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Windfall Indeed

This magazine article was written in early 2001 by Tim Holekamp and published in the ATA Trakehner.

WindfallFor several years there has been something missing from the Trakehner scene here in North America -- a three-day stallion. While there has been much to celebrate at farm of Franz and Elke Hollenbach near Toronto with their stunning home-bred ATA mare Larissa representing Canada at the Sydney Olympics last summer, the fact remains that the beautiful trophy cup given to the ATA by Pat and David Goodman of West Chester, Pennsylvania commemorating their great stallion Caesar (for the year's best ATA eventing stallion) has gone unawarded recently, for lack of a competitor. In the days when our stallion Amethyst was competing under Darren Chiacchia at the upper levels there was always a yearly struggle to win against Samurai II, the black Mackensen son owned by Leo and Doris Whinery of Noble, Oklahoma. Now Amethyst is long-retired and Samurai died last summer.

For most of 2000 Darren kept mentioning to me that he wished he had another Trakehner breeding horse to take to the highest levels, planting all sorts of ideas in my mind of how this could benefit everyone in the ATA. Darren has a mixed interest in this since he is a USET event rider and also a major player in the ATA as an inspector of breeding horses. Our home situation has gradually evolved to the point where we have kept what we thought were the best of Amethyst's daughters to ride and eventually to breed, and with our older broodmares beginning to drop out, we did need a new stallion. Most people have noticed that Amethyst's most impressive offspring have come from thoroughbred and anglo-Trakehner mares, but most of our "keeper" fillies carry older, less-hybrid bloodlines. I guess the anglo-foals tended to catch the eyes of buyers more and off they went. One sold at less than a month of age.

WindfallSo for a next-generation Trakehner stallion, Cheryl and I were thinking: plenty of thoroughbred. That began to mesh with what Darren was telling us he needed in an upper level riding horse too. In Germany there are several bloodlines that seem to be particularly successful at combined training ("the military sport" as it is called there), but Darren and I kept coming back to the same one -- Habicht, a stallion by the Anglo-arab Burnus, who was ridden by Martin Plewe for the German Three-Day team. Interestingly Burnus too evented for the German team and was competed by none other than the late Reiner Klimke, before he became a pure dressage rider.

Then last September I read a fascinating article in The American Trakehner magazine by Maren Engelhardt of Regensburg, Germany about her family's trek from Trakehnen and their current re-attachment to the world of Trakehner horses. I wrote her an email right away and what followed were dozens of back-and-forth emails between us about shared interests: Trakehner horses, history, and also neuroscience. It got to the point where both of us were being teased by our families about email romance, but what really happened was a friendship blossomed that will likely go on indefinitely.

Sometime in October I told her about our dream of a Habicht/thoroughbred breeding stallion to event at the international level. To understand what happened next I have to tell you a little about Maren's personality. She is the daughter of a brilliant and energetic theoretical physicist (Klaus) whose hobby is eventing Trakehners, and she follows him on both scores. She is a PhD candidate in neuroscience and an avid student of Trakehner breeding. Maren trains other people's horses to earn money for school and reads absolutely everything about the Trakehner world. A completely fearless young woman, she takes on any horse and is not intimidated by the biggest personalities in the breeding and riding pantheon of German horse sport. Her eye is steadily improving and she has become a Trakehner Verband "young breeder" expert. After a year in America as an exchange student and time working in a research lab where English is the lingua franca, she can write and speak perfect Americanese, even all the nuances of idiom.

My mentioning our quest set her off on a "wild ride" of phones calls, emails, farm visits, and Koerung (stallion approvals) studies, past and present. Within a couple of weeks I knew that this was no longer a cyber-fantasy, it was fast becoming reality. Through connections of her own and those of her father, she put together a list of places and horses for us to consider. What we were actually hoping to find was a Habicht grandson who either was Verband approved or potentially ATA approvable, not too young, not too expensive, and could be ridden now or very soon by Darren. Such a thing is hard to find, believe me. We branched out into two other good event sire lines: Grand Prix and Fontainebleau. For Habicht sons we have the stallions Parforce, Sixtus and the champion of them all, Windfall. No Windfall sons were available as none have yet been approved.

By the end of October we had a plan. The second week in November we all got on airplanes and met in Munich. The entourage grew and grew, finally ending up: Darren, Cheryl, our son Terry, me, Klaus, Maren, and another Engelhardt daughter Katrin. After a day of jetlag recovery with a grand tour of Munich led by Klaus, we set out on a three day and two night odyssey, most of us in a rented Audi driven by Maren.

The overview is that we drove 2000 miles in those three days, covering all four corners of Germany, across what was East Germany twice and nearly halfway into Poland. It was a Three-Day-Event for humans. Many interesting people and horses, plus some magnificent European scenery rewarded us, but sleep and the perfect horse kept eluding us.

One of our hottest prospects was turned up by an old school-days friend of Klaus', the former head of the Polish Liski Stud, current president of the Polish Trakehner Society, expert judge, veterinarian, and Trakehner breed historian, Dr. Antonin Pacynski. He met us in the little Polish town of Leszno the first day to help us look at the Sixtus son, Silver, who has begun a promising eventing career. Afterwards, Silver's owner invited us to supper at a little country inn nearby, where we asked to try some typical local foods. The first course was a delicious beef-broth sort of soup with small chunks of somewhat gritty and odd-textured white meat in it. Hunger and the urge to be polite delayed Cheryl's question of our host about the meat until near the end of the course. It went across the table from English to German to Polish and back the same way: "cow stomach soup"! Shock was poorly disguised and the laughter went on for a very long time. But enough of that tripe.

We drove on that night past Berlin to Braunschweig, slept three hours and visited more horses at the famous competition site: Luhmuehlen. Then down the Rhineland to Saarland and a look at more prospects. Along the way Maren showed us a good Anduc mare in foal to Monteverdi that she and I later bought in partnership. A night in the old Saar River town of Mettlach (famous as the home of Villroy and Boch porcelain), and then we went on to more and more horses.

The final day found us very discouraged. A visit to the familiar and famous Hoerstein studfarm near Frankfurt was intended to look at a young Grand Prix son, who turned out to be good but not quite what we were seeking. The stud manager, Dirk Joerss was patient and gracious, offering to show us all their great stallions, some of their mares, and many young horses. The barns were beautiful and the horses even more so, but glum resignation was beginning to set in for all of us. Then Maren came over to Darren and me and said the most unforgettable sentence: "You will never believe who Herr Joerss just said might be for sale?" When the name Windfall came out next, Darren and I looked at each other with the same wide-eyed face. We asked to see him, then to ride him, then to jump him, then to buy him.

It all seemed to happen in slow motion. From that point on, nothing else about the trip really mattered. The owners, the Diehm family, were intent on finding a home for him where he would continue upward in his three-day career but would remain a Trakehner breeding stallion. We tried hard to explain that we met those criteria. After doing our best at self-selling we left without an answer, as Herr Joerss would have to consult with the Diehms.

Back to Munich we went for a big happy dinner with everyone and a night of long discussions before parting the next morning. How could this be? Windfall! Premium stallion of the 1994 Koerung in Neumuenster, son of the Elite Trakehner high studbook thoroughbred mare Wundermaedel, winner of countless competitions at high level in dressage, jumping, and eventing, and winner of every CIC** and CIC*** held in Germany in 1999 (a feat never before accomplished by any horse), he was voted Germany's 1999 Horse of the Year (all breeds, all sports) by the readers of a popular horse magazine (Reiter Revue). His outstanding trainer and rider, Ingrid Klimke (daughter of that same gold medal Olympian, Dr. Reiner Klimke) won the German Professional Riders' Championship on him, using him for all three disciplines, something unheard of but true. To put it all together, this was the exact horse of our collective dreams, magnified by ten. To top it all off he is absolutely beautiful in every way.

Plans were laid in hope that our offer would be accepted. The next morning we all left and spent a day traveling home and then recovering. Soon word came that the answer was "YES", so contracting, vetting, testing, and shipping-planning came next. All the steps took time and worry. The Engelhardts helped by acting as my agents there and proved to be loyal and honest, just as I expected. Klaus pulled all the stops on his horse-network organ, lining up shippers, lawyers, bankers, and vets to get all the important parts of the transaction correct and to my satisfaction. Maren devoted so many hours working on the details of all the arrangements that her laboratory boss began to complain, but she stuck to it. Six weeks it took to get everything done. The vetting was virtually perfect, confirmed by x-ray consultation here in the US. Windfall landed in Miami on December 23, and the day after Christmas Darren hauled him from the federal quarantine to his new farm in Ocala, which has been approved as a stallion quarantine station for CEM testing.

After nearly three months of endless testing he was declared disease-free and finally released in late March. Darren has had a real challenge learning all Windfall's habits and preferences, easy enough at novice level, but they intended to start right out at advanced. An unexpected extra look at a fence at Red Hills Horse Trials led to a stop (after being scored first in dressage) and then the Mooven Park Horse Trials got rained out so they never got to run cross-country, so their first big chance was at the Beaulieu CIC*** in north Georgia in April. Out of 53 starters they finished fourth behind two of Phillip Dutton's superstars and Bruce Davidson on Eagle Lion, his aged but trusty "best horse". Windfall ran beautifully on cross-country and double clean in stadium jumping, earning him many compliments from judges and team selectors. Then the first weekend in May they took it to the next level at Foxhall Cup CCI*** near Atlanta where out of 63 starters they were in second place when they fell half-way through cross-country at the big water, ending their try at the upset of the year. The rest of the year will find them in England if the quarantine there is ended, or at Fair Hill in October if not.

Meanwhile we are moving ahead as quickly as possible with his breeding career, using both frozen and fresh semen. We have committed most of our own mares and others are doing the same. Lars Gehrmann, the executive director of the German Trakehner Verband, recently said in public that Windfall is undoubtedly one of if not the best stallion ever imported to North America in our breed. His thousands of fans in Germany continue to show high interest in his career.

When we look back on this amazing turn of events we cannot tell if this was just the dumb luck of being at the right place on the right day or something that was fated to happen to Windfall and to us. Maybe time will tell.

WindfallWindfall 2004Windfall IndeedBreed Windfall

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Tim and Cheryl Holekamp
New Spring Farm

7901 Highway 63 South
Columbia, MO 65201
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