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Hanoverian breeding current state of play

Ludwig Christmann

GERMANY (by Christopher Hector) Dr Ludwig Christmann, head of the Hanoverian Verband's Department of International Affairs, Development and Education introduced Australia to German horse breeding. The Hanoverian studbook in particular leads the world in a number of ways – public relations being one of them. A key part of the Hanoverian publicity program was their study tour, and in 1991 we signed up, meeting a youthful Ludwig Christmann as our first guide.

Back then Germany was a far more formal society; there was Herr This (or better, Herr Doktor) and Frau that (although we didn't meet many Fraus on our tour of the little stallion stations – the ladies tended to stay in the kitchen while the gentlemen wined and dined us.) It didn't take long before the American ladies in our group had given Christmann the nickname ‘Luddy’, as they pleaded with him for just one more tack shop stop.

Since then Ludwig Christmann has become a dear friend, and a wonderful resource as I battle to get my head around the finer points of German breeding. It was helped a little when he started coming to Australia as the Verband's representative to classify horses in the Australian Hanoverian Society. Most recently, Ludwig combined classifying with a visit to his daughter (and new grand-daughter) who lives in Brisbane, which explains why the two of us are sipping second-rate coffee in an airport 'bistro'.

Q How long have you been coming to Australia?

Fifteen, maybe twenty years, I'm not so good with dates...

Q Has the look of the ideal Hanoverian worldwide changed over the past 20 years?

I think it has changed a little bit. The horses are a bit longer in the leg, but it is not just the look, it is also the way the horses move and how they use themselves, that has changed over the last 20 years. Nowadays our horses are basically more balanced, they are more active in their movement. Looking at the dressage horses, the dressage riders want more freedom in the shoulder without losing the active hindleg – of course we breed for the market and have to know what the riders want...