With breeding season about to get underway, mare owners find themselves carefully considering the many available stallions and dreaming about which possible pairings may produce their next dressage star. DG Bar Ranch in Hanford, Cal. is known worldwide for its outstanding record of breeding and development of outstanding FEI-quality Royal Dutch Sport Horses (KWPN), and for 2015 once again leads the way into the future of sport horse breeding in America with the addition of two up-and-coming superstars to its stallion roster: the extraordinary Gaspard de la Nuit DG (Ravel x Sir Donnerhall) and sensational newcomer Hugo Boss (Negro x Welt Hit II). Gaspard de la Nuit DG's sire, Ravel (Contango x Democraat) became an international sensation and long-time cornerstone of the U.S. Dressage Team with rider Steffen Peters and owner Akiko Yamazaki.
After capturing the heart of America by winning the FEI Dressage World Cup in Las Vegas in 2009, Ravel and Peters claimed the World Equestrian Festival CDIO title at Aachen (GER) and earned two individual bronze medals at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Ravel also competed in two Olympic Games (2008 and 2012) before his retirement in 2013. Ravel's sire Contango was legendary as both a performance horse and a sire: a proven champion in not only the dressage arena but also in jumping, Contango produced dozens of Grand Prix athletes for both disciplines which are recognized for their exceptional character, work ethic, powerful movement and ability for collection.
Ravel's strapping son first captured America's imagination for himself shortly after his birth in 2011, when an overwhelming response to a national foal-naming contest yielded his inspirational namesake: "Gaspard de la Nuit" is a piano solo piece composed by Ravel and based on a poem by Aloysius Bertrand. The inherent talent of the dark bay colt immediately became evident, as he became the national foal champion during that fall's KWPN-NA keuring tour. "We knew from the beginning that he was special," said Willy Arts of DG Bar Ranch. "Even as a foal he showed a lot of potential."
Now Gaspard de la Nuit DG (Ravel x Ceolieta [elite/Sport] by Sir Donnerhall) has not only grown into his impressive lineage, but also the high hopes of his owners and breeders DG Bar Ranch Breeders, Inc. and Akiko Yamazaki. As a breathtaking three-year-old, he was the undisputed star of the 2014 KWPN-NA keurings, earning praise from the international panel of judges and scores high enough to be crowned national IBOP champion for dressage. He also continued his dominance at the inspections by claiming his age division's prestigious DG Bar Cup, a national competition held at keurings for young Dutch horses to highlight their development for careers in sport.
As a young KWPN stallion born and raised in the U.S., Gaspard de la Nuit DG will pursue final KWPN stallion approval by undergoing two more years of evaluation to prove his excellence both in the performance arena and the breeding shed. After earning his stallion license last fall, he will now go on to compete in the four- and five-year-old divisions of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program with rider Ashlyn DeGroot while also siring a minimum of 10 foals. After fulfilling all of these requirements, he will then proceed to a formal 21-day stallion test in North America and seek final approval as a breeding stallion by the KWPN, on par with other approved stallions in Holland.
Gaspard de la Nuit DG looks poised to follow in his father's footsteps to stardom, and from what he's seen so far, Arts has no doubt the young star will fulfill his destiny. "He has incredible gaits with a phenomenal canter, but I think even more amazing are his character and temperament - he has super rideability and a high ability for collection, just like his father and grandfather," said Arts. "I think an additional strong point of particular interest for North American breeders is that since he does not carry Ferro, Flemmingh, or Jazz blood, he is a great outcross for mares from those sire lines. I also think it's a big plus to have the sire lines of Contango and Ravel continued here in America because they've proven they have the ability to do the Grand Prix themselves, so of course you would want to use those stallions for producing a talented FEI-level mount.
Gaspard de la Nuit is the only son of Ravel available here, and while we'd like to welcome U.S. breeders to try him this year with a special introductory rate of only $800 (plus a $200 booking fee) via fresh shipped semen, I think once he starts producing and performing like we expect he will, we will see interest from breeders around the world."
Another fresh face soon to join the DG Bar Ranch roster is the appropriately-named Hugo Boss (Negro x Rhea [ster] by Welt Hit II, bred by K. Van Zanten). Fashionable in all aspects of looks, talent and pedigree, Arts purchased the black three-year-old colt with the goal of eventually bringing the youngster to the U.S. as a new stallion and to participate in young horse dressage classes. But first Hugo Boss had to pass muster and pursue formal KWPN approval as a breeding stallion. "I've been looking for years for the right new stallion to bring to DG Bar," said Arts. "I believe we can benefit from some new young blood here in North America, and Hugo Boss fit the bill with all the characteristics we've been looking for."
The KWPN studbook is legendary for its rigorous standards for conformation and movement, and expert judging panels select only the best stallions of each year which will be allowed to pass on their genes to future generations. Through three rounds of intense scrutiny in Ermelo (NED) and then in the electric atmosphere at the KWPN Stallion Show in 's Hertogenbosch (NED) in early February, Hugo Boss impressed the inspectors to pass with flying colors and became one of a select few out of the entire nation to be selected to move on to under-saddle performance testing.
The DG Bar Ranch team had traveled to the Netherlands to see their young star in the Stallion Show and were thrilled with the results. "We are so excited that our new stallion Hugo Boss has been selected for the stallion testing," said Arts. "He has a lot of potential and is a very elegant modern type - he represents a lot of refinement with three phenomenal gaits, and especially the use of his hind legs is remarkable. He was especially noted by the judges and the press for his type, use of hind leg, and super walk and canter. So of course we're thrilled, and we'd like to extend a huge 'thank you' to everyone involved in preparing him for the KWPN Stallion Show. We have high hopes for him and for eventually bringing him home to the States."
Arts explained why the young stallion caught his eye not only for his conformation and movement, but also for his impressive pedigree. "First of all he's by Negro, who is a well-known Ferro son and is always highly-ranked as a dressage sire, including being the sire of Valegro," Arts said. "But similar to Gaspard de la Nuit DG, I think Hugo Boss will be particularly attractive to North American breeders because his mother line does not carry any Jazz or Flemmingh blood, so he also represents an incredible outcross opportunity for breeders. In addition, he has J.Amagun x Jagermeester from the dam side, which are all great dressage lines. The best part of this Trakehner influence on the KWPN breed is that they pass on suppleness and the elegant type, and I think these qualities really shine in him in his refinement and presence in the ring.
In addition, Hugo Boss descends from the same mother line which produced the successful KWPN stallion Wanroij (who also stood at DG Bar Ranch), as well as one of Holland's hottest young stallion sensations, Apache (by UB40), who was the best-represented sire at the 2014 KWPN stallion licensing pre-selection days. "Obviously Hugo Boss comes from an incredible mother line, and I think it goes without saying that a breeding stallion that comes from a very good mother line dramatically increases the chances that the stallion will consistently produce excellent offspring," noted Arts. "For all of these reasons we look forward to his approval by the KWPN as a breeding stallion, success in the show ring, and then him joining our roster here at DG Bar in the coming years."
Whether it's breeding, training, competition, or education, DG Bar Ranch is North America's leading resource for the next generation of superstars in equestrian sport. For breeding inquiries or to learn more about everything DG Bar Ranch has to offer, including assistance in producing or finding your next champion, visit www.dgbarranch.com/.
DG Bar Ranch is located in the heart of California's agricultural region and includes a 24-hour dairy farm as well as a 25-acre horse operation and large breeding program for KWPN horses. Co-owned by renowned rider and trainer Willy Arts and Tony and Betty DeGroot, DG Bar Ranch is a unique family-owned and operated facility which offers top quality dressage horses at a variety of ages and for all types of riders, amateurs and professionals. DG Bar Ranch's Royal Dutch Sport Horses successfully compete across the country and around the world, and as a result they were honored as 2004 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year. For more information, visit http://www.dgbarranch.com/.