Which Breeding Stallion From Holstein That Had A Tremendous Impact On the Hanoverian Breed Died In Germany in January?
Haselau, Germany: Contender (Calypso II - Ramiro - Ladykiller xx), one of the most influential sons of Calypso II, has died at the age of 29 in Germany. Born in 1984, this world reknown Holsteiner stallion left his mark on all European and US warmblood breeds, including Hanoverians. Contender won the 1987 Adelheidsdorf stallion performance test with a jumping index of 146.6. He went on to be the Reserve Champion of the stallion licensing in Oldenburg on the basis of his excellent first foal crop. He leaves behind 127 approved stallion sons and 1198 daughters.
It is interesting how Contender came to be standing at the beginning of his career in Oldenburg. In an interview with Etienne van Muylem in the December 2007/January 2008 Z Magazine, the Manager of the Holstein Verband, Norbert Boley explained:
“I bought Contender as a foal. Eventually he was brought to the selection and half way during his performance, Klatte from Oldenburg had expressed his interest for the stallion over a pint of beer. Things developed so enthusiastically with a number of studbook people that Klatte already believed that he had bought the stallion, while I, the authorized person, did not know anything about it."
Boley continued, "When I learned one day later that Klatte genuinely believed he was the new owner, I did not send him away just like that. Never treat your clients with disrespect – at least not when they act in good faith. We talked about it and came to a compromise. The stallion was leased to Oldenburg for a number of years.”
During his first three years at stud in Oldenburg he produced an impressive number of foals that went on to international careers: Niko (Geoff Billington). Copa d’Oro (Yves Houtackers), Maria Callas (Ben Schröder) and Herbert Blöcker’s eventer, Chicoletto.
Contender sons include: Cantos (KWPN, damsire, Goodtimes), Koriander (Moltke I), Canabis Z (Silvester), Chellano Z (Cor de la Bryère), and Oldenburg performance test champion, Contango (exported to the USA), Continue, Caius, Clinton, Calvador, Camiros (1994 approval winner), Concerto I and II, Coleo and Concetto.
Contender’s influence spreads throughout Germany, with Hanoverian breeders utilizing many of his sons, including the popular stallions Conteur and Contendro I. (Contendro I sons, Codex One, Comte, and others are very successful as well.) Two additional sons of Contender, Cordobes I & II, were acquired by the Westfalen stud at Warendorf. Cordobes I was the winner of his performance test in 1998 – scoring almost exactly the same jumping score as his celebrated sire, 146.29!
Thomas Mohr, the director of the Maas J. Hell stallion station, told me, that like all good stallions, Contender needs ‘his’ type of mare:
“He has proven what he has for the breed, he gives lots of power. He is the sire of many horses on the international showjumping scene. He is a great stallion, you either like him or you don’t like him, but he has set his footmark. He is comparable to Grannus in Oldenburg, or Pilot in Westfalia, but he needs a special mare, a blood type mare. Each stallion needs a special mare.”
“That’s the problem with the hobby breeders – they have a good mare, they want to breed her to Contender, but everybody knows it doesn’t fit, because the mare is heavy. That’s the difference with the older breeders, you can say to them, ‘don’t do that’, and they take the advice.” As one of the ‘big three’ stallions in Holstein, Contender is limited to a book of 350 mares a year – and in 2007 over 700 applications were received! No wonder Contender ruled the roost at ‘his’ stallion station at Haselau.
A look at this station is a look back to the time when all the stallions went out to their local breeding station. In this time, the stallion station and the hotel that always accompanied it, were the focal point of the community. The Holstein Stallion station was officially established at Haselau in 1906, and stood the stallions, Omar and Steffen. In the years after World War II, it has been home to such famed stallions as Anblick xx, Aldato, Roman, Ladykiller xx, Consul, Rigoletto, Farnese, Marlon xx, Capitano, Calypso I, Cathargo, Cor de la Bryère and Corofino.
This traditional combination of stable and hotel has seen fourteen generations of the Lienau family, and Otto Lienau currently maintains the tradition: stallion keeper and host in a splendidly traditional pub. However, it should be pointed out that Contender is the only stallion owned by the Verband living in this old fashioned style. Holstein director, Norbert Boley explains this is no sentimental concession to tradition:
“There is a special reason for that. A few years ago we had a big problem with EVA, and he is the last who survived from that group with EVA, so we cannot keep him with the other stallions, it’s not allowed. So he lives the traditional life in Haselau.”
If we think of Capitol as being power, and Cor de la Bryère being careful, where does Contender fit in – what does he bring to the breeding mix? Boley said, “Contender has all the good blood in his pedigree. He has Cor de la Bryère, he has Ladykiller xx, he has Ramiro. I think he is able to do everything – he produces good horses with quality, scope – he is somewhere between the two, the mix. He is not as big and as strong as Cassini, but he has good performers and produces good rideability. There are a lot of good offspring from him in the market, the Contender offspring move better than those from Cassini and Capitol.” Rest in peace, Contender. You will be long remembered.
You Tube video of Contender (Bernd Eylers):
(Source: http://zuechterforum.com/zf/de/news/contender-ist-abgetreten.html & http://www.horsemagazine.com/thm/2010/08/contender)