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Does the apple fall far from the tree? Emerald and some of his offspring

Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Does the apple fall far from the tree?

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The stunning stallion Emerald with Harrie Smolders in the saddle. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

At the age of 14, Emerald (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago Z) not only has a hugely successful sporting career on his record – the BWP-stallion also jumps alongside his daughters and sons at the very top of the sport. And, a quick look at result lists world-wide gives the indication that there will be more and more Emeralds showing their inherited skills at the highest level of the sport.

Speaking with Emerald’s rider Harrie Smolders, we learn more about which qualities the stallion passes on to his offspring – and get to know three top Emerald-offspring from Lorenzo De Luca, Jos Verlooy and Smolders himself.  We also look towards the future as Gudrun Patteet and Katharina Offel tell us about their up-and-coming Emeralds aged eight and six. 

Emerald – The stallion with the x-factor

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson “Looking at his offspring in general, I think Emerald passes on most of his own best qualities," Smolders says about the stallion. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“He always had the x-factor, he is the popstar of our stable,” Harrie Smolders tells about his top stallion. “When we tried him when he was six, we fell in love with him immediately – both Axel (Verlooy) and I. We were sure he was special, and the last two years he really lived up to the expectations,” Harrie says. 

“When Emerald sees a camera he starts to pose, he loves the attention – he knows he is a star. At home, he is a bit lazy, and not really so interested – but once he gets to the show, sees the people and the ring, then he wants to show off and almost gets over-motivated, I have to slow him down sometimes from showing everybody how he can jump 15 cm over the fences. But this he also learned better over the years, and now he uses his energy better than when he was younger,” Smolders continues.

“Looking at his offspring in general, I think Emerald passes on most of his own best qualities. The first is the use of his hind legs, all his offspring have a very good technique behind. Secondly, he breeds horses with a really good brain, they are easy to teach, they want to improve, they are pleasant to work with and in the ring they are all very cool minded. When horses are as careful as Emerald is, it is easy that they get scared when they have a rail down. But, Emerald never did. He accepts it, stays careful and to the point – even more hungry to stay clear,” Smolders explains. “I think you see this quality back in his offspring too: This ability to accept a rail, and still stay focused. Just like Emerald, his offspring also have a good heart – they give a lot to their rider in the ring.”

“Emerald always had a gentle mind, and he understands people easily. Although he can’t talk, he quickly speaks the same language as you. He was always very understandable towards humans, and I think you see this back in his offspring too,” Smolders tells.

“You see his offspring almost every week now, they are great publicity for him! In Valkenswaard, Jos (Verlooy) won with his 6-year-old daughter Emera Z and I won with his 7-year-old daughter Empress Eh Z. In Lexington, his 10-year-old son Imerald Van't Voorhof won the Grand Prix at the end of May,” Smolders says.

“I am pretty sure that Emerald will be one of those stallions really adding something to his next generation, and that his success in the breeding will be as great as in the sport. We see the breeders using him more and more now, they want to have those qualities he passes on,” Harrie says.

Harrie has great appreciation for the younger Emerald-generation, and recently bought a part of the 6-year-old Escape Z – that looks very much the same as his father. “I have known Escape since he was very young, and there are a lot of similarities between the two. Escape is such an athletic horse, very rideable and I think he has a lot of quality,” Harrie tells. 

Jeunesse Van ’t Paradijs: A mare with an unbelievable brain

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Winning in Aachen at the age of 8: Check! Lorenzo De Luca with Jeunesse van't Paradijs. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Winning the prestigious Youngster Final at CHI Aachen last year, when she was eight – the Emerald-daughter Jeunesse Van ’t Paradijs has already showed off her potential. Now, at the age of nine she shows at five-star level and her rider Lorenzo De Luca has high hopes for her.

“Jeunesse’s brain is unbelievable, she always wants to do a good job,” De Luca tells. “She is super careful as well as being brave, smart and intelligent. Even at home, if she does a mistake in the flat work and I correct her – she will not do it again. She is a pleasure to work with!”

“The blood she has comes from the mother side, from Heartbreaker. The technique is definitely from Emerald,” reveals De Luca when speaking to World of Showjumping about this special 9-year-old.

About Jeunesse and her similarities to Emerald, Smolders says: “I believe she has inherited her carefulness from him, and she also seems to have her mind in the right place. I believe that she needs a bit more mileage to show her real potential, and that there is a lot to come from her. When Emerald was younger his carefulness would sometimes create challenges for him, and I think it is the same way with her – as well as for many other of his offspring. It sounds strange, but sometimes Emerald would make a mistake because he was too careful, and I think you see this back in a horse like Jeunesse. Earlier on in his career, there were times when Emerald would be observing a lot and keep himself too far off the fence, or simply not yet understand what the course designer was asking, and therefore make a fault. This is something that can only get better with experience and mileage, and it will be interesting to see Jeunesse in a few years.”

Igor: As careful as his dad

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Jumping alongside his dad already: the 10-year-old Igor, with Jos Verlooy. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“I believe that Igor’s strongest sides is that he is so careful, and that he has a lot of quality. He is also very smart, and knows exactly what to do in the ring,” says Jos Verlooy who rides the 10-year-old gelding that is out of a Nabab de Reve-mare. “Igor has a very strong mind, and this makes him really good but it is also a big challenge with him. He has his own character, and he knows he is good. In the stable, he likes to tease people and sometimes he just pretends he does not even see you – he can just walk right over you if that is his mood that day. Sometimes he can also be really naughty and he is a handful at times,” Verlooy says.

“Just like Jeunesse, I think Igor needs more mileage and experience – it will take another year before he is where he should be, he needs to see more of the world,” comments Smolders who works alongside Verlooy every day at Euro Horse in Belgium. “We see a lot of Emerald back in Igor, there are many similarities. He is very careful, and has a very good technique – but sometimes also he gets a bit too careful which makes him have a rail. I believe Emerald really matured when he was around 11-12 years old, perhaps a bit of a late bloomer – and I think Igor will be the same.”

Empress Eh Z: A mare with a mighty mind set

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson “She has a very good mentality,” says Smolders about the 7-year-old Empress Eh Z.

One of the most exciting Emerald-offspring on the circuit, is ridden by Smolders himself. “I have actually ridden the whole family,” Smolders laughs when speaking about the 7-year-old mare Empress Eh Z. “I rode Empress’ mother Delilah, that is by Darco, and her grandmother also – and Emerald, of course,” he tells. “Empress is very cool. She is our own breeding. She had a foal when she was four, and in the middle of last year she came back to us. Then I rode her just in a few shows, in Valkenswaard and in Liege. At the beginning of this year I took her to Leipzig and Gothenburg, so for her age she is actually very green,” he explains.

Empress might be little, but her mentality is mighty, according to Smolders. “She has a very good mentality,” he says. But after knowing the whole family so well, how similar is she actually to her parents? “You feel it when you go in the ring, that they have the same characteristics. And also the mind, you really can feel that they are related.”

Smolders’ success ride Emerald has surely passed on his good qualities to his daughter, but her body she has inherited from her mother. “She reminds me of Emerald quite a lot – she is also very, very careful, like her father and mother are. In her body she is a copy of her mother – even though the mother was even shorter and had a smaller stride. She is in every way a bit bigger than the mother. The whole family was actually quite compact in their body.”

Even though she is green for her age, Empress’ strong mind has made life easy. “I think her mind-set is her best quality. She can come into the ring, and although she is very green, once she goes to the fences she is very, very focused. She is also very careful and brave, those are her best qualities.”

Sea Coast Kira: The eye-catcher

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson “Kira is definitely similar to Emerald in many ways," says her rider Gudrun Patteet. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The 8-year-old mare Sea Coast Kira has already jumped 1.50m classes with her Belgian rider Gudrun Patteet, and shows real promise for the future. Out of Finesse Van ’t Paradijs, a mare by Querlybet Hero – Kira is like many other Emerald-offspring Belgian bred.

“Actually, Kira was born at my parents’ neighbour – just in front of our house. Our neighbour had bought Kira’s mother – Finesse Van ‘t Paradijs – from Van ‘t Paradijs, which is just down the street from where my parents live. Kira comes from a very good mother-line, her great-grandmother Witness Van ‘t Paradijs is also the grandmother of Daniel Deusser’s Happiness Van ‘t Paradijs on the mother-side,” Patteet explains.

“I first saw Kira at a regional show when she was four. Back then it was Astrid Rooms riding her. I really liked the way she jumped, she had something special and caught my eye straight away. Later that year, I again saw her jumping at a show – and she looked just the same so we bought her,” Patteet continues.

“Until she was seven, I had a few other riders showing her for me as I did not really have the time myself. Then, when she was seven I took her over. Last year, she won the final for the young horses in Rome and she was also runner-up in the second qualification at the World Breeding Championships in Lanaken. This year, she has already jumped clear in her first 1.50 classes. I don’t think you can ask much more at her age.”

“Kira is definitely similar to Emerald in many ways. First of all, she likes to throw in a buck in the turns – just like her dad. Secondly, she has a really nice style behind – a very good technique – a lot like Emerald,” Patteet tells. “But, the most important quality she has is her mind. Nothing impresses her. She is so easy to ride, and so straight forward! She looks really promising for the future!”

Hearst DB: Some famous breeding

Photo (c) Hervé Bonnaud "He is a bit lazy at home but likes to shine under the attention in the ring," Kathi Offel says about the 6-year-old Hearst DB. Photo (c) Hervé Bonnaud.

“I actually found Hearst by accident, last year when he was five,” says German rider Katharina Offel about the 6-year-old Emerald-son that has the stallion Vingino on the mother-side. “I had just sold his mother Daline – now HH Gigi’s Girl – to McLain Ward and Double H Farm, when I saw a video on Facebook of Hearst jumping around. On the video he looked quite normal, but when I realised he was the son of Daline, and by Emerald, I quickly called to try him at Sander Geerink’s stable.”

“When I tried him, I could straight away feel he was a son of his mum. The jump was the same, the way he moved the same – and even his mouth the same. Because he reminded me so much about Daline, that I really believed in, we bought him straight away. He is a small horse, very normal looking – all bay – but he is anything but an ordinary horse. I think if there is one horse in the stables I would like to keep, it is him!”

“While I don’t know Emerald except from what I have seen in the ring, I guess that when Harrie says he is a bit lazy at home but likes to shine under the attention in the ring – this sounds very similar to Hearst,” Offel laughs. “At home, Hearst is not always so motivated. He is a super sweet guy who is very easy to ride, but has to be pushed a bit to get his flatwork done. But when he comes in the ring he likes to show off, and wakes up straight away. He can be a bit strong sometimes, but even then – when he manages to put himself in a bit difficult situation – he will find a way out of it: He is very clever, very careful and he always wants to be clear! Hearst has a great mind, and he learns quickly. If you do something once with him, he’ll usually try to get ahead of you the next time to show you that he got it. He also has a very big heart, which I guess he was lucky enough to inherit from both his parents,” Offel concludes. 


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