Marche en Famenne
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Use and characteristics of the Zangersheide
The Zangersheide is one of three recognised Belgian warmblood breeds, each with its own studbook. The other two are the Belgian Warmblood and the Belgian Sports Horse. Since the Zangersheide studbook is an open one, any breed of performance horse of the appropriate quality is potentially eligible. Performance in show jumping is the selection criterion for the breed. This means that when professional show jumpers buy a Zangersheide, they have complete confidence that their horse is the result of selective breeding focussed solely on this activity. The stud has always produced its own show jumpers and riders, but the breed has been immensely influential on other show jumping producers and studs. This means that whether trainers sell a Zangersheide or another first-class warmblood show jumper, the impact of the Zangersheide is still likely to be evident.
Origin and history of breeding Zangersheide horses
Since the arrival of the first horse, Richette Z, at the Zangersheide Stud in 1962, the breed has become a powerhouse in international show jumping. The driving force behind the creation of the Zangersheide was Leon Melchior, who adopted the latest scientific techniques and approaches, including artificial insemination (AI) and cloning, in his quest to produce outstanding show jumpers. The focus was partly on breeding based on in-depth research into pedigrees, but it was also important to produce healthy horses with the right character for this demanding sport. Early success arrived with the achievements of "Heureka Z" in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This mare was one of many Holstein mares who, during the 1970s, formed the foundation of the breed. Two stallions were particularly influential at this point, the Anglo-Norman Almé Z and the Holstein-bred Ramiro Z. The various successful crossings and out-crossings led to the creation of the Zangersheide’s own studbook in 1992. The breed’s open studbook meant that the Zangersheide horses could develop and grow in the sport without the limits imposed by a closed studbook. The Zangersheide Stud has been described by the equestrian media as a “great showjumping machine”, and this force to be reckoned with vies with the Dutch KWPN for the leading place in the sport. Producing outstanding performance horses for show jumping is only part of the reason for the stud’s success. Through having their own registry, the Zangersheide Studbook is also able to support breeders through a range of international marketing activities, with events for stallions, specialist auctions, and their own celebration of the breed, the “Z Festival”.
Zangersheidehorses in equestrianism
It’s said that Zangersheide horses have won every important show jumping event, including Olympic gold and silver medals, European gold medals and World Cup silver medals. In a breed with many outstanding individuals, one mare, Ratina Z, is frequently described as “Mare of the Century". This outstanding performer was the winner of several gold and silver Olympic team and individual medals, the famed Aachen Grand Prix, Word Equestrian Games gold, and gold at the European Championships.