Donnerhall interview (German)
1981, Dark Chestnut, 170cm - 16.3hh, Oldenburg
Breeder: Otto Gartner, Germany
Related C.J. Park Warmbloods progeny:
CJP Special-Donner, CJP Donna-Kohl, CJP Diamond-Dazzler, CJP Magnitude, CJP Hot-Topic, CJP Hot-To-Trot, CJP Sundae-Rose, CJP Cindy LuLu, CJP Firsten, CJP Don-Premonition, CJP Don-Pierre, CJP Donopoly, CJP Chanel, etc etc!
Donnerhall is the most successful dressage horse in the world and looks back on an exemplary career. He managed like no other sire of his generation to combine success in breeding and in sport alike. In 1986 Donnerhall was the German DLG Champion in Hanover. After many wins in Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and freestyle classes at International level he became German champion in Mannheim with his constant rider Karin Rehbein in 1994, team world champion and individual bronze medal winner in The Hague. This was followed by another climax in 1997: Team gold and individual bronze at the European Dressage Championships in Verden. In 1998 he was once more included in the German world championship team and with Karin Rehbein was a member of the gold medal team in Rome, where he attained fourth place in the individual results. Donnerhall won the World Cup European League, as well as being the Oldenburg dressage stallion of the year in 1997 and 1998 respectively. At the end of 1998 he farewelled himself from competition sport. “fresh as a daisy” at seventeen years of age and was frenetically applauded at all stages of his farewell tour.\
His sire Donnerwetter already mastered the higher orders of dressage at an early age and often won Grand Prix events with Herbert and Karin Rehbein. In 1990 Donnerwetter was sold to the USA. In addition to Donnerhall, his approved sons Donnerkiel, Dobrock and Don Wienero L acquired renown. His dam Ninette was mated with Donnerwetter and produced further successful competition horses. Her daughter Noblesse ( by Pik Bube I ) together with Caprilli presented the premium stallion Certus.
It is nearly impossible to provide a complete survey of Donnerhall’s breeding record here, as it would necessitate the writing of a separate book. In Germany alone he has produced over 50 approved stallion sons and more than 35 State Premium Mares. His son Davignon I was the Federal Riding Horse Champion of 1992. His daughter Primavera was the champion mare of the Oldenburg elite mare show in 1992 and in the same year she was champion riding horse and also third in the federal championships. His daughter Hallo won the elite mare show in Rastede in 1994. Deutsche Einheit was second in the Federal Championships in Verden in 1992 and in the same year she was top-priced lot of all the German Breed Societies auctions reaching DM420,000 (£147,000). Her full brother Duntroon was vice-champion stallion of the Oldenburg approvals in 1993 and in 1994 he won the stallion performance test in Adelheidsdorf. Another top-priced lot of the Vechta sales was the approved stallion Donnerschwee. The approved stallion Don Primero and the mare High Noon 15 made their careers as outstanding dressage horses. High Noon 15 is a full sister to the elite mare Hallo. In 1996 Donnerhall presented Germany’s highest priced auction horse Donatello. For years now Donnerhall has been at the very top of the FN (German) breeding value rating for dressage. His latest highlight was in 1998 where he presented the most expensive foal of all the breed association auctions: Deinhard was sold to The Netherlands for DM 155,000 (£54,500) at the Vechta foal auction.
"There are a lot of Donnerhalls who have a little similarity to him but it is difficult to get another just like him," says Karin, "Look at Donnerhall’s full-brothers, you couldn’t compare any of them to him. In appearance, in everything about him, the full brothers don’t come anywhere near Donnerhall. There were even two brothers who competed Grand Prix, but they were nothing compared to Donnerhall. They don’t even look the same, don’t move one little bit the same."
Mrs Rehbein started riding the liver chestnut stallion when he was four years old. When she first got on the youngster she thought ‘this horse could be something’.
"He was always a good horse to train. Good in the head, he was always straightforward and learnt everything really quickly. He is still fantastic, he could still go out and win right now."
To see Donnerhall compete was to marvel at the imposing power of the big stallion, but surprisingly, even though Mrs Rehbein is not very tall, and certainly not very big, the ride he gave her was ‘very good’.
"He was very soft. Sometimes you had to hold him a little bit through, but you have to do that with every horse."
Donnerhall’s talent was apparent right from the start, and he scored 131.92 to be second in his performance test at Adelheidsdorf in 1984. Donnerhall’s competition career is the stuff of legend. He won many Grand Prix, Grand Prix Specials and Freestyles for Mrs Rehbein. In 1994, Donnerhall was individual bronze medallist (and team gold medallist) at the 1994 World Championships at The Hague. Donnerhall won the European World Cup Freestyle League final standings twice, in 1997 and 1998. He retired from competition in 1998.
Certainly that is what Donnerhall seems to give to his offspring, a trainability and a strength to handle the more collected work, even if their natural paces are not so spectacular. It would seem more likely that the mix of Donnerhall and a large drop of ‘blood’ (Thoroughbred that is) in the sire is more likely to produce competition horses. Donnerhall’s son Davignon (out of a Pik Bube mare) is the sire of the very exciting Duvalier, and even those direct Donnerhall progeny that are going well at FEI level - like the mare, Dona Castania - are out of Pik Bube mares. The other son consistently producing exciting looking youngsters is Don Primero, again out of a Pik Bube mother.