It all started with the mountain ponies . .
The Valhalla stud was founded in 1982, even if I (= Carl) have worked with welsh mountain pony breeding since 1971 and been an active rider since the mid-60’es (also on a sec.A mare, when I was much younger and lighter!). After a lot of years riding a lot of different horses (mainly Danish warm-blooded), a period with the Danish Horse Guards and 4 years as a riding teacher, I wanted to work seriously with breeding, and thus Karen and I started with a couple of welsh mountain pony mares.
The big chance in our stud happened 3-4 years later.
Already in 1977, when I visited Wales for the first time, I learned what a welsh cob really is. I hardly knew it then, and I had not imagined (being a big, heavy rider), that there would be a real alternative to the Danish warm-blooded horses for me to ride. But here I saw a versatile, strong, courageous and energetic horse, that could fulfil all my demands for a versatile cross country and show jumping horse and allow me to stick to my bellowed welsh breeds and at the same time was much cheaper to keep and feed - all in one !
But in the beginning it had been financially impossible to import such a welsh cob, and as the breed was almost non-existent in Denmark, it was only a dream.
The dream started to come through in the early Spring of 1984 when we saw a nice chestnut colt foal with Lene and Joe Pearson, namely Merlyn Welsh Diamond by Scole Model and out of Twyford Diadem by Parc Dafydd - our first welsh cob. He matured nicely, and he did well when shown, even if he was never a top class show cob. In 1989 we sold him, but before that he sired some nice foals; since we sold him, he has developed into a very talented show jumper.
From small to big
Our experiences with the welsh cob really thrilled us, so we decided to sell all "the small ones", even if it was a tough decision. The income from this sale should instead finance us buying a foundation mare for the welsh cob stud, we wanted to change into.
After a long winters search in journals and stud books we decided to buy the 2 year old black beauty: Rotherdale Eclipse. Eclipse, a filly by Gwrthafarn Commander (Twyford Druid / Cippyn Red Flyer) and out of Abertawe Dorinda by Nebo Black Magic, had as a yearling won a number of county shows and some championships, which we considered to be a proof of her potential and quality. And we were absolutely not disappointed: already as a 2 year old she won the junior - and female championships at the Danish national grading show, and even supreme cob champion in front of a number of the best cobs in those years. The following year she was again first and was graded in class I, and again she won the 3 championships. Since then she has also won at the major agricultural shows, and first and foremost she has bred us a string of pearls, most of them champions.
As a three year old we covered her and broke her in under saddle, which was very easy. Now the time had come to judge, if my theories were correct: was a 15 hand welsh cob really as good a ride as a 16.3 varmblooded ?? The answer has always been and still is a big YES!
Since 1988 I have ridden Eclipse (and our other Cobs) as often as my job allows me to, and I have always enjoyed it a lot.
A prince for the princess . .
Any true princess should have a true prince, also in the real fairytales. Therefore we started to look for a stallion, that could really live up to all our expectations, not only reg. type, expression and looks but also reg. size, movements and riding qualities. The answer to all this we found in 1988, when we enjoyed the 3 year old colt class at the Royal Welsh; right from the first moment, when he and Cliff Holland came "flying" into the ring, till he was called in second to Minyffordd Principality our eyes fell on Calerux Black Prince, the black prince, that could fulfil all our wishes.
But my enquiries about leasing or buying was all rejected; Prince had won the Royal Welsh as a yearling and most of all the other major shows incl. a lot of championships, and therefore the horse was absolutely NOT for sale!! Two nights in the bar eased the conversation a bit, and after a whole winters correspondence and an "inspection visit" to Denmark, we were at last allowed to lease him for 2 years - what a relief. Later on we managed to persuade Cliff to sell him to us, and thus Prince stayed with us for almost 10 years, and he became truly the "stallion of our lifetime"!!
Prince arrived in Denmark in the Spring of 1989, and I believe he impressed most people. Few in Denmark had then seen a cob of such high quality and he was much sought after as a sire, especially in the first years. At the annual grading shows he won the Danish national cob championship for 3 consecutive years, he was awarded a special at Roskilde Agricultural show, he was Overall Supreme Champion at a stallion parade, and he won the international male championship at the International Show in Roskilde in 1990!
Another foundation mare . .
Inspired by the success we had with Eclipse, we started looking for one more foundation mare, and again we could not resist a Rotherdale filly, namely Rotherdale Heiress, also by the super stock getter Gwrthafarn Commander, the big, black stallion who has never been shown, but breeds showwinners with a lovely temperament and a lot of quality. Heiress caught our attention the first time we saw her, as a foal at the Royal Welsh, where she was shown with her dam, the modern times phenomenon Tydfil Magic Princess, who has won the Royal Welsh 4 times, and therefore will live on in the history of the welsh cob with such famous names as Parc Lady and Tyhen Mattie.
Heiress was also famous as a foal, because she won the foal classes of the major shows that year (the Royal, Northleach, Three Counties, National Pony show etc.), but also because she was made res. champion to her dam (beating the male and junior champions) at e.g. Northleach. Heiress was thus a much sought after "young lady", but she was not for sale.
I were allowed to run her in a field at Rotherdale, and after the first round I realised, that she was really something special, and that we "had" to buy her. But that was very much easier thought and said, than done!! Not till after 12 months of begging, persuasions, "threats" and the like the Burt family gave in - and agreed to sell her to Denmark.
The persistency proved to be wise; since she arrived in Denmark, she has been a constant source of joy: as a 2 year old she won the Best-In-Show title at our major youngstock show, and she was champion filly of all (22) horse breeds at the Roskilde Agricultural show. As a 3 year old she was again first, she was graded in class I, she won the junior- and female championships, and she was reserve to Prince for the supreme title. Since then she has won a lot of other prizes and championships at the major agricultural shows and e.g. as Overall Supreme Champion of the Grading show in 1995.
But more important than all this, she has the most wonderful personality. Because of that she has become Karen’s riding favourite and the pet of the whole family. Even our Jack Russell terrier prefers her: she stands very quiet, when the very self-confident terrier is cleaning her back, even when Heiress very clearly signals, that she considers the cleaning job done, and the terrier just replies with growling and barking.
A string of pearls . .
Even if Prince was a big success in the showring himself, I must say, that he has an even bigger influence through his success as a sire. Very seldom has a stallion has such a break through in such a short time and with such a limited number of mares to breed from: in fact Prince won the prestigious Egetofte Cup, that is awarded to the winner of the Danish Sire Ratings - of all sections, not less than 4 times. Furthermore his progeny group in 1993 was given the record high points: I.class, I.degree 23 points!
But most of all Prince has given us a long string of winners and champions with our 2 foundation mares from Rotherdale:
1. Heiress and Prince has bred us Valhalla’s Harri ap Prince, champion foal of all breeds at Roskilde agricultural show 1992, and Valhalla’s Queen of Hearts, champion foal of all breeds at Roskilde agricultural show 1993 - giving us a most unusual double!!
In 1995 they bred Valhalla’s Hillary, who won the foal class at the grading show and was reserve youngstock champion. We decided to keep Hillary at the stud, and that prooved a wise decision, when she in June 2000 won the prestigious title: Overall Female Champion from all the different horse breeds' best brood mares at Roskilde Agricultural Show.
2. Eclipse and Prince has bred us a string of fillies:
* Valhalla’s Ebony Princess (1990) Show winner, reserve female champion and reserve supreme champion 1992
* Valhalla’s Emily (1991) - see below
* Valhalla’s Empress (1992) - show winner 1993 and 94
* Valhalla’s Elfie (1993) - Best in-Show as a foal, Best-In-Show as a yearling, and 2nd in the Internal show 1994.
Emily - a chapter of her own . .
Our largest success to date is without doubt the gorgeous Prince-/Eclipse-daughter: Emily. We had for years dreamt of a black filly with a blaze and 4 white feet, and suddenly one warm June morning, she was there and the dream had come through.
Her show carrier started as a foal, when she won the BIS-title at the Goerlev foalshow; as a yearling and as a 2 year old she was first in the youngstock classes. Also as a 2 year old she was first at the grading show, and - just like her dam - she won the junior, female - and Supreme championships; and to crown the achievement she was even reserve for the overall title of the whole show!
In 1994 she just went on: in June she won the title as the Champion 3 year old filly of all horse breeds at Roskilde Agricultural show; at the national grading show in August she repeated her 1993 triumphs by winning the youngstock-, female - and Supreme championships, and she was - like all our other brood mares - graded first in class I.
Later on in August we all went, with a lot of expectations, to the International show in Switzerland to see, how far she could go in the international competition. In advance we were most "afraid" of the many times champion Minyffordd Principality, who had won almost everything in Wales incl. the Royal Welsh, and the German supermare Palatinate Rose, who had won a number of major shows in Wales incl. the International show in Peterborough, and a number of German championships.
And as expected these two were the major contestants in the end. Emily won her class, and then she had to fight for the Junior Cob Championship. Next she won the Overall Junior Championship to become the best youngstock exhibit of all sections. Finally we were up for the Supreme Cob championship, and here we met the 2 champions mentioned above; after a lot of sweat and trotting around the ring Emily again ended up first, with Palatinate Rose second.
Covered with ribbons and rosettes we went into the overall championship of the whole show. Again the 4 set of judges eyes fell on Emily, and the judges had to call in a "arbitrator", namely the first lady of international Welsh breeding, Mrs. Alison Mountain, as the "votes" were 2-2 between Emily and the Danish owned sec.B mare, Krogensgaard Bunny. After another last round Mrs. Mountain chose the sec.B mare with Emily being reserve! What a day!!!
Since the international triumphs in 1994 Emily has gone on winning, e.g. at Roskilde Agricultural show and at the national grading show in 1997, when she was Best-In-Show. Thus she made it a sort of "hat-trick", since Erica was BIS in 1992 and Heiress was BIS in 1995.
Emily has therefore based on her great show carrier been chosen as a brood mare at Valhalla. And here she has already in few years proven her talent as a brood mare as she so far is the dam of e.g.:
· Valhalla’s MacBeth; stallion at the Lindberg stud. Graded in 1st Class; Youngstock champion og res. Male champion (twice)
· Valhalla’s Meg Ryan; brood- and riding mare in Norway
· Valhalla’s Melissa; brood- and riding mare in Sweden
· Valhalla’s Maggie May; BEST-IN-SHOW 2003 – kept at Valhalla
More ”black pearls” - Hillary!!
We have had a lot of trouble over the last few years deciding which one of our ”black pearls” – that is Emily or Hillary – that is the best!! And we have not decided it yet; we think that their success as brood mares will have to decide?
Their success in the show ring does not really make a difference. Even if Emily has achieved all the International successes in Switzerland, Hillary has gone all the way to the top in the inter-breed competitions in Roskilde (2000) and this championship we also rate very highly.
Anyway Valhalla's Hillary followed in her older sisters footsteps, when she in her ”2nd debut” had the most glorious 2000 season!! Hillary was shown for first time as a foal in 1995, when she won her foal class and was res. Youngstock champion; being only a foal that was quite an achievement. But later on that Autumn she had an accident and damaged her fetlock joint (on one hind leg), and it took her years to really come back to full potential. The injury therefore kept her out of the show ring for a number of years and it wasn’t till year 2000 that we felt, that we could try her again. Therefore it was with a lot of uncertainty and a bit of fear that we planned for a season that – if everything went well – should include the agricultural show and the National show.
In many ways the Roskilde Agricultural show was a test. We were not certain that the joint could stand the extra pressure caused by the showing and the excitement, but any doubts were made to shame when Hillary came into the ring at Roskilde. She floated round the ring as if she had never left it, and the judges were so impressed that they awarded her the 24 points (maximum!!) and a special prize! Later on during the show she went (as mentioned above) all the way to the top and won the very prestigious title "Overall Female Champion” of the Roskilde inter-breed competition, that means from brood mares representing app. 25 different horse breeds in this country!!
The same year (2000) she also won the BEST-IN-SHOW title (that is Overall Supreme Champion) at the Danish/Swedish Pegasus Show at the island Amager. At the National Grading show she made it a hat-trick going all the way to the top for the third time in the same year: She was graded in 1st Class as no. 1, she won the Female championship, the Supreme Cob championship and finally the BEST-IN-SHOW title!!
Hillary continued this incredible success during the next 2 years at the National shows. Doing that she probably already has underlined, that she is the best Welsh Cob we ever bred?!! She has won the Danish National Welsh Cob championship for 3 consecutive years (2000-2002) and even more she has also won the BIS title twice in 3 years (2000 og 2002).
The only ”problem” with so much success is, that we in Denmark seem to have this funny idea, that you don’t exhibit the same animal too often. And that is a bit odd, because in Wales they seem to be absolutely opposite: They can’t have enough of their favourites. Everybody cheers when the same champion mares or stallions enter the ring e.g. at the Royal Welsh for the 10th, 12th or 15th year, and this is the only way great names like Ebbw Victor, Parc Rachel or last years winner Gwenllan Sali could have been established!!
But in this country we’re opposite; or at least most people are. Therefore it is quite likely that Hillary already as a 7 year old mare has finished her show career?! But let’s wait and see; she might pop up again somewhere – just to prove that we’re different?
Another foundation mare joins us
The so far ”last” chapter of our history has joined us within the last few years: Our third foundation mare, Trevallion Lady Lillian, was bought in October 2002 as a replacement of Trevallion Chloe, whom we sold to the Lindberg stud. For a long period we had been admiring the high quality of fillies and mares, that had been bred at the well-known and respected Trevallion stud with Nelson Smith. Almost all of these mares, including the Royal Welsh champion and George Prince of Wales Cup winner Trevallion Georgio, descended from the great mare Tapton Rachael, that virtually founded the success of the Trevallion stud.
It was therefore with great pleasure that we have acquired 2 mares from the female line of the old Rachael. The first mare was Chloe, who bred foals of very high quality for us, and now Lady who has been bought especially because I (= Carl) for many years have dreamt of owning a dun mare – and now I found her!!
Lady was a complete novice in the show ring, because she was never shown before she came to Denmark. Therefore is was with a lot of uncertainty we in August 2003 took her to her first show ever: the National Grading show. But she lived up to all our expectations and hopes; she was 1st in her grading class and was graded in 1st Class, and later on she won the Female championship and the Supreme Cob championship before she ended the day being reserve to the Best-In-Show title!! A grand debut for a novice!
And the story goes on . .
With this quality of brood mares and carefully selected, leased stallions we strive to maintain the high success rate and the sought after youngstock, we have produced so far, for breeders in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.