An examination of the top eventers from the World Equestrian Games in Tryon (North Carolina) shows a definite trend towards jumping blood, and blends rather than purebreds. Although there were pure Thoroughbreds in the competition, their numbers are decreasing over time, yet the Thoroughbred influence is still relevant based on these results. Interestingly, the top 10 all have jumping blood, not dressage blood.
Individual gold: Allstar B (Ephebe for Ever x Ekstein) comes from the Galoubet A sire line (jumping) and has the same broodmare sire as Hickstead (individual showjumping gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong). His dam has produced jumpers and eventers, while his second dam produced jumpers, with the exception of one mid-level dressage horse.
• Individual silver: The sire of Mr Chunky (Jumbo x Sergeant Drummer xx) descends from the typical Irish Sport Horse of the past (a Thoroughbred/Irish Draught cross) and his broodmare sire is pure Thoroughbred. Also typical of ISH from the past, his pedigree contains some unkowns.
• Individual bronze: SAP Hale Bob (Helikon xx - Goldige x Noble Champion, bred by Rolf Lück) has a Thoroughbred sire and his broodmare sire is high-percentage Thoroughbred, tracing to largely jumper lines through Warmblood ancestors. His dam has also produced a two- and a three-star eventer, plus one jumper.
• Fourth: Vassily de Lassos (Jaguar Mail [SF] - Illusion Perdue [AA]x Jalienny[AA]) is by a jumper sire who competed internationally at 1m60 and was three-quarters Thoroughbred. His Anglo-Arab dam, Illusion Perdue (Vulcain) produced a 1m60 jumper by Quidam de Revel. The second and third dam also produced 1m40 jumpers. Vassily was co-bred by Jerome Berges, Jean-Louis Beth and Sonia Eyraud in France.
• Fifth: Horseware Stellor Rebound, by VDL Ricochet/ex Romke, is listed as an Irish Sport Horse, but his sire is KWPN (by Ahorn) from a Holsteiner dam line descending from Lord. His dam is unknown, but one finds two crosses to Ladykiller xx in the fourth generation and three other Thoroughbreds in the fifth generation.
• Sixth: Qing du Briot*ENE-HN (Eolien II - Henriette x Etalon Or AA) is Selle Francais, a 1m40 jumper, and a great-grandson of Grand Veneur via Sioux de Baugy. His dam is largely AngloArab, but Qing is the star of his immediate female family. Another eventer who was co-bred; by Patrice and Patricia Planchat, and Claude and Liliane Bardon.
• Seventh: Vinci de la Vigne (Esterel des Bois - Korrigane de Vigne x Duc du Hutrel) descends from jumpers through most of his pedigree, especially through the Papillon Rouge (Jalisco B) sire line. The tail female line represents an AngloArab/French Trotter blend. His pedigree shows three Thoroughbreds in the fourth generation and four others in the fifth generation. Vinci was bred by Lucien Villotte.
• Eighth: Cekatinka (King Kolibri - Katinka x Julio Mariner xx) descends from a mix of German Warmblood registries and jumper lines through her sire. Her dam has also produced two showjumpers. Her damsire is pure Thoroughbred, and her second dam was a 1m10 jumper in the United States who was registered Oldenburg.
• Ninth: Billy the Red (Balou du Rouet - FBW Simply Red x Stan the Man xx) descends from the same blue-blooded jumping sire line as Allstar B. His dam had a Thoroughbred sire and a dam of German Warmblood heritage. Bred by Michaela Weber-Herrmann in Germany, he appears to be the star of his direct female family.
• 10th: Quarrycrest Echo (Clover Echo - Royal China x Cavalier Royale) represents the type of breeding that was common in the Irish Sport Horse not so long ago. His pedigree boasts Clover Hill (ISH), Cavalier Royale (Holst), King of Diamonds (RID), and an unknown maternal line beyond the second dam. His dam and his second dam both produced jumpers (1m40 and 1m60). He was bred by John Dooley in Ireland.
The sport has been in a transition phase since the change to the shortened format. At first it seemed that a strong emphasis was placed on dressage, and we saw horses that scored well in dressage drop well down in the rankings after cross-country and stadium. Conversely, we saw horses that did not fare as well in dressage make dramatic moves up the scoreboard based on their penalty-free rounds in the other two phases.
At the 2018 World Equestrian Games only two of the horses in the final top 10 were outside the top 15 after dressage and they were both within the top 30. Yes, a good dressage score remains important, but that no longer seems to come at the expense of the ability to jump, which should bode well for the future of the sport.
Could it be that riders are improving their dressage training? It seems so. Earlier this year, Ingrid Klimke stressed the importance she places on training for dressage – from the opening halt. “Train the halt. Halt and breathe. The horse must halt until cued to move. This is education. You must be precise, because this is the judge at C’s first impression of you.” Halt the horse square on all four legs with a quiet head like a statue. Every horse can do this! “My father said this too,” she added. Her father, of course, was renowned dressage master Reiner Klimke...