Home Special feature Who are the ‘hot’ stallions right now in dressage breeding?

Who are the ‘hot’ stallions right now in dressage breeding?

Sir Donnerhall (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall)

By Christopher Hector
Photography: Ros Neave

When all eyes will be on the dressage arena at the 2022 World Championships in Herning, Denmark, in August, Christopher Hector asks “Who are the hot stallions right now?” by analyzing the entries at two of the world’s great CHIOs: Rotterdam and Aachen.

Rotterdam was something of a triumph for Sir Donnerhall I and his full-brother Sir Donnerhall II, and I recall seeing Sir Donnerhall (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall) when he recorded his one competition triumph: five-year-old champion at the Bundeschampionate.
His previous attempt at fame had ended in tears when after leading the first go-round in the dressage World Breeding Championships for Young Horses, Sir Donnerhall was very disobedient in the canter work in the second round, but still managed to finish in second place thanks in large part to a 9.5 for general impression, a mark that provoked a noisy and antagonistic reaction from the spectators. Like his father, this is a horse that attracts strong polarizing opinions.
Even when he won his Bundeschampionate title, there were those who pointed out that the stallion was slow behind, which provoked a somewhat defensive response from the rider who ‘made’ him, Ulf Möller. I put this to Ulf:
Sir Donnerhall is a little bit slow behind? “Okay he is a little bit, he’s built a little bit like this. His croup is a little bit flat, we all know this, but because he’s so rideable you can activate the hind leg, he takes it, and that’s the good thing, and it gets even better with age, with the right muscles… Okay, from his construction it’s a little bit flat, but let’s say one of 100 foals have it, most of them have a very nice hindleg, and a very nice construction from the croup. This is what I mean, if you have a mare with a flat croup, you would not use this stallion because then you mix two negative things together, then you cannot hope that it gets better. That’s how it should work.”
Sir Donnerhall’s flat croup may, in part, be due to his somewhat eccentric breeding. Okay he is by Sandro Hit, another horse that Ulf ‘made’, another who has gone on to be a major influence in dressage breeding, but things get interesting when we look at the damline. His damsire, Donnerhall has been without doubt the most successful dressage sire of all time.
Sir Donnerhall’s dam, Contenance D is out of the Holsteiner mare, Contenance II, whose sire, Feldherr combines two of the famous old style Holsteiners, Farnese and Moltke I; while her dam, Contenance is by the Thoroughbred, Grundyman xx, whose dam, Vorr, is by another Holsteiner, Ratibor (conventional enough – Raimond, Consul, Ladykiller, Fahnrich).
But it is the next line that starts to get exotic, with lots of å’s and ø’s, indicating that we have moved even further north to Denmark, and one of the original Danish breeds, the Fredriksborg, a breed of chestnut carriage horses... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber