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and then down to the brush fence, and then the next narrow
one. Then you have the house, with the angled brushes -
that's definitely a test because you never know how the
young horses will balance, do you have them very quick on
the hindlegs or choose the alternative if you feel they are too
much on the forehand. But again, it is beautifully built and
they learn a lot - there's ditches and the first water, the fence
in the water really means you have to canter through it in
good balance and a little uphill. I think they will learn a lot,
and it is beautiful."
Sometimes with young dressage horses they are stars in
young horse classes but they don't go on to the big sport - yet
here, a lot of the horses that have gone well have gone on to
great success at the highest levels...**
"That's what they said in the first briefing, the horses you
see here, many of them you will see in Tokyo. And we saw in
Rio, many who have been here."
"For me this is an event where I can bring a young horse
and see how they are going to be in real life. How they cope
with a real cross-country. You see if they have the gallop for
three and four-star, I want to see how they cope with the
difficulty of the variety of fences, then you know if they can
take another step, or if they are a nice horse for a junior. Are
they a young rider horse, or something for four-star."
"For me it is one of the greatest events, it gives you the
most information about the horses you have brought here.
You learn about your horse."
Did you bring Bobby (Horseware Hale Bob) here?
"Yes, he took off. When I got to the finish, I asked everybody
would you like to take him home? I didn't want to take
him home. It was horrible, I thought about jumping off in
one corner because he was so fast and I had no influence
at all. It was here that I thought, I don't think he is a lady's
horse. Then I started to really think about selling him, but
then with Chris Bartle's advice, I changed him into a gag,
and really made sure that he half halts after every fence
and learns to listen. We found out that it was time for a big
change, and it worked. He decided to stay with me and listen
to the half halts..."
As we drove from St Lô to Lion de Angers, the fields
were filled with black and white cows, how amazing, that
the marshlands of Holstein, should have produced a breed
of cow that has taken over the dairy world, and a breed of
horse that has been seized upon by every major studbook in
the world. Ingrid's horse is essence of Holsteiner - his fourth
line goes: Capitol, Caletto II, Ramiro, Sacramento Song xx,
with a blood percentage of 51.37%.
Ingrid and Weisse Duene finish in the lead late on the
second day, but right through the test it was a battle with
Britain's Pippa Funnell and her homebred, AES registered,
Billy Walk On, with the lead swapping between Ingrid and
Pippa every second movement.
Billy Walk On by Billy Mexico who is by Cevin Z (three
crosses of Cor de la Bryère, two of Capitol, one of Sacramento
Song xx and one of Ladykiller xx) out of Bidorette, by that
great Selle Français export to Holland, Le Mexico, out of one
of Jan Greve's great mares, the Almé daughter, Twiggy. Billy
Walk On is out of an Irish mare, Shannon Line by Golden
Bash out of a Bossumpierre mare - that's 85.75% blood.
Billy Walk On's test was a delight, the bay gelding is just
so perfectly balanced, everything was so relaxed and scopey,
particularly the enormous walk, which dragged the panel
into giving a 9. Perhaps, Ingrid's mare was a little more
forward, and she picked up her share of 8s and even 9s, but
it was a very close run thing - going into the cross country,
only 2.1 points separates the two.
The Billy Stud is run by Pippa, and her husband,
showjumper, William Funnell and breeder, Donal Barnwell. I
asked her if they set out to breed eventers or showjumpers?
"Showjumpers, but a lot of the mares have quite old
fashioned Irish / Thoroughbred breeding. The modern
showjumper has to have quite a lot of quality and blood,
so even though we are breeding for showjumpers, some of
them have enough quality to go eventing."
How many stallions in the program?
"We've bred some of our own, and we've got some younger
stallions. Billy Congo (by the Voltaire son, Vechta out of a
mare by the Almé son, Animo, with Irish breeding on the
bottom line) would be our main one. Cevin Z is another one
we own and we use him quite a lot, but we are also using
outside stallions as well."
**For an historical review of some of the great horses that
have competed at Le Lion, click here.
Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On
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