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WoSJ Exclusive; From youngster to Grand Prix horse – California

Thursday, 02 May 2013

Gerco Schröder with California in Aachen in 2011. Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson.In some coming Exclusives we focus in on some of the world's top showjumpers and how they were as youngsters. First out is the now 11 year old mare California (Corland x Ramiro), who can be seen jumping at international top level under Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani. California was discovered as a three year old by German rider Mario Stevens, and below he speaks about how he found her – and how she ended up in the top of the sport.

"I saw California for the first time in the end of her third year at a free jumping championship. I tried to buy her then, but she was already approved for the Elite auction in Vechta and the breeder, Josef Bruns, really wanted to sell her there. So I went to the auction and bought her and by then she was four and ridden. Then I educated her as a five and six year old. When California was five we competed at the Bundeschampionat in Warendorf, and at the World Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken. As a six year old she won several qualifications for the Bundeschampionat, and got fantastic scores like 9.0 at a couple of occasions.

Mario Stevens had California for about two years. Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson.After the qualification in Rastede Wim Schröder approached me, and asked if I wanted to sell her. My plan was actually to keep her so I gave him a price that would have scared most people off. But the Tuesday after the show the Schröder brothers tried her out, and Eurocommerce bought her.

California was always special and really bloody, but I have hardly ever ridden a horse with so much scope and quality. Ben Schröder rode her for the first two years and then Gerco took over. I was often in contact with them and they really did a great job educating her and bringing her up to Grand Prix level.

The goal is always that a horse that you have educated end up having such a fantastic career as California. You could always see that she was a fantastic horse and it is great that she got the possibility to show it!"

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California is today competed by Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani - here at the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg in 2013. Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson.

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