For our first featured reference stallion, we will look back at the career of the illustrious Hanoverian stallion Grande, sire of Grandus, an important foundation stallion in the Rheinland Pfalz-Saar district of Germany.
If Grande had been born today, he may never have been given a chance to breed. He was little (under 16 hands), and rather plain to look at, if truth be told. In today's breeding world, with so many popular stallions available by fresh shipped or frozen semen, this little chestnut horse would have been gelded and sold, most likely, and his genes would never have had the chance to work their magic on the Hanoverian, and Zweibrucker, breeds.
Luckily, back in the 1960's, German breeders were most likely to take the advice of their region's Stud Director on matters of stallion selection. Whichever stallions the Stud Director sent to a particular district's breeding station were the ones breeders there used. This 'regional' breeding program had a side effect as well that helped great stallions in the pre-shipped-semen era make their mark - mares in any particular region tended to be relatively closely related, due to the use of local-based stallions in the past. So if a stallion brought into the region had one good foal from a single mare, he was very likely to have many successful foals.
Perhaps the 1960-61 Hanoverian Approvals Committee were receiving tips from on high when they gave this stocky little chestnut stallion the nod - Grande went on to produce 33 approved sons, 34 states premium mares, and sent three of his show jumping offspring to the Olympics - Grande Giso (Holland), Grande (USA) and Gute Sitte (Belgium).
Grande's pedigree reveals the mix of jumping lines (sired by Graf -- Goldfisch II) and dressage lines (dam by Duellant) that made him a versatile sire. But perhaps his greatest gift to the sport horse world came through his grandsons - the Grande son Graphit sired winners of over two million DM and sired one of the most important jumping stallions of all time in Grannus, not to mention the Foundation Stallion for the Zweibrucken stud (and next month's Featured Reference Stallion!) Grandus. The Graphit son Grundstein was one of Germany's leading stallions before being exported to the USA, and another grandson, Gigolo, sired by Graditz, became Isabell Werth's Olympic and World Championship star. Other famous grandchildren include Galapagos with Gabriella Grillo, who represented Germany at the 1982 World Championships, and was one of the first stars of the newly established Freestyle Dressage to Music! Grandeur (by Gralsritter) won over a million DM in his remarkable show jumping career, and also proved himself a superior sire. Grunnox (by the Grande son Grunewald) was Monica Theodorescu's mount for the 1992 Gold Medal team in Barcelona.
In the USA, the Grande son Garibaldi II sired American dressage star Gifted, who with rider Carol Lavell, helped the US team win a team bronze at the 1992 Games and placed fourth individually. Garibaldi II unfortunately died at the age of 14, which was a great loss to the breeding world.
Grande himself was the first stallion whom the Lower Saxony stud farm retired out to grass on the basis of his greatness. Grande enjoyed his casual retirement for two years before he died at age 31 in 1989.
To sum up Grande's gifts to the sport horse world is a monumental task. Let's just say that this little chestnut horse made a big, and lasting, impression.