Newcomer, Unee BB, recently climbed the world rankings list with scores over 80% at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas. At first glance, one might not believe the humble beginnings of this world dressage star but this success story starts with a simple dream and a lot of determination. The makings of Unee BB began in the modest and professionally managed stable of Stal Waterval in the Netherlands. Unee BB, by Gribaldi x Dageraad, was noticed by trainer, Miriam Knoors, and her husband Mr. Schols at just one day old. “I saw him and thought, we must take him home! He is special” recalls Schols.
While Unee BB is undoubtedly special, he encountered early opposition as an aspiring young stallion in the Netherlands. In fact, the now world famous 14-year-old premium licensed Grand Prix champion initially made it no further than the second round of the KWPN stallion inspection.
“Gribaldi was not so in vogue at the KWPN in the early 2000’s and they were trying to find something to criticize,” explains Schols.
After the KWPN defeat, Schols and Knoors were faced with the reality of either accepting the decision or pressing on for Unee BB. Thankfully the latter prevailed as their decision to present him at Germany’s Munich-Riem Stallion Show proved a success as he was granted a premium license. Then a few months later, his 30-day stallion test in Vechta earned him scores over 8.5 to position him in the top echelon of young stallions. Finally, luck had officially changed for the stunning stallion.
During the next few years, Unee BB proved successful at every task Schols and Knoors set in front of him. Knoors raved that “every day it was a joy to work with him! He gave 100% of himself from a very early age.” As a 5-year-old, he won the Pavo Cup in Limburg and a year later Knoors and Unee BB participated in the World Cup selections in Verden.
Suddenly, a stallion once out of vogue proved a champion at anything put before him and in 2009, he caught the eye of Swiss O-Judge Beatrice Burchler-Keller who made an offer Knoors and Schols couldn’t refuse. Propelling Unee BB onto the world’s stage with his current rider, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl of Reitanlage Aubenhausen where horsemanship and fair training comes first.
Now, the pair contends with the likes of Valegro and Glock’s Undercover, most recently placing after them in Las Vegas’ Reem Acra FEI Grand Prix Freestyle earning consistent marks of 8.5 as well as 9’s for their rhythm, elasticity, degree of difficulty and choreography.
“We always believed in him. The KWPN did not want him, he was not allowed to compete in the World Championships for young dressage horses and he did not get the points he deserved in Dutch competitions, in our opinion. But we never gave up on him, and look where he is now” Schols proudly explains.
Most people wouldn’t believe a horse who failed out of the KWPN would someday place 3rd in the FEI World Cup Dressage Final. But Schols and Knoors, aren’t most people. They and their operation at Stal Waterval, are nothing short of exceptional with a combined expertise of over 50 years.
Stal Waterval is tucked away on the hillsides Ulestraten in the Netherlands where producing top quality dressage horses through consistent training and dedication remains the focus. At the heart of this operation is Miriam Knoors, a member of the Dutch team, who participated in both the European Championships for Young Riders and the European Championships for Ponies. She skillfully achieved all the KNHS riding instructor certifications and has completed the Orun training program in Eremlo. Knoors founded Stal Waterval in 2008, where her extensive resume is put to use daily in the training, sales and boarding of dressage horses.
For more information on Stal Waterval and their up and coming sales horses, please visit: www.stalwaterval.nl
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