Celle’s sizzling stallions

  

Hanoverian

 

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A visit to the heart of the Hanoverians where traditions remain the same though the horses have changed considerably since the stud was founded almost 300 years ago.

 

By Camilla Alfthan

 

 

The home of the Hanoverian is situated in the historic town of Celle just a stone’s throw away from the iconic castle where tourists nowadays wander about the elegant rooms to study the royal portraits of the former residents. While the feeling of Schloss Celle is that of a bygone era, it is the opposite with the national stud which was founded in 1735, as the Niedersächsisches Landgestüt.

Here, the horses still stand in the same red brick stables that were built by the order of King George II, King of Great Britain, elector of Hanover and Duke of Brünswick-Lüneburg.

With no less than 120 stallions and 90 employes to look after them, the entire area sizzles with energy as the horses are exercised and taken out for rides in the nearby forest.

As the ultimate works of art they are meticulously groomed and pampered sporting braided knots on special days and wearing tack which is polished to perfection. That there’s a military rigour in anything that takes place at the Landgestüt is especially evident during the stallion’s parades in the autumn where the horses’ skills are demonstrated to people from around the globe.

 

Many top horses have come from Celle such as Isabell Werth’s dressage champions, Don Johnson, Gigolo and Warum Nicht – son of the legendary Weltmeyer.

Escudo; the father of the show jumping star, Embassy II is stabled in Celle along with a full brother, while his daughter, Escada, has enjoyed success with the three-day eventing star, Ingrid Klimpke.

 

“The Hanoverians are excellent for eventing. We still have all round horses as over 90 per cent of all riders are not competing in top sports. They just want to have fun with their horses and maybe just compete once or twice a year so they need a horse with a good rideability,” tells stud manager, Dr. Alex Brockmann when we meet at his offices.

 

 

The Landgestüt has existed for almost 300 years – what is the most noticable change of the Hanoverian breed?

 

“In the old days when we only had natural coverings, every area had a specific pedigree that corresponded to the stallion who was located there. Today it’s all totally mixed with stallions from the Netherlands, Denmark, France..

 

In 1973 the breeders’ organisations opened up for these new bloodlines offering a wide selection of frozen seamen world wide. Today, most clients are located in the US, Canada and Australia which means that the genetics of the Celle stallions are to be found everywhere.  Ten percent of the market is in Celle – while some 30,000 German mares each year are covered by over a hundred different stallions world wide.

 

Are the horses generally better today?

 

They are not better. In the old days we had a breeding station and three to five stallions and then you could see which kind of bloodline would fit to the stallions. The breeders knew the stallions and they knew the mare lines.

Today, its often just using the fanciest and the most expensive stallion –  the champion stallion – without considering if it suits your mare.  People are generally just looking at the success of the stallion.

 

And that is a mistake. Because sometimes a stallion who is not so prominent and who is not so spectacular could fit much better to a mare if you talk about confirmation, the legs and the hooves and all these things. But instead, people go for the most amazing stallion, the performance test, the championsships, and so on.

These stallions are used a lot for breeding even if the mare does not fit with the type. People just do what the neighbour does, or what some big breeders do.

 

“In the old days when you had natural covering you had to go to the station, you looked at the stallion, you looked at the hooves, the legs, the type and the height. Today people look at brochures.”

 

In the old days a stallion covered an average of 60 mares or a perhaps a 100 a year. Now with insemination there are some who cover 500 – 1,000 mares a year so there’s nearly not one single day where you have to say no to a breeder. Others are down to 10 -15 mares per season.

Most breeders haven’t even seen the stallion. Before when you had natural covering you had to go to the station, you looked at the stallion, you looked at the hooves, the legs, the type and the height. Today people look at brochures. Most of them have never seen the stallion alive.

 

Do you have many stallions that people breed from who are no longer alive?

 

Weltmeyer, Morgenstein, Don Juan…we have lots of stallions who haven’t been alive for a long time and who are still offered as frozen seamen. However, not so much in Germany, as the breeders here don’t like frozen seamen.

In France they are doing it a lot. The vets are used to this as well – to use ultra sound and to be really to the point with insemination where the techniques have improved in the last two decades. For them it is natural to go to a station and chose from frozen seamen, however, in Germany the stallion is alive.

 

Then there’s the difference of the areas, and places where they prefer young stallions such as in Hanover and Oldenburg. In Holstein where they focus on jumping they look for proven stallions, their offsprings and their results in sports. In the South they don’t like chestnuts, they prefer dark colours. They also prefer proven stallion. So everyone is inclined to make their own breed.

 

The Landgestüt

 

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