By Adriana van Tilburg
Photography: Peter Llewellyn
Ulrich Kirchhoff (56) celebrated a highly successful Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games where he won showjumping individual gold riding the BWP-bred stallion Jus De Pomme (Primo des Bruyeres - Opaline des Pins x Garitchou AA, breeder: Arnold de Brabandere).
Kirchhoff’s success came on the heels of Germany’s Olympic team gold medal in which he was joined by Franke Sloothaak, Lars Nieberg and Ludger Beerbaum. Ulrich Kirchhoff was in Aachen where he confessed that he and his partner, Barbara Suter, have become very interested in breeding, following their passion on a small scale with the help of ICSI.
Q You have ridden so many different horses in your career, were you always interested in breeding?
Yes, I have always been interested in breeding and have always said that every rider should know the sire and dam of their horse. I always asked how a horse was bred, and through my experience with so many horses I have built up a knowledge of what comes out of different lines. This information is priceless.
Even back in Germany I learnt about the traits that certain stallions pass on, both positive and negative. For example, I really like the old blood of Graphit (Grande - Frutana x Frustra II), where I'm almost sure that the x-rays won’t be 100%, but he gave, for example, a top stallion from the last century, Grannus. He also bred well with Winnetou (Ferdinand - Gold-stunde x Goldfisch II), where he again bred to the G line. In my own top horses I often had Graphit blood in the pedigree.
Q Was your family involved in breeding?
No, my family didn’t breed themselves. I became interested in breeding because I used to ride horses for Alwin Schockemöhle when I was young, and mainly young horses. It was there that I started to ask about the sires and dams. My parents were interested in horses and, in fact, my father was Paul Schockemöhle’s first groom. As a small child I was already in the stable of Paul Schockemöhle having been born just six kilometres from Mühlen. I rode ponies and then Alwin said I could start on his farm when I finished with the ponies. I was 16 when I decided to become a showjumper.
Q How did you develop your knowledge of breeding?
I rode my first European Championship with Piquet (Paradox I - Famosa x Firnus, bred by Heinrich Benning). This horse went on to be ridden by Eddie Macken and Jean Claude Vangeenberghe†. I also rode stallions for Werner Schockemöhle and my father ran his stallion barn.
During the years that I rode for the VDL Stud I gained a lot of knowledge about breeding. It was at VDL that I really made the leap into my international career, and Wiepke was almost like a second father to me. In the beginning I rode Indoctro, a Capitol I son out of a Caletto II dam. I wanted to buy half of Indoctro when he was three years old but Wiepke van de Lageweg made fun of me. I didn’t realise that he had already won his performance test, but at least I noticed his quality, and also how many mares he was being bred to.
I have always believed in Corland (Cor de la Bryère - Thyra x Landgraf I, Stamm 104A, breeder: Prof. Hartwig Schmidt). I rode him when he was purchased by Paul Schockemöhle and Wiepke van de Lageweg, as a six- and seven-year-old at the World Breeding Champion-ship for Young Horses in Lanaken. I also rode him again as an eight-year-old. I really believed in Corland as a jumper and as a stallion as he had so much willingness to perform and you could see the Cor de la Bryère blood in him. I told Wiepke to buy him outright, so he bought Paul’s share, and Paul bought a stallion from Wiepke that they’d previously shared.
I also like to buy horses with Nimmerdor (Farn - Ramonaa x Koridon xx, breeder: J.A. Dijkstra) in the mare line as they have such strength in their hindquarters... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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