Union, Ky. - August 13, 2016 - Four elite sport horse stallions owned by Leatherdale Farms moved from Germany last winter to stand at Bridlewood Farm in Kentucky. The stallions - Fairbanks, First Dance, Hampton and E.H. Herzensdieb - offer an unprecedented opportunity for U.S. breeders to produce the highest quality offspring.
Among these stallions is the Hanoverian First Dance (Florestan I-SPS Dorina, Donnerhall), who stands out with his stellar bloodlines, rideability and beautiful movement. The combination of Florestan I and Donnerhall is a guarantee for world-class dressage horses in sport and breeding contexts. First Dance is approved for the American Hanoverian Society, Hanoverian Verband and German Oldenburg Verband.
First Dance has made a name for himself as a talented stallion, with offspring bearing his hallmarks of beauty and strength of movement. The 2004 bay stallion, who stands at 16.3 hands, captivated both the audience and the licensing commission in 2006 in Verden, Germany.
He finished his 30-day test with flying colors, receiving a score of 9.0 for the walk, an 8.75 for rideability and a score of 8.5 for character, constitution, trot and canter. This, together with qualifying for the German Bundeschampionate in 2009, represents the full recognition of the Hannoveraner Verband. First Dance was victorious in dressage tests in the elementary (Class L) level and, in 2010, repeatedly won dressage tests at the medium (Class M) level and Prix St. Georges.
"He is a lovely stallion," said his owner, Louise Leatherdale. "We saw something very special with him when we purchased him at the Hanoverian Stallion Licensing in Verden. He really stands out in the crowd because of his bloodlines and impressive movement, especially his '10' walk!"
First Dance's bloodlines set his offspring up for success in the international arenas. A pedigree analysis was completed in 2013 and it showed that five horses competing at the European Championships in Denmark were direct offspring of Florestan I and 15 finalists carried the blood of the Oldenburg stallion of the century, Donnerhall. The predominance of this pedigree continues worldwide today in Grand Prix competitions.
"You can't get much better than the Donnerhall and Florestan bloodlines for successful upper level sport horses. It's a very influential foundation for dressage," explained Dr. Barbara Schmidt, D.V.M., of Bridlewood Farm.
International master trainer Jonny Hilberath has also been impressed with the stallion's qualities.
"From the very outset of his basic training up through training the Grand Prix elements, First Dance showed the riders three beautiful basic gaits that were also highly rhythmic and regular," Hilberath explained.
First Dance is the sire of licensed stallions throughout Europe as well as States Premium mares and auction foals, and he has several pregnancies confirmed for the 2017 foaling season in the United States.
"He definitely passes on strength over the topline to his offspring as well as a very correct hind leg and loin connection," Dr. Schmidt explained. "First Dance will be a top producer for the international Grand Prix dressage ring. He adds quality of gaits and strength of conformation, and he is especially suitable for refined mares."
Not only do his offspring have solid conformation, First Dance passes along traits of elegant, floating movement and uncomplicated rideability.
Mike Suchanek, young horse trainer at Leatherdale Farms' base in Minnesota, has started three of First Dance's offspring.
"The intelligence he passes on to his offspring is phenomenal!" Suchanek explained. "They connect to training very quickly and easily, and I find that First Dance babies are very willing to work and really impressive in the ring."
Fleur de Lis L (First Dance-EM De La Rosa, De Niro), a First Dance daughter started by Suchanek, won the Second Level Open Championship with a score of 72.682 percent at the 2015 U.S. Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky, after taking the Training Level Open Reserve Championship the year before.
Canadian junior rider Vanessa Creech-Terauds took over the ride on Fleur de Lis L in early 2016. The pair went on to capture double silver medals in the Junior Individual and Junior Freestyle competitions at the 2016 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) presented by Gotham North, held in Parker, Colorado, at the Colorado Horse Park.
"Fleur is such a great show mare and clearly knows her job in the ring," Creech-Terauds explained. "She is able to go into the ring confident and focused, and she tries very hard to do everything I ask."
Suchanek also started Fighting Chance L (First Dance-EM Helia, Hohenstein), and they placed fifth in the 6-year-old division at the 2015 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships in Wayne, Illinois. Comments from the panel of judges highlighted Fighting Chance L's elegance, his confidence in the lateral work, and his clear tempo and cadence throughout the trot work.
"Fighting Chance loves to work, and he is an easy horse to train because he is so smart," Suchanek said. "When I started him under saddle, the very second time I rode him, it was around the entire arena by myself. After that, he is always looking for something new to learn. His canter is very adjustable. I can push him out for a medium canter or collect him for changes or pirouettes; it's effortless for him!"