A Visit to the Horse Capital of the World

North American Registry & Stallion Visits!

Bravely, or foolishly, I embarked on a long-anticipated weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park during the height of foaling/breeding season for us here in Texas. Despite the tried-and-true reality that the best laid plans in breeding and travel will inevitably be foiled, I propped up my home team as best I could…and wished them luck! Needless to say, two foals were born that weekend – one expected (past her typical timeline) and one a little bit early (maiden mare, of course). Fortune was on our side and both pairs had textbook deliveries, with strong starts through the coming days. Lots of kudos to the team at home for handling it like the pros that they have become!

It has been on my bucket list for a long time to attend the Land Rover Kentucky 3-Day Event, self described as “the best weekend all year” at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington, KY. The last time I had visited the park was in 2010 for the World Equestrian Games where Dutch Warmblood stallion Totilas (Gribaldi – Glendale – Akteur) was handily ridden by Edward Gal to take first place in the Grand Prix dressage, wowing the audience with his extravagant movement and stage presence. Thirteen years later, the KY Horse Park still impresses me with its size, expansiveness, and energy, particularly this past weekend when riders and horses from all over the world come to the park to try their hand at the rigorous CCI5* cross-country course.

American Hanoverian Society – Under the Oaks

Business came first for my trip to this famed area of the country. Nestled deep in the Kentucky Horse Park (conveniently situated near the Rolex outdoor stadium), the American Hanoverian Society houses its headquarters and office staff in a quaint park-like setting amongst trees that could tell us awe-inspiring stories of legends past. In the office, I put a bit of my corporate experience to work and teamed up with the friendly and committed staff to streamline various financial and administrative processes, brainstorm future state ideals, and celebrate a long-road traveled for this office crew who works tirelessly to keep the registry on track for its members and its horses.

That latter point is no small feat! Changing tides (on a macro and micro level) have forced rapid change on this organization, as it has on all organizations and industries over the last three years. It was truly impressive to glean a closer understanding of the long list of challenges that this team and their Board at AHS had to navigate over the last three years. The resilience and commitment across the AHS organization shines through in its resolve to adhere to its mission while rising to meet modern demands.

It was truly a personally rewarding experience to contribute to a passionate organization wholly committed to supporting North American breeding and sport, while building wonderful relationships with the people who keep the wheels greased every day. I encourage you to find the same opportunities to connect with your registry of choice, and volunteer where you can add value. You would be surprised at just how far small efforts go in making a big difference.

Stallions!

When a region is defined as the Horse Capital of the World, you would expect there to be plenty of opportunities for stallion visits. Fortuitously, I was able to coordinate farm visits with four popular Warmblood Stallions of North America stallions influencing dressage, hunter, jumper, and eventing disciplines: Jac’Potes, Bandelero JSF, Fabregas, and Widmark. As much as the big Event of the weekend was a blast, nothing beats meeting stallions in the flesh, particularly in their elements at home. As a breeder, so much can be learned about their personalities and conformation, which allows for better educated decision-making in assessing a proper complement to a mare’s strengths and weaknesses. Pictures and videos just cannot adequately purvey the true and complete impression of a stallion with all of the nuances and subtleties of his character and presence. Enjoy this short synapse of each stallion, complete with a candid photo or two of each (thanks to Kimmy and Meg for sharing the personal side of these special boys!).

Photo Credit: Sportfot

Jac’Potes
(Caretino – Corrado I – Lord)

Our first stop Sunday morning was Kimmy Risser’s Hickory Manor, located in Paris, KY. Here, we met Jac’Potes and his loving owner/rider Elizabeth Ballard. Recently, “Jac” was awarded with Elite Stallion by the BWP in Belgium through their performance in sport. Jac is a 2003 bay 16.3h Holsteiner stallion by Caretino – Corrado I – Lord. He retired from sport at the age of eighteen after a career up to 1.60m, and continues to work under saddle with Elizabeth. In person, Jac exudes a magnetic presence!

Nat with Jac – he makes friends quickly and easily!

At twenty years of age, he doesn’t look a day over seven (and his breeding stats reflect the same). Despite his extensive grand prix show jumping career, he is sound through his joints and legs and is uncomplicated in his maintenance and care. I looked hard to find a gray hair anywhere on his face! Jac is a testament to his impeccable breeding, further benefiting from the love and care of his dedicated owner and the folks of Hickory Manor. Playful and confident, Jac greets his visitors with friendly interest. He is charming and charismatic, reeling you in for a scratch or a treat. Surrounded by a small herd of goats, Jac enjoys tousling with his various furry friends on the farm, and you can tell the goats find every opportunity to push those boundaries.

Jac’Potes is proving to be a excellent in the breeding shed with strong conception rates (no surprise given the results of his recent semen analysis this spring). With limited breeding prior to his import, he has produced several offspring with competition records of 1.35m-1.60m. Most notably Tescari’jac, with a record to 1.60m. Additionally, Jac’Potes has also produced an approved stallion; Tostaky de la Loue, out of a Voltaire dam. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jac truly does love his breeding duties, and takes his responsibilities very seriously (and with great vigor). All in all, he is fortunately available to North American breeders, thanks to his owner, Elizabeth, and the stallion services at Hickory Manor. Further adding to his breeding credibility, Jac is collected professionally at Rood and Riddle.

Kimmy scratching Jac in his favorite spot! Jac demonstrates his appreciation with licking and stretching. That’s a happy boy!
Photo Credit: SAS Photography

Bandelero JSF
(Banderas – Columbus – Condino)

At Hickory Manor, we also met Bandelero JSF (aka “Rowan”), lovingly owned by Kimmy Risser. When you first walk up to Rowan, you are instantly drawn into his Fabio looks. With his long, flowing forelock and his cool guy demeanor, you can’t help but love him right away. In complement, Rowan is a socialite! As visitors approach his turnout, Rowan comes running to the gate, and will trot with you along his fenceline, showing off his impressive self-carriage, as well as his big, swinging, lofty gait. Rowan is in his element in the KY countryside. After lots of scratches, kisses, and compliments from us, he rolled in his favorite spot, shook off the dust, and then gazed regally over the fields of Hickory Manor.

Rowan in his element, enjoying the springtime KY mud, of course!

At 11 years old, Rowan is a 16.2h Belgian Warmblood stallion exemplifying a modern frame, with a harmonious topline, good length of leg, and balanced proportions. Rowan was successful showing as a young horse, including taking home multiple year end awards and placing top 3 at the Young Horse Show finals both years he competed. His modern hunter type has earned him 8s and 9s in hand and through the jump chute. Rowan attended the 2015 70 Day stallion test, scoring 8.5 for character, 8 for jumping, 8 for temperament, 8.6 for free jumping and 8.5 rideability. In his first foal crops, Rowan’s offspring were First Premium/Elite foals, as well as site champions for BWP, GOV, and Westfalen. Rowan passes on a well-shaped neck, strength through the hindquarters, quality canter, and beautiful typey heads. His offspring are also known for their handleability, confidence, and inherent talent for the show ring. Similar to his buddy Jac, Rowan is a pro in the breeding shed, with top fertility stats and conception rates. He is also collected professionally at Rood and Riddle.

If you find yourself in the Lexington region, be sure to reach out to Kimmy Risser to schedule a meeting with Jac and Rowan! They are no strangers to visitors and truly enjoy sharing their lives with their owners, caretakers, and friends.

Photo Credit: Lisa Michelle Dean

Fabregas
(Florencio I – De Niro – Lantham)

Perhaps near and dear to my dressage breeding heart, I was gifted with an introduction to Fabregas (aka “Fabi”) resulting from a last-minute outreach to Meg Williams at Oakwood Farms. Just West of Cincinnati, Oakwood Farms is nestled in rolling hills of Eastern Indiana. Meg and her team run a professional breeding and training facility, and the rows of breed awards lining her tack room wall are a testament to her 30 years of dedication and commitment to the Hanoverian breed.

Fabi joins Meg and Nat’s conversation to impress upon his long list of breeding and performance credentials. His striking chrome markings stand out in the early Spring Indiana countryside.

Meg acquired Fabi in 2019 for more than just a breeding stallion. Not long after their partnership began, Meg and Fabi were Region 2 Grand Prix Champions in 2021. Unfortunately, they had to miss USDF Nationals that year due to a previous obligation, having not anticipated such great success so early in their career together!

As a young horse, Fabregas was Dressage Reserve Champion of his Adelheidsdorf 70-day performance test in 2009 with a result of 134.27 points. He was imported to Canada by Parkwood Stables in 2011, and competed with Inga Hamilton through to Grand Prix. Fabi handily maintains an active breeding schedule during his show season. He has produced numerous champions at inspections and shows in Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, consistently passing on his correctness, typey looks, elasticity and correct gaits. Fabregas has two licensed sons and a number of State Premium mares, further proving his impressive breeding quality.

Fabi’s lineage needs no introduction. He is a charming son of the double World Champion Florencio, who set standards with his winning scores of 9.5 and 9.8. Florencio’s sire Floristan has often ranked in the top 10 WBFSH Dressage Sire Rankings. Fabi’s dam’s sire De Niro has been ranked #1 in the WBFSH Dressage Sire Rankings due to his profound impact on the future generations of sport horses. Fabi’s offspring are also consistent winners in the young horse shows, achieving national USDF rankings and top breed awards. With a pedigree, offspring, and a performance record like this, it is no wonder that Fabregas enjoys the celebrity fanfare from his visitors.

Photo Credit: Mark Johnson

Widmark
(Wolkentanz – Maat II – Azur)

At Oakwood Farms, we were also pleased to meet Meg’s long-time partner, Widmark. Acquired as a three-year-old stallions, Widmark trained and competed through Grand Prix with Meg. Widmark’s impact on Hanoverian breeding is undeniable. Designated as a premium stallion in his 2000 Hanoverian licensing in Verdern, he was third overall with a score of 129.88 (jumping: 101.09, dressage: 136.11), with 9s for trot and canter. At the 2011 Bundeschampionat, Widmark was a Bronze medalist, receiving a score of 9 on his walk.

Widmark with his favorite person, Meg. Looking super at 25 years of age!

Now, Widmark is 25 years old and retired from sport. Despite his long and storied performance career, he is physically sound and in wonderful condition, enjoying his breeding responsibilities and life on the farm. His offspring speak to his contributions. Widmark has sired Gold Medal Foals, Hartwig Award winners, year-end award winners in hunters, dressage, and eventing. They are desired for their willingness and rideability, complete with a modern correct conformation and gaits.

In person, Widmark is impressively social with his visitors. The wisdom of his years of experience can be seen in his eyes, yet he is physically strong and sound. His bond with Meg is apparent in their casual interactions in the stall as he situates himself in just the right spot next to her to get his favorite spots scratched. With us, he was eager to say “Hi” and was remiss when we walked away. Despite his calm demeanor in the barn, he still exhibits ample vigor for the breeding shed and continues to reliably produce top offspring for the discerning rider or breeder.

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