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Breeding ‘tight’: Jumping vs. dressage reliability

Tobago Z (Tangelo van Zuuthoeve) under the saddle of Daniel Deusser (GER)

By Christopher Hector and Gemma Alexander
Photography: FEI

Once it was believed that it was the jumping fraternity that bred their horses 'tight', while the dressage horses tended to be a bit more random... Well right now it would seem that the reverse is the case if we look at each top 20 – dressage and jumping – for the 2021 KWPN breeding values for stallions with a reliability of 90% or higher.

In the dressage list, in the first three generations we find Ulft 12 times. Oh yes, you say Ferro, but it is interesting that on a number of pedigrees Ulft pops up without the aid of his favorite son.
Cocktail appears nine times, and yes, that is mainly through his number one son, Jazz. Flemmingh appears eight times, and Gribaldi, five times. So, perhaps it’s time to look hard at the breeding career of Ulft.

Ulft (1978: Le Mexico)

It was in January 1981 when the three-year-old and, until then, un-named bay stallion Ulft was baptized with the name of the village in the Guelders county.
But I’ll let the Dutch expert, Jacob Melissen take up the story: “Ulft was a comparatively small colt, standing just 16 hands, with 8.25 inches of bone, but his movement in-hand was superb. He showed an almost perfect driving action of his hindlegs – but his total appearance failed to impress the judges sufficiently for him to be ranked in the top group of colts.
“At that time, the newly selected colts were ranked in two groups, depending on their quality. Twelve colts were placed in the first group – all of which have disappeared. The last one was the French bred, Ursus. He died in 1993, but the majority had disappeared after their performance test, or after their first four years at stud. Who remembers the names Uithof, Tigrato, Unyx, Ubbo, Umberto, Utewaal, and Uitblinker, nowadays? Yet they were the ‘stars’ of that totallyforgotten first quality colt group.
“In the second quality group there were 17 young stallions listed by the judges, of whom there are only five at stud. The former showjumper, Olympic Treffer (in Italy), Utrecht in Holland but only licensed by the British Studbook, AES, and finally – Ulft, Uniform, and Triton in regular service in the KWPN (Dutch Warmblood) Studbook. As Triton had been selected in the ‘last chance’ show and, therefore, not listed in any quality group at all, you may consider the ‘keur’ stallion Ulft, and his ‘preferent’ colleague, Uniform, as the last survivors from the year of the letter ‘U’.” Thanks Jacob.
After the performance test, where Ulft finally succeeded in taking fourth place, his career began. In 1981, he was bred to only one mare because by the time his performance test was completed, the breeding season was nearly over. In the following years, he served some 1,730 mares, an annual average of 123 coverings.
Most dressage fans remember Ulft’s most famous foal – Ferro, ridden by Coby van Baalen, but Coby also rode the sire: “Ulft was the first licensed stallion I got to ride,” she told me. “He was then owned by Mr van Tuyl from Gameren and he put him in training with me to be shown. At that time, there were still special classes for stallions called “bestgaand rijpaard” (best performing riding horse). It was always a battle between Ulft and Uniform.”
Out of his 1,250 foals, six sons were licensed: Boston, Conveyer, Dublin, Dukaat, Fair Play and Ferro.
It is also notable that in the 2021 KWPN values, 12 out of the top 20 are solidly Dutch bred, with five that are half German: Sandreo (Sandro Hit); Everdale (Lord Leatherdale); Toto Jr (out of a Desperados mare); Charmeur (Florencio). Bordeaux (United x Gribaldi) and Rousseau (Ferro x Roemer) are 25% German, while Chippendale (by Lord Leatherdale, with Landadel on the dam line) is 5/8ths German bred... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber