By Anette Sånesson
For the first time ever SWANA and ASVH organized a tour of equestrian Sweden in conjunction with the Sports and Breeding championships in October. A final count of fifteen SWB enthusiasts signed up for the trip and for the opportunity to experience Equestrian Sweden for a full week.
Hillevi Brasch from ASVH and Carol Reid from SWANA had together created a full program for the participants. Day one was clinic day at Bollerup Equestrian Institute under Bollerup’s Daniel Moell’s guidance. Karl-Henrik Heimdahl, DVM and in the US well known member of the Inspection Committee gave a talk on the Swedish breeding program, how we inspect and select among our young horses and gave a hands-on explanation of the BLUP index; how to utilize it when choosing a stallion for your mare. After lunch our American guests were picked up by Bollerup students driving horse and carriage, giving a guided tour around Bollerup, a very popular event!
After lunch a clinic was given in the riding arena. Karl-Henrik Heimdahl and Lasse Berglund talked abut how to show horses at the three year old test in hand and in free jumping. They talked about how they judge the horses and what they look for. The participants were all in the arena and were given the opportunity to judge the horses and to ask questions. Bollerup showed some of this year’s foal crop and Dr. Heimdahl talked about how these young individuals are evaluated. The two colts Trinidad and Tobago both by Twiligt 1062 were especially popular as they ran around the arena side by side in perfect harmony.
Day two was field trip day. It was time for our guests to experience how some of our skilled Swedish riders and breeders live and work and also to get a taste of the fine Swedish Warmblood horses.
Lisen and Peder Fredricson of Grevlunda Farm live not too far from Kivik on the east coast of the province of Skåne. They gave a tour of their facility and presented their operation. Grevlunda is situated at the top of a hill, from where at clear weather there is a fantastic view of the Baltic Sea. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating so instead we got to enjoy the beautiful barn and riding arena where Peder showed how he works his horses in their daily work out. Peder rode approved stallion Maloubet de Pleville 1039 before heading out to a Grand Prix competition in Stockholm. Lisen and Peder, both accomplished artists also gave us a vernissage of their art.
On small, winding country roads we then headed to Stall Kilhult outside of Hörby. This is where Ann and Torsten Pehrsson live. We got a guided tour through the mare-and stallion barn where the couple explained their philosophy on breeding and raising horses. Several of their fine horses were then shown in the riding arena. Approved stallion Rambo 910 made an impression when shown a’la Celle by Per Holmestrand.
The foundation mare Nicea, who after many fantastic years as a brood mare now is retired, was shown together with this year’s foal: Nobelman by Rambo 910. Some of his older siblings were shown, as well as a few sale horses, all of them Swedish born and with solid Swedish pedigrees.
The last visit of the day was with Jan Brink at Tullstorp Dressage Stable. Jan talked about how he started his career and how he has achieved what he has today. Jan showed his facility, where he and his horses thrive in the environment. It’s all about maintaining the happy athlete! We walked through the woods down to the track where the stallions all are worked regularly, as a change to the regular arena. We then walked through the barns; the participants all got a chance to give Briar 899, known world wide and a popular SWB breeding stallion in the US, a pat on the nose.
The remainder of the week was being spent mainly at Flyinge, the national stud where the 2007 Sport and Breeding Championships was taking place. Close to 630 horses were entering the show, all between the ages of 3-6 years. The tour participants were given mini radios so they could follow the judging of the horses with commentary by ASVH judge Jan-Ove Olsson and SWANA board member Ulf Wadeborn. A visit was made to Poul-Erik Lang’s farm where we got to visit with this year’s foals and brood mares. In the US Poul-Erik is mostly known for breeding Master 850 and Tip Top 962.
Maria Gretzer had invited the tour to her farm in Tygelsjö. ”Maria is truly an ambassador for the Swedish horse” says Hillevi Brasch. After a tour of the stables, Maria gave a clinic where she, riding Hip Hop 1045, showed how she works her horses. Maria gave a truly fantastic show where she jumped the stallion at various heights and also showed his ability to effortlessly shorten and lengthen his stride between jumps. The final show was Maria’s now retired GP stallion Felicano 823, sire of Hip Hop and today 21 years old. The day ended with an invitation for some wine and hour'douvres. The generosity with which the tour participants were treated and the positive atmosphere is something everyone will treasure.
Participants on the tour came from many different equestrian back grounds and with varying experiences of the Swedish Warmblood. Val Vetos lives in Minnesota and has been breeding Swedish warmblood horses for many years. She is also the owner of approved Swedish stallion Galapard 9038 (by Leopard 590 out of Galetta 16604 - Herkules 504) and operates a training facility at her barn. ”This was my first trip to Sweden” says Val.”The tour has been very good and to go out and see how horses are being raised in Sweden has been very interesting”. Val continues “It has also been interesting to see so many breeding stallions compete at the championships. There is a history and a knowledge in Sweden that is hard to find in the US. People here are knowledgeable and so very proud of their Swedish horses and they really know what to look for when choosing multi generational pedigrees”.
Kathy Hickerson from New Hampshire was another participant of the tour. Kathy is the North American representative for the Dutch VDL-stud and travels to Holland several times a year to attend the KWPN keurings and competitions. “It has been fun to come to Sweden and to experience the Swedish horses” says Kathy. “It is also interesting to learn about the Swedish breeding program and to experience how the selection process works. Your young horse competitions are very similar to the Dutch. The Swedish horses are similar to the German and the Dutch and there are horses here with top pedigrees. I will always remember the clinic we had at Maria Gretzer’s farm and when we got to see Hip Hop in action. He is truly a fantastic horse! People here are so friendly and helpful and easy to communicate with”.
Coming to Sweden was a positive experience for our travelers. For most of them it was the first time, but not the last. “I would not hesitate to go again” said both Pam Englund and Kathleen Tischler from California and Minnesota respectively. Kathleen continues “I have made many new friends this week”. Kathleen has two horses; American Saddlebreds that she has bred to Galapard. ”I have been to a few SWANA inspections that took place at Val Veto´s facility and was very impressed by not only her horses but also by the organization of the inspection and how the judges explained their comments to the audience. It has had a great impact on my decision to register the foals with SWANA. The clinic at Bollerup was also very interesting where we received information on the different blood lines and then had the opportunity to learn about what the judges are looking for and how the horses are evaluated. This was of great help later in the week when attending the championships”.
In conjunction with the World Cup final in Las Vegas SWANA and ASVH organized a breakfast meeting with the chef déquipes Elisabeth Lundholm and Maria Gretzer as well as Jan Brink and Hans-Yngve Göransson, breeder of Briar 899. Jan Brink, popular rider of Briar 899 was of course the main reason a lot of people turned out for the meeting. SWANA organized a raffle where Jan had donated the first prize; three lessons with him at his facility Tullstorp Dressage Stable. Lucky winner was Pam Englund from California who took the opportunity to receive her big win in conjunction with the tour. Pam says”I have friends who have Swedish warmblood horses and so I went with them to the SWANA breakfast meeting in Las Vegas. I bought the raffle ticket for fun – I usually never win anything!” Pam, who has ridden up to Prix St George in the US describes the lessons with Brink as a”once in a lifetime opportunity”. ”The first day I got to ride a school master, 14 year old Maestro. During the warm up Jan was very careful with the horse being worked in a round, supple form over the back and I worked on a lot of transitions. The lesson ended with riding the piaff and passage, it was a glorious feeling!”
The remaining two days I rode a younger horse, the seven year old Cross Country. He was a different type of horse in comparison with Maestro. Among many things I mostly worked on lengthenings and straightness. I am very pleased with my days at Tullstorp, what a fun experience. I also had the opportunity to watch when Jan and his students trained their horses; among others I saw the stallion First Wish 1103 under saddle. It was fun to see him in his home environment and then at the championships” (four year old dressage horses which he won).
Just like the rest of the tour participants Pam is happy with the trip and the tour. “Karl-Henrik Heimdahl’s presentation the first day was very helpful and it was also good to have the headset during the show with Jan-Ove Olsson’s comments as well as the judge’s comments translated to English”.
Hillevi Brasch and Carol Reid created a fun and educational tour. With all this positive feed back we can rest assure this was not the last time we had an opportunity to show our fine, Swedish horses to international guests!