I love a good bit of marketing. The Gerd Sosath show took place in the hall at Vechta the night before Valentine’s day. Dotted around were free baskets of hard-boiled eggs, painted gold and red, with Sosath and hearts on them.
They were for eating, but nobody in our group was brave enough to try one until after a few cocktails later that night. They were actually pretty good with a smattering of salt.
We were lucky enough to have front row tickets for this stallion show. It’s a compact arena and you are literally close enough that you could reach and touch them. Nobody does. That would be stupid. But you can smell them as they bustle and power past.
The sheer number of stallions on the books at Sosath is staggering. In their 2016 catalogue, there are 24 to choose from.
Among the dressage offering stands the KWPN performance test winner Ampère. He was the third licensing champions son of Rousseau in a row. He wasn’t in Vechta — I’ve heard he doesn’t travel well and is now based in Sweden at Tullstorp — but two of his sons were.
Interestingly, Ampère is a bit light of bone, but both Antango and Adoro are more substantial horses, brimming with power and push. The Ampère offspring may not have the sought-after fine, tapered seahorse heads but boy can they move. And you don’t get marks for the face in dressage.
When I last saw Antango a couple of years ago I was very impressed by him, and the swarm around his box afterwards confirmed I wasn’t alone. This time, as a coming seven-year-old, he is still a fantastic mover and keeps big cadence in the half-pass. His trot extensions are delicious; he sits and pushes from behind without ever pushing back and out with the hindleg or letting it trail.
Two other dressage stallions stood out for me this year.
Florenz, a rising five-year-old by Florencio x Sandro Hit, continues to stand out with his superb walk and narrow, elegant frame. He wasn’t awarded a premium at his licensing, but that’s only because he carries a Hannoverian brand, so wasn’t eligible.
He passed his 30-day test with the highest breeding value of all horses assessed in 2014. His wonderful walk scored a 10, and he’d make a great breeding partner for short-limbed mares with dodgy walks.
Another piloted by the rising German superstar Lukas Fischer was three-year-old For Dance (For Romance x Rubiloh), who boasted the biggest gaggle of breeders round his stable after this show.
The first thing I wrote in the margin on his page was “special”, which I don’t often write. That was followed by “Active, uphill and submissive. Superb mechanics. Round and balanced.”
I’m not normally that complementary.
He’s €700 too, which makes him a really smart punt.
If you’re after a dual-purpose stallion, Sosath boasts an exceptional sire in the form of Levisonn. Granted that he’s grey, which means an inevitable minimum 50% chance of a lot of grooming in your future, but he ticks all the performance boxes.
We only saw him in-hand, but the Levisto x Lennon 11-year-old Holsteiner was the winner of both the dressage and jumping elements of his performance tests; an exceptionally rare feat.
At 175cm (about 17.2hh) the Catoki son Cador is a tall, tall boy but he gets over the fences with excellent technique, and not just on the basis that he’s miles above them already.
Casiro had real stallion presence and his son Casirus (out of a Landor S mare) was incredibly handy, able to turn and spring off a sixpence. He’s only €650 too — bargain.
One showjumper I didn’t like was Casino Grande. He jumped well enough but his other paces were so unattractive. What would you do if you bred one and found it wasn’t the best jumper? He simply didn’t move well enough at all, with the hind legs trailing out in the county behind him.
Sated with stallions, our group headed back to the party tent to see who could drink the most cocktails. One sex on the beach is €3 (dangerously cheap) and with each one you’re given a glow-stick. By the end of the evening, some of us (not naming names, Tullis Matson — and not being whiter than white myself) had a pretty impressive line-up of glow-stick bracelets, and a pile of egg shells in front of them.
In Germany, the scene surrounding the stallion shows is half the fun.