Last week, history was made in Ireland. Pompidou AF, bred by Addie Franssen and her now 90-year-old uncle, Mr. L. van Aaken, was approved as the first dressage stallion in history by the Warmblood Studbook Ireland (WSI). I and breeder Addie Franssen had the privilege to witness this historic moment.
The story begins four years ago when Addie convinced her uncle to re-breed their mare Gina with her beloved stallion, Desperado (sire: Vivaldi). On May 18, 2020, Pompidou AF came into the world, a beautiful colt. However, raising a stallion is a specialized task and Addie and her uncle can't raise a stallion at their stables so they decided to use Veulentekoop.nl's Full advertisement and sales service to find a suitable buyer for their promising colt.
Pompidou AF stood out as a foal due to his striking appearance. However, his gentle and calm temperament made it challenging to capture his qualities adequately on video.
The initial advertisements we posted did not immediately lead to success. Many buyers often expect a dressage foal to show an impressive trot right from the start. Pompidou's story underscores the importance of not solely relying on what you see in a video as a buyer but also, whenever possible, visiting the foal in person and trusting your instincts during the purchase.
Pompidou stood out for his beautiful conformation, three very correct basic gaits and an impressive pedigree including his half-brother and full brother, the approved stallions King van het Haarbosch (by Spielberg) and Moscow AF (by Desperado). His grandmother, Ra-Shell, had also contributed to the family's success, having produced the approved stallion Hemmingway (sired by Florencio I) and Grand Prix horses like Caprice (sired by Johnson) and Il Mondo (sired by Johnson). All of this suggested that Pompidou had more to offer than what he initially displayed. Therefore, we decided to make another attempt to capture his qualities on video. Although it was still not easy, we fortunately achieved better results. Multiple buyers showed interest, including some stallion owners. However, Tracy Lynch of Emerald Dressage was convinced that she was making an excellent purchase with this handsome stallion and ultimately prevailed, bringing Pompidou to Ireland.
Since the sale, Tracy has stayed in regular contact with me and breeder Addie Franssen, and within a year, we received a video of Pompidou beautifully trotting through the field. This reaffirmed our belief that he was indeed an exceptional horse. At the beginning of this year, Pompidou successfully passed the first two phases of the approval process with the WSI.
This year, Addie and her uncle welcomed another foal from the damline of Pompidou AF. They approached me once again to photograph and record Titus AF (sired by Kjento), born in July and descended from Frederique, the full sister of Pompidou's dam. And let's be honest, Titus AF is another incredibly handsome foal!
Over coffee after the recording, the idea arose to fly together to Ireland in October and attend Pompidou's 3-day saddle test. After contacting Tracy, it turned out that the saddle test was typically not open to the public. However, thanks to her efforts and the permission of Thom Reid from the WSI, Addie and I were given the opportunity to be present. On October 17, we flew to Dublin, and on October 18, we saw Pompidou again after nearly three years. It was an emotional and beautiful moment. Pompidou recognized the voice of his breeder and immediately poked his nose out of the stall. It was a moment we wouldn't have missed for anything.
The team at Emerald Dressage and Durbyrne Stud gave their best, and Pompidou successfully passed the saddle test under the watchful eyes of KWPN experts Cor Loeffen and Wim Versteeg, resulting in his approval. A unique moment, as Pompidou AF thus became the very first approved warmblood dressage stallion in Ireland. This approval marks a significant step in putting dressage horse breeding and sport on the map in Ireland. Onward to the next steps, and we eagerly look forward to what the future holds!
Note: Many thanks to Tracy Lynch (Emerald Dressage), Thom Reid (WSI) and the team of Durbyrne Stud for the warm welcome for Addie and me. We had a wonderful time.