Born to Per­form: Blood­lines of Top Dres­sage Horses

Kwpn geld­ing Cosmo 59

Dressage Today - - Content - By Karen M. Brit­tle

Cosmo 59 (van gogh x lady by land­jonkerI is an 11-year-old bay Kwpn geld­ing cam­paigned by ger­many’s sönke rothen­berger. fam­ily his­tory has brought rider and horse to­gether. sönke is the mid­dle child of sven rothen­berger and gonnelien rothen­berger-gordi­jnL who both com­peted in­ter­na­tion­ally. to­geth­erL they were part of the 1996 dutch Olympic team that won sil­ver in dres­sage. sönke and his sib­lingsL san­neke and sem­miekeL have grown up rid­ing in ger­many and are known for their nat­u­ralL in­tu­itive rid­ing style and com­pet­i­tive­ness in young rider and ger­man pony Cham­pi­onships.

the branches of Cosmo’s fam­ily tree in­ter­twine with sönke’s: his sireL van goghL was owned by sönke’s grand­fa­ther and his damL la­dyL was owned by the fam­ily’s vet­eri­nar­i­anL stan ser­rarens. Over the past sev­eral yearsL sönke and Cosmo have been build­ing a pres­ence on the world stage: no­table plac­ings in­clude team gold and in­di­vid­ual bronze at the 2014 euro­pean young rider Cham­pi­onshipsL 19th place in­di­vid­u­ally and team gold at the 2016 Olympic games (sönke was 22 and Cosmo just 11IL and in­di­vid­ual sil­ver and team gold at the 2017 euro­pean Cham­pi­onships. this year the pair made head­lines by win­ning the ger­man grand prix Cham­pi­onships.

for anal­y­sis of Cosmo’s breed­ingL we spoke with the nether­lands’ Bert rut­tenL chair­man of the Kwpn stal­lion se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee for dres­sage hors­esL and na­talie diBer­ar­dinisL man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of hill­top farm in ColoraL mary­land. rut­ten has a di­rect per­sonal tie to Cos­moL hav­ing pur­chased him as a foal from stan ser­rarens. rut­ten trained Cosmo un­til the age of 5L then sold him to sven rothen­berger. rut­ten also owns di­mareL Cosmo’s full sis­terL who has com­peted through grand prix dres­sage and is a suc­cess­ful brood­mare. she’s the dam of ha­ban­naL a Kwpn-ap­proved stal­lion. diBer­ar­di­nis over­sees hill­top’s elite sport-horse breed­ing pro­gram and fa­cil­i­tyL whose cur­rent stal­lion ros­ter in­cludes no­table Kw­p­nsL such as the u.s.-based OliviL and im­ported se­men from ne­gro and glam­ourdale. the fa­cil­ity hosts stal­lion and breed in­spec­tions through­out the year. Ac­tive in mul­ti­ple breed or­ga­ni­za­tionsL diBer­ar­di­nis is a mem­ber of the Kwpn-nA stal­lion Com­mit­tee and co-chair of the usdf sport horse Com­mit­tee.

Ac­cord­ing to rut­tenL “even as a foalL Cosmo was a spe­cial an­i­mal and he stood out more and more as he grew. early onL he caught my at­ten­tion be­cause of his pres­enceL his move­ment and be­cause of his dam line. his moth­erL la­dyL has pro­duced three grand prix hors­esL van the man (2002IL Cosmo (2007I and di­mare (2008I. zhivago (2004IL an­other of lady’s foalsL has also com­peted through the up­per lev­els. this is re­ally im­pres­sive for one mare.” diBer­ar­di­nis saysL “with a first glance at this pedi­greeL i no­tice it’s not a par­tic­u­larly mod­ern pedi­greeL but rather fea­tures old­erL provenL very ath­letic lines. One might sayL this horse is

jumper-bredL but it’s still not a sur­prise to see he’s turned out to be a dres­sage horseL as we’ve seen a lot of suc­cess­ful dres­sage horses from these lines over the years.” diBer­ar­di­nis says Cosmo’s ap­pear­ance re­flects his pedi­gree. he’s strongL has an in­tel­li­gent ex­pres­sion and ath­letic move­ment that is nat­u­rally elas­tic and sup­ple.

Be­cause of the im­por­tance rut­ten places on dam lady’s qual­ity and in­flu­enceL we’ll look first at the bot­tom side of Cosmo’s pedi­gree. lady’s sireL land­jonker (also known as frŸh­ling in hol­landIL was an Olden­burg li­censed in mul­ti­ple stud­books. he com­peted in­ter­na­tion­ally in show jump­ing and his off­spring are known for their jump­ing abil­ity. land­jonker’s hol­steiner sireL lan­dadelL was re­garded as one of land­graf i’s most im­por­tant sons and a great pro­ducer of both jumpers and dres­sage horses. (in 2001L gonnelien rothen­berger com­peted at the world Cup on one of his sonsL leonardo de vinci.I rut­ten points out: “go­ing back through fan­nyL we also see the sire Ak­tion—a pow­er­ful gray stal­lion who com­peted in dres­sage at the Olympics and world Cup. he was ap­proved for breed­ing for both dres­sage and show-jump­ing spe­cial­iza­tions.”

diBer­ar­di­nis adds that heav­ier-built Ak­tion is a good ex­am­ple of how an older type of horse in­flu­ences Cosmo’s pedi­gree. “Ak­tion is ac­tu­ally 25 per­cent bloodL but he has a heav­ier build. he was an amaz­ing freestyle horse who was bred early on in hol­landL but then spent much of his life in hun­gary where his rider was based. Ak­tion was not a ter­rif­i­cally pro­lific stal­lion and it’s his daugh­ters who have car­ried on his in­flu­ence more so than his sons.”

On the top side of Cosmo’s pedi­greeL sire van gogh was a suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional show jumper. diBer­ar­di­nis points out that Cosmo was among the first foal crop for this stal­lionL who scored high marks on his stal­lion test: 8.5 for take- of­fOjump­ing tal­entL 9 for scopeL 9.5 for can­terL 7.5 for walk and 7 for ta­lent for dres­sage. (see side­bar on p. 16 “lin­ear scor­ing.” I from this firstL very suc­cess­ful crop of foalsL both Cosmo and Cool wa­ter went on to be­come grand prix dres­sage horses and nu­mer­ous oth­ers ex­celled in show jump­ing and event­ing. through the suc­cess of Cosmo and his half­si­b­lingsL breed­ers have taken note that van gogh tends to throw off­spring with ta­lent for col­lec­tionL pi­affe and pas­sage. rut­ten saysL “van gogh him­self looks like a dres­sage horse [very much built up­hill] and has an ex­cep­tion­ally good can­ter.” his damL moveraL de­scends from a strong dutch mare line noted for suc­cess­fully pro­duc­ing dres­sage horses. diBer­ar­di­nis saysL “As we track mare linesL Cock­tailL Charmeur and zuiden­wind stand out as dres­sage horses who de­scend from these mare lines. movera’s grand­sireL ramiro zL was an ex­cep­tion­ally suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional show jumper. A pro­lific stal­lionL

he’s known for pass­ing along ath­leti­cism and a great can­ter.” ramiro was Kwpn’s horse of the year in 1992.

we ask rut­ten about the preva­lence of show jump­ing lines in Cosmo’s pedi­greeL a trend in the breed­ing of all the Kwpn horses we’ve fea­tured (vale­groL nip tuck and ver­dadesI. rut­ten ex­plainsL “it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the Kwpn’s spe­cial­iza­tion of breed­ing for show jump­ing or dres­sage only started in 2006. so we’re just a gen­er­a­tion or two in. it’s there­fore log­i­cal that the dres­sage lines are still se­lected from jump­ing linesL es­pe­cially on the dam side. Over timeL this will change.”

diBer­ar­di­nis says a pedi­gree like Cosmo’s might give a breeder pause for thought on spe­cial­iza­tion: “while this is a pedi­gree that slants strongly to­ward show jump­ingL we have to see that these older lines tended to be quite ver­sa­tile. stal­lions like BurggraafL lan­dadel and land­graf were ex­cep­tional ath­letes who passed ath­leti­cism to their off­spring. Cosmo was born in 2007L just a year af­ter the tran­si­tion to spe­cial­iza­tion be­gan. Over the next 10 years or soL we must pay at­ten­tion to the ef­fects of spe­cial­iza­tion. for ex­am­pleL Kwpn and sev­eral ger­man stud­books no longer free-jump dres­sage stal­lion can­di­dates. we must pay at­ten­tion to what the im­pact of that may have on the next gen­er­a­tions of sport horses. the jumper blood in a pedi­gree like this one is a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to Cosmo’s hind-end ac­tiv­ity and re­ally good can­ter.”

we asked rut­ten for a fi­nal word about Cosmo’s pedi­gree and the horse him­self. rut­ten says the im­por­tance of the mares lady and fanny can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated: “A dam who pro­duces three grand prix horses and a grand­dam who has pro­duced two is pretty ex­tra­or­di­nary.” rut­ten says the mare line is “where it all startsL” which is why the Kwpn or­ga­ni­za­tion places such high pri­or­ity on col­lect­ing spe­cial­ized data on brood­mares—both what they and their off­spring ac­com­plish.

rut­ten rem­i­nisces: “Cosmo is su­per in­tel­li­gentL will­ing to work and highly con­sis­tent. even as a young horseL he never made any trou­ble with work. he loved it. ev­ery­thing we asked of him seemed so easy for him—like he thought it was a joke.”

Cosmo 59, an 11-year-old, bay KWPN geld­ing, rid­den by Ger­many’s Sönke Rothen­berger

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