This is the Gelderlander!!

The Gelderlander multi-purpose-horse is not only extremely suited for recreation, but also for international sports.

Article published in December 1999 in the magazine of "Stichting Zeldzame Huisdierrassen" (Dutch Rare Breeds Survival Foundation).

There are 300 Gelderlander breeding mares and 10 stallions.

(links on the internet were added later)

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The Gelderlander horse

"International results" and "Gelderlander horse" are notions that at a first glance, have very little to do with each other. This, however, is a prejudice, since the facts point in completely another direction.

For sportsresults on international level, Gelderlander blood in pedigree seems to be a great advantage.

How can this be observed and how can this be explained?

The facts:

In the sixties and seventies, when labour on farms was taken over by tractors, the farmhorse became superfluous. At the same time the equestrian sport was flourishing. Therefore the decision was made to transform the Gelderlander horse into a riding horse by driving out the Gelderlander blood by foreign blood. Here in starting from the understandable prejudice that the Gelderlander multi-purpose horse - with the suitability for both agriculture as well as riding sport for farmersí sons - would be less suitable as a ridinghorse compared with the specially breeded foreign ridinghorse breeds.

The half-breds of Gelderlanders with English thoroughbred and French and German ridinghorse breeds resulted in bringing the Dutch sporthorses in one stroke internationally at the top, both in jumping and in dressage. Stallions like Lucky Boy (English thoroughbred) and Doruto (German) owe their world-wide reputation to this. However, not sharing this glory were the "old fashioned" Gelderlander mothers. Thought this was what all the international top horses had in common, e.g. Ideaal (the most succesful dressagehorse in the world) and Calypso (who, with his fantastic results has strongly supported the export of Dutch horses to America). In Belgium - importing many Gelderlander horses after the war - the same thing was done. It is also there that they have the best international showjumper (Big Ben) and international dressagehorse (Abner), breeded from a completely Gelderlander motherline.

Much less known are horses with 75% Gelderlander blood, of which few were breeded, but out of which comparatively much more international sporthorses were born e.g. Aktion and Jazzman. Also from the, at the time very few pure Gelderlanders, noticeably many came to the foreground in international equestrian sports, especially in the last years. Not that much in Holland, but more abroad and especially in America, e.g. Zooloog, Amora and Exakt.

Apart from that, the stallions breeded in Holland which give talent for the international sportresults to their children, nearly all have at least 50% Gelderlander blood in their pedigree.

By "Gelderlanders" we mean horses that in former days were officially registered as Gelderlander and/or Groningen in the stud-books of the time. (The Groninger bloodlines have always been completely recognized for the Gelderlander breeding.)
With most harness-horses nowadays however, also hackneyblood is found and from these horses no international sporthorses spring. The pure Gelderlander stallions Hoogheid and Marconi are passing on excellent dressage talent; stallions like Renovo do not appear in this whole story.

In the international sport of driving horses, the Gelderlander was succesfully used from the beginning and is of interest nowadays.

How can we explain these facts?

A hundred years of carefully breeding has resulted in a Gelderlander horse with special qualities. In all publications on the Gelderlander is pointed to the crossing with other breeds; and this has certainly been the case. But what characterised the Gelderlander breeding most was the removal of unwanted characteristics by rigorous selection. Apart from that, the Gelderlander breeders were very careful in introducing different blood. Two ancestors of the Gelderlander breed Domburg (1916-1943) and Colonel (1915-1944) who for a part had unknown blood, only at an elder age got great changes in breeding, at the time their excellent prepotency was known.

A same important selection took place in the mares by the farmer, who - in the often heavy work at the farm - was in need of a companion that would never let him down. With a good health, much power, but above all a docile, work willing and stress-resistant character. These qualities are today of great importance, not only for recreational use, but especially for the top sport. Qualities that are not visible at the outside, the exterior, but that are rooted in the genes.

Next to it, the breeders of the Gelderlander always get great value on a beautiful horse with a happy presentation. The Gelderlander exterior with much front and a straight croup was, however, quite different from that of an English thoroughbred. This explains the understandable prejudice that the Gelderlander needed a revolutionary change in order to be suitable as a ridinghorse. Also, this has leaded to the fact that international sporthorses with much Gelderlander blood almost exclusively appear with riders abroad. They never heard about this prejudice and only look for the qualities of the horse. In Holland a horse with much Gelderlander blood that performs well at international level, will be considered as an exception that proves the rule. However, by seriously studying larger numbers one comes to a quite different conclusion. (Data on breeding of 1200 international sporthorses, breeded in Holland, can be downloaded from the internetside "KWPN paarden horses pferde" http://www.iae.nl/users/lijssel.)

Conclusion

The preservation of rare breeds not only means the preservation of a biological cultural good. It also can have great practical value, as shown retrospectively, by the exceptional prepotency of talent for international sport by the Gelderlander horse.

Anton van Lijssel

Tabel 1 - Stallions (75% Gelderlander/Groninger blood) with international sportresults and passing it on, born in the Netherlands.

Aktion (Pion x Akteur NWP x Victor Sgldt), Hungary, international dressage and passing it on.

Avontuur (Jasper x Prins Oregon KWPN Sgldt x Folio Sgldt), Belgium, international showjumper and passing it on.

Sandrigo (Farn NWP x Wahtamin x Cehadee Sgldt), Switzerland, international showjumper.

Taxateur (Obelisk x Commandant Sgldt x Sirius Sgldt), America, international dressage and passing it on.

Wandango (Legaat x Equator Sgldt x Uron Sgldt), Switserland, international showjumper and passing it on.

Waverveen (Recruut x Iregon KWPN Sgldt x Roland Sgldt), Germany, international dressage.

Wolfgang (Farn NWP x Eratosthenes x Uron Sgldt), the Netherlands, passing on international showjumping talent.

Focus (Pele x Farn NWP x Balthazar NWP), the Netherlands, international dressagehorse, full brother was a competitor in the World Cup Final showjumping.

Irco Marco (Irco Polo x Sportman NWP), Sweden, international showjumper and passing it on.

Nimmerdor (Farn NWP x Koridon x Senator NWP), the Netherlands, international showjumper and passing it on.

(Sgldt = Gelderlander; NWP = Groninger)

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E-mail: lijssel@iae.nl