and groom Kristin Remmert. Anna is riding for the Hannoveraner Team since 3 years. The 28-year old dressage rider values the variety of her job. “There is always something going on here. Every two month we have an auction. Then a lot of customers come to Verden. You get to know a lot of interesting people. I built valuable friendships here.” As such, Anna is still in contact with the buyer of her favorite horse Streseman. Streseman is by Soliman de Hus and was sold to the US through the Auction in 2014. His happy new owners regularly update Anna about the success of their Hanoverian in Hunter classes. “My job as a rider is fun every day!” – The circumstances here are perfect – two indoor training arenas, one lunging arena, two outdoor training arenas and a cross-country track can be used for the daily training. “Trainers and competent stable managers are present all the time and the rest of the team also help when you get stuck on something.”
Without them nothing works in the stables – the grooms. Responsible for the well-being of the horses, they prepare the auction horses for the daily training, accompany the riders to shows, and manage everything in the stables concerning their horses. This way, the riders have more time to concentrate on their riding and each horse’s training. Since 6 years Kristin Remmert is working as a groom for the Hannoveraner Verband. The reason is on hand as she says "It’s fun to work in a team like this and I have responsibility for my horses.” Her absolute favorite is still Santiago. He really made it into her heart. In 2010 Santiago was part of her collection during the auction period. Today he is the winner of the Nuremberg Cup. "I get goose bumps every time I see the victory ride from Frankfurt. And it makes me proud to have played a part in the career of such an important horse."
From 12 to 2 pm the stables are quiet. The team is out for lunch and the horses have time to relax after their lunch. From 2 to 5pm the remaining horses are ridden. In the two week auction period the afternoons are reserved for test riding. Here the auction riders also constantly accompany their protégés and assist and consult the customers.
In the tack room Bérangère meets the other riders. Here the boots get cleaned before the day ends so everything is nice and ready for the next day. “Cleanliness and appearance is written in bold here in Verden, I learned that quite quickly. Ce qui est important. After all, customers from all over the world come here to Verden,” she explains as she closes the stable door with the big Hanoverian logo on them. Now all you hear from the stables is the horses satisfied chewing on their evening hay.
There is a famous quote from the old German Master Steinbrecht: “Ride your horse forward and make it straight!” This is still an often heard sentence in riding lessons, and especially important in the development of young horses. Now why do I need to ride my horse forward if the ultimate goal is collection? Isn’t that counterintuitive? And why do I need to ride forward to achieve straightness? And what do those have to do with each other at all? This all comes back to the building blocks of the training pyramid that need to be accomplished step by step and build on top of each other.
To achieve a better understanding of the Training Pyramid, let’s take a look at where we want to go with the training. The achievement of the training pyramid is equally important for all disciplines. For dressage, all movements should be easy and naturally. The rider should move with the horse just like a dancer on the dancefloor. Therefore the horse needs to develop carrying strength and thereby the ability to collect itself within the gaits. In the training pyramid we have the acclimatization phase, the development of propulsive force and the development of carrying strength. Throughout all these three phases we aim to improve the balance and suppleness of the horse. This makes the training pyramid just as important for the jumping horse. The better the single points of the training pyramid are achieved, the better the horse will accept the rider’s aids and the better the suppleness of the horse in the end, enabling immediate reaction, flexibility, agility and harmony between horse and rider, all needed to succeed in the jumping course as well as to shine in the dressage arena.
As a quick reminder, in the acclimatization phase we talked about rhythm, looseness and connection. The next step is about the development of propulsive force which again includes looseness and rhythm, now accompanied by impulse and straightness. At this point, the rhythm has to be a given, without it all else is impossible.
So, why do we need the propulsive force for the horse? Looking at the proportions of the horse it immediately becomes evident that the hind quarters are important. In fact, this part of the horse includes the largest muscles and thus has the greatest strength. It is the motor of the horse in all movements. During this phase the horse learns to increase the use of its hind legs. With impulse from the active hind quarters, the horse should achieve ground covering movements that develop over a swinging back. Having completed the first two phases, the acclimatization and the development of propulsive force, we look at a horse that, with rhythm, looseness and satisfaction, steps towards the rider’s hand with impulse from the hind legs and straightness in its body. Here it becomes evident that, even though we work through the training pyramid bottom up, the single points are not mutually exclusive. As we learned in part one of the training scale, rhythm facilitated looseness and both together facilitated connection. All three enable the horse to engage the hind legs and develop impulse, which in turn facilitates straightness. Backward thinking, straightness will improve the horse taking the bit equally on both sides, just as impulse will encourage the horse to further take the connection to the rider’s hand that is offered. Becoming more balanced and comfortable in its movements and the connection to the rider, looseness will be improved. We could find many more examples how the single points interact, but I think I made the point.
So far so good. Next steps. We already examined the first three points of the training pyramid in an earlier article, so now we need to focus on impulse and straightness. Impulse has to come before straightness. Impulse means the horse takes the leg up and forward under the center of gravity, increasing the length of the suspension phase. This will develop two points needed to reach straightness. First of all the impulse from the hind will increase the horse’s will and comfort in stepping towards the rider’s hand, second of all the impulse from the hind will increase the length of the suspension phase. Imagine a horse standing in the middle of the arena, all four feet on the ground, and imagine you try to push that horse over to the side. Also imagine a horse that is moving and is in the suspension phase, all four feet away from the ground and imagine you want to push that horse over to the side. Which horse’s position will you be more likely to change with less force? That is the key to increasing straightness, and that is where the sentence “Ride your horse forward and make it straight” found its roots. The suspension phase, which you increased with developing impulse allows you to iterate the position of your horse.
Furthermore, and equally important, impulse enables the horse to step under the center of gravity and, as said before, achieve ground-covering movements that develop over a swinging back. At some point in the horse’s education you will collect your horse and focus more on shoulder-fore and shoulder-in to achieve straightness, but going there immediately and skipping impulse will be like trying to drive a car without a motor, and, even worse, it will lead to short steps that do not process through the whole body of the horse, the back will be tensed instead of carrying through the movement and engaging every muscle in the horse’s body.
If your horse has rhythm, looseness, takes the bit and moves forward towards your hand, engaging its whole body, you are ready to focus on the next point, straightness. Why is straightness important and what does it mean? Straightness is important to keep the horse healthy. Every horse has a “better” side, just as every human is either right handed or left handed. As we know from own experience, as a right handed person, doing everyday things, like writing, or even brushing your teeth with the left hand is quite a task. That is the same for the horse, bending and carrying weight will be way easier on one side then on the other. If we do not work on improving the “weak” side, the horse will use its body unequally which can lead to tensions, discomfort, and even be the cause of lameness if there is significantly more strain put on one leg than on the other. Furthermore, straightness will improve prior points of the training pyramid and enable the development of collection.
Straightness has to include the whole horse. Regarding the legs it means that the hind legs move exactly in line with the front legs. Taking a closer look at the construction of the horse, one will notice that the hind legs are wider than the front legs, so one might say they can never move in line with the front legs. While true for a younger horse and every horse that reaches this point of the education pyramid for the first time, with further training and exercises like shoulder-in and shoulder-fore, the horse learns to take the hind legs more towards its body’s center of gravity, which will result in the hind legs getting in line with the front legs. Besides the legs, the muscles throughout the horse’s body have to engage equally on both sides, all resulting in taking the bit equally on both reins.
*Endel Ots (pictured above) and his now 6-year old Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike (by Lord Laurie/His Highness) - during a training session with Christine Traurig last year in preparation for the Young Horse World Championships, provides a perfect example for correct training. He is working his horse on big circles, encouraging engagement of the hind legs through tempi changes, and already shows Lucky perfectly straight on all straight and curved lines.
Oftentimes you will already work on straightness without even clearly noticing. Working a horse on big circles is straightening work. Correctly done, the horse is encouraged to stretch the outer rip and engage both sides of the body equally. On these curved lines the horse also learns to increasingly step towards the outer rein. I mention this outer rein here (even though I said I want an equal connection to both reins before), because on these circles, the horse has to take more weight on the inner hind leg. To allow that, we want to be lighter on the inner rein, while at the same time providing guidance on the outer rein and preventing the horse from breaking away over the outer shoulder. If we did not manage to do this, the horse would step its hind legs next to its body and thus we would never be able to have balance or, looking forward, develop carrying strength. Crucial to engage the inner hind leg is the weight of the rider and the rider’s use of the inner forward pushing leg. The rider’s inner leg has to push against the outer rein. Doing this work equally on both sides will help the horse develop the strength to step more under the center of gravity on both sides and thus increase straightness.
Further work to improve straightness that is done through more advanced exercises, as well as the development of carrying strength will be explained in the next part of the Training Pyramid.
“Let’s Go Outside” was the Motto
The so called “green” season, meaning the outdoor season is starting in Europe. Over the past couple of month, most horses and riders have been training indoors due to the cold and rainy German winters. Now as the sun comes out and the first shafts of sunlight are warming the minds, riders are encouraged to also get back outside to hold their training sessions in the outdoor arenas. Many of them also with the background to train for the start of the upcoming outdoor show season.
To provide a head start to the show season, the Hannoveraner Verband held a jumping clinic with permanent trainer Thomas Schönig on the weekend of the 15th to 17th of April. With Thomas Schönig the Hannoveraner Verband has a trainer at disposal that, with his infinite treasure trove of experiences, can provide valuable tips for all age and education classes.
The Hannoveraner Verband in Verden, known worldwide as the home of the Hanoverian Horse and the venue of the Verden Auction, also hosts one of the most modern and largest training centers in Europe. The facilities of the Hannoveraner Verband provide, among others, outdoor jumping and dressage arenas, multiple indoor arenas, a lunging arena and a cross-country track as well as spacious stables and seminar and meeting rooms for clinic participants. The Hannoveraner Verband was able to recruit top trainers and will provide clinics covering different topics throughout the year.
During his active time as a rider Thomas Schönig qualified more than 30 horses for the German National Young Horse Championships, the German Bundeschampionate in show jumping and in dressage and during his time as an auction rider in Verden he presented more than 1,600 different horses. His biggest success as a rider was the victory in the Danish Show Jumping Derby in 1986 with the stallion Calypso III.
His experience enables Thomas to understand and relate to the different horses, making him irreplaceable as trainer and coach at the Hannoveraner Verband. His show jumping clinics are popular with clients in and outside of Germany.
Three days have been scheduled for the clinic. “Especially the first day is important for me to get a feel for the riders and horses and develop a first impression to see where each of the pairs is standing” so trainer Thomas Schönig. “From here I develop an individual training concept for each one of the participants to respond to each individual needs.” The first day covered mostly gymnastics, in-and-outs and some single lines.
The goal of the clinic was clearly defined! At the beginning of each outdoor season the horses have to get acclimated to the new environment, to the increasing color and the noise, which is more prominent outside than in the indoor places that have served for training in over the winter. Now there are a lot of banners, flags, sunshades, dogs, etc. that tend to take the concentration of the horse away from the rider. That is what the horses have to be prepared for to be able to concentrate on their tasks during the actual show. As such, the training area was prepared like an outdoor show ground with all the noise and color and the sunshades moving in the light spring breeze. That was the immediate first challenge for the participants and Thomas used it for his introductory exercise.
Instead of getting hung up on the environment, the focus is to increase the horse’s attention to the rider. “My first exercise is following the quote of Show Jumping Master Ludger Beerbaum who formulated the principle: Speeding up and slowing down has to work first!” The participants were asked to get into canter and accelerate the strides every 3 to 4 strides, and take the horses back after another 3 to 4 strides with explicit and immediate transitions. Important in that is that the collection has to be lead by the seat, through sitting back deeply in the horse. Thereby the horse increases taking weight on the hind leg and starts to carry itself, thus becoming increasingly independent of the rider’s hand. That in turn improves looseness and suppleness.
During the indoor season in winter the jumping training is held solely inside with limited space available. The outdoor season in the summer offers larger arenas that also require a higher basic speed. Generally distances indoors are build for 3 to 6 strides while outdoors 7 or 8 strides are the norm. Course designers have way more freedom and possibilities outside. Distances between the fences are the topic here. To enable the rider to bring the horse to the fence on the correct distance he or she has to be able to control every stride. According to Thomas Schönig the understanding and the meaning of the stride length is elementary and inevitable. That is why he puts focus on teaching his students a feel for their horse’s strides. He does that with the help of a gymnastic line that starts with a single 1.6 feet fence, followed by 6 cavalettis on a distance varying between 10.5 and 11.5 feet. That demands a feel for the rhythm from horse and rider. The rider notices that the horse can be influenced and the stride lengthened and shortened through minimal aids, without using the reins, weight or legs too extensively. Through this exercise the rider learns to focus on a quiet seat and to maintain and leverage the rhythm to find the right distance.
The third day was used to create a real-life situation. A course as found on a show was built. Depending on the level of horse and rider the course was modified. The warm-up took place in a separate warm-up area. Thomas Schönig already provided valuable tips during the warm-up. “Start with longer reins and encourage the horse to stretch down towards the bit so it lifts up its back. Take your time in the warm-up to ensure the horse’s muscle have enough time to loosen up. It does not matter if you want to ride a 1 meter or a 1.5 meter course, you need to warm-up your partner, loosen up and stretch the muscles” is the message Thomas provides to his students.
The course has to be solved independently by the participants. They should implement their learnings from the previous days in show-like circumstances. After every round the trip gets analyzed. What worked well? Where have been difficulties? Where is further focus needed? – have been guiding questions here. In a second round the answers and options to solve prior problems increased confidence. Now the participants can look forward to the upcoming show season. Encouraged, strengthened, motivated and well prepared.
Lastly, Thomas suggested his protégés to take two or three shows at the beginning of the year as training rounds without the goal to win. He recommended providing time to the horse to acclimatize to the show situation. Only when all the noise and crazy that is going on around the ring is not a big deal anymore and the horse is fully concentrated on the rider is it able to be fully dedicated to the task.
This weekend I visited the North Carolina based breeders Maryanna and Wendell Haymon. The couple bred and owns a number of successful US dressage horses, among them Doctor Wendell MF (Don Principe/Sandro Hit), Don Principe (Donnerhall/Prince Thatch xx) and Duet MF (Don Principe/Rotspon), just to name a few. The Haymons and their horses are continuously successful on breed shows, dressage shows, and have established themselves as a well-known name around the Hannoveraner Verband in Germany as well. After getting to know some of the great US-based riders, I could not miss out on the opportunity to also get to know the Haymon family and learn about breeding in the US.
Success Takes Grit
How to be successful in the horse world as a breeder is strikingly similar to achieving success as a rider. What one needs is grit. Maryanna always knew what she wanted and she went for it. “I grew up on a potato farm, but my first word was ‘pony’. We would have never been able to afford one, but I worked whenever I could and saved up long enough until I was able to buy my own horse. I did not know much at that time, I was told he was 18 and beginner safe, what turned out to be 30 and the absolute opposite of safe, he literally dragged me through a wall,” she laughs. “But I wanted this, and what he taught me was to be persistent and just never give up. My next horse was a three year old horse that I started under the saddle myself. I did a little bit of everything: Barrel racing, Trail, Hunters and Jumpers.” It was not until later that Maryanna got solely into dressage. “My husband Wendell and I went to a horse show in Madison Square Garden and saw Reiner Klimke in the freestyle. That was when I realized this is what I want to do. I bought an Arabian gelding and rode him until Prix St. Georg when Charles de Kunffey told me I had to get a Warmblood if I wanted to take the next step.” This turned out to be her first Hanoverian. A gelding by Amazonas.
Success is Not an Accident
…even if Maryanna’s career as a breeder started pretty much like one: “I started breeding just the way I would tell anyone today to not do it. I bought my first breeding mare because I was able to get her cheap because she was injured. The plan was to breed to her and sell the foal to afford that riding horse. I had that foal until it turned 21. I kept breeding with this injured mare, which really brought me on the way. During the first years, my breeding decisions were very much based on who won at Devon and who had the prettiest announcement in the Chronicle… During that time I learned many lessons. I significantly started improving my skills as a breeder when I went to Hilltop Farm where I was introduced to Susan Hassler, from whom I received valuable advice and guidance.
The turning point in my career as a breeder was my first Hanoverian Breed Orientation Course. I got a whole new perspective; from then on my husband and I started studying pedigrees and confirmation. This course was life changing, we took it several times already and will take it several more. We learn different things every time. The course teaches us to use our eyes and it was the deciding point to go to Europe every year. Each summer we go to see the mare performance test, the foal and broodmare shows, the World Championships of the Young Dressage Horses, and the Grand Prix. This way we cover the whole range and improve our knowledge and judgment of what it takes to make a Grand Prix Horse.
On the comment that she has reached that goal already, Maryanna replied “I can get better. If you are satisfied, you should quit. Breeding is about improving the horses. With every generation they should get better. If you are satisfied with what you have, you need to stop.” After a short break she added: “I am proud of my horses, but I am not yet satisfied. I reached my milestones of winning at Devon, of having a stallion accepted for the licensing in Germany, of having bred a successful Grand Prix Horse, but I know I can still get better.”
Nutrition is Key
Visiting Maryanna’s youngsters outside I noticed that all of them where extremely well behaved, from foal to two year old stallion. “It is not only the right pairing, to have a horse you can ride to Grand Prix, they need to be healthy. To raise a healthy foal, nutrition is key. I need to know what is in my grass, what nutrients come out of the soil, what I need to add on supplements, need to make sure they really get what they need. We live in a good region; the horses can stay outside day and night almost all year round. They all have shelters that they never use,” she laughs. “But if needed we take them inside to feed them twice a day. That really depends on the horse. I work with a nutritionist to find the right balance, but I also educate myself. I go to seminars from feeding companies and then I do my own research. We owe it to the horses to stay on top of things. Science is advancing; we need to make use of that.”
The Triangle of Breeding
“What I was told and think is very true, is that there is a triangle of success: 1. Genetics: the breeder picking the right parents. 2. Nutrition: Conception to adulthood. 3. Management: Farrier, vet, saddle fit and training. If one is missing, the other two will not be able to rise as well. Genetics set the basis for everything, they need to enable the horse with quality of gaits, interior and correct composition. Nutrition and management have to build on that. Those two continuously change. The needs of a foal are different to the needs of a three-year-old to the needs of a Grand Prix Horse.”
The Haymon’s chose to live in the Tryon area because the hills of the Carolinas are good for the horses to grow up on. Still, when necessary, Maryanna will load her horses and drive them to the aqua training. “That keeps them busy, it gives them a task, especially the stallions. They come home tired, but they love to go. And it is good for them. They develop muscles without putting too much pressure on the joints.” On the question if she does it with all her horses, she had to smile a little: “No, you never do anything with all horses. You have to assess every one of them separately to provide them what they need. Nutrition, exercise, farrier,… every horse gets it all, but what exactly, how much and how frequently depends on the horse.
The Story of the Happy Horse
Doctor Wendell is the prime example of Maryanna and Wendell’s breeding. Doctor Wendell was an embryo transfer. The surrogate mother did not accept him, so he had to be bottle fed. He was not very hungry and did not touch his supplements. “But he was always happy. And he still is.” His current rider Jim Koford who already rode the now 8-year-old to a third rank for the National Developing Horse Grand Prix entitles him as the playboy. This horse has some character. He is the kind of horse who will tear things of the wall and drop them when you look, pretending it wasn’t him. You can see the glow in Maryanna’s eyes when she is telling these stories about her horses. “Doc always had this presence as a stallion. When he was three we brought him to Hilltop Farms where Michael Bragdell started him. He needed more exposure, so Chris Hickey took over and showed the stallion in Florida. Having been in Florida for only one month as a five year old, Ingrid Klimke showed him during a seminar and even jumped him, that is how easy and mature he was.” Turning back to Hilltop, Michael and Chris wrote a Pas de Deux with Doctor Wendell and Don Principe, Maryanna and Wendell’s other stallion.
When Chris quit Hilltop, Jim Koford took over and developed the stallion to Grand Prix. This continuous success is not blinding Maryanna: “He is a bit small and a bit short, but he produces better then himself which is important for a breeding stallion. He produced the reserve grand champion at Devon last year, his first descendants are started under saddle and show good ride-ability.” This dedication, the being critical about the own horses, the horsemanship, and the grit – that is what I found on this visit truly makes a good breeder.
After the first two blogs about the training pyramid we now arrived at the last part, the development of carrying strength. As a quick reminder, in the first part of this series, we talked about the acclimatization phase with rhythm, looseness and connection to the bit, and in the second part we explained the development of propulsive force, again covering rhythm and looseness, then accompanied by impulse and straightness. At this point we are ready to take the next step and develop carrying strength, taking the prior points as a given, now again focusing on straightness, this time accompanied by collection.
One continuously talks about collection in the context of dressage, but especially schooling a young horse, collection is mainly important for the well-being and health of the horse. By nature, the weight of the horse is distributed rather unfavorably with 60% of the horse’s weight on the front legs and only 40% being on the hind legs. This is even more negatively influenced by the rider’s weight being placed directly behind the horse’s shoulder. A collected horse will carry more weight on the hind legs. The hind legs will step further under the center of gravity with increasingly flexed joints. The back of the horse is arched upward and the neck and head naturally come up higher, giving the appearance as if the horse would grow.
For a dressage horse, the more weight on the hind, the more freedom will be developed in the shoulder, meaning the better the collection, the better the extended gaits. A jumping horse will be able to collect itself, take a tight turn, and immediately develop speed out of that since none of the strength and power has been lost in the turn. The opposite is the case: strength and power have been collected in the hind legs, then almost serving like a jump start. For a trail and pleasure horse, at least the basic knowledge of all the points of the training pyramid, including the collection, is necessary to keep the horse healthy and further a more equal weight distribution. Done the correct way, riding keeps a horse healthy longer. This can almost be seen like exercise for a human. People are told to work out on a regular basis to increase their health. Done the wrong way they will injure themselves, done the right way, it will increase health and well-being.
The collection is the top of the pyramid. We ensure that all the prior points of the training pyramid have been reached as explained in earlier articles. I want to dive back in at the second phase, development of propulsive force. Out of this propulsive force, which led to the horse taking the hind legs further up and forward under the point of gravity, carrying the movement through the whole body, equally into both hands of the rider, we now develop the collection. The prior point, straightness, has been part of the development of propulsive force, and is also part of the development of carrying strength, because as already said last time, only if the horse uses both sides of its body equally and keeps the hind legs in line with the front legs, will the rider be able to encourage the horse to increase the weight in the hind quarters versus the front. Without straightness, the horse will always escape to one side.
The younger horse in correct position, taking the hind legs under the center of gravity with an arched upward back and stepping into the riders hand, the first cervical vertebrae being the highest point.
Teaching the horse to be collected is actually done through very simple exercises: Half holds, transitions and tempi changes. Riding forward and then re-collecting the horse, done the right way, is the best exercise to develop the muscles the horse needs to carry itself. By riding my horse forward, I ensure to have impulse, connection and straightness, which I can then take back, using my seat and my leg to encourage the horse’s increased use of the hind legs during the collection, with a light hand that allows the head and neck to come up so the horse seems to grow under the rider when taking it back.
Notice that the focus of the aids when collecting the horse, meaning in every downward transition, is on the rider’s seat and legs. I still want the constant and equal connection to the hand, but at this point, it will naturally become lighter. Unfortunately, what we often see in the arena are riders operating backwards with their hands and using less leg and seat in the downward transition, which then leads to the horse falling on the front legs while the hind legs stay further behind the center of gravity and are not taken under the horse’s body. This does not only apply to the dressage rider. The jumping rider has to use the same aids, even though the seat is lighter in general, but this increase in weight that is put in the saddle is a relative increase depending on the usual seat of the rider, not an absolute increase.
Furthermore, riders that do give the right aids sometimes tend become too ambitious. Being collected is tiring for the horse and especially getting started, two or three more collected steps at a time are absolutely sufficient. Then I need to ride more forward again to ensure impulse and straightness. It is very similar to going to the gym and lifting weight or doing squads. Doing that for the first time is very exhausting, and while a trained athlete can push through some of that exhaustion, a beginner should not because the body naturally tries to get out of this position, leading to develop a wrong movement. The horse at this point will start “cheating”. When this happens, the movement does not look sublime anymore, it just becomes slow. A slow gait is the opposite of a collected gait. Transitions between gaits and within the gaits help to develop the right muscles needed for the collection without overstraining the horse. Furthermore, they help increase suppleness and looseness and make the horse more and more respondent to the rider’s aids.
The training pyramid forms the basics of a horse’s education, and in this notion, going back to the basics improves everything later on. This is a constant process as all the single points build on and interact with each other. Following this path of the training pyramid will lead to a balanced supple horse that easily and willingly reacts to the rider’s aids. Horse and rider become one.
Once again in 2016 a Hanoverian Hunter is leading the Hunter scene in the US. It is Mindful by Graf Grannus/Bold Indian xx. Bred by Manfred Schaefer, Vechelde, and owned by Kenneth und Selma Garber, Kensel LLC, the 12 year old Mindful was named US Hunter of the year in 2015 and therewith repeated his sensational success of 2014. His rider Kelly Farmer about the black: "He is a great horse. What else can I say? I am lucky to have him. It is an honor to ride a horse like him. He is ready to give everything, every time.” The US-Hunter market has found the export of Hanoverian Horses to be valuable as the Hanoverian is bringing exactly those traits needed for the Hunter discipline. The success of the German export label in a country where the Huntersport was created is not a single case.
At this point, no detailed description of the Huntersport is needed, especially not from a German editor writing a blog for the US audience. The Huntersport is a traditionally American discipline and almost every American rider is familiar with the requirements of this sport and its significance in the US. Still (especially for our European readers), I would like to re-emphasize the main criteria that outline the Hunter test on a show:
This is about perfection! The horse completes a course over fences and a test on the flat to examine gaits and ride-ability. The course is supposed to be quiet, easy-going, and over all absolutely smooth and consistent. Depending on the level, the fences have a height of 60cm to 120cm. The focus is not solely on ending the course clear, but also on the manner over the fence, the distances between the fences and the overall appearance and harmony between horse and rider. That said, what characteristics does the hunter need to bring to the table to finish a hunter class with a high score?
• Brings his weight on the hind legs before the jump
• Jumps with back and neck well rounded and arched upward
• Has a quick front leg, which has to be absolutely balanced and equal
• The front legs are bent high with a 90 degree angle at the knee and the fetlock joint
• Keeps the same stride length and tempo before and after the jump
• Completes the course in a perfect manner
One part of the hunter class is the examination of the gaits. Here also the principle: less is more. It is expected from the horse to move elastically and with minimal effort. The rider keeps the lightest contact, the nose is stretched out with a long neck. Absolute character feature of a hunter is its even-temperedness.
It is not a secret anymore that the auction place in Verden is known to discover hunters. Carlson has already shown it in 2009. Richard Rinehart bought him on the auction and then trained him as a hunter. 2013 Carlson (by Competent/Polydor, bred by Gerd Strothmeyer, Einbeck) won what may be the highest endowed Hunter Series in the US, the National Hunter Derby. Currently Carlson is winning at the Brownland Horse Show for the Team Meadow View/Tammy Provost, ridden by Alliy Moyer.
Like him, numerous Hunter careers have found their roots in Verden and have proven the Hanoverian Horse is perfectly suited for this riding discipline, just as it is for dressage, jumping, 3-day-eventing and leisure. The Hanoverian brings everything a hunter needs. Another prime example for excellent hunters from Verden is the story of Rotspon’s Crusador. As the name already reveals, he is by Rotspon/Lauries Crusador xx. In 2004, the then two-year-old stallion bred by Johann-Christian Eggers was licensed and in 2006 sold to the US through the Elite Auction. Before that he finished his stallion test with a total score of 123.83 and won multiple riding horse classes. During the auction training under Meike Vogel (now Möller) he showed perfect ride-ability and natural looseness in all three gaits. His attractive dark chestnut color and his dignified head with the alert eye made him an eye-catcher. That was recognized by expert Udo Wagner who then advised American Megan Udelson to the young talent. She secured the optimally constructed stallion and after only one year in Kentucky Rotspon’s Crusador won everything he could in his class. The foundation of his career in the Hunter domain was built.
Not surprising, the US-Hunter market is bidding on the Hanoverian Horse. The Hanoverians naturally bring many of the needed character features and the ride-ability that is needed, are reliable partners in the course, though equipped with capacity and mellow gaits. The collection of the Verden Auction (VA) in May had a number of riding horses to offer that meet these qualities. One ended as price leader of the auction. It was the four-year-old Belissaria that was sold for the highest bid of the day. A renowned US Hunter-Trainer secured the Belissimo M/Embassy-daughter for €32,000 ($36,000). Belissaria was bred by Carsten Cohrs from Scharnhorst and presented by Lena-Marie and Kerstin Klose.
In the dressage part she was shown by Australian Auction Rider Victoria Jade Harding – jumping rider Roman Duchac showed her over fences. As further prospect for the Huntersport the US Trainer secured a second horse. Number 38, Nice to Have by Now or Never M/Mont du Cantal AA will also move to the United States. The hammer for the gelding from Andre Vagts’ breed fell for €20,000 ($22,500). The horse was presented by the State Stud Celle.
“We can breed the best horses, but in the end they can only perform as presented by the rider” - Dr. Werner Schade, Head of the Hannoveraner Verband
Training Center Hannoveraner Verband
It is the Hannoveraner Verband’s mission to further the Hanoverian Horse in breeding and sport. A major part thereof is the development of first class riders and trainers that have the experience and the knowledge to train their horses and other riders according to the classical training principles to bring out the best of every horse. The facilities at the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden provide an optimal training environment with multiple indoor and outdoor arenas, paddocks, a walker, and outdoor trails surrounding the place. Above that, the constant presence of our experienced trainers, namely Joern Ahrens, Daniel Fritz and Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen for dressage and Thomas Schoenig and Steffen Werner for show-jumping, offers constant support to every rider at the Hannoveraner Verband. We highly value the classical education according to the training pyramid. Above that, the variety of horses at the Hannoveraner Verband taught our riders and trainers how to look at each horse’s temperament, character, body composition and talent to suit expectations, training plan and each training session perfectly to the horse. These circumstances and the quality of work that is done by our team in Verden enabled the Hannoveraner Verband to become the world’s most well-known breeding association and auction place and therewith the optimal marketing and sales platform for every Hanoverian breeder.
Rider-Exchange Program: Development Cross-Border
However, as the Hannoveraner Verband, we do not allow ourselves to stand still. We constantly work on opportunities to improve, develop ourselves, further the Hanoverian breed and build opportunities. Furthering the sport and furthering the Hanoverian Horse does not end at our doorstep. As an international breeding association we need to work across borders. To bring some of the knowledge we have accumulated in Verden to other countries, educate the finest riders for our breeders, and build a strong Hanoverian network all over the world, we created the Hannoveraner Verband Rider-Exchange Program.
The Rider-Exchange Program allows four young professionals to come to the Hannoveraner Verband in Germany during the “Golden Autumn”. This is the time period from mid-September to mid-November in which the Elite-Auction, the Stallion Licensing and Stallion Market and the November Auction take place. The riders will be paired with one of our existing rider-groom teams and start the program as an assistant rider. They will become part of the team and as such experience the daily work done by our riders, grooms and trainers. Above that the program will be accompanied by excursions to surrounding landmarks like the State Stud in Celle and the Horse Museum in Verden. The participants will visit local breeders and learn about the Hanoverian breed itself as well as the care and work the successful breeders provide during the upbringing of their horses. Theory lessons about training, feeding and veterinary topics, all provided by well-known experts in the field like Dr.Christa Finkler-Schade, Dr. Frank Reimann, Maren Schlender and others will complete the experience. Four participants have passed the selection process and will take the trip to Verden this year.
Rider-Exchange Participants 2016:
Dressage: Rosie Simoes, USA
Rosie Julian-Simoes is a 20 year-old assistant trainer to her mother Julie Julian in the Chicago land area. Riding since a young age, she is a bronze and silver medalist and working towards her gold this summer. A three time North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) participant, Rosie is also long time member of Lendon Gray's Emerging Dressage Athlete program, a member of the USDF Youth Programs Advisory Subcommittee, and in 2015 was chosen to travel to and observe the European Dressage Championships with the Dressage Foundation.
Dressage: Caitlin Kincaid, USA
Caitlin Kincaid currently works as an apprentice rider for Team Tate Dressage located in both Landrum, SC and Wellington, FL. A life-long horse enthusiast, Caitlin began riding as a hunter/jumper in her home state of Rhode Island. It was at the University of Vermont where she made the switch to Dressage. She has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best in the industry; Jessica Jo Tate, Anne Gibbons, Courtney King-Dye, Charles De Kunffy, Frank Grelo, Scott Hassler, and Jan Ebeling to name a few. Caitlin's primary focus is to continue her education and training in the hopes to one day represent the United States in international competition.
Show-Jumping: Maren Reinbold, Canada
Maren has been riding since she was 4 years old and has shown in dressage, hunters and jumpers, competing in the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. She has competed up to the FEI 1.50m level. Currently Maren aims to complete a diploma in Equine Science through the University of Guelph as she is now focusing on breeding, training, and selling Hanoverians in Calgary, AB, Canada. Therefore she is looking forward to learning all the aspects of breeding and developing Hanoverians through the Rider-Exchange Program.
Hunter-Jumper: Jessica Nemzoff, USA
Beginning her riding career at the age of six, Jessica has competed on the USA “AA” Hunter/Jumper circuit earning top ribbons at competitions such as The Winter Equestrian Festival (FL, USA), The Devon Horse Show (PA,USA), and Lake Placid Horse Shows (NY, USA). While earning a Business Degree at the University of Miami (UM) Jessica rode hunters and jumpers for Rivers Edge - Scott Stewart & Ken Berkley, and galloped racehorses for Vintage Farm - Michael Matz, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, before going to Europe to pursue a graduate level Business Degree as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Oxford (Oxford, UK) from which she graduated last fall.
The Hannoveraner Verband is looking forward to welcome these talented young professionals and become a major milestone for the development of their careers.
In Verden, something is always going on! No matter summer, winter, spring or autumn. The Verden Auctions that take place every other month already make the “Rider-Town” Verden, as the Northern city the Hannoveraner Verband calls its home is commonly called, to a go-to destination for every horse person. The traditional auctions are accompanied by the international shows covering all levels and ages, of horses as well as of riders. Above that, breed shows, vaulting championships and more make the summer in Verden a unique experience no true horse lover can miss!
The auctions are the poster child of the event location Verden. And that not only since yesterday. More than 60 years ago – in 1949 – visionary Hans Joachim Köhler brought them to life. The original aim was to provide a marketing platform for the breeder, which the auctions still provide nowadays. In doing so, about 60 to 120 horses get selected for each of the auctions, making it just as convenient for the interested buyer to see many horses in a short amount of time; especially all pre-selected, vetted, and thoroughly tested. The auctions provide a marketing platform for the breeder, not only for the sale itself. To only present a horse within the auction setting means a rigorous selection process has been passed; a quality label for the dam line itself. The buyers value the transparency. Being able to see the horses all in the same location at the same time, under show-like circumstances, enables them to objectively compare each horse against the other and leaves little room for later surprises, especially as the horse can be tried and monitored over the two-week auction period as opposed to only at certain pre-determined times. At the Hannoveraner Verband we value this transparency. The doors are open to the public all day, even outside of the training times surprise visitors are always welcome.
The satisfaction of our customer, the breeder as well as the rider, is what keeps our team going. Like Christine Traurig already said: “As an auction rider, it is your duty to present the breeder’s horse to the best extend possible. That is a huge responsibility. At the same time, you need to provide excellent customer service to the buyer and ensure to pair the right horse with the right rider.” The system that Hans Joachim Köhler established and Christine Traurig already experienced is still in place. Of course there have been changes and enhancements throughout the years, but the fundament is still the same: conscientious selection of the auction candidates, high requirements for quality, ride-ability, character and the appropriate impression throughout the training in Verden itself before the horses get auctioned off. All this has created the auction place Verden – and secures the prime perception worldwide.
The auction year begins with the Verden Auction in January, followed by auctions in March, May and July. The auctions from March through July are completed by the early-born foals that make a nice addition to the riding horses and thus complete the experience. Furthermore, in July, a dedicated auction is held for foals and broodmares. After that, the highlights of the “Golden Autumn” will follow. Those are the 133rd Elite Auction for riding horses and foals and the stallion licensing with the stallion market, followed by the November Auction.
However, Verden has more to offer. It is not only the perfect spot to find your future champion, but also a prime location for renowned horse shows. 34 international championships have already taken place at the facilities of the Hannoveraner Verband. German and European Championships are held here since 1983 and at the latest since the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses have been established in 1997, Verden is a well-known show ground. “Little Aachen” is what they call it in expert-circles. Guests from all over the world are welcomed in Verden and therefore the offer of events is broad.
Summer Highlights in 2016
Verden Auction in July and Hanoverian Championships HALT
Breeding and sport belong together. Therefore a new concept has been established. For the first time the Hanoverian Championships HALT are held in conjunction with the Verden Auction in July. For our visitors that means top-class sport on one side, premium-quality youngsters in the auction setting on the other. The Hanoverian Championships HALT are one of the most traditional shows in the North of Germany and receive high entries and visitor numbers year after year. Here the Regional Championships for Dressage and Show-Jumping are held alongside with Kids-Games, the Lead-Rope Class for the youngest, Pony Championships and pretty much everything from the Young Horse all the way up to the highest levels. The auction training starts on the 4th of July and leads up to the actual auction on the 16th. The classes of the Hanoverian Championships start the 13th of July and end on Sunday the 17th with the regional finals.
The auction collection itself is made up of 98 riding horses, 68 dressage horses and 30 jumpers, and 57 foals. Amongst those are riding horses that show talents in both disciplines and above that provide the valuable traits as a partner for leisure riding. “Quality and Ride-ability” – that is how auction manager Jörg-Wilhelm Wegener describes the composition of the auction collection as he is very pleased with the variety of the horses that will be offered.
International Dressage and Jumping Festival and Foal and Broodmare Auction
Following from the 3rd to the 7th of August in the rider town Verden the International Dressage and Jumping Festival will take place. Again riders and horses are in the spotlight for dressage and show-jumping. The opening of the festival is made by the so-called “Herwart von der Decken-Schau”, a meeting of the best 3-year old mares of the Hanoverian breed.
The variety of the International Dressage and Jumping Festival itself is unique on its own. The complete range of classes, from Young Horses to Grand Prix is covered. Qualifiers for the “Bundeschampionate”, the German National Young Horse Championships for 3- to 6-year old horses alongside with the Hanoverian Dressage Championships, the Qualifications for the Nuremberg Cup and the Piaff-Foerderpreis (U-25 Grand Prix) all the way up to Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special guarantee excellence. The jumping ring is just as spectacular with international classes on CSI**-level, the Hanoverian Jumping Horse Championships, and the Amateur-Tour Gaudemus Equis.
Another highlight of that weekend is the Foal and Broodmare Auction on the 5th and 6th of August. Offered are 90 foals and 10 broodmares. On Friday the 5th of August foals number 1 – 49 will be presented on the show grounds and from 6pm going forward they will enter the auction ring in the Niedersachsenhalle in the same order. The following day, Saturday the 6th of August, the foals number 51 - 90 will follow. They will also enter the show grounds on the occasion of the foal presentation at 1 pm and thereafter the auction at 6pm. The Saturday Auction will be complemented by an attractive offer of carrying broodmares.
Also at home in Verden: the vaulting! August 25th to 28th Germany’s best vaulters will meet at the Niedersachsenhalle to compete for the title of German National Vaulting Champion. In the prior year the CVIO took place in Verden and enthused spectators from all over the world. Well-known acrobats like the Brothers Brüsewitz and the success team from Neuss will show their creativity in an esthetic freestyle.
Foals and Broodmares
Next to these three major equestrian events that are marked by variety, the summer time is always also the time of the foals. Throughout the whole breeding area foals come into the world. Many breeders claim this to be the best time of the year as they proudly present their breeding products and hopes for the future on the breed shows.
The same focus is on the broodmares. For shows they are neatly prepared and presented on the triangle to prove their qualities. The mares are the display of the breed. “You do not breed a mare, you breed a dam line” is what they say, “that is what brings you the quality into the breed”. To ensure the quality in the breed and increase value of the line, the mares attend these “pret a porter” shows to compete for the desired awards and prizes. They are evaluated for their exterior, gaits, expression, composition and blood lines.
The transition from summer to early autumn is initiated by the pre-selections of the stallions for the licensing. They are the precursor of the breeding highlight of the year: The stallion licensing and the stallion market in October. A couple hundred two and a half-year old stallions step in front of the selection committee in the four to six weeks leading up to the licensing – only the best will be invited to take the journey to Verden.
The ”Golden Autumn“ itself has much to offer on its own. The kick-off is made by the 133rd Elite-Auction on the 8th of October. Here the crème de la crème enters the auction arena: Championship Horses of today and tomorrow. At times, the success horse Brentina by Brentano/Weltmeyer, one of the USA’s most successful dressage horses, was discovered here. The Elite Auction is initiated by the Gala-Evening, a show program around the horse. Beginning on Friday at 8pm it means: Lights off – spot on! Northern Germany’s most famous show program around the most popular horses in breeding, sport and auction has the stage.
The evaluation of the exterior of horses has always played a significant role in the breeding. It presents valuable conclusions about the quality and the use already in young horses and thus gives an indication on the value of the horse (and its offspring) as a riding horse in the respective disciplines.
Evaluating horses is not exactly a science. Criteria on how a good riding horse should be constructed were developed through the experience of many generations of horse experts. This manifests the absence of an ulterior motive in the evaluation of horses. We clearly strive to breed a typy horse, however the evaluation of the exterior focuses on the functionality of a horse more so than on its beauty.
The Hannoveraner Verband divides the evaluation of broodmares and stallions into six exterior components, all of which are scored between 1 (very bad) and 10 (excellent). The components are the head, neck, saddle position, frame, front legs and hind legs.
Head: From all the components, the evaluation of the head probably is the most subjective. Different breeds prefer different shapes of heads. There are some common ideals though. A big, clear, open eye is desirable, which radiates calmness and intelligence. This special radiance also influences the type of the horse.
Neck: The horse uses the neck for balance while in motion in dressage as well as in jumping. The length and the shape of the neck are important. The neck should be of medium length and well developed without an under-neck. It should taper off towards the head; there should be a certain freedom in the jowl to allow for mobility in the poll. Unfavorable neck formations could cause problems with respect to a proper contact, which then will create problems with the rideability.
Saddle position: The position and the length of the shoulder as well as the development of the withers determine the quality of the saddle position. A long, angled shoulder and withers, which are not too high, but reach far into the back, are desirable. Such a construction helps placing the rider in the center of the horse. Hence a good saddle position is important for the balance of the horse, when under a rider. Shortcomings with respect to the construction of the shoulder may negatively impact the reach and the mobility in the shoulder of the horse.
Frame: The frame is a rather complex score and is often mistakenly connected with the size of the horse. When does a horse have a good frame?
• When we have a long, rectangular horse with correct proportions. The forehand (up to the end of the withers), the middle part (essentially the back) and the hindquarters should be of the same length. If so, we are looking at a balanced horse.
• When the horse has a good topline. This requires the back to be strong but elastic especially in the connection over the loin area, where the middle part meets the hindquarters. The croup should be long and have the correct angulations. The croup of a jumper may be slightly straighter than the croup of a dressage horse, in which a slightly sloping croup is desirable.
• When the horse is long-legged and built uphill.
Evaluations have shown that the score for the frame relates to rideability and quality of movement more than any other score.
Front legs: The positioning of the legs has an immediate influence on the long-term health and usage of a horse. A correct foundation is essential for an athletic performance horse. Its criteria, which apply to front and hind legs, include strong, well-developed joints, a well-aligned formation of legs, and well-formed and correctly positioned hooves. The construction of the pasterns is of special importance. Sufficient elasticity in the pasterns adds to the elasticity of the movement. The pasterns need a certain length. However, if they are too long, they become weak and sagging when the horse is used for riding. They then create a significant risk for lameness issues.
Hind legs: Much of what was said about the front legs with respect to joints and correctness also applies to the hind legs. The hind legs are considered the engine of the horse. To be able to develop a powerful impulse out of the hind leg, certain construction attributes are useful. In addition to the definition of the joints, the angulation and the connection of the hind leg to the rest of the body are of utmost importance. If a hind leg stands too far out behind, the horse will have difficulties stepping under the point of gravity and carrying weight on this hind leg. A correct angle in the hock is of great significance, as it is the best prerequisite for creating a powerful impulse from the hind leg.
Type: The score for type covers two criteria: the breed and the gender. The type of the Hanoverian breed has changed considerably over the course of decades, because the use of the Hanoverian Horse changed. Today we breed horses for the various disciplines the equestrian sport offers. The horses must have athletic ability, have nice long bodylines and, at the same time, be blood-influenced and versatile.
Here the aspired exterior comes into action: Woodlander-Farouche by Fuerst Heinrich/Dimaggio, double world champion of five- and six-year-old dressage horses. – A perfect exterior provides the perfect pre-disposition as a riding horse and thus makes the goal for every breeder. (Photo: Frieler)
We do not want to breed statues; hence it is always important to evaluate the exterior not only while the horse is standing still. We get a valuable first impression, when the horse stands in front of us, but it is of utmost necessity to then view the horse in motion. It will allow us to evaluate how the horse carries itself, how it handles its body, and how the construction attributes, which we evaluated at a standstill, now influence the movement. To judge the correctness and the hooves, it is furthermore advisable to evaluate the horses while they move on a hard surface and not for example in deep sand or high grass.
The provided description outlines the composition the Hannoveraner Verband is aiming for in the Hanoverian Horse. These attributes are strived for as they support the functionality, ability to perform, and health of a sport horse. Besides evaluating whether the horse fulfils these criteria or not, horse evaluation also serves to identify potential strengths and weaknesses that a rider/trainer should prepare for, when buying a horse as well as when training a horse. Especially for the latter, an educated eye and appropriate training to overcome an existing weakness serve to improve a horse’s capabilities and help to keep the horse healthy.
This article is written by Dr. Ludwig Christmann, responsible for breeding abroad at the Hannoveraner Verband and therefore the number one contact for the US breeder, also member of the annual inspection tour and stallion licensing in the US. Email: Lchristmann@hannoveraner.com
Beneath all the action that was going on at the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden during the past week with the Verden Auction and the HA.LT Region Show at the same time, one more very special event took place: Our student Melanie finished her three-year apprenticeship and successfully graduated as a “Bereiter”! We used this to let her reflect the past three years and get an insight into how she experienced this time. This is what she told us:
“My apprenticeship at the Hannoveraner Verband was exciting, exhausting, full of fun, full of learnings, very hard and very great all at the same time… I will always remember the awesome times I had with the team, many fun evenings we spent together, just as the shows I have been to, either as a groom or as a rider, the different horses I rode, and so much more I cannot think of just right now” she laughs, still excited and overwhelmed by the feeling to have finally made it! “A great thing about the education as a rider at the Hannoveraner Verband is that you get to know so many different horses and different people. You learn to deal with their specialties, those of the horses as well as those of the people. I learned to effectively handle all kinds of situations. The auctions, shows, and the riding in front of customers taught me to stay calm even when everything around me gets stressful. I got a better feeling of the horse and thus can now better accommodate the horse in any given situation.
But I also learned that the job is not always like pony club. It gets hard sometimes, especially during shows and the auction period the days become very long and the nights very short – but that is a price worth paying. I developed not only as a rider but also as a person. At the Hannoveraner Verband, we meet all kinds of different people from different countries and different backgrounds. I am way more open now and I learned to approach people and initiate a conversation.”
Melanie’s daily routine looks just like that of any other rider at the Hannoveraner Verband. In the morning the team feeds the horses before all have breakfast together. Then riding, lunging, etc. until lunchtime. After a two hour lunch break, the remaining horses are being trained, some are being taken out a second time, and sometimes there is other work to do. Especially before one of the many events, everything has to be prepared and organized. Here Melanie also learned about the complete scope of things that need to be taken into account before each event.
As a student, Melanie worked closely with the permanent riders. “I mostly worked with Krzysztof Jawid and Enrico Suessenbach, our two jumping riders. For dressage and flat work it was mainly Daniel Fritz who helped me. It is a great resource to have different trainers at the Hannoveraner Verband. I learned different things from every one of them. Krzysztof taught me to stay calm with difficult horses and patiently follow my track, even though things may take a bit longer. Enrico taught me a lot about the education and training of young jumping horses. I went to many shows with him where I observed how he handled tricky situations. Enrico also helped me to develop a better feeling for my rhythm in the course and to have a better eye to the fence. My focus is on jumping, but Daniel helped me understand the importance of flat work and how to get my horses supple and balanced, which makes things much easier later in the course."
Even more important than the trainers are of course the horses Melanie learned from during her time as a student of the Hannoveraner Verband. A very special one is the 11-year old gelding Quidamo (by Quidam´s Rubin/Grannus). He served as her ‘school horse’ over the past three years. “He is very special because I learned so much from him, especially in the show jumping arena. He forgave me many mistakes and always gave me a great feeling when I got it right,” she rhapsodizes.
“Besides all of that, the Verband also made it possible for me to meet some interesting people. One time Isabell Werth got one of our auction horses and I was able to go along and bring the horse to her. I also learned a lot about horses and breeding. On the stallion market for example, I learned how the stallions get evaluated, how they have to move as a riding horse, and so on. And something that is always great at the Hannoveraner Verband is the team. I love the team events and the “Team-Fun” (a team game in the arena) we always do at the Gala-Evening before the Elite Auction.”
On the question if everything has always been awesome, Melanie laughs and shakes her head. “For sure not. Sometimes it is very sad when a horse you love leaves… I am happy for them to get a good home, but I always see it with one eye smiling, one eye crying.” Finally, there is this last question we have to ask: With the amount of time riders at the Hannoveraner Verband spend in the show ring and in front of the audience, everyone has this one moment we would actually like to scratch out of our history… but such a passed “Bereiter” exam is a great occasion to bring it back up: What was the one most embarrassing moment of your time at the Hannoveraner Verband? Melanie grins impishly: “That was pretty much at the beginning, the first time I was supposed to bring the horses into the arena for free jumping. I was a bit nervous; I was new and didn’t want to make a mistake. Then there was this one horse that did not want to go in, and I made the mistake and held him a bit too tight. He turned around, dragging me with him as I refused to let go. Just that he turned in front of the flower pots, throwing me head forward into the flowers…. It must have looked quite hilarious… Today I can laugh about it, but back then I wanted to just disappear in the ground… But I guess those are the learning experiences you make.” She smiles and adds: “You always think it’s all such a big deal, but in the end, it’s not really that bad. As you said, everyone has one of these stories.”
For now Melanie will stay with the Hannoveraner Verband. For how long? Well, she does not know yet. She might want to go and get some experience and see how things are done elsewhere, but those are questions she will figure out over the next year. For now she is happy the first big hurdle is taken. And we are happy with her – and very proud of her!
This year for the first time the World Championships of Young Dressage Horses took place in Ermelo in the Netherlands. Two Hanoverians represented the US in the category of 6-year-old Dressage Horses: The Lord Laurie/His Highness-son Lucky Strike, presented by Endel Ots and the Silberschmied/Boss-descendent Silberpfeil with David Wightman.
Lots of us have already followed Lucky Strike and Endel during last year’s competition when they started in the field of the five year olds at the facilities of the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden. Here they achieved the 15th rank in the qualification round with a total score of 8.6, slightly missing the final. The next day, in the small final they improved to an 8.86, leading them to rank two and therewith securing the ticket to the final, where they ended with an 8.1 and rank 11 in a strong international field.
This year, they took the journey again, this time with destination Ermelo. Endel had prepared himself for this task with the help of Christine Traurig before he left for Germany with David Wightman and Christine to get the final polishing from Johann Hinnemann, with whom the US-Team spent the last weeks leading up to the show in Holland. This way the horses had some time to adjust and train locally after the long flight and the time change before going to the actual show grounds.
David Wightman, husband of Kathleen Raine, already had some tradition with Johann Hinnemann, who had had prepared Kathleen as well as Christine Traurig themselves for some of their big shows. Endel met Joe Hinnemann, as the US Team calls the German Trainer, during a symposium in the US.
The first test went a little bit unfortunate for both riders. Lucky strike got slightly tensed; also David and Silberpfeil had some small mistakes. “It was really a pity that both horses presented themselves below their possibilities the first day.”, so coach Christine Traurig. “This show is taking place on a very high level; here even small mistakes can cause you significant loss of points. The quality of all horses and riders is very high. And we may not forget, these are all young horses. Therefore the daily form is very crucial. They are also lacking the routine to perform in such a setting.”
However, given both are young horses, the important thing to look at is not only the performance on one day, especially a first day on a big show where the surroundings had some more influence than we had hoped for. The important thing is to see how the horses and riders cope with it to the next day and the next test. Meaning whether they get shy and scared, or they adapt to the environment and improve their performance. And it was the latter. The next day, in the small final, both pairs significantly improved, reaching a final score of 75.6% and therewith ending up on a respectable rank 12.
The riders Endel Ots and Divid Wightman, as well as US National Coach for Young Dressage Horses Christine Traurig are satisfied with the performance in the small final. They have been able to improve with their second time in the arena and the horses have shown more confidence and thus significant learnings. We should keep in mind that this is only one step in the development of these two future dressage hopes. In my opinion, it strikes me how constant the performance of both horse and rider pairs has been over the past years, with regular representation on National, and for Lucky Strike already International Championships and a smooth development over the levels for both horses. “We received some good and very on the point comments from the judges today, expressing the strengths, as well as some areas of improvement for both horses. That is what we will take home and what we will work on over the next year to prepare the horses for their future tasks,” so Christine.
Having seen the work of the US-Team, I am very confident that we will keep seeing these horses in the big arena. “Just as last year, the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses have been an amazing time and important experience for me as well as for Lucky Strike”, says Endel. “The atmosphere was amazing and Lucky and I both need to gain experience in these settings.” Christine wishes that more US-Riders would have the possibility to attend shows like these. “We need to develop our young riders as well as the young horses”, both of which are tasks at heart for Christine, who also helped to establish the Hannoveraner Verband Rider-Exchange Program that is piloting this autumn.
For now, the team is traveling back to the US where the next big show is already coming close: The last week of August we are hoping to see all of them again for the National Young Horse Championships in Chicago Lamplight, the US pendant to the German "Bundeschampionate".
If you have ever attended an auction in Verden, then you most likely have seen these two people – either on a horse or in the stables. We are talking about Anna Peters and Melanie Wiechmann, who care for the auction horses as a team. As a rider and as a groom.
The auction cannot do without them. They work as a rider and as a groom for the Hannoveraner Verband. They are responsible for the wellbeing of those horses, which are assigned to them. These rider and groom teams tend to the needs of their protégés before, during and after the auction, as if these horses were their own.
Every rider in Verden works together with a groom. These teams are responsible for 8 to 12 horses. Even though everybody has his/her own area of responsibility, the entire training package is the responsibility of the team. They confer with each other, work hand in hand, coordinate their schedules and set up an individual training plan for each protégé.
One of the teams, which is in existence since more than three years now, consists of rider Anna Peters and groom Melanie Wiechmann. They work together since 2013. We would like to introduce this team in this blog.
Anna Peters is a skilled rider/trainer. She successfully completed the German equine apprenticeship program with the emphasis on riding under the tutelage of Birgit Wellhausen-Henschke in Bremen. She also trained with Juergen Armbrust, who taught her a lot. “He is a first-rate horseman and an excellent teacher. He understands the horses, and knows to impart his knowledge comprehensibly,” Anna gladly reflects on her time as an apprentice. She knew early on that she wanted to work with horses. Her love for horses and for the sport of riding developed at a young age, even though her family is not horse-oriented. The horses of the local riding club, which grazed in the neighbor’s fields, fascinated her. She joined the vaulting team in Cuxhaven at the age of five, where she learned the ropes about the handling of horses. She changed disciplines, when she turned nine. It was her dream to become a jumping rider. Her pony called Maeuschen had a different opinion about jumping fences. He was rather uninterested. It was very important to Anna’s parents that she did not neglect her schoolwork. Every free minute, she spent in the stables though. Anna took the first horses in training, when she was 14 years old. She had no trouble combining schoolwork and horses. She successfully completed high school at the age of 19 and signed up to study biology at the University Bremen. The training facility Henschke made her a tempting offer, which she could not resist. Anna became a professional trainer/rider in the barn, where, among others, the Olympic mount Don Auriello was trained.
With her trainer certificate in hand, Anna moved on to Redefin in 2012, where she worked with approved stallions and presented them in the stallion performance test. One of the stallions, which she rode, was performance test champion Cositono by Cosido.
In January of 2013, Anna accepted employment with the Hannoveraner Verband and joined Verden’s auction team just in time for the January auction. She still today remembers her excitement, when she rode aboard her first auction participant into the auction ring to present him for sale. Today, three years later, she is no longer nervous but still excited. “As the rider, you are with the horse for 13 days during the auction time, which includes the daily training, the presentations and the try-outs. You get to know the horse quite well and you are anxious to find out, where the horse will end up.” She really liked the stallion Streseman by Soliman de Hus/De Niro. She prepared him for and rode him in Verden’s November auction in 2014. “He was just fun to work with. Streseman had a great personality and really enjoyed the training process in dressage as well as in jumping,” Anna raves. With Anna, he was in the perfect hands with his dual predisposition. Even though Anna mostly rides dressage, she also successfully competes training horses in jumping classes and in eventing.
Since her very first day, Anna has been working together with groom Melanie Wiechmann, who is employed with the Hannoveraner Verband since 1995. Melanie works in the stables and knows exactly, how auctions run. Hence she was a great help to the newcomer Anna Peters. Melanie and Anna got along very well from the beginning. They have the same style of working and talk about the horses in their care even during breaks. Melanie and Anna have a great common interest: It is five-year old Domino Gold, which they care for and train since his approval in 2013.
Regular customers from all over the world know about and appreciate Melanie Wiechmann’s working ethics. They got to know her throughout the many years – from auction to auction. Melanie build up an amicable relationship to the loyal auction customers Helen Wiest and Joe Sandven from the United States, who already bought more than 40 riding horses in Verden, including Ronatella L by Rotspon/Raphael, which has started a successful career as a dressage competitor in the USA.
After having successfully finished the upper commercial school, Melanie decided, “I wanted to be an auction groom!” She did as she said! March 1st, 1995 was her first day at work in Verden. “I groomed horses for several riders,” she shares. For the longest time, she worked as a team member with Meike Friemel. Auction horse Habitus by Hohenstein/Weltmeyer was one of the unforgettable horses from that time period. “I liked him a lot,” Melanie says. “He was not the biggest horse and he was a bit shy at the age of three. A lovable guy!” Habitus carried head number 42 in the auction. He had won the silver medal at the Federal Championships before the auction. After the sale, he changed into the hands of a professional and obtained numerous international successes.
Anna and Melanie describe their working relationship as almost perfect. They not only understand each other without seeing each other, they also can rely upon each other. “Reliability is very important in a team,” so Anna. “I am very focused on the horses and on the training, when I am at a show or during the auction time. It is a very good feeling knowing that Melanie took care of everything before I enter the show ring or the auction arena. I highly value the cooperation with Melanie, because she takes impeccable care of our horses. Not only from a grooming perspective, but also mentally. She looks after everyone of our protégés and tries to create a healthy balance to the training,” Anna explains with admiration for the work of her groom. One often sees Melanie walk a horse in a halter over the large terrain outside the arena - walks with little breaks to feed the horses apples.
Melanie responds to the question, what she appreciates most about her team colleague and rider Anna, “Anna rides every horse differently. She is able to adjust to every horse’s needs and support their developmental stage in a very short time. She allows the horses the time that they need. That is what I appreciate most!”
We would like to introduce to you a very special dressage horse in this blog – a Hanoverian with a doctorate degree. The name of the sport horse: Doktor Schiwago. The former Verden Auction horse does credit to his academic title, even though his success is everything else but highly scientific!
Doktor Schiwago has the nickname “Mini”, which is a bit surprising – especially when you stand right next to the black gelding realizing that he is not at all mini. To the contrary! Mini is a very big horse with an impressive appearance. His nickname clearly is a reflection of his loving, affectionate demeanor and not on his size. Don Frederico is his sire, and he looks just like him. Don Frederico also sired the successful mare Diva Royal, which participated in the Olympic Games in London in 2012 with rider Dorothee Schneider, and Isabell Werth’s top show horse Don Johnson FRH.
At the latest after the European Championships for riders U25 in Hagen in June, everybody knows Doktor Schiwago. There he won the team gold medal as a member of the German equip and a silver medal in the individual competition with his rider Florine Kienbaum. This son of Frederico/Weltruhm is not unknown in the equestrian scene. He participated in the final of the prestigious Louis D’Or-Prize in Frankfurt in 2014. But first things first! His career started, when he was just a foal in Verden. His breeder Peter Henning Reinstorf exhibited Doktor Schiwago on the foal auction in 2004. The foal carried head number 103, and, with the name Domino, he was one of the most sought-after dressage foals of the entire collection. A regular customer from Sweden bought the young dressage talent. Five years later, Domino alias Doktor Schiwago returned to Germany as a mature, and carefully trained dressage horse. Without hesitation, he was accepted to participate in the 120th elite auction in April of 2009.
The auction management described him in the auction catalogue as follows: This young dressage talent will convince you with his impressive size and great lines!” His former buyer changed sides and became the seller. Auction rider Dirk von der Lieth worked Doktor Schiwago throughout the auction time and was fascinated by his never-ending motivation day in and day out. Doktor Schiwago was in excellent company in the 120th elite auction. The mare Rock’n Rose by Rubin Royal/Feiner Stern was also in the collection. Today she is a successful Grand Prix-competitor with Dorothee Schneider.
Janina Siemers discovered Doktor Schiwago on the auction. She trained and successfully competed him up to the S-level in dressage. In April 2013, he changed into the hands of Florine Kienbaum. This change of ownership did not just happen, it was a huge surprise. Doktor Schiwago was the birthday present for Florine Kienbaum from her parents. The still young, but very experienced championship rider was able to seamlessly link up with the successes at the S-level. The expert Oliver Oelrich coached the young rider and her mount Doktor Schiwago. Oliver Oelrich competed as well during the show season of 2014. He qualified for the final of the Louis D’Or Prize, a dressage series for rising Grand Prix-horses. As the trainer, he knew Doktor Schiwago inside and out and supported Florine with the training and with the preparation for shows. Florine had already obtained international successes in the pony cadre and in the young rider-tour aboard her horse Don Windsor OLD. She had been a successful team member of the German equip at the European Championships for young riders in Compiegne/France.
It took no time at all for Florine and Doktor Schiwago to convince the national trainer of their ability. As it turned out, it had been a good decision to nominate Kienbaum with her Hanoverian gelding for the European Championships U25 in Hagen. The results showed gold with the team and silver individually. Florine still remembers today that she had a very good feeling in the warm-up. Doktor Schiwago was in top form and ready to give it his all. It was a huge burden for the young rider to compete as the first rider. She said in an interview, “Once I sat in the saddle, Mini took all my worries away!” The pair returned home from Hagen with a personal best performance. Mini earned a few days of rest. “Our horses come out of the stable twice daily. Once they are ridden and then they get turned out in a field. “Mini needs a lot of exercise. It is good for his mind,” so Ferdi Kurz, the life-partner of Florine, who manages the small show barn in Telgte with Florine.
It was a special honor for the Hannoveraner Verband as the organizer of the International Dressage and Jumping Festival in Verden at the beginning of August to welcome Florine Kienbaum and Doktor Schiwago as competitors. Florine had entered Mini for the Piaff Advancement Prize, a show series, which is especially designed for young riders on their way to top competitions. The final will take place in November in Stuttgart. The participation of Florine with Verden’s former auction horse was certainly reason enough to meet with the sympathetic rider, who holds a degree in sports- and event-management, and talk about Doktor Schiwago. “I believe in him. He can do this!” were her first words. “Canter pirouettes and flying changes are a piece of cake for him,” she raves and then she admits, “Half-passes are not his favorite movements. He has learned a lot lately. The half-passes are getting better and better.” Her answer to the question, what the daily training includes, was, “It depends. We always start with a relaxed, forward-downward loosening-up phase. Then I decide on the training regimen, on what needs work. Often I decide that we just need to go on a beautiful trail-ride with me cantering in a two-point position. Mini loves that a lot!"
Not only her trainer Oliver Oelrich and her life-partner Ferdi Kurz crossed their fingers for her during both tests in Verden, also all employees of the Hannoveraner Verband did. “It is always special, when former auction horses return to Verden as successful competitors,” the President of the Hannoveraner Verband, Manfred Schafer, comments. It certainly was not just the rooting of the fans along the side of the Grand Prix-ring, which led to the success, but foremost the tremendous performance of Florine Kienbaum and Doctor Schiwago. They entered the competition as the favorites and did not disappoint winning the introductory class and the final test. The pair won with a score of 70,83%.
The national trainer for dressage, Monika Theodorescu, has long taken notice of this pair and nominated it for a scholarship of the ‘Deutsche-Bank Reitsport-Akademie’. The national trainer selected the candidates because of their competitive and professional perspective for the academy.
We are delighted that a former auction horse from Verden found its way into the barn of a young, talented and successful female dressage rider, who knows to train and ride horses with feel and understanding. We are confident that these two have a great future ahead of them!
For the past two month we had a great addition to our team in Germany: Groom Marina Lemay, usually working on Team Tate Dressage for Jessica Jo “JJ” Tate spent two months of her summer with us at the Hannoveraner Verband’s facilities in Verden, Germany. Those two months seem to just have flown by, but I guess that’s just what happens at the Hannoveraner Verband. There was the Summer Auction, the International Dressage and Jumping Festival, the Foal Auction, and now the testing week for the horses of the Elite Auction. Marina has been part of the team within a heartbeat, and I think I speak from everyone’s mind when I say, even though she was only with us for such a short time, we will really miss her.
This was the first time we did such an “experience abroad” for a US groom. Marina reached out to me when we opened the application period for the Rider-Exchange Program, which will begin in September. “I am not a rider, so I really don’t fit your profile, but I would love to come to Germany and experience the work at the Hannoveraner Verband.” I immediately loved her attitude, and I admired the way she boldly took the lead and reached out to us even though she knew she wasn’t what we were looking for. We talked a bit and decided that the best way would be for her to join us over the summer, which also worked with her job at Team Tate. She would leave the US after the important shows in the spring and get back before the US Young Horse Championships in Chicago next week.
Since this was our first time doing this, I was especially interested in how Marina, as well the team in German, evaluate the experience. The answers I received were quite moving to me, especially as they truly express the values the Hannoveraner Verband stands for and works hard to uphold.
“Professionalism, courtesy, education, generosity and upholding to the highest standards have been cornerstones of what I've experienced during my stay at the Hannoveraner Verband. For the last eight weeks, I've been made to feel at home in a foreign country where I don't speak the native language yet everyone has, without fail, welcomed me with open arms and helped me in any way they can, which I'm forever grateful for! I initially took up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (thanks to Kristin Karlisch!) a bit on a whim, with the simple goal of seeing how a different country operates their top-class stables and if it compares to how we run things in America. However, I left with so much more!
I've been lucky enough to witness the ins and outs of broodmare & foal auctions as well as the famous Summer Auction which taught me a lot about efficiency in a tight schedule. Having never even been to an auction before, it was remarkable to see how it all unfolds, especially in such a professional environment. To take care of eight to twelve gifted youngsters and to make sure that they're not only perfectly groomed but also happy and healthy during their stay was definitely a demanding feat, but totally worth it. On top of that, I can now appreciate excellent sporthorses and their bloodlines much more than ever before due to the variety and quality of horses that come and go. I've also groomed for some amazing riders on equally talented horses at some of the most incredible shows I've ever been to. Not to mention that I was able to see the indescribable Internationales Dressur und Spring festival, a true spectacle that puts most of our American shows to shame! I honestly wish more people could experience the Verband and the amazing work that they do for the future of the breed and sport; either as a bidder, owner, groom, rider, or even just as a spectator, it's definitely worth visiting!
The dedication, passion and proficiency that I've been exposed to here have been nothing short of inspiring. Working at the Verband has in fact given me a real reminder of how challenging yet rewarding the equestrian industry can be, particularly at a high level such as this. It's been an eye-opening experience like no other and I'm so appreciative to the entire team for not just allowing me to tag along for the past two months but for being the best of hosts and giving me a wealth of knowledge I'll never forget!”
Melanie Schmerglatt, Auction Rider at the Hannoveraner Verband:
“I remember very clearly there was one day about a month after Marina arrived, that Marina and I were driving somewhere after of course doing something with the horses. We were swapping stories on how things in the horse industry compared in each country and how amazing it is how horses bring so many different people and nationalities together. There we were a Canadian girl living and working in USA and an Australian girl living and working in Germany. This is the truly amazing thing about our sport. We all share the same passion and love for horses no matter where we come from or what language we speak. And these beautiful animals are what bring so many different nationalities to the world renowned Hannoveraner Verband in Verden, Germany.
I have been working at the Verband for the past two years as a dressage rider, trainer and auction rider of the many amazing and talented young horses that come through our stables.
I am also the come to girl for translating German to English or English to German!! So I am very lucky to become such good friends with the foreigners that come to us to either buy horses or that come to our stables for riding or even grooming experience like Marina.
Marina and I were lucky enough to be paired up as a team for the summer auction in July. I have now ridden 10 auctions since being here in Verden so I understand how important this team is in the daily training of the horses or the presentations. Everything has to run like clockwork as we have a fairly small time frame to prepare, clean, ride and wash the horses each training session. The groom is responsible for a lot from feeding the horses, to preparing them for customers and to giving them one last brush over at the end of the day. Without the grooms we as riders would be lost! I think for Marina it was quite a different but very rewarding experience grooming during the auction. It really is an amazing and exciting experience as a rider or a groom to be a part of.
Not only does our team work hard but we also like to play hard! Quite often a lot of us are doing things outside of work together and one of the latest shenanigans that we got up to was paintball. Marina chose a great time to be here that's for sure!! I don't think getting hit by a paint bullet and being covered in bruises was on her list of things to do in Germany but she was a great sport and was a part of our fun!
We are a big and very diverse team at the society with people from far and wide. It's a place where friendships and experiences are created that are never forgotten. It is a part of your life that you never forget because it is such a special and unique place.”
To read more about Marina’s experience, visit her blog at Team Tate’s website:
For Desperados FRH it was the stepping stone to his career. Running free and over fences the then two and a half-year old youngster presented himself to the selection committee in the arena at the Dobrock. That was on the stallion pre-selection journey 2003. About six weeks later he was sold for €100,000.00 The career brackets of Weltmeyer, Londonderry, Stakkato or Goldfever also started on the pre-selection journey of the Hannoveraner Verband. In the last week of October the annual breeding highlight takes place in Verden. During the Hanoverian Stallion Licensing and the Stallion Sales, the future sires are determined in front of the fully occupied grandstand of the Niedersachsenhalle. Nowadays, the Stallion Sales attract more and more ambitioned sport riders that want to secure their future hopes. But how do the two and a half-year olds get there?
About six weeks prior to the event, the Tuesday after the German Young Horse National Championships, the so-called “Bundeschampionate”, the Stallion-Preselection-Journey of the Hannoveraner Verband begins. However, already during the Championships, one can feel the anticipation and excitement leading up to the event. Everyone already studied the list of registered stallions online. Everyone is excited, which stallions will get selected this year. It is discussed how many descendants of which sire are registered, and everyone has already seen one of the stallion aspirants that will surely make it to be accepted to the licensing. The breeders impatiently await the first day of the Preselection-Journey.
For the most part, a four- to six-headed committee around the Breeding Director of the Hannoveraner Verband selects the potential new stallion generation on 20 different selection sites. Members of this selection committee are successful breeders and representatives of the sport, like Olympia Gold Medalist Heike Kemmer or the Youth Trainers Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen (Dressage) and Peter Teeuwen (Show-Jumping). Most of the locations are in Lower Saxony, the root area of the Hanoverian Breed. One selection is held in Hessia, one in North Rhine-Westphalia. However, not every young stallion can be presented here. The quality requirements are held to high standards to even get to a pre-selection. The young Hanoverians and Rhineland Horses need to prove their accepted Hanoverian ancestry over six consecutive generations; also regarding mother and grandmother high standards are being upheld. Above that, the breeders apply a critical eye as to which youngsters are even shown to the preselection. Only Hanoverian and Rhineland stallions are allowed to be presented, unlike many other licensing events where stallions of all breeds can be shown.
Of the roughly 3,500 stallions that have been born in 2014, about 400 young stallions comply with these standards and have been entered to be presented to the pre-selection committee during the timeframe from September 6th to September 15th 2016. At the end of this Selection-Journey, around 90 stallions will have accomplished the first obstacle and made it to the actual licensing. Those form part of the best 2.5% of their year.
The tension is always prominent when the selection committee arrives at one of the sites early in the morning, for example at the farm of Rudolf Rehkamp in Bersenbrück. Everything is started up. One hears the sound of the hooves beating on the ground. One or the other stallion neighs with excitement. Now it counts to remain calm, to transmit calmness, so the stallions can present themselves optimally. The selection of the stallions happens in three steps. Free running and free jumping, presentation on hard surface, walk ring. Since decades, the Stallion-Preselection already takes place exactly like this. Now as before, more is not necessary to judge the base quality of a young horse. The successes of the stallions that are sold from the venue in Verden to all parts of the world prove that right.
Two to three selections per day are held in accordance to this pattern. Thereby, for many stallions, the selection already ends after free running and free jumping. Only those who convince the selection committee of their qualities will get the chance to present themselves on the solid surface. The correctness of fundament and feet of the future sport- and breeding-horses is of essential significance and can only be thoroughly examined on hard ground. At the end of each selection the stallions that are accepted to the Licensing in Verden are announced. Shortly after they are published on the Homepage as well as on the Facebook Page of the Hannoveraner Verband. This way many horse experts from in- and outside of the country can closely follow, yes almost become part of the action. Nonetheless, not an insignificant amount of people accompany the selection committee on their journey through the Hanoverian breeding area, so that in some places the selection is followed by a small festivity.
With the approval to the Licensing, the next step on the way to become a Hanoverian Stallion is complete. Now it counts to also comply with the health standards of the Hannoveraner Verband. A three-headed veterinary team is examining all candidates over the course of four days, taking x-rays and doing thorough clinical examinations. Only those stallions complying with the high health standards in breeding and sport will actually make it to the licensing in Verden during the last weekend of October. Together with the veterinary examinations, photos and videos of the stallions are taken, which are available online from the beginning of October. There is only little time between the preselection and the actual licensing, but the roughly 90 licensing aspirants are becoming popular immediately. Then everyone is excitedly awaiting the first presentation on the Stallion Licensing 2016. Check out the video below for the presentation on the triangle...