André Leemans

By Jo de Roo
Photography: Jo de Roo

Bred by the now 71-year-old André Leemans, Ohio van de Padenborre descends from BWP line 21. Initially approved as a stallion by BWP, he was later conferred as a ‘BWP ambassador’. And despite the fact that Ohio lost his right eye just a few days after his birth, he managed to perform at the very highest level in the showjumping world, including top 10 places in 1m60 Grand Prix and Nations Cup classes.

Ohio van de Padenborre produced an impressive number of horses from a very limited offspring that have performed at 1m60 level, such as Mill Creek Sweet Dream, Up And Down van de Padenborre, Ralphy Utopia de Ransbeck, Atletico van’t Paradijs, Toronto van de Padenborre, and Desteny. According to André Leemans, “Ohio produced horses with a good character, a light-footed canter, and a very good mentality. They usually have the will to jump across the obstacle and are easy to ride. Ohio’s sire, Quidam de Revel, also had such a mentality.”
Ohio died at the end of 2018 at the age of 27 at the Het Bokt equine clinic and AI station of veterinary surgeon Steven Dhondt.

It all begins with Ohio’s granddam, Draisienne

Leemans continued: “I bought Draisienne from Robert Smismans, a cattle dealer with whom I worked. He regularly bought dams in France. At one point I became the owner of a farm with a lot of pasture and told Robert I wanted to start breeding horses. We went to a meadow together. He pointed to Draisienne and said ‘that’s a good breeding dam’. I bought her – she was 11 or 12 years old at the time. Draisienne was a dam with a difficult character. Anyone who wanted to come into her stable, had to be careful. I learned afterwards that her sire, the Thoroughbred Noe xx, only had a small volume of offspring because of his strong character that he passed on.” In total, 68 descendants of the 1955-born Noe were inscribed by the Selle Français studbook.
“In 1983 I crossed Draisienne with Fleuri du Manoir. At that time, Fleuri was one of the better stallions in Belgium. Himalaya van de Padenborre was born out of this combination – she had a lot of blood and a very good character. I first used her in sport, and later as a broodmare. In showjumping tournaments she showed a lot of quality, and was also a very quick learner.” In partnership with Nico Leemans, Himalaya ranked, for instance, second at the 1992 European Championship for Juniors and collected several top-10 places in 1m40 to 1m50 classes.
“Himalaya turned out to be of great value for breeding. Her second descendant, My Way van de Padenborre, was by Pachat II. She was injured as a foal so I kept her exclusively for breeding. In combination with Chin Chin, she produced the international Grand Prix showjumper Riot Gun van de Padenborre, with whom Beat Grandjean, Lesley McNaught, and Martin Fuchs all achieved several victories and honorable places in five-star competitions.
“In 1990 I crossed Himalaya with the then eight-year-old Quidam de Revel. When Quidam was six I once saw him jumping under the saddle of Hervé Godignon, and saw that he was an outstanding showjumper. At one point, together with Joris De Brabander, I joined the Mazé family where Quidam was stationed. Both Joris and I then bought straws of Quidam’s semen. I made use of it to inseminate Himalaya. In 1991 a chestnut colt was born from this combination, called Ohio van de Padenborre.
“One or two days after Ohio’s birth, Joris De Brabander came by to see the colt and immediately bought a half share. A few days later, Ohio was walking in the pasture with his dam. At one point Ohio was right behind her and tragedy struck. Himalaya kicked and caught her colt flat in the eye. The verdict was harsh: Ohio had lost his right eye. We took the foal to the veterinary clinic, but the eye was out and surgery was out of the question. I continued to raise him, and precisely because Ohio lost his eye a few days after his birth, it didn’t prevent him from performing well in showjumping later on. I talked about this with a vet and he said ‘if a horse loses an eye at the age of four or five, for example, it is much more unfortunate for them to still perform in the sport’. Ohio always looked ahead.”
Despite losing the eye, Ohio van de Padenborre performed at the highest international level. Leemans took up the story: “Ohio started his sporting career under the saddle of my son, Nico. Ohio was then five years old and Nico rode him until he was seven. After that, Ohio was ridden by Ulrich Kirchhoff in international showjumping competitions for a year before returning to our stables and being ridden once again by Nico... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber

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