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RAMZES, Sire of the Century

By Donna J. Coss

CAVALOR CUMANO, was the winner of the 2006 World Equestrian games in Aachen, completing ten tough rounds with only one fence left down! This stunning and formidable, white Holsteiner stallion from Belgium, had already won the Calgary Grand Prix. It seems that in order to compete in International Show Jumping you have to ride a grey Holsteiner whose name begins with "C"! The Holsteiner society would be thrilled to see how much the breed has permeated the show jumping scene. One after another beautiful grey (pure white) horses came into the arena - Cartier, Coster, Curtis, Clinton, Camiro, Cayak, Cavalor Cumano and Campus.

What is interesting is almost all of these horses have the Century Stallion, RAMZES in their PEDIGREE. How did a Polish stallion, born in 1937, come to have such an influence in the Grand Prix show jumping scene, even into 2006. It has been said,  without RAMZES German warm blood breeding would not be what it is today ! Then one compares the dressage world and the famous  R  line, the  R  standing for RAMZES. It seems while in Holstein, Ramzes bred show jumpers and in Westfalia, he produced dressage horses. How is it that a stallion sired by a Throughbred, RITTERSPORN and out of a SHAGYA ARABIAN mare, JORDI, came to have such a powerful influence upon the warm blood stud books following WWII?

RAMZES was born, in 1937, on the estate of the Countess Marie Plater-Zyberk in Poland. At the age of two, following the occupation of Poland by the German army, he stood at the regional stud farm of Janov Podlaski. During the war, many horses met unfortunate ends, but RAMZES was one the the favorites, first being driven in a team of four and then ridden under saddle as a hunter. RAMZES became the property of Baron von Nagel about the same time his estate, Vomholz in Westphalia was becoming known as a producer of fine performance horses.

The show jumping rider and trainer,  Mickey  Brinkmann, campaigned RAMZES as a jumper, until a pastern fracture ended the stallion's riding career. In 1951 and 1952 RAMZES stood at the Holstein state stud of Neuendorf as a leased stallion, where he sired such excellent horses as RETINA, ROMANUS, and RAMONA. These three horses were the foundation of RAMZES fame in Holstein and were the impetus for a further two season at stud in 1959 and 1960. One of RAMZES offspring is the Holsteiner mare, VASE, who seems to represent the common factor that has contributed to the "C" line dominating the world jumper scene. CAPITOL I is intensely line bred to RAMZES three times in the close up pedigree. It seems that  on paper  the recorded pedigree has been disputed. Vases's grey son, Grand Vicar, a brother of FOLIA and a VASE daughter, was seen frolicking with RETINA in the paddock! If the suspicions, which were never substantiated by appropriate genetic tests, are true, then CAPITOL would be the product of intensive in-breeding, and RAMZES blood would be in his genes via RETINA and VASE, and a third time via his grand-sire. This is further substantiated by the fact that RAMZES is Homozygotic i.e. his progeny were all greys. Even without this knowledge, it is noteworthy that of the 2004 sires of WEG Grand Prix jumpers, RAMZES appears in 48% of the pedigrees and in 2006 a  C  line stallion, CAVALOR CUMANO, was the WEG winner! RAMZES dam, JORDI, is a Shagya Arabian, a breed, developed in 1789 by the Austro Hungarian monarchy who recognized the need for a superior riding type horse, suitable for the Army and for Military tests. They derived a blue print for this IDEAL sport horse, a hot blood, refreshed with pure Arabian blood every four or five generations. This breed was tested to meet stringent standards like none seen, even in today's world. Never in the history of the horse has a breed been developed with the unlimited funds of a monarchy with the best stud managers and vast estates to establish State Studs.

It is worth knowing that the Shagya breed is the result of a ruthless culling process that selected only a particular type honed to a perfection seldom done before or since. No other breed except purebred Arabian was allowed and this remains to present day. The amount of Arabian blood is strictly limited! Before WWII they were known as the DIAMONDS of the horse world and were in great demand throughout the horse world. After WWII only 300 of the Shagya were left. RAMZES was not a fluke, but the result of blending two horses, both carrying proven superior genetics, The RAMZES son, REMUS won individual dressage silver and team gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Two years later, another son, MARIANO, won the World Dressage championship and REMUS collecting another silver medal. MARIANO, won silver at the 1968 Games, and four years later at the Munich games, another son, ROBIN, was a member of the German gold medal winning show jumping team. The RAMZES son, RADETSKY established in Westfalia a line that led to ROMADOUR II and in turn to his gold medal winning son, REMBRANDT Also through Olympic silver and team gold medalist REMUS I - ROMULAS - ROMADOUR II. RADETSKY is the sire of 25 approved sons and 29 State Premium mares RAMZES produced five licensed sons, while at Holstein, including RAIMOND and RIGOLETTO, RAIMOND was the sire of RAMIRO, one of the most successful jumping sires of them all.

The 1989 AHSA jumper of the year, SALUUT II has RAMZES on both sides of his pedigree and in 1990, the RAMZES grandson, CHYRSOS was named the USDF Sire of the Year and four of his offspring in Horse of the Year standings. REMBRANDT, another  R  line stallion received the highest score of 76% at Grand Prix dressage. Even the TRAKEHNER has seen the influence of RAMZES through stallions such as CONDUS, CHRYSOS AND TEMPELRITTER. RAMZES passed on a more baroque conformation type, lending to more suppleness, and making it easier to do the collections for the higher level movements in dressage. At the same time, this added a roundness of frame that provides a higher more swan-like neck set to enable a horse to lift it's knees higher, and to give a rounder frame for more bascule over the jump and slightly more natural break at the knee for a tighter front end over jumps.

All this RAMZES provided, plus a larger eye, more expressive face, rounder muscling, denser bone and increased endurance. RAMZES did not stand at stud for many years, having only four complete breeding seasons. His influence is, he still founded one of the great stallion lines of Holstein. He himself sired a huge number of beautiful, supple performance horses. He was known as a producer of great brood mares andmuch of his influence carries on through these grand old mares.

Once in awhile, something comes along like RAMZES. He was the most spectacular horse of the 20th century in many ways. He sired 195 offspring from mares of varying quality. Most of these were in the upper 25th percentile of national competition. And to do it in both the disciplines of jumping and dressage is really quite remarkable. RAMZES blood has also been successful in New Zealand through RAMZES II, who goes back to this blood twice. Also successful is RAMIREZ with again two lines to RAMZES. It seems that a little RAMZES is good, but the true test is when it is added and found even four times in a pedigree. Not surprising, when one realizes the refined and distilled Shagya blood through his dam, JORDI, which already was a result of intensive line breeding.

Today, RAMZES influence is real, but the Thoroughbred X Shagya cross is rarely seen! Probably because the Shagya breed is still in small numbers with only about 2500 seen world wide. It is a powerful cross, just as potentially competitive as it was before RAMZES death in 1966. This F-1 cross appears to enhance and blend the best from both breeds. The Shagya still produces and modifies into a rounder and more supple appearance and best of all, tempers the flightiness and reactive mode of the Throughbred mind. This produces a competitive sport horse that is perfect for the Hunter and sport horse market. It seems a perfect combination! How does this cross differ from the Anglo Arabian? The French Anglo Arab may have either a purebred Arabian or a purebred Shagya as one of the parents, which in the U.S. is not a registered cross. Because the Shagya is an Arabian breed, but a breed without any of the typical, quickly, reactive temperament, it is, and seems to be an ideal cross. The Shagya was line-bred to be a calm, steady mount under military stress and this is one of the most inheritable aspects the breed offers to any breeding program.

The American Shagya Arabian Verband made the decision to form a registry for this amazing breed type. Performance records can be kept and breeders will have recognition for this significant cross. And perhaps the Shagya half of RAMZES bloodline will be recognized for its own worth. The Anglo Shagya must be from registered Thoroughbred and Shagya horses and any combination of one fourth to half is acceptable. This breed cannot be used for purebred Shagya breeding, but will represent its own unique genetic value.



Dr. Tim Holekamp

During a conversation with Dr. Tim Holekamp, owner of New Spring Farm and who recently imported the Trakehner stallion, Windfall, Dr. Holekamp made several references to the Shagya breed. We would like to quote from some of these comments.


"One of the most impressive things about the Shagyas insofar as they have been used in our breed is the incredible prepotency of their type and their riding characteristics. It keeps coming through four and five generations later, without reinforcement. Just one dose seems to do the job, if it is a good one, and surely Lapis was, and Ramzes too. There are many people whom I know, who are quite aware of the Condus contribution (just ask Hilda!). We have had two Condus grandchildren now and have offspring from both and two Leonidas foals due this spring. They are all alike in that they are eager learners. It seems as if they YEARN to please the rider Ė it is their one and only urge."

"My late friend and mentor, Bob Baird, used to confide to me that what we are really breeding and "preserving" in the Trakehner breed is almost entirely inside the head of these horses. The body shape, the athleticism, the rest, can all be adjusted, mixed, fixed and restored in one generation, but the intricate workings of the genetics of the way a horseís mind works is what was being so carefully selected in the Trakehner for all those years. A cavalry horse was subjected to the most effective natural selection in history. The good horse came home under Dad. The rest got eaten along the way, and maybe Dad stayed on the battlefield permanently as a result of the mountís shortcomings. Everyone wanted one like the one that carried Dad home. These were the ones who were bred on and on. They had the nobility, character, tractability, all the descriptive traits of the horse that looks out for himself, but also his human partner."

"Somehow the desert seemed to help create horses that could potentiate and consistently replicate all of these desired behaviors. All of the Habichts are like that and they all look like him as I recently learned on a trek across all of Germany and half of Poland, so do his grandsons. The type is prepotent indeed. Well, it canít all be Shagya inheritance, but a lot of the mind part surely is"!






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All photos are by Donna Coss, Master Photographer, Photographic Craftsman, C.P.P.