Born to Per­form: Blood­lines of Top Dres­sage Horses

Show­time FRH: A shy Hanove­rian takes the world stage.

Dressage Today - - Content - By Karen M. Brit­tle

Show­time FRH: A shy Hanove­rian takes the world stage.

Show­time FRH is listed by mul­ti­ple sport-horse data­bases as “a 2006 Hanove­rian geld­ing, dark brown.” Though ac­cu­rate, this de­scrip­tion does not come close to cap­tur­ing the strik­ing pic­ture that Show­time makes when per­form­ing with his long­time rider, Ger­man Olympian Dorothee Schnei­der. Show­time’s coat is a gleam­ing dark choco­late, his build is leggy but pow­er­ful and he has move­ment that could al­most be de­scribed as flam­boy­ant if he were not also ex­cep­tion­ally pre­cise in his way of go­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Schnei­der, Show­time (whom she calls “Showi”) is “shy in a good way,” but it’s dif­fi­cult to de­tect any shyness when the pair com­mands the com­pet­i­tive arena.

Show­time has been mak­ing his mark on the world stage since 2011, when, as a 5-year-old, he was ranked sixth at the World Breed­ing Dres­sage Cham­pi­onships for Young Horses. He com­peted Grand Prix for the first time in 2015 and in the same year, Schnei­der and Show­time were nom­i­nated for the Ger­man na­tional team. Mul­ti­ple na­tional and international honors fol­lowed, in­clud­ing team gold at the Rio Olympics.

Show­time caught Schnei­der’s eye eight years ago when a friend showed her a video of the then 3-year-old Hanove­rian who was bred by Héin­rich Wecke. “I was al­ready im­pressed by Show­time,” said Schnei­der. “As I’ve trained him over the years, I’ve dis­cov­ered a unique horse. He has three world-class gaits, a very good at­ti­tude to­ward work and one of the most pow­er­ful hindquar­ters I’ve ever seen. He could ben­e­fit from a lit­tle more self­con­fi­dence, but as the rider, it be­comes my job to give this to him.”

Show­time is by the world-renowned Olden­burg stal­lion, San­dro Hit, who has been one of the most widely bred warm­blood stal­lions over the last two decades. San­dro Hit de­scends from mostly jump­ing lines (his sire San­dro Song and grand-sire San­dro—50 per­cent Thor­ough­bred—both reached international lev­els of show-jump­ing com­pe­ti­tion as did his dam-sire, the West­phalian Ramino). Though San­dro Hit him­self did not jump well, he was suc­cess­fully cam­paigned as a dres­sage horse and later as a sire of dres­sage prog­eny. San­dro Hit and his off­spring are known for their im­pres­sive move­ment, dark col­or­ing and strik­ing pres­ence. In th­ese re­spects, Show­time epit­o­mizes his sire’s prog­eny. Schnei­der points out, “Some­times rid­ers say that San­dro Hit off­spring have prob­lems with at­ti­tude and are lack­ing in qual­ity of gait at the walk. Based on my ex­pe­ri­ence, I can­not con­firm this opin­ion.”

Schnei­der has rid­den three horses by San­dro Hit to the international level (Show­time, the West­phalian stal­lion St. Emil­ion and the 10-year-old Hanove­rian San­ti­ago). De­spite this, when asked about Show­time’s breed­ing, she says, “It was the video of him as a 3-year-old that caught my eye first, not the pedi­gree. But if you’re in­ter­ested in sport horses, you al­ways look first to the gaits, then to the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior of the horse and fi­nally to the pedi­gree.” To­day, she ad­mits some par­tial­ity to San­dro Hit de­scen­dants, but says that is mainly be­cause of her own per­sonal suc­cess with three of his off­spring. (Note: Wei­he­gold OLD, the Olden­burg mare ranked No. 1

What’s in a Name?

Take a close look at the pedi­gree of Show­time (or any other reg­is­tered Hanove­rian) and you’ll no­tice that there seems to be a pat­tern to the names on the fam­ily tree. Hugh Bel­lis-Jones, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the American Hanove­rian So­ci­ety (AHS), took the time to ex­plain nam­ing con­ven­tions for Hanove­rian horses, which ap­ply to horses reg­is­tered with Ger­many’s Han­nover­aner Ver­band as well as those reg­is­tered with AHS’s re­cip­ro­cal stud­book. The AHS is re­spon­si­ble for is­su­ing pa­pers to all Hanove­ri­ans born in the U.S., so as its ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for 22 years, Bel­lis-Jones has over­seen the nam­ing of thou­sands of Hanove­rian horses.

Ac­cord­ing to Bel­lis-Jones, “As far as nam­ing pro­to­cols go, a most im­por­tant tra­di­tion is that Hanove­rian horses are re­quired to have a name that be­gins with the same let­ter as the sire. The nam­ing process doesn’t iden­tify fe­male fam­i­lies; it iden­ti­fies sire lines. So de­scen­dants of Don­ner­hall will have a D name, while de­scen­dants of Es­cudo will have an E name. In prac­tice, own­ers can call the horse what­ever they like, show it un­der what­ever name they like, but if they want to reg­is­ter the horse, it must fol­low this pro­to­col.” Bel­lis-Jones ex­plains there can be more than one sire line that be­gins with a cer­tain let­ter (D is a good ex­am­ple), so look­ing at the first let­ter of a horse’s name might give one a hint as to his breed­ing but does not ab­so­lutely in­di­cate his lin­eage. Bel­lis-Jones also points out one ex­cep­tion to this rule: “Off­spring of cer­tain W-line stal­lions whose pedi­grees con­tain Feiner Kerl and Fer­di­nand must be named be­gin­ning with the let­ter F. The in­ten­tion is to dis­tin­guish and in­di­cate the im­por­tance of th­ese foun­da­tion sires in this par­tic­u­lar sire line.”

Bel­lis-Jones ex­plains that the vast ma­jor­ity of U.S.-bred Hanove­ri­ans are named as foals at the time of regis­tra­tion, which is what the registry en­cour­ages, while some are named as year­lings. Mares and stal­lions who come into the stud­book from an out­side registry (e.g., a Thor­ough­bred) must al­ready be named at the time they are ap­proved as breed­ing stock. Any off­spring must then have a name that be­gins with

the same let­ter as the ap­proved sire. (We can see an ex­am­ple of this in Show­time’s pedi­gree: his great-great grand­sire, Sacra­mento Song, was a Jockey Club-reg­is­tered Thor­ough­bred, but the reg­is­tered Hanove­ri­ans that de­scend from him all have names that be­gin with S, hence Show­time). Bel­lis-Jones says that the name of a reg­is­tered Hanove­rian can be changed at any time, with one im­por­tant ex­cep­tion: Once a stal­lion or mare has gone through stud­book ap­proval, the name can­not be changed.

Ac­cord­ing to Bel­lis-Jones, ad­di­tional rules gov­ern Hanove­rian nam­ing tra­di­tions. Once a horse is an ap­proved stal­lion, any full brothers of that stal­lion who sub­se­quently be­come ap­proved must be given the same name but with a num­ber added. (Again, to take an ex­am­ple from Show­time’s pedi­gree, we see that he’s de­scended from Pik Bube I, the leg­endary stal­lion bred by Gün­ter Pape in 1973. This horse should not be con­fused with full brother, Pik Bube II, the stal­lion bred by Gün­ter Pape in 1975 who would go on to stand at the State Stud at Celle, Ger­many, and be­come a pro­lific sire in his own right.)

In ad­di­tion, names are re­stricted to 20 characters, in­clud­ing let­ters, punc­tu­a­tion marks and nu­mer­als. The AHS does not per­mit names to be du­pli­cated, but it does al­low horses to have the same name but be given a num­ber (see Pik Bube ex­am­ple above) or for ini­tials to be added af­ter the name. This dif­fers from the Han­nover­aner Ver­band, which al­lows names to be du­pli­cated ex­actly and which Bel­lis-Jones says is ac­tu­ally a com­mon prac­tice in Ger­many. (He gives the ex­am­ple that the AHS has on record 25 mares im­ported from Ger­many and all reg­is­tered un­der an iden­ti­cal name: “Wanda.”)

Part prac­ti­cal strat­egy and part time­honored tra­di­tion, nam­ing prac­tices are highly reg­u­lated. But, Bel­lis-Jones cau­tions, th­ese rules ap­ply only to Hanove­ri­ans. He ex­plains that nam­ing rules and tra­di­tions vary widely among warm­blood reg­istries—Trakehn­ers, for ex­am­ple, take their first ini­tial from the dam line.

in the world with rider Is­abell Werth, is a San­dro Hit grand­daugh­ter.)

Schnei­der points out that the in­flu­ence of Show­time’s dam, the Hanove­rian mare, Rosaria Alpina, may con­tribute to Show­time’s good at­ti­tude to­ward work. The mare is by the Hanove­rian stal­lion Rot­spon (named 2017 Hanove­rian Stal­lion of the Year by the Han­nover­aner Ver­band), who is by the renowned West­phalian Ru­bin­stein I. Ac­cord­ing to Schnei­der, “Ru­bin­stein comes from the most sig­nif­i­cant dres­sage dy­nasty in the world. He made a ca­reer for him­self in the dres­sage ring. His genes can be found in prac­ti­cally all of the breed­ing re­gions of Ger­many as well as abroad.” She refers to Ru­bin­stein as the “ride­abil­ity” sire be­cause his off­spring are known not only for their phe­nom­e­nal per­for­mance ca­pa­bil­ity, but also for their good work­ing at­ti­tude. (Ru­bin­stein I ap­pears in the pedi­gree of four of the 11 horses fea­tured in this series.)

Via his grand-dam Do­lores (on his mother’s side), Show­time also de­scends from a no­table cross, namely that of Olden­burg Don­ner­hall (third gen­er­a­tion) and Hanove­rian Pik Bube I (fourth gen­er­a­tion) through daugh­ter Par­o­die. Don­ner­hall was leg­endary both in the com­pet­i­tive arena, where he ex­celled at the international level, and in breed­ing cir­cles—he’s known as one of the most suc­cess­ful and in­flu­en­tial warm­blood stal­lions of all time, both be­cause his off­spring have ex­celled in international com­pe­ti­tion and be­cause dozens of his sons were ap­proved as breed­ing stal­lions. (If you visit Olden­burg, Ger­many, you can see a bronze statue of Don­ner­hall in the city square.) Pik Bube I com­peted through Grand Prix and is renowned as a sire of both dres­sage and jump­ing prog­eny. He’s du­pli­cated (ap­pears twice) in Show­time’s pedi­gree on the dam side.

Also of note in Show­time’s breed­ing is that he’s 9.38 per­cent Thor­ough­bred/ Ara­bian in five gen­er­a­tions of pedi­gree, ac­cord­ing to Sporthorse-data.com. In ad­di­tion to the Thor­ough­bred stal­lion Sacra­mento Song (fourth gen­er­a­tion), we see in­flu­ence from the Trakehner breed via Ab­satz (fifth gen­er­a­tion).

In short, Show­time is de­scended from sport-horse roy­alty, but one might look at his pedi­gree alone and pre­dict he’d be equally likely to ex­cel at jump­ing as he would at dres­sage. Per­haps, as Schnei­der in­di­cated, this is why the sport-horse en­thu­si­ast must con­sider pedi­gree, but only af­ter gaits and the horse’s ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal pro­cliv­i­ties.

Ger­man Olympian Dorothee Schnei­der and Show­time FRH

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