Home In previous issues The 40-year evolution of World Cup jumping horses

The 40-year evolution of World Cup jumping horses

Alamo (Ukato - Mariona x Equador) carried Steve Guerdat (SUI) to World Cup victory in April 2019

By Adriana van Tilburg
Photography: FEI, Peter Llewellyn

Looking more closely at the development of breeding showjumpers in the 40-year existance of the World Cup, people with the most experience agree that the horses of 40 years ago cannot be compared to the horses of today. Additionally, the sport has changed so much that the horses from the 1970s and 1980s didn’t possess today’s quality. So, in what direction are we now going? Traditional breeders are retiring or abandoning breeding, while an increasing number of others with little or no equestrian background are becoming breeders.

In Europe you will find some of the finest horse dealers who are also breeders themselves. From the Netherlands, for example, we must include Joop Aaldering (68). He has been a horse dealer for the past 30 years, involved with horses such as Coupe de Coeur (Calido I - Adele x Lincoln), Simon (Mr. Blue - Naline x Polydox), Untouchable (Hors La Loi II - Promesse x Heartbreaker), Hors La Loi II (Papillon Rouge x Ariane du Plessis II x Joyay d’Or), Quick Study (Quick Star - Sirene de Plantro x What A Joy xx), Untouched (Untouchable - Cantate Touch x Capitol I), Zeremonie (Cero I - Toulouse x Quick Star), and many more....

Joop Aaldering: 30 years backwards.

How has the sport and the horse developed throughout the past 40 years? Do we still have typical indoor and outdoor horses? According to Aaldering: “You always see horses that seem to have more quality for outdoor or indoor. But you now see more riders use who are using the same horses for indoor and outdoor shows. What has changed is that the horses are much more sportier than 40 years ago. They have more blood, and they should have more blood because in sport it is necessary. If you take a look at a course from 30 years ago, the poles were heavy and were in deep cups. Today the wind can blow the poles off, they are much lighter and the cups are not deep anymore. Also course builders are building much more technical courses, and the time is way shorter than 40 years ago. I do believe that horses like Classic Touch and Ratina Z would have had the quality to jump today’s courses.
I do believe that breeding has been able to keep up with the changes. Forty years ago you could say that studbooks like Holstein and Selle Français were dominant in breeding showjumpers. Those days are over. Today you find everywhere good horses, no matter whether you are in Holstein, other parts of Germany, France or Belgium. You might have certain preferences like a lighter or heavier type of horse, but nowadays the studbooks are of equal quality.
The WBFSH ranking is only based on a handful of horses, so it’s really different every month. Or, as an example, let’s look at Cedric (Cartano [Holst] - Elysee V [Holst] x Caletto I [Holst]). What studbook did he really belong to. Was he Holsteiner or part of a different studbook (who claimed him). Because the studbook be belonged to (KWPN) certainly scored a lot of points. For me the ranking is not the most important. I come to a lot of shows and I see everywhere good horses, no matter how they are bred.
“The problem is that we have a shortage of people who can educate young horses until they are seven or eight years old. They are then ready to start in 1m40. The sport has also changed in the way that we have many amateur riders who pay the big money. So they can buy excellent horses, but these horses should have had a top education. In the old days Jos Lansink and Franke Sloothaak (to mention just two...) had to ride the good horses, but also the normal horses. They were capable of making a good horse out of a normal horse. They had to because they had no money or sponsors. There was only one way to reach your goal, and that was to ride and not complain”.
Q Do small breeders still have a possibility in breeding between all the big players like Paul Schockemöhle, Joris de Brabander?

“For sure! Okay, you can certainly raise the average quality in your breeding by using the best bloodlines on the mother’s and father’s side, through embryo transfer or ICSI. But the real top sport horses are bred by coincidence. It also has to do with the ongoing career of the horse. Who will buy the foal or the older sporthorse? Will it be Jos Lansink or a person who has never jumped higher than 1m20? A great example for me is Hickstead (Hamlet - Jomara x Ekstein). When he was seven I went to him with Nick Skelton to try him out, and we were not really impressed by him. Look how that horse developed under the saddle of Eric Lamaze. He was purchased in the first place as speed horse, and not as a Grand Prix horse. Lamaze’s other horses were at some point injured and he decided to jump Hickstead bigger. Then he found out that Hickstead might be his best horse. So it all has to do with coincidence...To read the complete article you need to be a subscriberCLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO BREEDING NEWS


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