It's amazing when your dreams come true. Mine did in the quality of young horses that I am riding every day. I ride a lot of sons and daughters of Salute The Truth, and life is good.
I have made a living for the last fifteen years training and selling horses. I've worked with nearly all of the European warmblood breeds, draft crosses, Irish Sport Horses, Quarter Horses, Arabians, dozens of Thoroughbreds, and just about every one of these breeds crossed with Thoroughbreds. I try not to be a breed snob, but I must say that I enjoy training Thoroughbreds the most, and I love training the minds and bodies that are coming from this stallion. Most are easy to start and are very quick learners. What follows are some characteristics that I have seen repeteadly in his offspring.
Not a single one of these horses lacks a strong engine. The angles of their hips and the muscles that surround them show not only power to gallop but also the strength to sit down and engage.
They tend to be tall and they all have big bone. They are not the downhill racers that the Thoroughbred breed has moved toward. Most have withers higher than their croups and necks that rise up from their shoulders rather than stick out straight and flat. This quality is where warmbloods bred for dressage and jumping tend to have an advantage over Thoroughbreds, and it lends them suspension in their movement and scope in their jump. Willy's offspring have that lift and you will notice it in their lovely balanced movement at the trot and the canter.
Very few have any crookedness either in front or behind. Even bred to crooked mares the generations of sturdy race horse blood has come through and produced legs that can withstand years of hard work at speed.
It seems strange to comment on feet, but they are hereditary and they matter. Good feet have been overlooked in the breeding of pampered horses. Many great lines of dressage horses and jumpers are successful only because farriers have patched them together and perfect footing has always been provided. The large, healthy, round feet on Salute The Truth get passed on to most of his offspring. If they stay as sound as their sire and most of his siblings, their owners will miss very few days of training due to cracks, abcesses, bruises or navicular syndrome.
Salute The Truth is a great mover, but if I could improve him I'd raise his front end a bit higher and relax the muscles in his shoulders. Researchers claim that testosterone inhibits growth of the front end of a horse and gives it the wider chest and heavier muscling of a stallion. Willy is fairly even in height at the withers and croup, but his offspring tend to be taller at the withers. This could be due to the fact that none have been left stallions. This and the lesser muscling around the shoulders could be why his offspring move even better than their sire. They tend to trot with a loose swing to their gait that is not normally associated with the Thoroughbreds you see at the track. When they push hard from behind and lift their withers that swing becomes suspension and brilliance. Willy's offspring trot with a rhythm and a quality that makes you smile.
(back to top of page)
That first canter under saddle on a young horse is always a thrilling moment. Every once in a while you find one who makes you feel like you're floating in cloads right from the beginning. That happens a lot when you're lucky enough to have 7 young offspring of Salute The Truth in your barn. That balanced canter makes them easier to canter quietly around a course of jumps. Horses rush and get into trouble most often due to lack of balance, whether it is caused by bad riding or bad breeding. I have seen only one offspring of Willy's who cantered with that all-over-the-place youngster mess that makes jumping scary. It disappeared when a different rider was aboard. Even our 18 hand four year old jumps courses with roll-back turns without ever losing his rhythm.
And then there are the gaits that really matter...the walk and the gallop. How could this stallion fail to pass on his trademark sexy walk and effortless gallop? They go back so far in both sides of his pedigree, and it shows. No stallion in America has a better pedigree for distance running. I must admit that I have never tested the speed or endurance of his young sons and daughters, but I did get run away with in my dressage saddle on one when the horse in front of us (a Quarter Horse/Arab cross) bucked off her rider and spooked my guy into a terrorized flight for his life. He could run just fine.
Temperament is heritable, and I disagree with those who say that it comes mostly from the dam. Anyone who knows Willy can testify to the pure sense of kindness and intelligence that defines him. I feel it in all of his sons and daughters. Some seem born with self confidence, and some come in from the field for training a little spooky. But in every case they learn to connect solidly to their handler very quickly and seem to enjoy the work they are put to. To date every single one has walked into a horse trailer with no more than a quick sniff the very first time they were asked. That's because each one had learned to trust the person at the end of the lead rope. It is not that these horses are "quiet." They are well grounded, but quite sensitive. Most importantly, they are honest to the core.
The oldest offspring are a small crop born in 2001. Top riders have only recently discovered Willly, so we hope for big results in the coming years. What follows are highlights of some of the ones that we have followed. More details and photos on the way...
(back to top of page)
It's The Truth and Infinite Truth
When asked to write about the two Willy babies she bred, Liz Riley had a hard time separating the two! She said, "They are quite similar, so I figured I write about the both of them together." Tom (It's The Truth) has competed through Advanced and did his first CCI** at Fair Hill International in 2012 where he added a handful of time penalties and one rail in SJ to his dressage score. While the full TB, Harry (Infinite Truth) finished his first CCI* at VAHT and as of Fall 2012 is competing at Preliminary. Liz states that both love going to work, and "while they are at it, work really hard." She enjoys working with both of them and watching them develop over time. "Harry, being full TB, has a little more edge than Tom, who has the slightest bit of draft in him from his dam being Canadian Sporthorse. Harry can get a little bit more excited about things, but the work ethic never changes."
Liz states, "Both Harry and Tom are extremely bold XC, from day one in a XC jump field, they were very willing. Both have great gallops and cover a lot of ground in their stride. If you look at Harry's scores in dressage, you can see they just keep getting lower since he has done his first prelim. His last placement after dressage at Millbrook was the highest he had been at this level, and I see it getting even better. He is young, and just needs to keep getting out, but he just understands what he is supposed to do so quickly. Both of their jumping forms show how they are clean and tight with their legs. Show jumping has always been a test for me, and I keep figuring out ways to improve the way I direct my horses around show jumping. When I do ride Tom and Harry the way I should do in SJ, they have great rounds. Harry has a huge jump in him and really puts forth an effort to jump clean. Tom is a bit more economical with his height over jumps, but still has great form. Lastly, both of their temperaments in the barn are fantastic. If they could, I'm pretty sure they would attempt to crawl up in your lap just to be scratched. Both of them will put their heads in your arms and just fall asleep while being scratched on face. They both have the biggest personalities in the barn, and plenty of toys in their stalls to keep them entertained while being inside. And both will follow you out to their field with no halter on as long as you are carrying a carrot in your hand." We are very excited to follow this pair of Willy babies as they progress in the Eventing world. Hopefully we'll see Tom and Liz at Rolex one of these days...
This 2002 mare out of Fox Spring (Pas Seul) was on the small side (16.1) and very compact. I always knew she had a brilliant canter, but felt that her trot was kind of averge, compared to most of her siblings. Don't tell that to the dressage judge who gave us a score of 20 (80%) at Waredaca last spring. Abby started out with Jocelyn Kriss, an advanced level rider who bred her mare to Willy and then just didn't leave the farm for the next 6 months. She went from her first ride to her first Novice event in under 3 months, placing second. She always acted like she had evented in a past life. Jocelyn was dying to own her but I gotta make a living, so I sold her a week after she won her last event at Novice to Lindsay Nuttall. Abby was in the ribbons consistently for Lindsay while she was a resident student at Olympian Stephen Bradley's barn. Lindsay reported on her first lesson with Stephen that he just kept saying "Have I told you how much I like this horse?"
Soldier of Truth
This 16.3 hand 2003 gelding out of our Mokhieba mare, Gallic Gal, became my personal favorite. He went from being a scared little guy to a solid friend as soon as I put him in training. Right before Bruce Davidson bought him I took him foxhunting and did a hunter pace on him. He hunted like an old pro. I took him up to Bruce's for a lesson and was told that he was "as nice a young horse as I've seen anywhere." Team vet Brendan Furlong was equally impressed when he did the pre-purchase exam.
Buck came in 3rd at Rocking Horse Preliminary Spring HT 2009 on his dressage score of 32 - and successfully completed his first CCI* in the spring of 2009.
This 16.1 hand mare was sold to a student of event rider Juia Beamish as a three year old. Julia had shopped at many of the top barns in Area 2 and said that, "this is by far the nicest young event prospect I have seen." Julia had hoped to compete the horse regularly for the new owner, but Glen was such a great horse for her owner to hack that Julia rarely got to do the training that she had hoped to do. The photo at left is not unusual. She always jumps carefully and with textbook form, and Julia says she has never refused a jump! She also moves well enough to win the dressage at the top levels of the sport.
(back to top of page)
Truth to Power
This 17 hand gelding out of a Swedish Warmblood mare, Gamine, was, while we had him here at Dodon, the ultimate gentleman. From the time we backed him as a three year old he was always the one I could put a guest on and feel safe. I took him to an unrecognized event in the fall of his three year old year and he won. The next weekend I took him to the opening hunt where he stood like a pro for the blessing of the hounds and then went quietly with the first field whether they were running or at a check. Like all handsome, easy-to-ride horses he sold quickly and moved on the the job of event horse packer. Powy was always a pleasure.
Our friend and neigbor Sally Rohrbach bred her Thoroughbred mare to Willy in his first year standing. I don't think she ever forgave me for convincing her to sell him as a two year old, but he went to an adoring Steve Sandberg who wrote the following,
"He is a super looking dark bay and I've had him out fox hunting with Deep Run and Farmington in Charlottesville.
Everyone keeps asking how he's bred.
He is the most bomb-proof youngster I've ever ridden and people can't believe his age because he handles everything so calmly.
He's also an incredible mover. Naturally carries himself in frame with great balance.
Kenny Harlow, who helped me start him, is one of his biggest fans, and I've had several A show hunter trainers call him a $150k show hunter. My response is, so What?, he's my fox hunter and is NOT for sale."
This handsome 2004 gelding is out of a draft cross mare and was bred by Shawn White. Here is what Shawn has to say about his ability and temperament, "Presto is awesome and I am beyond thrilled with him! I took him to his first combined test back in May 2008 and he was a superstar. He trotted over those tadpole jumps like a pro. =) He has jumped every single thing I have pointed him at. Not at all like his mother who is the biggest chicken ever! He is also a very fast learner. Whenever I teach him a new 'trick' (turn on the forehand, backing up, etc) the next time I ride, almost as soon as I get on, he does whatever it is he has learned, It's like he's saying 'Oh, Oh! I learned this new trick! This is what you want right!? I know this!'. He is tons of fun and I couldn't ask for anything more."
Dressage breeder Lucy Wilson of Bluebird Farm bred this 17.3 hand 2001 gelding out of Anglo-Trakehner mare, Maggie Garrett by Elbiskus. Curt's FEI dressage trainer believes that he has the mind to become a successful FEI horse. He was sold recently and is scoring in the high 60s/low 70s at First Level. Watch for this one to move up...
Farah T Salute
Jazz Napravnik's mare managed to get Jazz safely through her first timber races as a teenager. That earned her the right to carry a foal, and Jazz chose Willy as the sire because of her fondness for the great timber star Saluter. The best way to teach a timber prospect to run is to put it on the track. Nobody expected Jazz's filly to do much when she ran her at Colonial Downs, but she won, with Jazz's sister in the irons. They won again at Laurel, this time with Jazz as trainer. "Great horses win wherever you put them," says Bruce Davidson. Farah T Salute can always be remembered as the horse that started her owner's career as a trainer. "Tye" is Willy's first Stakes Winner - she won the Sport of Queens Filly and Mare Hurdle Stakes Race at Palm Beach Steeplechase November 28, 2009! Click here for more photos from Palm Beach. Tye had her second stakes win at Calloway Gardens in Georgia in the Crown Royal Hurdles Stakes (2 1/4 miles). See article from Chronicle of the Horse, November 19, 2010 here. Tye was officially retired from racing in Spring 2011 to be a broodmare for Jazz.
Rosa is a strapping 16.3h TB mare who wowed the judges at the first USEA Future Event Horse Championships at Morven Park in 2007. She scored 74.64% - way higher than any other TB in her age group, and earning the Reserve Champion Three Year Old Filly award. At the time, Rosa was owned by Mark and Evelyn Susol.
This horse won the Five Year Old Class at MCTA's Young Event Horse Competition on May 2, 2008 against a strong field of horses ridden by many of the sport's top professionals. While mosthorses were awarded 6's and 7's on the jumping factors, Muse got 9's on all four and an 8 for his gallop. I had thought he would become an FEIdressage horse,knowing that he has great movement, but it took him some time to learn to use his 18 hand-plus body over jumps. No horse has a kinder attitude about his work. Brave, honest, beautifully balanced and exudes quality.
His dam is one of the best bred Trakehners in the country. She's by Consul (the deceased one in Germany who sired CCI**** eventers as well as jumpers and dressage) and her dam is by the famous dressage sire Mahagoni. Crossed with the best Thoroughbred sport horse blood in America (in my humble opinion) you'd expect a horse of this class. Too bad the mare's uterus was shot and we could only produce this one.
"Adam," as he's known to his breeder/owners, Nicole and Suzie Coffey, is described by them as "awesome, so laid back and friendly and gorgeous!" Laissez Faire won both the Hunter Breeding Yearling and Sporthorse Breeding Yearling in-hand classes at the Howard County Fair in 2008. He also won the Future Event Horse yearling colt/gelding class at the 2008 Difficult Run HT. He hops on the trailer without a question, ponies along next to other horses on trail rides, and he loves going in the water. The Coffeys are very excited about their future event horse and we're excited to see another gorgeous addition to Willy's offspring - good luck with him!
Salute The Captain
Captain cleaned up in the Future Event Horse Series in 2009: three for three - winning top placing of the Yearling Divisions at Waredaca, Serra Valley Farm and Loch Moy. He got the highest score of all yearlings at Loch Moy with a score of 81.75, with 8's or higher in all categories. In 2010, he continued to wow the judges in the FEH competitions and was the only full Thoroughbred to be presented in the 2 Year Old FEH Demonstration at Rolex in 2010. He won his first-ever Novice event at The Maryland Horse Trials in July 2012 on his dressage score or 34. Breeder and owner Marsha Spencer is thrilled with him. Salute The Captain is a full Thoroughbred, out of a mare named Pippi Highstocking. Here is a YouTube video of him being ridden at Rolex.
This handsome 2006 gelding is a great example of the powerful and balanced conformation that Salute The Truth offspring have. He's out of the ISR Selle Francais mare, Grande Amie.
(back to top of page)
Do you have a "Willy Baby?" If so, let us know how they're doing - we love updates!
Click here to see our broodmares and their offspring by Willy.