Three Days of World-Class Education with the American Hanoverian Society: Dressage at Devon

We at and Warmblood Stallions of North America believe in giving back to the North American warmblood breeding industry through sponsorship of key North American breeding exhibitions, including the prestigious Dressage at Devon. This year, we sponsored the Born in the USA awards at Devon, but were unable to attend the show ourselves. We are thankful to members of the American Hanoverian Society for attending on our behalf, and BethAnne Bort for providing us with this complete synopsis of their three day breeding seminar on-site at Devon, a wonderful educational opportunity for breeders at one of the most iconic venues in North America. We truly love seeing North American warmblood registries put on such supportive and educational events for their members and the broader breeding industry!

Written by BethAnne Bort

AHS Swag Bag Content

The American Hanoverian Society is known for outstanding educational opportunities, and the 2022 Hanoverian Breed Seminar at Dressage at Devon, hosted by the AHS Education Committee, was another great opportunity to provide North American breeders and enthusiasts with top instruction and comradery! The course was taught by Dr. Ludwig Christmann, the former Director of International Affairs, Development, and Education at the Hanoverian Verband in Germany.  Dr. Christmann is recognized as a global expert on the Hanoverian breed, an experienced mare and foal inspection judge, and is a former judge at Dressage at Devon.

A welcome dinner at the host hotel kicked off the breed seminar with almost 40 lucky participants and a strong team of organizers and volunteers. It was wonderful to hear the excitement and joy as friends reconnected and there was a definite air of enthusiasm and delight over new connections being made.  Adding to the excitement was the Eurequine swag bags, which included an amazing vest donated by our sponsor, Schneider’s, with embroidered AHS, ARS, and sponsor logos!  There was also literature about the Breeder’s Choice iSperm instrument and ABT 360 Embryo Transfer medias, a dressage horse key chain from Mary’s Tack, some cool Hanoverian and Platinum Performance stickers, a Eurequine notepad set, a colorful and thorough 2022 Hilltop Farm Stallion book, and a number of farm and stallion handouts. We were also so thankful for the Warmblood Stallions of North America for donating DAD tickets and parking passes!

AHS Mare Wine Gift
Jessica Stallings & Lee Farino modeling Schneider’s Vests with sponsor logos

After social time and dinner, Dr. Christmann presented on “Hanoverian Horse History and Breeding Aims”, including an intriguing geographical history of the Hanoverian breed and other European warmblood breeds.

As a special treat, all attendees received a bottle of wine labeled with a custom AHS MARE WINE label, a must-have for breeders during stallion selection or foal watch!  Or, as we found out, a great wine to drink while going through our swag bags again later in the evening!

AHS Hanoverian Breed Seminar: Day 1

Day 1 at Dressage at Devon was scheduled for discussions, exhibitions, and clinics while the show prepared for horses to start arriving.  Dr. Christmann lectured on Hanoverian conformation ideals and the theory of judging horses.  The difference between Individual Breed Classes (“IBC”) and Materiale judging was particularly interesting and a helpful insight for participants.

There was a conformation clinic with three lovely demo mares provided by Kris Schuler (Sonata EMF by Sir Gregory x Bugatti), Paula Byrum (Sundancer BHF by Sternlicht x Renaissance) and Maurine Swanson (Fherrari by Foundation x Royal Prince, pictured below).  Breed Seminar participants evaluated the mares against USDF and AHS standards with Dr. Christmann’s expert guidance, using score sheets that highlighted the weighted values and the slight differences between standards and objectives.  Understanding the differences in how scores are assigned is critical, and to analyze three different types of mares as a group, each mare with their strengths in different areas, was a real treat.

Rebecca Arnold handling Maurine Swanson’s homebred mare Fherrari (Foundation x Royal Prince)
Photo Credit: BethAnne Bort

A handler’s clinic was expertly presented by Rebecca Arnold, who owns Singletree Farm in Southwest, Virginia.  Becca discussed the techniques and skills needed to present each horse to their best abilities.  Of note was Becca’s recommendation for breeders to teach their foals to stand still with the handler in front of them.  This stance is often used for things like vet and farrier work, which may cause some foals to associate that handling technique with tension. Practicing this standing technique will get the foals confident in the handler in front of them – and hopefully standing still also!   As an accomplished breeder herself, Becca encouraged the group to have confidence in handling their horses and to consider learning opportunities where they can handle or support showing activities themselves. Becca’s energy and passion was infectious, and members walked away from the session feeling empowered, appreciated, and indebted to the role our professional handlers hold in our industry.

Hygain equine nutrition class with goodies and handouts

Hygain presented on their equine nutrition, and they sponsored one month of free grain for the first 30 participants, including a custom feeding strategy developed with their equine nutritionists.  There are a few ways to a breeder’s heart, and free grain is definitely one of them! The presentation discussed the nutritional needs of broodmares, young horses, and performance horses, including ways to reduce OCD and maintain optimum weight with balanced feed and forage strategies. The breed seminar participants were thrilled to learn that Hygain is releasing Broodmare and Foal/Young Horse feeds at the end of October!  Many thanks to Hygain Equine Nutritionist Alexis Lorenz and Account Manager Whitney Fernandes for fielding all our questions!

There was an excellent photography class led by Stacey Wendkos that focused on techniques and camera settings for both conformation and action pictures.  The discussions for optimizing pictures of black horses and indoor lighting situations were extremely helpful!  Let’s face it, we have all struggled with these situations!

Our group dinner at the historical Black Powder Tavern was a huge hit, with everybody selecting raffle prizes and enjoying a fun end to an action-packed day.

AHS Hanoverian Breed Seminar: Day 2

Frida Kahlo QC (Franklin x Rosentanz) bred by Quantico Sporthorses, pictured at Dressage at Devon
Photo credit: Emma Miller/Phelps Media Group

The AHS Breed Seminar had an exciting lineup for Day 2!  The breed seminar participants had the honor of watching breed classes while Dr. Christmann provided his own scores and evaluations for each horse in the ring, focusing on conformation and his impression of movement, range of motion, and more.  At times, members were spread out around the ring, but with earbuds in place, we were all connected to Dr. Christmann and were building our expertise and understanding throughout the day.  There was particular excitement during the Hanoverian IBC class, which was won by an exceptional 2 yo filly Frida Kahlo QC (Franklin x Rosentanz) bred, owned, and shown by Quantico Sporthorses, with an outstanding score of 85.95%.  This Hanoverian filly went on to win the Two-Year-Old Fillies class, was DAD Champion Filly, and Reserve Champion Young Horse!

Class lecture of D and F lines

Following the excitement in the ring, the AHS Breed Seminar group did a deep dive with Dr. Christman on the popular D and F lines, then spent time discussing impactful sires such as Sandro Hit and Vivaldi (including their best crosses and promising sons).  This was followed by a fantastic Happy Hour Trainer Forum with trainers Jim Koford, Lauren Chumley, Michael Bragdell, and Jocelyn Kraenzle. The group had so much fun talking with the trainers, with focus on bloodlines (including the typical ride and temperament types of different bloodlines) and their ideal horse characteristics.  The trainers were well aware of the bloodlines in their barn, and they all agreed that their customer base overwhelmingly needed horses with good characters and trainability. 

AHS Hanoverian Breed Seminar: Day 3

Dr. Christmann evaluating horses with the class listening through headphones and airpods

Day 3 focused on judging the age group and Materiale classes (with Dr. Christmann in our ear), watching the breed division Grand Champion Awards, and watching the Born in the USA Awards.  There was a Q&A with American Judge Sue Mandas, who provided additional context to Materiale judging and evolution of the class.  Towards the end of the day, the breed seminar enjoyed a group vendor tour, with many vendors providing breed seminar attendees a sizeable discount!  The custom boot options were particularly amazing!

Throughout the seminar, the Devon Club provided outstanding lunch and happy hour catering services. The group was especially excited to see our own breed seminar members showing and the cheering section was extra loud for “our” entries! 

The AHS Breed Seminar was generously sponsored by an all-star lineup that recognizes the impact of North American breeders and the American Hanoverian Society/American Rhineland Society! 

  • Schneiders – Industry-leading in horsewear and product innovation.
  • HyGain – A leading equine feed and supplement company with an extensive high Performance, Equestrian, Stud and Supplement product range.
  • Signature Sporthorses – Located in Sunbury, NC, breeding exceptional Hanoverian and Rhineland sporthorses for over 20 years.
  • Eurequine – Standing top stallions available for breeding in North America, ranging from Olympians to Grand Prix superstars with Grand Prix and Olympic offspring of their own.
  • Breeder’s Choice – Your source for high quality breeding equipment and supplies for the equine industry.
  • Havens Horse Feed USA – Quality feeds designed for high performance, dressage, show jumping, endurance, breeding and leisure horses.
  • Platinum Performance – Providing veterinarian-developed supplements that support every aspect of horse health and performance.
  • Glacier Ridge Farm – Located just south of Seattle, WA, breeding the finest dressage and jumping athletes with the best temperaments and expressive movement for ambitious riders.

Many thanks to the American Hanoverian Society, the AHS Education Committee, and all the AHS staff, volunteers, sponsors, and donors that made this AHS Breed Seminar so successful.  The food was great (including lots of mimosas, wine, coffee, and desserts), the agenda was well planned, and the education was top class.  We all left the seminar with a greater understanding of conformation impact on movement, foal and young horse evaluation, stallion ideas for the future, and an expanded network of breeders, trainers, owners, and friends.    

Author BethAnne Bort is a dressage and hunter breeder based out of North Carolina.  BethAnne has completed the Hanoverian Verband Breed Course in Germany with world renowned expert, Dr. Ludwig Christmann, and is a member of the American Hanoverian Society Fundraising and Stallion Auction Committee.  BethAnne also authors the series “Breaking Down the Breeding – Maclay Edition” for The Plaid Horse.

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