An owner’s pat from Axel Windeler Photo: Ros Neave

GERMANY (by Christopher Hector) It was one of those lucky accidents that I found myself sitting next to Hanoverian breeder Axel Windeler at the dressage World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Ermelo, last year. Windeler was the breeder of the star of the show, Don Martillo, the five-year-old champion. The handsome black stallion was the result of a breeding program that goes back to 1987, and one of those mares who can found a dynasty – Wennings.

The truth is, Windeler’s first venture into horse breeding was not a raging success... “I started breeding in 1977. I bought a riding horse, but she was not good, so I tried to breed... Not a great idea! I tried with the mare, but it was not very good. I tried then with another mare, and I tried over ten years and I was not so successful. I thought it over and in 1987 I bought the great-great-grandmother of Don Mar-tillo, Wennings, she was Wenzel x Shogun xx. She was from Alfred Stahmann, from Doerverden. He had bred many show horses and auction horses, and they also had high prices. I liked his horses, they had very good movement, and they were beautiful, big and a dark colour, dark brown or black.

“So I bought this mare, and in the beginning it was not so good. She had two Rubinsteins, normal trot, I was not satisfied – and then I started breeding with Matcho. The Matcho foal was very good, she was my first mare to go best of show, three times. Matchos did not have the biggest movement, so I decided for Warkant, because Warkant gave very good movement. Then I brought the mare, Wendy For Ever, to my own stallion, Benetton Dream, and her foal, Black Pearl, to Don Juan de Hus.

“During this period, ‘87 to ‘93, I bought another five mares, top mares. For example, Windrose, the vice European champion mare in Brussels. With her I had a good start, she brought my first licensed stallion, Winterprinz (Warkant), who I sold to America for a very good price. With Windrose who was Weltmeyer x Sender, we made a new line. Windrose with Davignon, produced Dornröschen, who bred with Rotspon produced Rotkappchen, who bred to Brentano produced Benetton Dream.”

And another piece of the jig-saw falls into place, since Benetton Dream is the dam sire of Don Martillo...

“I have another line – I bought Caprice – Calypso x Graphit x Gotthard – and bred to Landadel, she brought a wonderful mare, my favorite mare, Lady Larissa. From this line, we have many mares, I now have twenty mares. Caprice was the mother of four licensed stallions.”

The winning mare family at the prestigious Louis Wiegels Show in 2008 – SPS Lady Larissa, her daughter, SPS First Lady, by Florestan, and her grand-daughter, SPS Royal Lady by Royal Highness were all products of Windeler’s generational breeding. Ironically, he finds it difficult to add Thoroughbred blood to his mix, but likes to see it on the pedigrees...

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