By Hillevi Brasch / SWB
Photography: Private collection
Quality before quantity! This certainly holds true when describing the breeding operation at Verbena AB, owned by the Skeppstrand family. Despite having only a few mares in the breeding program, horses of extremely high quality have been born on the Verbena AB farm.
Verbena AB is a family operated business with Gunnel and Tomas and their grown daughters Sara, Anna, and Emma. Both Gunnel and Tomas come from a horse-oriented background; Gunnel’s grandfather was a breeder, and her father rode together with Gehnäll Persson, Olympic gold medalist in dressage. The Skeppstrand girls have inherited their parent’s interest in equestrian sports with all three having competed successfully in dressage, through the ages from ponies and up, having won several championships as juniors, young riders, and in U25.
Everyone in the family is involved with the overall breeding operation and horses, with Gunnel in charge of the mares and young horses as well as the administrative work surrounding the stallions. Sara is the daughter with the greatest interest in breeding; described by her mother as the brain behind the combinations of mares and stallions. “I have always had an interest in breeding and genetics”, says Sara. “From an early age I read the Flyinge stallion catalogues front to back.”
The breeding operation results in just one or two foals per year. The damlines are extremely important in having a solid foundation, being performance oriented and having merits of their own. Ten years ago, Sara competed Bertram in the show circuit for youths, meanwhile Anna competed the mare La Prii. Bertram was by Bernstein 761, a sire that has produced many performance horses with traits desirable for competition. “They may not have been of the flashy kind, but they had good rideability and temperament, even young girls had no problem riding and handling them. That is when we decided we wanted to produce talented horses with good character and rideability.”
The search for broodmares began.
The mare Baby Doll by Bernstein was purchased, the dam is the Elite mare C’est si Bonne by Chagall, a coveted, proven dressage sire. According to Gunnel, “The reason we bought her was because she was by Bernstein, and we wanted a new Bertram.” The girls all rode her to verify the temperament and rideability... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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