Mario Everse: "Horse breeders must think more into European terms"

"Horse breeders must think more into European terms"

Mario Everse

One of the most popular young AES stallions of the season listens to the name E-Star (photo). It’s one of the few approved sons of Nick Skelton’s show jumper Big Star. Just like his father, E-Star was produced by Mario and Mischa Everse in Waddinxveen, a Dutch village between Rotterdam and Utrecht. Once Mario Everse ran a huge hairdresser’s chain. Today he is one of the biggest horse breeders in the Netherlands, and an AES breeder!

E-Star is one of the most used young stallions of the country. Was that what you expected?
Normally you would think an AES approved stallion would cover less mares, not? In the Netherlands breeders are still a bit supercilious about the studbook, because they have a long tradition with KWPN. Nevertheless I don’t think we need to talk about AES like that. I consider it as a full-fledged studbook, which has occupied a place between the best of the world on the WBFSH world ranking. The fact that E-Star was so much used lately, means a change is happening. In the recent past only KWPN approved stallions got that many mares. I know that not all AES stallions will breed this much, but it’s the same for KWPN. Many of the young stallions only breed few. If a stallion doesn’t prove himself in the show arena, he will not be accepted by the breeders anymore, whatever studbook we’re talking about. I think that’s a good evolution.

How do you think the breeding will further develop?
I’m convinced that the breeders will not keep on appreciating the bureaucracy of the established studbooks. It will need a few more years, but I think horse breeding will end up being a European activity without frontiers. Breeders will think more in European terms, like AES is doing already for a while. To guarantee the quality of our horses, we will have to think global. In The Netherlands there’s still a doubt, but in Belgium AES is already more accepted. The Belgians are breeding better. That’s what I realized already many years ago. Dutch breeders stick with certain criteria, which are not linked to the sport. They think too much in frames, but as a business man, I always learned that “thinking out of the box” is the only way to progress. That’s what AES is realizing. There’s a sport culture for sure. The stallion approvals are proving that.

You think breeders in your area are concerning too much about the type of a horse?
Indeed. An overload of model tests give the breeders a wrong image about breeding. They are convinced that those tests are important. Okay, I also like to have a good conformation, but that’s it. I don’t mind if the head is a bit bigger. I try to never forget that I want to breed horses for the big sport. That’s my first criterion.

Do you think an AES keuring is sufficiently strict? Some opponents say it’s not…
For sure AES is more supple, but they will never grade a stallion that cannot jump. For sure they will be less strenuous about the model, but they have a good reason for that. In the end AES tries to preserve the real jumpers.

Big Star is the living proof of this. He was rejected during the first test of the KWPN stallion approvals and afterwards he got accepted by the AES.
When he went to KWPN, I wasn’t owner yet, so I cannot tell you more about this case. In the end it was my luck that he wasn’t KWPN approved. Otherwise I had never been given the chance to buy the horse. He became four years of age when I bought 50% by his breeder. I had seen the horse at Alan Waldman’s. We have had him in our barn for one year. Egbert Schep then bought my part and less than one month later, Nick Skelton became the new owner. The life story of a horse can be very exciting. At first KWPN doesn’t want to see the horse when it’s three years old. Later on the same horse becomes the big promoter of the studbook. Thanks to Big Star, KWPN was the number one of the world ranking last year. When he started to perform so brilliantly, he was accepted as a breeding stallion by KWPN aswell, but that doesn’t say anything about recognizing the qualitiy of young horses.

Also E-Star was picked up by AES. What’s this story like?
E-Star was appointed for the saddle test of the KWPN stallion approval, but I voluntary didn’t participate at that final test. I’m not a supporter of those heavy tests for three-year-old stallions. That’s why I have kept E-Star home. I think young horses are overloaded in Ermelo. The saddle test is a seventy day operation on location. Foreign people are riding the horses. You don’t know how they handle your horse and who’s riding it. I didn’t want to take that risk with E-Star. I didn’t mind to wait a bit longer before my horse showed his quality. Afterwards AES approved my stallion and not much later he seduced the breeders during the stallion competition.

Quality always comes above?
That’s it! For whatever studbook your stallion is graded. In Holland breeders are still a bit attached to the KWPN criteria, but E-Star meets all requirements. I don’t see one reason why a KWPN breeder wouldn’t use this AES approved stallion. The foals can be entered in every studbook, as AES is a WBFSH renown studbook. Dutch breeders can get a KWPN A register passport with their foal, but  I am registering with AES. It’s not the paper that has to jump, it’s the horse!

What’s the story about E-Star?
I have bred him at home. First I had his aunt Chocola Z (Carthago). Mischa placed fourth at the World Breeding championship in Lanaken with the mare when she was six. Later on she turned out to be a GP horse with Andrew Ramsay. That’s why I started looking for more horses from this damline. In the north of Holland, I found a half sister by Heartbreaker. I bought her in foal, but I injected the mare to reject the embryo. I covered her by Big Star and the result of that cross was E-Star. Afterwards the Heartbreaker mare seemed to be very fertile. In one year I had once seven foals out of her, through embryo transfer. Later I have bought and resold more horses out of this motherline, and I saw one common characteristic for all of them. They all can jump! This year I bred one full sister of E-Star.

Big Star doesn’t have a huge offspring. The semen is not for sale on the market, but it’s very much wanted. How much semen do you still have?
Big Star has covered two times with us to freeze semen. I used some, but have still ten straws. I don’t sell any of them, however everybody keeps on calling for it. The quality of the semen is not very good. That’s why I wait before the ICSI technique is available in The Netherlands. Then I have more chances to get several foals out of this portion of semen. At the University of Utrecht, they are working hard to start providing ICSI. It means they instrumentally implant the sperm cell in the ovum, under the microscope. It’s a promising method to get mares pregnant when the quality of the semen or the mare herself is not very fertile.

E-Star looks different than Big Star. Is that also how you think about it?
E-Star is more beautiful and more modern than his father. He’s jumping also a bit better behind, but furthermore I only see similarities. I have a video of Big Star when he was four. When you look at that before watching E-Star jump, then they really resemble each other. Their jumping style, their attitude, their balance and the gallop are equal. At that age they were both so eager, they had so much “blood”, that we never got high notes for ride ability. But in the end you need that “blood” to win the game!


E-Star sold to Janika Sprunger
Just a while after this interview with Mario Everse, he sold his super star E-Star to Switzerland. The five-year-old talented grey horse was acquired by the sponsor of Janika Sprunger. Her top horse Palloubet d’Hallong was sold to Qatar for 11.000.000 euro last year, so now she’s looking for new horses of this quality. Last year she came to buy Bacardi VDL in Holland. Now it’s E-Star’s turn.


Stal Everse more focusing on breeding
More and more the stable of Mario and Mischa Everse is focusing on breeding. Initially they sold mainly dealing horses, but nowadays they have more own breeding products in training. This year Everse had 22 new born foals. Mario: ‘It’s hard times to buy horses. Believe that from me. The horse business changed a lot in recent years. The best horses became much more expensive and the other ones you don’t want to have. That’s why I try to breed more myself now. Eighty percent of my horses are bred at home. I think it’s a tendency for all the big stables. More riders and dealers start to breed themselves, because they cannot buy the  horses anymore. And why wouldn’t we do it? The private breeders reduced their stock because of the economical crisis. The number of foals born in Europe reduced a lot. If the demand stays the same, then it’s interesting to keep on breeding.’ And Mario is breeding in large numbers: ‘Maybe it’s getting a bit too big. I think about reselling some breeding mares. When you start doing ET, it’s going fast!’ To accommodate all of these horses, Mario has bought a farm next to his training stable. There he has huge renovation plans, so he can keep all of his horses at home.

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