October found me flying back to Germany to watch my 3-year-old stallion, Romanesque (Blue Hors Romanov—Elfentanz, Fidertanz), finish the final days of testing in the 70 Day Test at Neustadt (Dosse) near Berlin.
This fall 70 Day Tests were held in Germany at three locations: Adelheidsdorf, Marbach, and Neustadt (Dosse). Seventy-nine young stallions between the ages of 3 and 7 completed the test this year. At each of the locations, the horses were stabled, groomed and trained on a daily basis in preparation for the final testing days. These young stallions were trained in basic dressage, jumping, free jumping and cross-country jumping by professional riders at each location.
The stallions are given marks during the two months of training for the following categories: Character, Temperament, Work Ethic, Conformation, Trot, Canter, Walk , Rideability, Jumping Potential and Cross-Country.
Several of these categories are then tested again in front of judges during three days at the end of the training period. Each of the horses jumps a course under his normal rider and then under two test riders. A few days later, each of them is tested on basic walk, trot and canter under his normal rider and then under two test riders. And on the following and last day of the 70 Day Test, the stallions are evaluated while free jumping and on a cross-country course.
I am very proud to announce that out of the entire group of 79 horses, 9.5 was the highest mark given for Character, and Romanesque received it! Here are some of his best marks:
- Character 9.5
- Temperament 9.0
- Rideability 9.0
- Work Ethic 8.5
- Conformation 8.5
- Cross-Country 8.0
I have always been impressed by the rideability of Elfentanz’ offspring. Elfentanz is Romanesque’s dam, and she has already produced some remarkable sport and breeding horses: Pentimento, by Prince Thatch, did his first Grand Prix level test at the age of 8 with Casey Nilsen in Germany. Feather, by Fidertanz, is currently competing at M level under Australia's Hayley Beresford in Germany. Raureif, by Ramiro’s Bube, just produced her first colt by Don Principe. That colt, Damaskus, won the Hanoverian inspection at Hilltop Farm last summer.
The list continues with Romanesque. I was already impressed with his gaits and his character before he went to the 70 Day Test. I knew his jumping scores might be weak because he has a tendency to jump with the form of a hunter rather than jumper, but he shows good economy of form and absolute willingness to perform any task at hand.
Romanesque is 3 and has only been under saddle for eight months. So a 4.5 minute gallop over three kilometers spotted with various cross-country fences is a bit of stretch on the best of days. But when you take him to a cross-country course, the natural athlete in him comes out. He has a ground covering gallop stride, which is easily moderated—fast or slow, he never wavers to a fence—and he is happy to jump anything in front of him with economy and cleverness.
Germans always say you cannot ride the papers of a horse, which is usually mentioned when they are trying to sell you a horse from a notoriously difficult bloodline. But rideabilty CAN be bred and improved upon over generations, and Romanesque is a shining example of that. Bred for dressage, he tackles a cross-country course because he can and because somebody asked him to: a true test of heart, confidence and athletic ability. I can’t wait to see what he produces in the job he was bred for!
I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m sayin it like it is from Wellington, Fla.
Training Tip of the Day: Is your horse bred for the job you are asking him to do?