After two years of living in the fields near Hamburg, Germany, these young stallions have come into the stable to start their training. Their first taste of show-jumping is riderless and free in the jumping chute, so we can watch their natural style. Our three boys are looking good.
They’re sons of our ultra-stylish, speed-demon mare Labelle. (We’ve bred her using embryo transfer, which allows us to have multiple foals in a year.) She was a phenomenon—all the qualities you dream of in a show jumper: fast; lightning-careful (i.e. would NOT knock a jump down); brave (would jump anything); perfect blood (excited to jump, in a good way); soft mouth (responsive to the reins); natural balance; beautiful feel (finely tuned to your signals); impeccable technique (tucked her legs stylishly in the air); and that bonus everyone wants—pretty to look at. But she’s small, so I’ve bred her to big horses with long, rangy strides and the scope to jump the biggest international classes. Breeding’s a gamble, but when you start with parents whose qualities make sense together, you have a much better chance at success.
Here’s mama Labelle, winning her first Grand Prix (and my first GP win, too):
And now here’s Corner Pocket, son of the wildly popular Cornet Obolensky, whose offspring have won the biggest Grands Prix in the World and done so with breathtaking smoothness and class. (See, eg. Daniel Deusser’s World Cup champion, Cornet D’Amour, or Marcus Ehning’s superstar Cornado.) Our guy inherited Cornet’s handsome/grey/cresty-necked look, plus, it seems, his smoothness over fences:
This is For Love Or Money, by Germany’s two-time Olympic gold medalist For Pleasure. When I bred to him four years ago, he was somewhat out of favor, but now his offspring are taking the sport by storm. His son Barron is one of Team USA’s best horses, with owner Lucy Davis. This one’s less conventional than his half-brother, above, but watch the hind legs over the jump—extra-snappy and way above the fence:
Here’s Sammy Boy, son of Sandro Boy, whose offspring include Marcus Ehning’s fabulous and speedy mare Sabrina. Sandro Boy produces beautiful types, with good looks and a calm, stylish way of going. Of our three, Sammy is the most refined—just a lovely physical build and pretty head. I love the way he carries himself, in balance, with a nice, springy gait. Looks like he’ll be fun to ride:
Free-jumping gives you an idea of what you have, but you don’t really know until you ride them. Still, you’d sure rather have them look good at this stage than not. We’re excited about these guys. And their three-year-old sisters, Flirtatious and Sanibelle (also by For Pleasure and Sandro Boy), will start their training soon.
The boys have been friends since their weanling days, and they always hung out together in the field. A few shots from our visit last summer:
Read more about these show-jumper bloodlines in my report from the Normandy World Equestrian Games.