By Adriana van Tilburg (First published in November 2021, issue #299)
Photography: Holsteiner Verband and Courtesy Jan Pedersen
Breeding horses and equestrian sport have been two enduring passions for Breido Graf zu Rantzau (71), mapping his life from being a showjumping rider (for over 50 years from the age of seven), to presiding over the Holsteiner Verband for 21 years, six years as vice president of the WBFSH, and in 2005 taking over as president of the German FN, from which he’s recently retired.
It’s hardly surprising – living in his ancestral home of Schloss Breitenburg in the heart of Schleswig-Holstein – that his heart is rooted in Holsteiner horses, and for someone who has given so much to German equestrian sport and breeding at an international level, we can barely scratch the surface of his life in just one article...
Q Do you consider yourself to be a good breeder?
I see myself as a competition rider who has knowledge of horses in sport and who has been breeding horses by feeling. I don’t see myself as an important or a big breeder, but I see myself more as the person who has pacified and brought the Holsteiner Verband back together. In my time as a breeder I didn’t care for foal premiums. When they started to jump my interest was really there for the horses I bred. Everybody has their own point of view and road to success.
I have done my breeding with only a few mares. I had two very good horses about 30 years ago, Landlord (Landgraf I - Hilla x Tin Rod xx, Stamm 6879, breeder: Gunter Stange) and Malva (Marlon xx - Allgaeurin x Antonio, Stamm 1937, breeder: Klaus Rodde). I didn’t breed these horses, but they were my best. I competed with them in Nations Cups, for example, in Dublin, Falsterbo, and Rome. Out of Malva I bred the 1m60 jumping horse Constantin by Contender, who had a very good career under the saddle of Markus Beerbaum. He was partly owned by the Firestone family and Beerbaum.
Okaweintraube (Waldjunker - Huldinchen x Lodi, Stamm 5860) is part of the history of my life where breeding and sport come together. I became European champion with her during the championships for junior riders in 1967. Out of her I bred the mare Ira I, by Rigoletto.
I also bred the following generation that included the gelding Lavendel 48, who jumped at 1m60 under the saddle of Ian Miller and Laura Tidball-Balisky. With Laura he participated in the World Championships of Aachen in 1986, the Olympic Games of Seoul in 1988 and at the Pan American Games in 1987 in Indianapolis. During the last championship he was part of the team gold medal. Lavendel 48’s granddam is Okaweintraube.
Thanks to Norbert Boley I got the mare P-Comtesse (Contender - Elite VI x Landjunker II, breeder: Hans Jürgen Ehlers), whom he bought during a foal auction. I bred about 10 offspring out of her and six are jumping at 1m40 and higher. These include the 1m60 jumping horse Bull Run’s Prince of Peace (Cardenio) under the saddle of Kristen Vanderveen. Also in P-Comtesse we find my special mare Okaweintraube, through her damsire Landjunker II, who is a full brother to Lavendel 48. That is the beauty of breeding, to discover the connections. It is reason why I am a breeder. In my journey as a breeder I have walked the road together with Malva and Okaweintraube.
Q How would you define a good breeder?
A good breeder is without doubt somebody who has consistently built up a good line. For example Professor Dr. Hartwig Schmidt. He purchased the mare Ibylle (Moltke I - Retina x Ramzes X) from Rheder Thormählen and has built up a very good line. Or Hans Werner Ritters, who built up a line with the mare Virginia. A showjumping mare who was born in the sixties and I already knew at that time. He actually competed in the European Championships for junior riders, although most people don’t even remember this anymore. He did to my opinion a very good job. These two are good breeders.
I was very happy that I had somebody like Hans Werner Ritters at my side for many years as a vice-president. He has a lot of knowledge of a good horse. Already in 1955 he was part of the winning German team at the junior European showjumping cham-pionships. I selected him right away when I became president of the Holsteiner Ver-band. He knew a great deal about horses and I knew a great deal about understanding people, and I’d already known him since I was very young... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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