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Dressage championships for young horses in Poland

Paulina Tomczak riding Donatan

By Agata Grosicka
Photography: Agnieszka Wiatrowska and private collection

Katarzyna Milczarek – the best Polish dressage rider (10 times champion of Poland, 22 medals altogether), as well as a breeder – has created the Sport Dressage Championships for Young Horses – the ‘open’ alternative to the official PZHK Polish Championships for Young Horses. The second edition of this event took place in Solec Kujawski, Poland in early August.

Q How did you come up with the idea to organize these championships?
I am pretty familiar with the Polish market for dressage horses and its needs – many riders choose foreign geldings which are safe, great movers, and have great papers. Thus, I came up with the idea of organizing the Sport Championships of Young Dressage Horses without qualifications and with the participation of foreign geldings of great origin. My son Tom, who’s also a showjumper (up to 1m45) told me about the showjumping championships in Srem, and it makes sense for dressage.
Besides, organizing qualifications for young horses (MPMK) which involves travelling with young horses all around Poland as there are not too many qualifiers, makes it more difficult, and the finals in Strzegom are too far for some of the riders.
I have to admit that the prestige of MPMK has decreased compared to the times when I took part in the show myself. The lower volume of horses entering has caused the loss of quality in the show itself. There are so many great stallions all around the world, so keeping a stallion just to get it through the championships is pointless – a stallion has to be exquisite to be used in breeding. Our formula enables more horses to participate in the show and consequently supports better sport rivalry.

Q How have your own horses changed in terms of their origins over the years?
My stallion Ekwador (Heraldik xx - Enigma x Corofino I), the triple Polish dressage champion, was Polish half-bred (sp), another was Latvian, and the rest were German. Ekwador gave a couple of good horses which were nicely sold, and he was eventually sold to Belgium where at the age of 20 he’s still used for breeding and last year received an honorary license.
My wish as a rider and as a breeder is to have a horse that can compete at GP level – it’s a guarantee that he’s brave, has a good head, and is hard-working. It’s even more important for me than how high he elevates his legs.
The main reason for using foreign-bred horses was that Polish breeding after the political transformation was going through a difficult period. No donations, fewer and fewer broodmares, not enough good horses. For a very long time we did not have a good Polish half-bred dressage stallion. A couple of years ago I imported Santana, who is by Sandro Hit out of a Rhodiamant x Weltmeyer dam. Now he is 20 and I’ve been using him for five seasons.

Hubert Jankowski with Idwinaretto

I’ve talked to breeders on many occasions and heard them complaining that they could not access the semen of a good dressage stallion here locally, now we have foreign stallions available, but there is no illusion that we will catch up with the rest of the world using Wielkopolska (wlkp) stallions or showjumping stallions, which we have a lot of. A few years ago a Polish breeder living near Lublin (in the east of Poland) found it challenging to buy semen from a foreign dressage stallion. Then I bought Santana, now Cichon Stallions are doing a great job. Frozen semen is still a problem here locally while embryo transfer in the western Europe is a norm.
Personally, I have been quite successful in breeding. My Ekwador gave a couple of good horses, and I managed to breed a double Polish dressage champion: the mare Stella Pack Ganda (Celtic - Grammy x Gluckspiltz)... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber