Gregory, who was bred in Hanover and who is stationed in the Oldenburg
breeding region of Cappeln is well on the way of following in
Donnerhall's hoofsteps both as a sire and in sport. In 1996, he won the
Grand Prix under Martina Hannöver and is thus already a "classical
winner". Since then he has increasingly had successes in breeding:
Daydream, out of the Trakehner mare Cinderella, was top horse in Vechta
and in the following summer dominated the stallion performance test in
Medingen. He was followed by several others, who succeeded in jumping
into the "hundred thousand (Deutschmark) club".
though Don Gregory's prepotency has far from waned, the next stallion is
already pounding against the door laying claim to his own chapter in the
big book with the heading "Foundation Sire Donnerhall": De
Niro. In 1996 he was at the very front at the stallion performance test
in Adelheidsdorf. The black Hanoveranian horse won the partial index of
rideability with a score of 145 points and became vice-champion of the
whole event. He presented highly remunerated foals and was proclaimed
champion stallion in Oldenburg as a four-and-a-half year old.
Performance record and progeny left no doubt about De Niro's
championship title. The Oldenburg stallion Days of 1996 could not do
without Donnerhall either. Three direct sons were approved, of whom the
extremely true to type Donatelli was able to advance into the premium
lot as the best. He was then stationed at the traditional Kathmann
station in Holtrup and two years later was awarded the I-c main premium.
The darling of the audience at this approval was a Donnerhall grandson.
The I-c premium stallion De La Gardie, a Davignon son at the start of a
long journey who became a state stallion in Sweden, at the Flyinge stud.
He did brilliantly in his stallion performance test in Medingen in
Germany but his performances are equally good in his new Scandinavian
to Donnerhall once more, the years after his success in Den Haag. The
first climax of the year 1995: Hollywood. The Place where the stars
meet. The place where the finals of the Volvo Dressage World Cup were
held. The preliminaries, the Grand Prix, were absolved with faults. A
bad starting position for Karin Rehbein, who nevertheless managed to
attain fifth place after a very good presentation of the basic
exercises. The goal for that season was clear: The European
championships in Luxemburg. An accident however prevented participation
in Luxemburg. 1995 was the only year in Donnerhall's long career in
which he did not enjoy perfect health.
dream of a second performance in the USA, the dream of Atlanta and
Olympic gold however remained a dream for ever. The dressage committee
decided on a quartet without Donnerhall in 1996. Donnerhall and Karin
Rehbein made a successful comeback at the indoor season in autumn. In
Berlin the pair won the basic exercises in the "Deutschlandhalle".
The dressage judge Heinz Schütte was impressed by the freshness of the
then fifteen-year old. In Neumünster in February 1997 "Donni"
was even so saucy, during the basic exercises, that he pertly aimed at
the thigh and gained third place.
went to the start as winner of the Western European League at the finals
in the Dutch t' Hertogenbosch. This time he attained fourth place.
Donnerhall's last great success, which Herbert Rehbein was still able to
witness. In the summer of 1997, the probably most significant dressage
trainer of the past few decades died of cancer. Whenever Karin Rehbein's
name was mentioned (or for that matter is mentioned) in context with
Donnerhall, his name is also in people's minds. Karin and Herbert
Rehbein together advanced many internationally successful horses and
Donnerhall is their masterpiece. The quintessence of a marriage in which
everything revolved around horses. The 1997 CH 10 of Aix-la-Chapelle was
the qualification tournament for the European championships which in
that year were held in Verden in Lower Saxony. Karin Rehbein refrained
from starting so soon after the death of her husband. She was still
unable to ride, too deep was the sorrow that she felt. She finally did
make use of the last qualification however and came second in the German
Championships. Following her ride she said "Herbert would have
wanted it this way". The vice-champion was thereupon nominated for
the European Championship in Verden. There, the German dressage riders
won the anticipated team gold medal. But who would win in the quest for
the individual bronze medal ? Who would succeed in the jump onto the
winner's steps next to Isabelle Werth and Anky van Grunsven, the two
riders who would most certainly win gold and silver? Numerous wagers
were placed on Louise Nathorst and Walk on Top, the winner of the World
Cup finals. But things came differently than expected, Donnerhall put up
the third best performance of the European Championship therefore
winning the bronze medal. Even though Nadine Capellmann-Biffar had the
same points score, she only came fourth in the three index evaluations.
Donnerhall's show talent, the better placement for the basic freestyle
exercises were the basis for the success at that event, which Karin
Rehbein retrospectively regards as the greatest of her career.
almost won a further individual medal at the World Riding Games in 1998.
The year had begun well, the riding duo was among the best at the World
Cup finals, then the Derby win in Hamburg. Donnerhall furthermore did
well at the German championship in Gera and even though that did not
suffice to win, there were enough people at the edge of the dressage
arena who were of the opinion that Donnerhall was the actual winner of
the test. Donnerhall nevertheless qualified for the World Riding
Championships in Rome.
stakes were high once more in the eternal city. After the Grand Prix,
Donnerhall was fourth, which meant team gold for Germany. Thereafter the
duo came fourth again in the Grand Prix Special which sufficed for the
third place in the intermediate evaluation and was the best prerequisite
for the basic freestyle exercises. Here his performance was however
"only" good enough for fifth place, which added up in the
final score, amounted to place four. In Rome, Karin Rehbein reached the
decision to withdraw Donnerhall from active competition sport. Karin, as
head of the Grönwohldhof had earlier on already stressed that if
Donnerhall were to retire, he would only do so at a nice tournament and
what's more, he still had to be 100% fit. She had seen too many great
dressage horses disappear without a trace, too old to really have great
successes in the dressage arena, or the official veterinarian might see
himself in the predicament of having to end a world career through a
routine check up for the condition of a horse. Donnerhall would not
become the victim of such a fate.
rode his last salutation round in Rome, at least as regards competition
sport, but he still had a long period to fulfill on the breeding stage.
It was only his farewell from sport that was celebrated. More than 3,000
thrilled spectators showed their reverence to that wonderful personality
of a stallion at the 1998 Oldenburg Stallion Days, who had already
become a legend during his own lifetime. Successful sons such as Dream
of Glory, the former federal champion Davignon and the current German
class champion Del Piero took part. Then there was the five-year old De
Niro, who suddenly started doing piaffes as though it were the most
natural thing in the world to do and of course Duntroon, who is well on
the way to the very top and not to forget the Grand Prix winners Don
Gregory and Don Primero.
all however, Donnerhall was there. A stamping rhythm resounded from the
loudspeakers of the sold out Weser Ems Hall in Oldenburg. Synthesizer
sounds; music to get everyone swinging. The stallion with the D.M.
640,000 life winnings sum trotted in regally. He knew his audience and
was aware that that was his show. Once more, Karin Rehbein dug deeply
into her bag of Grand Prix sports tricks: Change of canter "a
tempi"- not ten, not twenty, no - far in excess of forty. And
piaffes, passages, pure energy! Joie de vivre, power! Then the solemn
moment: Donnerhall stood in the middle, his breeder Otto Gärtner next
to him. Peter Wandschneider, the stable manager of the Grönwohldhof was
also asked to join the group, as was Paul, the English horse keeper, who
had looked after Donnerhall over the past years. Donnerhall, who was
awarded the title of Oldenburg Dressage Stallion of the Year for the
second time in his life was presented with a large wheelbarrow full of
carrots. Then his sons appeared, taking their positions in a
semi-circle. The lights went off. Oldenburg's auction manager Uwe
Heckmann worked out the event as master of ceremonies. Suddenly 80 small
children came into the blacked out arena carrying lanterns, each lantern
bearing the Oldenburg brand. "A breeding region says thank you to
Donnerhall". The candles flickered in the lanterns carried by the
children. Diffuse light lit up the scene: the protagonist standing there
just like a monument, motionless, only his eyes gleaming. The goose
pimple chorale " I pray to the power of love" rang out. All
the able-bodied people in the Weser-Ems Hall were meanwhile standing,
solemnly listening to the sounds, with more than just the occasional
tear in some of their eyes. Then came the finale, with the 80 children
forming a narrow lane. Donnerhall definitively made his last round of
honour over the centre line in front of the eyes of "his"
Oldenburg breeders. Karin Rehbein passed through the sea of lights
accompanied by a spotlight doing two, three piaffes along the route
outside. Donnerhall danced and beamed. The public was enraptured . The
final 20 metres were covered at a last heightened trot, with Karin
Rehbein waving to the crowd. Outside she was presented with a red rose
by each of the 80 children.
like these were repeated over the following weeks in the big farewell
tournament through the whole of Germany. He was a triumph everywhere,
whether it was in the Stuttgart Schleyer Hall, on the second last
November weekend or in front of his home audience in Schleswig Holstein,
in the Baltic Sea Hall of Kiel (Ostsee Halle) on the first Advent.
is beyond question, that Donnerhall succeeded in founding his own
stallion line. He is an exceptional sire, who was even permitted to
cover Holstein mares even though the Holstein breeders are rather
sceptical and essentially disapprove of all stallions from other breeds.
Donnerhall is recognised in the Netherlands and Belgium, in the U.S.A.
and Denmark, as well as in France. His sons and grandsons are growing to
maturity all over the world and seeing to the dissemination of
Donnerhall genes, which above all, guarantee one thing, namely
rideability and intellect, factors, which when viewed soberly, are
probably the most important characteristics of warmblood breeding. A
glance at the approvals sites of the leading German breeding regions in
the autumn of 1998 verify Donnerhall's significance. A number of
Donnerhall sons and grandsons were approved in Hanover. A direct
Donnerhall son (dam by Matcho AA) was in the first Celle lot looking
forward to a career as a state stallion. He was furthermore a
thunderclap in Warendorf at the North-Rhine Westphalian approvals, where
the champion stallion was by Donnerhall (dam by Rosenkavalier), another
horse predestined for a career as a state stallion. The vice-champion
(by Donnerwind-Mephistopheles is carrying on the succession of
generations. In Oldenburg, the winning stallion was out of a Donnerhall
dam and the vice-champion had the blood of the legendary sire pulsating
in his veins in the second generation via his sire Duntroon.
tally of Duntroon's successes includes one-hundred-and-eighteen wins in
advanced dressage competitions and life winnings of around DM 640,000.
There are more than 250 progeny performing successfully in competition
sport in Germany alone, apart from those in other countries. Donnerhall
is without a doubt the most important contemporary dressage stallion. It
also goes without saying that he is a foundation sire: one that will
still be talked about with respect even in the year 2050. Irrespective
of which direction riding horse breeding will develop to, the world will
always need a stallion like Donnerhall.