Bolero's Hanoverian Bloodlines Impact Dressage

The Hanoverian stallion Bolero continues to impact the international dressage scene through his progeny.
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The Hanoverian stallion Bolero continues to impact the international dressage scene through his progeny.
One of Bolero's most well-known descendents is Debbie McDonald's 2004 Olympic mount, Brentina. | Photo by Patricia Lasko

One of Bolero's most well-known descendents is Debbie McDonald's 2004 Olympic mount, Brentina. | Photo by Patricia Lasko

Bolero, a classic foundation stallion in the Hanoverian Verband, is one of the few sires to produce a new foundation stallion, Brentano II, along with other top stallions, Bismarck and Brentano I. Also, three of Bolero's descendants medaled at the 2004 Olympics in Athens--Beauvalais ridden by Spain's Beatriz Ferrer-Salat, Bonaparte ridden by Germany's Heike Kemmer and Brentina ridden by American Debbie McDonald.

Bolero's dramatic influence is made all the more remarkable by the fact that he died of a heart attack at the age of 12, when German breeders were just beginning to appreciate the potential he had as a sire. Bolero passed on his noble attitude and rhythmic gaits, producing outstanding, elegant dressage horses who have proven particularly successful when bred to Hanoverian G- and D-line mares.

Bolero was by Black Sky, a Thoroughbred who produced very rideable dressage horses. Bolero's success contradicted the popular belief of breeders at that time, which held that breeding a mare by a Thoroughbred with a Thoroughbred stallion would not produce successful offspring. But, in fact, Thoroughbred influences contributed to the breeding of dressage horses from that point onward and proved to be one of the main factors in producing more elegant, lighter dressage horses. Bolero's dam was Baronesse, a Hanoverian mare out of the mare Atlastaube (by Athos and out of Fliegerheil) who produced the popular sires Grenadier, Hitchcock and Winner.

Brentano II, Bolero's most successful son in terms of breeding, was the approved winner in Verden in 1985 and runner up at the 1986 Hanoverian stallion performance test. To date, he has produced 16 approved sons and 74 state premium mares, and the World Breeding Federation for Sport (WBFSH) consistently ranks him in the top 10 dressage sires.

Having trained to Grand Prix himself, he seems to have passed on this ability to many of his offspring. He is known for passing on his solid basic paces, type and excellent conformation. He was represented by 21 riding horses at the Hanoverian Elite Auctions and is a fantastic value, standing at stud for only €460. Brentano II's dam, Glocke, also produced Brentano I--a stallion at the State Stud in Celle, Germany. Brentano II's grand dam, Ferbel, was a half-sister of the stallions Garibaldi I and Garibaldi II. There is also a very distant link through Bolero's dam line to Alferate, the dam line that produced such stallions as Wolkenstein I, Wolkenstein II, Wolkenstein III and White Star.

Brentano II's greatest success is through his daughter Brentina, ridden by Debbie McDonald, and Brentina's full brother, Barclay II, ridden by Sven Rothenberger of the Netherlands. Both of these horses did exceptionally well at the 2004 Olympic Games and continue to be amongst the top dressage horses in the world. Also competing at international Grand Prix-level is the Bolero son Beauvalais and Bonaparte, by the Bolero son Bon Bonaparte.

Another successful Bolero-bred sire is Bismarck, who is out of a Duellent-bred mare. Bismarck, like Brentano II, was trained to Grand Prix. He again shows what good results are produced when B-line Hanoverians stallions are crossed with D- and G-line Hanoverian mares. The Bismarck son Breitling W is ranked 24th on the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) World Ranking List and in the WBFSH top 10 list of competing stallions. His dam, Maja, not only produced Breitling W, but also Meggle's Biagiotti W, another top international dressage horse. Maja's full sister was also bred to Bismarck and produced the Grand Prix horses Barnsby W and Burlington W.

Breitling W's owner, rider and trainer, Wolfram Wittig, remembers Bismarck well. "Bismarck was such a brilliant character and his good nature is passed on through Breitling W. I saw how Bismarck passed on these characteristics to both Breitling W, and another of Bismarck's graded sons--Burlington W--and, to me, this was proof of success."

A number of Breitling W's sons and daughters also compete at the international level, carrying on the amazing success of this line. For example, his offspring Balalaika W and Borgward W reached the finals at the German Bundeschampionate (the German National Young Horse Championships) and Meggle's Anton, a stunning horse with his father's easy, rideable attitude, competed at Grand Prix. Breitling W's son Barilla won his first Intermediaire I in 2004. Others include the stallions Berkley W, Bigacu W and their younger brother, Brunello W. Another Breitling W's offspring, the 6-year-old brown mare Baldesserini W, represented Germany in the 2005 World Young Horse Dressage Championships.

It would seem that since his bloodlines made their initial impact on the dressage world, Bolero has been represented by his sons, grandsons and their progeny on an annual basis. In fact, no less than 20 of the 52 dressage horses that competed in the 2004 Olympics were Hanoverians, and some of the main medal contenders were descended from Bolero. It is an impressive record and one that breeders ignore at their own peril.