Horses, Inc. Magazine Interviews Deborah Hausman

in Press

Originally published in Horses, Inc. Magazine, 2006

How did you get your start in horses?
Fourteen years ago I was engaged to be married and since I was not into jewelry, I asked my fiancé to give me a horse instead of a ring. He gave me the ring so I purchased the horse. I was interested in learning how to ride English. I had no desire to compete because I had been competing as an athlete most of my life. I was really interested in jumping but I was newly married and I made a deal that I would keep all four legs of the horse on the ground. So that’s where dressage came in. I enjoyed the technical and intellectual aspect of it.

Can you give us an overview of your breeding and showing program here and in Europe and what your goals are for the future?
Our breeding program in Europe is quite extensive. We have terrific partners in Holland (Gebr. van Mannen) who have been in the industry their entire life. We met several years ago when we decided to partner and purchase a 2 year old stallion I favored by the name of “Nassau” (Indoctro x Soverign Bill). He was recently named the Dutch team and is ridden by Jeroen Dubbledam (2000 Olympic Individual Gold Medalist). Together we continue to breed and sell offspring from Nassau.

Our showing program in Europe is very different than here in the US, for a variety of reasons. Here I am the rider campaigning our stallions and mares. I use our local shows for schooling to prepare for competing on the larger circuit in California and the Young Horse program. In Holland and Germany our horses are ridden by professionals and only show on the “A” circuit throughout Europe. Our foals in Holland and young horses in Germany are also shown in-hand.

Our main objective as a breeder in the US is primarily to provide the opportunity for our local riders to purchase quality horses best suited for the Adult Amateur. We are looking to produce horses with pure gaits and temperament for the show ring. I am completely dedicated to this purpose. It may not bring us horses that win at the breed shows but that is not our primary focus nor what is important to us. If I can breed a beautiful horse, sell it at a very reasonable price, and the amateur rider can win in the dressage ring, then I am having fun and for sure that is what it’s all about!

Our goal for the future is to continue to support Jeroen and Nassau on the International circuit preparing for the 2008 Olympics.

You have an interesting story behind as to how you acquired Caletino, could you share that with us?
Like every year, we were in Holland for the annual KWPN stallion show and the Annual Select Sale. In 2001, our stallion Nassau had just won the jumping event for the second year in a row and made history by doing so. We were celebrating the win during the auction and our partner was on his cell with his brother. His brother wanted to know where he was sitting and asked that he raise his hand and wave. Meanwhile, Caletino was in the ring for the auction. The auctioneer had pointed to our partner waving his hand without any of us knowing. Moments later, we agreed to buy half of the horse we never saw. Just 15 minutes following the purchase we were offered triple what we spent and turned them down because we decided we wanted his bloodlines. Months later there were repeated phone calls from our partners asking me to come ride the stallion, because they knew I had been in the market for a young dressage prospect. Because of his quality dressage movement and temperament, I rode him, we clicked and I agreed to take him into training in the US. After the first year of training we bought the other half. To this day, we believe it was fate.

Congratulations on Caletino’s ranking in the DG Cup standings, it must be a fabulous feeling.
Thank you. Unfortunately he was still not at his potential because we had just returned from competing at the Young Horse National Championships in Kentucky and the travel really took a toll on his body. The DG Bar Cup is a wonderful stress free class for the young horse.

What made you choose the breeds that you are currently involved with?
At the beginning of my dressage career, I was the typical rider looking for a horse with extravagant gaits. I would read about the Dutch horses winning so I figured that is what I needed to compete. To be sure I elected to expand my education and headed for Europe. While in Germany, I found wonderful horses of other breeds with the same talent and ability as the Dutch. I had a passion for learning about the horses I currently owned and wanted to know more. Through my many experiences I have learned that it really isn’t rocket science. If the horse has proper conformation and temperament coupled with correct training it can complete with success no matter the breed. I can’t say I am partial to one particular breed because I have such a wide variety myself. Our program includes a Lipizzaner, Dutch, Holstein, and until recently a Rheinlander stallion. I have favorite bloodlines in each of the above. I enjoy the KWPN (the Dutch organization) and the NA/WPN (the N. American affiliate) because they have such an interest in educating the first time breeder. They are also a wonderful resource for information, as well as a great support group. They are not just a breed registry.

What are your deciding factors on selecting your mare and stallion base?
Conformation, Gaits, Temperament, Pedigree, and Proven Show Performance, in that order. I don’t believe in breeding a stallion that is approved without show performance. Everything we do is so calculated. For one example: I choose to reproduce to stallions that have both exceptional ability to jump and movement for dressage. There is typically a better chance for an athletic foal because one discipline compliments the other; I breed what I want to ride.

I believe the importance of a quality mare for breeding. I had been searching throughout Europe for the past five years traveling to shows dedicated to mares but never found that special one. We wanted a current or “modern” type horse. Last year we found her. We delivered two foals out of her just this week from surrogate mares. Now our breeding program takes on a new level. The quality of these offspring are as good as any I have in Europe and confirms our belief that we can produce high end foals here in the US.

What do you see as improving in the last 10 years in breeding world and do you see occurring in the next 10-20 years?
There is so much that has improved. The overall quality of the performance horses has excelled to a point that there may be no where else to go. Every year I watch the trends and have some indication of where the European breeders are going. In the last 10 years we have seen standards go from the giant horse with huge movements to the smaller hot horse. Currently in the show ring you are seeing the combination of both creating what is called “the modern horse type”. Now that we have identified the modern horse to be the most up to date trend we will await the offspring of breeding a modern mare to a modern stallion.

Personally, I don’t see many other directions to go in breeding besides crossing. At our farm we have done well with crossing our Lipizzaner stallion with warmblood mares. The outcome was very positive in creating competition horses for amateurs, once again our main objective.

As a dressage competitor I already know I prefer riding and training the modern horse. They have gaits, the conformation, athletic ability, nice temperament, not typically too large or too small in size and a bit on the hot side. They are a professional’s criteria for a good competition mount.

Do you feel that there is becoming a gap between jumping and dressage horses and if so do you see it as beneficial?
No, actually quite the opposite. The breeders I socialize with are still of the belief, as well am I, that we need the jumper blood to produce the true athlete for dressage. The blend of a beautiful moving dressage stallion and a powerful jumper can potentially create the ultimate prospect.

Do you feel that the quality of US horse is becoming comparable to European?
I can only say that Americans are importing an increasing number of horses from Europe. We are breeding that stock to European bloodlines so we are attempting to elevate our standards. However, it is the lack of knowledge in pairing up the mares and stallions that is where we are behind. As far as finding better quality here in the US? I have no doubt that we are breeding higher quality. With frozen semen and embryo transfers available, the sky’s the limit. You just have to do your homework first and be realistic. Education should be the primary focus, not just producing another baby horse.

Are US riders looking for the same qualities as the European riders?
I would like to think so, but I honestly don’t feel that Americans really know what the European riders want. The European equestrian world is so very different than ours and the only real way to know what they want is to spend time there. For most people that is not an option. That is where your magazine becomes helpful. Riders and single breeders can rely completely on what they see in our trade publications and through their selected horse registry. Again, being realistic is very important.

Define your goals and ambitions. Evaluate yourself and your abilities. Then look for what is honestly right to suit your goals, not what your see Anky riding. Owning and riding a horse should be fun.

t seems that the US is lacking in both participation and classes for young horses, do you see this and if so do you have any ideas on why this is? (it also seems to me that there are always talented up and coming riders in Europe to train the youngsters but not so much here).

I am very interested in the young horse program. I have experienced the PAVO Cup in Holland and the Bundeschampionate in Germany, both events for young horses. This is where you see how far behind we are here in the US. Their depth of available riders to sit on young horses put everything into perspective. You will see parents placing their kids on unruly horses and sending them into the show ring. Here we worry more about the liability and the insurance. That will always be a problem for us.

As far as the future of young horse programs, I believe they will become a very big part of our shows in the near future. USDF and USEF have new committees and sponsors organizing upcoming events. The DG Bar Cup I am certain will grow and possibly encourage others to sponsor like events. Let’s face it; most people would rather watch a parking meter violate itself than watch dressage. But the young horse program can provide excitement for a show due to the nature and unpredictability of a young horse.

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