A tribute to one of the great
Sires of Holstein
Foaled 1966, breeder: Graf von Kielmansegg, height 16.3 hh
Died May 10, 1996
When you visit Elmshorn, Germany, these days, and you stop at the
century-old "Riding and Driving School", then you are where the
heart of the Holsteiner Horse Breeding is beating.
And there you meet that characteristic shape of Landgraf I in front
of the complex, the symbol of the modern Holsteiner Sport Horse
and performance sire. The original himself died in 1996 at the age
of 30. In his article in Breeding News (August 1999) French journalist,
Pascal Renauldon records the great stallion's passing: "On 10 April 1996, the Holstein breeders had celebrated, with great pomp, their charmed stallion, during a ceremony which had assembled some of his most celebrated progeny: Libero H, Taggi and some 30 others. Exactly one month after this hommage, Landgraf passed away due to heart failure, even though his physical condition had showed no signs of decrepitude. His strong back was not swayed, his proud eye of a dominant stallion and imposing neck were still as superb as when they appeared on photographs of him as a youngster."
Yet Landgraf was not initially widely accepted as a stallion in Germany because sons of Thoroughbreds were still regarded with suspicion . It was after the 1975 Equitana in Germany, where Landgraf easily cleared a 6'6" several times a day, that international riders started to buy his offspring.
Born in 1966, Landgraf I belongs to the first vintage of his sire, Ladykiller xx, who produced another hero one year later in Lord, another of the most influential stallions in Holstein. Ladykiller xx was a very popular Thoroughbred stallion, born in England, and a descendant of the very famous stallion line of Phalaris - Fairway - Blue Peter - Sailing Light, combining with Hyperion. His dam also carried Phalaris-blood, as well as Son-in-Law.
In spite of his famous ancestors - Ladykiller was a failure as a race horse. His performance genes were still there, of course, but they emerged not as speed but mainly as jumping talent with the occasional good dressage horse as well. All of Ladykiller's offspring could easily be recognised as such, and Landgraf was no exception. These horses have beautiful noble faces with large bright eyes, bay - brown coats - and they could jump!
Landgraf had a very good temperament which he passed on, together with excellent movement. His dam, Warthburg, came from the stem No. 275 and accumulates the performance genes of Ethelbert, Aehill and Cicero, who are responsible for laying the foundation of the Holsteiner Sporthorse as the world's leading jumping stud book.
Warthburg was born in 1962 and was bought as a weanling by Baron Friedrich Christian de Kielmansegg. After a competition career as a jumper, she produced Jenni, by the Thoroughbred stallion, Little Lion xx - Jenni is the dam of Orchidee, who was a member of the gold medal winning German jumping team at the Seoul Olympic Games with Dirk Hafemeister. Orchidee in turn was the dam of Avion (Athlet Z) ridden in international competition by Ludger Beerbaum.
Warthburg then produced six foals by Ladykiller. Landgraf was born in 1966, the following year saw his full brother, Landgraf II who was sold to the south of Germany where he was gelded! Under the name - Leon III - he went on to compete at Grand Prix level with Manfred Schlusselburg. In the following two years, the fillies Eva and Frederica were produced - Frederica when bred to Farnese produced the licensed stallion, Fridericus. In 1970 Warthburg produced another filly, Landgraffin who was ridden in the 70's and 80's by Hugo Simon, winning many speed and puissance classes. Bred to Cor de la Bryère, Landgraffin then produced the stallion Cash, who also competed internationally with Simon before his death at the age of 10 while competing at Aachen. Landgraf was licensed in 1968 along with twelve other sons of Ladykiller xx. Landgraf finished in 5th place with the comments 'a lot of presence, good gaits with excellent propulsion, good confromation and average hindquarters.'
Landgraf was chosen to represent the Holsteiner breed at the 1972 German National Agricultural Show - and finished last. Following protests from the Holstein officials, this was converted into second place, and then in an elegant piece of gobbledegook to 'first place C'. Jumping is the field where he excells most as a sire. The list of his showjumping offspring is endless. A few names for example: Freestyle (formerly Lalique) won Aachen Grand Prix, Libero won the Dutch National title five times (!) and also the 1994 Volvo World Cup. The licenced stallion, Lacros, is another along with top performers: Lucky Luke, Lanciano, Landlord, Lausbub and Taggi.
Nearly sixty colts by Landgraf I have been licenced for the Holsteiner stud book, like the champion of 1991, Linaro, and the dressage talent, Loutano. Some of his sons have already achieved top positions as performance sires, for example, Letus II, a jumping sire, and the versatile Landadel, who produced three champion stallions for the Oldenburger breed alone, and also the outstanding international showjumper, Le Cou Cou, a licenced stallion.
So far, 340 broodmares by Landgraf I are registered in the Holsteiner stud book, 260 of these are in the Head Stud Book, 70 have been awarded the State Premium, and a considerable number have been champion mares at shows. Landgraf I was a legend already during his life time. His genes are securely ancored in the breed of the modern sporthorse.
In his Stallion Book of the Holsteiner Warmblood Breed, Dr Dietrich Rossow comments:
"Imposing appearance with enormous crest and neck carriage. Smooth total topline and much presence. Beautiful face with marvelous eye. Long, rather broad neck, long sloping shoulder. Withers, could be more clearly defined. Well shaped, muscular croup. Strong bone. Good in front. Slightly sickle hocked in youth (became very straight with age). Tied in below the hock and faults in the hind fetlocks. Good mover. Marvelous temperament. Phenomenal jumper; tight in front, lots of bascule, careful and talented. Great performance capabilities."
"Offspring are of various sizes and usually late developers. In youth, the tall ones appear leggy and narrow. Nearly always passes on his face, type and also his hindleg faults. Amost all offspring are endowed with their sire's jumping ability. In the beginning they jump rather awkwardly with less than ideal form which improves with increased maturity. Seldom passes on his overly heavy neck. Huge number of international class jumpers. Up to now (the book was published in 1988) Landgraf is far and away the most important jumper sire in the world!"
In the 2007-2008 edition of the French breeding guide, Monneron (www.monneron.com), Bernard le Courtois (visit his website www.brullemail.com) has examined the performance records of the world's top jumping horses in 2006. On the basis of 2515 competitors, he has compiled a list of the top 75 stallions in the world. He identifies four dominant male lines: Almé, Cor de la Bryère, Capitol and Landgraf.
Landgraf is the sire of five stallions out of the top 75, with two in the top ten. The most successful of his sons is Burgraaf, who has 26 winners to occupy 6th place. The World Cup winner, Libero is in 9th place with 22 CSI winners. He is the only stallion with two representatives - Libertina and No Mercy - in the world's top ten performers! Landgraf is also represented by Landadel, who despite dying at the age of 13, occupies 30th with 10 winners. Landadel's son, Landfriese I, ranks 52nd with 6 successful competitors.