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September 8, 2020
Warendorf, Germany – Texas-based breeder Wendy Davis Gerrish of October Hill Farm made history on August 30, as Lyjanair, a six-year-old Holsteiner gelding from her breeding program, won the Bundeschampionat (the German National Championships) in Warendorf, Germany.
Lyjanair (Lyjanero x Coriano x Contender x Lavall I) was one of 102 entries that qualified to contest the Six-Year-Old division at the Bundeschampionat, which hosts the top young horses and ponies of German breeds each year. With rider Bart van der Maat in the irons, Lyjanair bested the highly competitive field to take the title of Bundeschampion as the top six-year-old jumper in all of Germany.
“Lyjanair’s success is just tremendous to watch,” said Davis Gerrish who is now the first American to have bred a Holsteiner Bundeschampion. For the honor, Davis Gerrish has also been recognized by the Holsteiner Verband and will be presented with a special award at the Holsteiner licensing in Neumünster, Germany this November.
“I’m thrilled and so proud of this result,” continued Davis Gerrish. “It is the dream of every breeder and validates every effort and moment I’ve given the sport since I started breeding sport horses in 1999.”
Throughout the past 20 years of breeding, both in Germany and out of October Hill Farm’s home base in Hudson Oaks, Texas, Davis Gerrish has developed what she describes as a strong instinct and a critical eye for selecting stallions and choosing the most promising pairings.
Instinct is what led Davis Gerrish to select Lyjanero – who was the reserve champion of his approval in 2011 – to breed to her Holsteiner mare, Villa, producing the resulting Lyjanair in Holstein, Germany in 2014.
“Every breeder has their own idea what the ideal stallion for their mare would be. Some of the things I look for are quality of movement, expression, character and certainly jumping talent,” explained Davis Gerrish. “Lyjanero impressed me as a youngster, and I’ve never been opposed to using young, unproven stallions. When Lyjanero was two and came to Neumünster, Germany for the approval, his free jumping was exciting to watch, and it really captured the attention of the crowd. He’s a beautiful horse, with a lovely type. How could I not consider him in some way when I’m game for using young, unproven stallions? It’s a gut feeling for me.
“Because Villa has a smaller frame and is moderately sized, picking a larger framed stallion with Villa is at the forefront,” continued Davis Gerrish. “She always, always produces amazing character and gorgeous movement in her foals. I’m so lucky there. Breeding is a gamble, and no one can predict the outcome. Full siblings can be completely different looking, have completely different everything, including careers.”
For Lyjanair, that career began in Germany where, as a four-year-old, the horse caught the attention of Switzerland’s Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, the rider of the acclaimed Holsteiner stallion Casall ASK.
“Lyjanair had been showing with promising results in the four-year-old classes with Deike Ahsbahs, who is a good friend and the manager of all of my breeding horses and youngsters in Holstein, Germany,” said Davis Gerrish. “Shortly after, a deal was made and Lyjanair left us to start on this amazing journey!”
Under the development and ownership of Rolf Göran Bengtsson and Andreas Helgstrand, Lyjanair has flourished, and the future looks extremely bright for the talented young gelding – and for Davis Gerrish’s breeding program.
“I can’t wait to see what Lyjanair does next!” concluded Davis Gerrish. “While Lyjanair is certainly our biggest breeding success story so far, we have had other fun and exciting results with other horses from our program. This year, Karmen, one of Villa’s daughters by Casall, became vice champion of the mare test and was also in the top ten at the Holsteiner Verband Elite Mare Show this summer. Last year, we had a mare, Indiana (Casaltino x Quirado) become the first reserve champion of the Holsteiner Verband Elite Mare Show. And since 2010, we have had three young stallions selected for the approvals event at Neumunster. Our horses are popping up in competitions across Europe. It’s really been fun, and we love what we do!”