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Songline is the ideal stallion for breeding to Thoroughbred, Anglo-Arab and half-blood Eventmares for upper level 3DE prospects

Upper level eventing in the United States has become increasingly dependent on finding prospects in Europe, Great Britain, and Ireland.  The problem is that way too often our riders and owners get last choice of the best ones, pay the most for them, and then pay the $12,000 “tax” of transporting/customs brokering to import each one.

Domestic breeders plead with riders to look here first, but then too many use inadequate stallions due to limited availability in North America.  Few of the truly great “producers” ever make it to this side of the Atlantic, and so we continue to see our top competitors being from stallions that are used there but not here.  On the other hand, we have a good supply of “blood” mares, by which I mean Thoroughbred, part-Arabian, and Anglo-Arabian.  An expanding number of “Warmblood Cross” mares are here and proving themselves by competition success or by their foals.  We particularly need TB mares and AA mares that have ancestors that were successful in racing at distance over obstacles, ie steeplechasers.  In addition to the ability to run at distance instead of sprintracing, and jumping over terrain instead of groomed flat tracks, steeplechasers must stay sound much longer to reach the top levels, and must be much more rideable than flat trackers.  These are all features we need in eventing.

It is becoming obvious that the modern sport of eventing favors a breeding formula that is about 60-85% “blood” and the rest specially suitable Warmblood genetics.  So the trick is to find the very few Warmblood sires that are Thoroughbred in type, that is, able themselves to run and jump at the three or four star level and make the time, yet have the exceptional gaits, trainability, and rideability needed to be competitive at the international level in the new format.  Very few fit this mold, and even fewer can produce the constellation of traits needed in their foals for this goal of breeding.

One of the most popular and widely-competed young event horse competitions in Europe is the German Bundeschampionat.  Only two champions at the 6 year old level have ever come to the US, and they are the Trakehners Windfall, and now Songline.  The pedigree formulas of these two horses are quite different from each other, Windfall being himself 75% blood and Songline barely over 15%.  But Songline has proven himself the perfect sire for this hybridizing process, through his own remarkable phenotype (what you can see in his body and abilities) which is quite Thoroughbred in type, and through his proven ability to win up to the three-star level.  Trakehner horses have been bred partly with English Thoroughbred and specially selected Arabian stallions for nearly three centuries, and they all have quite a bit of “blood” even if it does not show on the four generation pedigree.  In a few without recent addition of TB or Arab blood, the genes line up right and they come out looking and galloping like Thoroughbreds.  Songline is precisely such a horse and this makes him an ideal sire for our TB and AA eventing mares. 

In particular, besides pure TBs we should look at the Selle Francais, Anglo-Arabians,  certain lines of Irish Sporthorses, and the Holsteiners for the ideal breeding mares for Songline.  Crossing breed and registry lines with this horse is something that is almost sure to work, and needs doing, if we are to produce some horses for our upper level riders in the next generation.

This stallion is the epitome of what I most admire in Trakehner horses, which is that his talents are balanced. He is and produces conformational correctness, which is an essential building block in breeding sporthorses.  He has phenomenal quality of gaits, in the opinions of many Koerung inspectors and competition judges.  This is largely what made him the Champion of all Trakehner 2 year old colts in Germany presented as breeding horse candidates in 2006.  What is quite telling is that the inspection team there particularly noted his exceptional gallop and free-jumping. 

Perhaps more significant is the “free enterprise” aspect of his sale at open public auction the day after his approval and championship.  After vigorous bidding competition, Songline sold to Gustav Schickedanz of Ontario, Canada (a famous breeder of racehorses, installed in the Canadian Breeders’ Hall of Fame) for the record price of 320,000 Euros.

What followed is equally telling.  Mr. Schickedanz left him in Germany, trained by Andreas Dibowski, who qualified him for the Bundeschampionat finals both in 2009 and 2010, winning the national championship in 2010 as a six year old.  He competed both years in the Le Lion d’Angers World Young Event Horse finals under a student of Dibowski, and placed well both times, winning the dressage phase as a 7 year old.  Since then he has won or placed in the top three at four FEI CIC and CCI’s, third at the CIC*** at Arville last year.

To complete his “all around” feature, he was named Germany’s best Trakehner showjumper in 2010.  Thus his credentials fully establish his special talents for eventing.

There is a pretty good chance that this one stallion, of all that I have come across, might be able to take a modern US TB mare and produce a four-star eventer from her.  Anglo-arab and TB mares who are rideable, not too big, not to small, with sporthorse conformation (not too downhill, not too light in the legs) and with pedigrees that suggest run-and-jump or themselves are proven in upper level eventing or producers of same, are what I think we all should be seeking for this stallion. 

In the end, with all that said, basic quality in the candidate broodmare remains key.  I am not speaking of beauty here, but of correctness, sporthorse type, and the special mental qualities needed in a safe and successful eventing mare. 

So far, we have not found ANY defects in Songline that need correcting, eg hooves, teeth, hide, topline, etc.  Soft tissue strength in the lower limbs is going to be important for durability, and of course that IS one defect that is turning up in the US racehorses, due to their short career expectations and light leg layouts.  I guess I should say that mares who broke down in the soft tissue early on should be excused from his breeding shed.  Iron-legged TB mares (some Arab blood would be extremely useful here!)  with the right build are the ideal, and he has not had access to such so far in Germany.

After Gus Schickedanz imported his stallion to Canada, he decided to ask me to take him, which I did with great pleasure, in turn placing him in the very capable hands of Michael and Nathalie Pollard at the Chatsworth Stud, in Georgia and Florida.  While I would be glad to answer any questions about breeding with this horse (Holekamp@aol.com), when you are ready to breed to Songline, go to www.ChatsworthStud.com for arrangements.

 

SonglineSongline for Trakehner breedersSongline for Event Horses

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Tim and Cheryl Holekamp
New Spring Farm

7901 Highway 63 South
Columbia, MO 65201
Sales horses: newspringt@aol.com
Breeding to Windfall: holekamp@aol.com