Oct 21, 2018
Alfonso Romo was a passionate international competitor himself, not too long ago. At the same time this successful Mexican businessman started his breeding operation at La Silla, with brood mares that used to be stars in their own right, at the highest level of the sport, like Renate la Silla, Osta Carpets Carrera and Armonia.
Small wonder that Alfonso Romo is among the most successful breeders of show jumpers around the globe. We asked mr. Romo the same questions as we did previously with Paul Schockemöhle.
1) Based on the horse that you bred and is the best performer so far, what would you say is the explanation that this horse did so well?The first horse that comes to mind is Breitling LS, the World Cup winner ridden by Beezie Madden. He is by Quintero La Silla out of Armonía La Silla (s. Accord II), an intelligent mare with an outstanding conformation. She is elastic, light, almost thoroughbred in her physique, brave, and a very clean jumper with a wonderful technique. In seeking a stallion for her, we chose the Holstein stallion Quintero for his strength, his powerful hind end and his proven record as a Grand Prix horse.
And I would have to mention Rubens La Silla, by Rebozo La Silla and Channel (s. Cash), ridden by Conor Swail. A horse with a lot of jumping ability and power, strengthened by his family lines. His dam Channel was a Grand Prix mare, ridden by Gerardo Tazzer. A beautiful type, big and with a lot of quality and jump. Sire Rebozo La Silla was a World Championship Stallion, ridden by Rodrigo Pessoa. Very stable in his mind, great heart and will to jump. He needed a partner with quality, a bigger frame and power.
But we cannot leave this question without also mentioning Chela La Silla, ridden by Ashlee Bond, by Chapultepec La Silla and out of the Grand Prix-mare Elisa La Silla (Tláloc La Silla x Polydor). The mare Elisa LS was physically perhaps a bit ‘old fashioned’ but very powerful and brave. Chela’s sire, the French stallion, Chapultepec La Silla, ex Fergar Mail, an agile and intelligent jumper, brought to the mix blood, strength and an excellent canter.
2) What is the most important element for you today when considering a combination of stallion and mare?As breeders, we need to produce a horse that is athletic, balanced, and with the instincts of a great jumper. It needs to be brave, agile, intelligent, powerful and have the special kind of blood that makes a winner. It also needs an excellent canter, a good temperament and good head. An adequate conformation to be sound enough to withstand exacting efforts, as the modern sports requires. For us, this is what is most important—to breed a quality jumping sport horse. Answering your question: good association of the conformations.
But speaking of geniuses: the example of one such horse, who taught us so much, is Montemorelos La Silla (s. Calypso II), measured 1.78m and weighed 674 kg, with a very long body and legs, and the opposite Ninja La Silla (s. Guidam), who needs no introduction, is a tiny 1.63m and 480 kg. Both were Olympic horses with fantastic ability, and both had all the qualities mentioned above in addition to a real desire to please.
3) What are your three favourite proven sires?
Chapultepec La Silla, a horse with a spectacular jump and power while at the same time, a joy to ride.
Casall La Silla. We are all familiar with this horse as a ‘crack’ with an impeccable and long career in the ring. He was unfailingly consistent in his winning spirit and his soundness. A true champion, a winner even in his last Grand Prix.
Riscal La Silla, who was by a thoroughbred (Risueño La Silla). He had incredible power, real character and blood, and left his mark on La Silla. There is a saying: ‘blood vanishes’, but Riscal LS has been the horse most prominent in maintaining blood in our breeding program.
4) What are your favourite young or ‘new’ stallions?
Cantarel La Silla (Chapultepec La Silla out of Hirtin (Chica Bay) by Carolus I. He is an excellent mover with an outstanding jumping technique and has produced beautiful foals.
Prestigio La Silla (Presley Boy out of Channel by Cash). He is currently competing in France, a very confident horse with a top athletic pedigree.
5) With which studbook do you register your foals and why? Would you be willing to register your foals elsewhere?
All of the horses bred at La Silla are registered only in the Studbook La Silla. The registry of origin of all horses should be respected, regardless of which or how many studbooks approve the horse.
6) What are the most important developments you expect for the near future?
The world today has undergone revolutionary economic and political changes that have affected horse breeding in many countries, forcing breeders to reduce their productive capacity, and in so doing, important elements in a valuable genetic pool are lost. In Mexico, we are far away from the mecca of breeding and show jumping, so we do not have at our disposal the variety of options and opportunities found in Europe to access semen easily. To keep ourselves up to date, we try to buy the best options available in semen and mares to improve our bloodlines.
As far as welfare is concerned: we need patience, to give young horses the opportunity to have long and healthy sport careers. In general, breeders begin as soon as possible to ride horses in order to sell them quickly, often when they are too young and not sufficiently developed. A horse finishes his bone growth at six years of age, and often they are ridden and jumping at three. There has been something of a loss of the essence of the sport and to a point, the honesty. Training has become very artificial. In La Silla, horses are not ‘prepared’, nor are they hit or abused. The sport has become very expensive and the only horses that sell well are the extraordinary ones. There is less demand for the medium national jumper and this discourages the breeders. Horses need to learn to jump before they can be sold in the market.
We believe that if we have access to national competitions that are more attractive for the amateur national rider, in general the equestrian sport will be more popular and there will be a greater demand for horses in all categories.