By the end of the 1950s, the arrival of heavy farming machinery had spelled the end of the Holsteiners’ existence as horses working the fields.
To improve the sturdy type of the horses and to adjust them to modern sport purposes, the breed management decided for the use of Thoroughbred stallions.
During the 1960s alone, more than 25 TB sires were put to stud in the land between the seas, where one stallion in particular put his stamp on the breed at this time: Ladykiller, a TB stallion born in England in 1961. He produced 35 state premium mares and the same number of stallion-graded sons, including Landgraf I, which had his monument erected in front of the Elmshorn stables already during his lifetime. His offspring earned well above 7 million DM and his legacy was continued by numerous sons and daughters all across the world.
Lord, the second influential Ladykiller son, also became the founder of a sire line of his own and is the sire of unforgotten Livius.
COR DE LA BRYÈRE
Cor de la Bryère died in 1999 at the venerable age of 31 and must be mentioned in the same breath with Landgraf I. Along with Ladykiller, "Corde", as he is affectionately called by the breeders, has had the greatest impact on modern sport horse breeding in the land between the seas.
Another stallion to have made Holsteiner breeding history is Capitol I. Capitol I sired numerous world famous jumping horses, like for example the winner of the 2001 World Cup, Dobel's Cento, and Carthago Z, both of them licensed stallions, both of them competitors at the Sydney Olympics.
Moreover, these two sons achieved an as yet unprecedented success for their sire Capitol at the CHIO Aachen in 2000, when Ccnto took first and Carthago second place in the Aachen grand prix. Their offspring are highly successful, as well. In the meantime, Caretino, an international successful sport stallion in his own right, and Contender have followed in the footsteps of these three icons with their successful breeding stock and sport horse offspring.
Holsteiner horses stand out in particular for their jumping ability and willingness to perform. In the wake of World War I, the cavalry regiments were dissolved and the royal studs discontinued. The horses’ athleticism improved due to the rapid development of competitive riding at regional level. At the same time, the Holsteiner was discovered as a jumping horse.
Due to their tremendous muscular strength, their stalwart loyalty, and their unceasing enthusiasm, the former driving horses jumped right to the top level of German show jumping, like for example Egly, winner of the famous Hamburg Jumping Derby in 1935, Nordland, under Marten von Barnekow Olympic team gold winner in 1936 and winner of the Hamburg Jumping Derby in 1938, as well as Tora by Capenor, the Berlin Olympics’ individual gold medallist, to name only a few.
Following the total collapse in 1945, literally nothing was left – but horses in abundance. With horse shows springing up like mushrooms the Holsteiners continued to be successful right away. The first post-war Hamburg Jumping Derby held in 1949 was won by Elmshorn native Käthe Schmidt-Metzger aboard Holsteiner Fenek by Fasan. Fritz Thiedemann won the coveted oak leaf wreath with Loretto by Lombard the next year.
METEOR AND FRITZ THIEDEMANN
It was the unforgotten Fritz Thiedemann as well, who won fame and glory for the Holsteiners, competing his horses at show grounds all over the world. No other horse in Germany has ever been as loved and cherished as Meteor by Diskus. For more than a decade the big, bulky bay which had a statue erected in front of the ministry of economics in Kiel already during his lifetime, defined the term “Holsteiner” on the show jumping scene. He and his rider won Olympic team gold twice and represented their native soil in rare perfection.
HGW celebrated many successes with Romanus by Ramzes and Fortun by TB sire Frivol; however, he won team gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics with Torphy by TB sire Reinald.
CLASSIC TOUCH, LIANOS AND CALVARO
Another unforgotten horse is Classic Touch. The Caletto II daughter won a gold medal under Ludger Beerbaum at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. At the Rome World Equestrian Games in 1998, Lianos by Landlord helped Brazilian rider Rodrigo Pessoa take home the world champion title and Calvaro, the “giant grey” ridden by Swiss Willi Melliger, was named best horse at the same event’s show jumping final.
During the same Olympic year Dobel’s Cento caused a splash under Otto Becker in the jumping arena. The combination first won the arguably most high-profile jumping competition in the world, the Aachen grand prix. One of 16 show jumping Holsteiners competing at the Olympics, the two clear rounds performed by the Capitol I son were instrumental in securing the team gold medal for Germany.
FEIN CERA, CÖSTER AND CUMANO
A Holsteiner mare was on everybody’s lips also during the Jerez World Equestrian Games in 2002. Performing a total of nine rounds under her American rider Peter Wylde and in the horse swapping final, Fein Cera by Landadel incurred only one jumping fault. Cöster reigned supreme at the 2003 Europeans in Donaueschingen: under Christian Ahlmann he won individual gold and was instrumental in securing gold for the German team which also included Otto Becker and Dobel’s Cento. Moreover, Cöster and Dobel’s Cento were part of the gold winning German team at the Athens Olympics.
At the Aachen World Equestrian Games, Holsteiners definitely set the bar in the show jumping arena. Cumano by Cassini I took the gold medal under Belgian Jos Lansink after a nail-biting horse swapping final and the winning Dutch Nations Cup team included two horses bred in the land between the seas, Verelst Curtis by Coriano and Eurocommerce Berlin by Cassini I.
CARLSSON VOM DACH, IN STYLE AND CORRADINA
With a fast clear round, Will Simpson and Carlsson vom Dach by Cassini I – Grundyman/TB (Helmut Horstmann, Tarp) secured gold for the American team at the Hong Kong Olympics. In Style by Accord II – Lord (Hans Paulsen, Arlewatt) and Ian Miller won silver with the Canadian team. Corradina took 3rd place in the Aachen grand prix under Carsten-Otto Nagel, won team bronze and individual silver at the Windsor Europeans.
Holsteiner movement is characterized by supple, high-stepping gaits with lots of impulsion. Even though some outside experts used to ridicule this sort of knee action, these horses have been very popular with sport riders, with dressage riders in particular appreciating these qualities for their expressiveness at piaffe and passage.
There have always been Holsteiner dressage horses which have made a name for themselves: unforgotten Dr.Reiner Klimke who passed away much too soon celebrated his first important successes in the dressage saddle on Aar by Heissa, a Holsteiner he won the German Dressage Derby with in 1960. Seven years earlier, the bay had won the Aachen grand prix as a show jumper under Fritz Thiedemann – a most impressive example for the Holsteiner’s versatility.
Also Dr. Josef Neckermann successfully competed horses from the land between the seas. He won team gold at the Tokyo Olympics on Antoinette by Anblick/TB in 1964; eight years later, at the Munich Olympics, Venetia, another Anblick daughter helped him secure the highest merits. During the 1970s, Granat by Consul proved unbeatable in numerous championships under his Swiss rider Christine Stückelberger with the combination’s achievements including individual gold at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
CORLANDUS AND CHACOMO
Even though Corlandus by Cor de la Bryère ridden by France’s Margit Otto-Crépin was denied this ultimate triumph, even today the impressive bay and his tremendous movement is taken as an example for the perfect dressage horse. Ridden by Uwe Sauer, Montevideo was part of the gold winning German dressage team at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. At the Sydney Olympics, the Holsteiner studbook had just the ticket to be in for medal contention in the dressage arena with Chacomo under Alexandra Simons-de Ridder. The Calypso I son, which sadly had to be put down one year later due to an incurable illness, and his rider returned home with the team gold. This medal was some consolation for the combination being denied a start in the freestyle to music final; with participation limited to three riders per nation, the team leaders had decided for Ulla Salzgeber and Rusty’s start.
Also the third Olympic discipline, eventing, has seen Holsteiners step into the limelight, mostly because of two riders. One of them is Herbert Blöcker, who had been an Elmshorn fixture for decades and who owed most of his innumerable successes to Holsteiner horses. Having already secured the silver medal at the Montreal Olympics for the German team with a bold one-stirrup-only cross country on Albrant, Herbert Blöcker’s brilliant cross country at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 will remain unforgotten for all spectators, as he secured individual silver and helped the German team win a hardly expected bronze medal with Feine Dame.
The other is Hinrich Romeike and his Marius, a Condrieu/TB- Laurin gelding bred by former Holsteiner Verband 2nd chairman, Hans-Werner Ritters, which took individual and team gold at the Hong Kong Olympics in 2008.
Holsteiners in driving
In the 1950s and 60s, competitive driving in Germany and abroad was dominated by two Schleswig-Holstein drivers: Richard Eggers and Franz Lage. Whereas the latter harnessed the odd Trakehner as well, Richard Eggers, the unforgotten long-term Holsteiner chairman used to drive Holsteiner exclusively. The man from Dithmarschen, three-time winner of the German Driving Derby is legendary for his Holsteiner ten horse hitch at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen. These days, the teams of many top drivers, like for example former world champion Michael Freund or American four-in-hand drivers include Holsteiner horses from time to time.