Variety is the spice of life and that’s certainly true in the world of American Sporthorse breeding. Here we introduce a boutique producer of Selle Français in Wildest Expectations Farm and the rare Knabstruppers of Cedar Creek Stables. These breeders may be modest in the number of dressage horses they produce, but there’s nothing small about their passion and ambition for producing the very best their breeds have to offer. These breeders bring variety and excellence to the dressage arena and take equal pleasure in educating others about their dressage horses’ many attributes.
Wildest Expectations Farm
“There’s no reason to breed an average horse,” says Christine Smith of micro-boutique Selle Français breeding program Wildest Expectations Farm in the Shenandoah Valley’s Stephens City, Va. “It costs just as much to raise and train an average horse as it does an exceptional horse.”
Actually, it didn’t cost Christine anything to get into the business. While working in the horse air transportation industry in the mid-80s, she was given an imported mare named Nelly Des Ongrais (Demon Noir). Recognizing that “I got completely lucky with her great bloodlines,” Christine established what became her modus operandi by reserving what funds she had to breed Nelly to the best stallions available. The mares she now breeds are descendants of her foundation mare and another mare purchased from News Print Farm, also bred in the United States.
Wildest Expectations Farm’s band of four mares carry the lines of Olympic sires Olisco, Oleandre, Cabaret, Solos Landtinus and Voltaire, and they’ve been busy producing winners. Nelly’s daughter I’dbedelighted, by Oleandre, was the highest scoring foal at her evaluation for the United States, Canada and Mexico in 1996. Another mare, Temptress, was invited to receive the Danish neck brand, designating excellence, when Christine took her to be approved by the Danish Warmblood Registry of North America.
Christine works full time as a flight attendant and the rest of the time managing an endeavor that usually puts two foals on the ground every other year. She acknowledges that Selle Français are best known as jumpers, but, more importantly, they are simply good sport horses. Balance and great gaits are qualities she specifically breeds for, and she’s taken advantage of the feedback provided at dressage breeding shows over the years to constantly improve her offspring.
Wildest Expectations Farm has two youngsters for sale now: The 3-year-old gelding, TripTheLightFantastic, is by Hilltop Farm’s Holsteiner foundation sire Cabaret, out of Christine’s Voltaire mare, Temptress. The 2-year-old filly, Flying Solo, is also out of Temptress, by the Elite Danish sire Solos Landtinus, owned by Oak Hill Ranch.
What Wild Expectations Farm lacks in quantity, Christine makes up for in quality and cooperation with other like-sized breeders. “We small breeders network with each other. If I don’t have a horse that matches what you want, I may know somebody that does,” she explains. “We don’t want to waste anybody’s time making a trip for just one horse.”
Visiting Wild Expectations Farm: Christine welcomes those who want to see her young horses and mares, though she cautions, “It’s a working farm, not a ‘facility’.” Call for an appointment at (540) 664 0234 or visit wildexpectationsfarm.com.
Cedar Creek Stables
There’s not many Knabstruppers out there, but they’re worth the search, says breeder Melyni Worth. Distinguished by Appaloosa-like color patterns, Knabstruppers number just 1,700 worldwide and 70 in the United States. Most are in the breed’s native Denmark, then Germany.
Melyni has been campaigning her purebred Knabstruppers and warmblood crosses in dressage competition since 2006 and says they are gaining awareness and appreciation in dressage circles. Steady temperaments make them particularly good mounts for amateurs. Purebreds resemble baroque breeds in their sturdy, square builds, while those crossed with warmbloods have longer legs and refinement for the elegance and gait suspension sought in dressage. Because of their desire to please and strong work ethic, Knabstrupper/warmblood crosses hold their own against any breed whenever judges weigh “training over beauty,” Melyni says.
At this fall’s Dressage at Devon, two horses from Melyni’s Cedar Creek Stables, in the Shenandoah Valley town of Pastures, Va., proved these assertions. Three-year-old CCS Legolas was reserve champion in the Materiale class for colts and geldings, and CCS Theoden finished ninth in the stallions and geldings Materiale class for 4- and 5-year-olds. The oldest of the horses she’s bred, 6-year-old CCS Tinuvel, showed successfully at Third Level this year.
Halifax Middelsom is Cedar Creek’s foundation sire and one of just four Knabstrubber stallions standing in the States. Often mistaken for an American Cream Draft Horse, Halifax has a unique gene combination that makes him a “few spot,” an almost solid-colored horsewhose babies will have the breed’s typical leopard pattern spots in black, brown or chestnut.
“Color is just the icing on the cake,” says Melyni. “The real benefits of this breed are that it’s a working, everyday horse that’s been naturally selected over the years for temperament, willingness to work, sanity and solidity.”
Visiting Cedar Creek Stables: Melyni welcomes visitors by appointment. Contact her by phone at (540) 294-3003 or visit knabstruppers4usa.com.
To read more about American bred dressage horses, check out the February 2014 issue of Dressage Today magazine.