Spirit of Bucephalus- by Henri Senn
Amid some wonderful videos to celebrate Interdressage’s 5th anniversary Trophy Show in April, one video stood out from all the rest for me, and for many others. We watched Linda Barratt and her stunning Spirit of Bucephalus (right) with amazement, awe, and many giggles, and her test, scoring a superb 78.64%, started up a very lively, if just a little silly, debate on the Interdressage Facebook chat page.
For those of you who may have missed this, here is a potted history of that very rare horse breed, the “Hobby”.
The breed originated from three very well-known stallions, Bamboo (who was brought to Europe from the Far East), Curtain, and Broom. More recently Hoover has sired many foals, most notably Die Son (by Vax) Hoover progeny tend to have long necks and tend to keep their stables remarkably clean, although their tails can be devils to plait, unlike those by Broom, who seem to have an amazing tendency to gravitate towards all the dirt on their yards. Bamboo’s offspring like the outdoors, while Curtain’s tend to be homebodies.
Much discussion revolved around the breeding of our Hobbies. My own horse, Sockorski’s dam, Bamboo Stick, was by Clump of Bamboo, out of The Garden(Bamboo lineage). Karin’s “Nobby Hobby Horse” is by Curtain Pole, out of Material Offcut (Curtain lineage). He has Kapok Stuffing in his lineage, along with Armchair Castor. Linda’s friend’s horse’s parents are Broom Stick and Little Wheel (Broom lineage). I understand “Sweep The Yard” was a more recent prolific stallion (and also a descendant of Broom), and among his many foals were Pitchfork, Stiff Broom and Poo Picker, not forgetting Dust Gone.
Spirit of Buceplalus has some wonderful breeding lines, his sire was Brown Card and his dam was Bamboo Stick. I understand UHU Glue and Laggy Band are in there somewhere too. A definite thoroughbred Hobby there!
Debbie Antolak has one of Bamboo Stick’s offspring at her barn, though this mare ("Spindly Bamboo" is her name) has had a pretty difficult life...been used hard by many boarders, she just hangs around close to the barn just waiting to see what little bits of hay she can scrounge off the ground. She is very sweet though, easy to handle....must be a common thing with this bloodline. Debbie tends to take out "Broad Sweep" instead, he's younger and can handle more rigorous work.
There are quite a few hobby horses with Curtain lines......Curtain Hooks, Curtain Rings and Curtain Material. I understand Curtain Material is only good at lateral movements and tends to hang around a lot !!
There was another stallion named "Pogo Stick" who must have been out of Bamboo Stick. Well known for producing perfect piaffes and passages in his offspring, although sitting trot on them was near impossible. Pogo Stick also produced "Bounce On", who was out of a lovely , if a little overweight, mare "Big Green Ball". Now she had beautiful smooth gaits, and was related to Space Hopper, I believe!
The Hobby has quite definite characteristics. They often have quite unusual colourings, Sockorski, while a grey, has green ears, and my grey mare has brown flecked and very fluffy ears, as well as a major dental problem (see photo) I had hoped to breed from them but after many years with no foals it sadly looks like this will not be successful. Manes are often brightly coloured and can have unusual textures, they often have no tails, and rumour has it they may not have four legs, although this has never been fully proven.
They also tend towards extreme skinniness, but on the bright side do not get laminitis and are very cheap to keep. My two share a stable (which looks remarkably like an umbrella stand) with Cassie’s 2 ponies (sadly both really far too small for her to ride now) very happily, and can manage to fend for themselves very successfully even when we go on holiday. Vet bills tend to stay at a minimum as they are generally a very hardy breed, although the ability to sew a neat stitch can come in handy at times in case of injury. Farrier bills are also very low, mine seem to wear their hooves down themselves and I have not had to call out the farrier in many years, they do, very strangely, sometimes appear lame or very stiff when ridden, however.
Unfortunately for dressage purposes the whole breed tend to be a little wooden and lack inside bend. They can also run out of stamina quickly when exercised for any length of time, although when ridden by younger riders their stamina seems much improved. Thanks to Linda Barratt we see that they can successfully compete in Interdressage, and I understand Karina is planning a charity class for them in July, so they can all be brought out of attics, (and umbrella stands) dusted off, and start competing (but hopefully in smaller dressage arenas please!!!)
With thanks to all those who contributed to the original posts about the Hobby, and whose comments I have used here.