[OFFICIALPARTNER] “The three main qualities of a future winner? Health, braveness and intelligence”, Milena Pappas

After last year’s success, PremiuMares challenges are back for a second edition at GRANDPRIX CLASSIC Spring Break, GRANDPRIX CLASSIC Summer Tour and LONGINES DEAUVILLE CLASSIC. How does it work? All the Young Horses classes offer the opportunity to accumulate points in order to allow the two winning riders to win a 4 to 5 day trip to Greece offered by PremiuMares! Milena Pappas, founder of PremiuMares, agreed to answer some questions about the breeding.


GRANDPRIX: Can you tell us a little more about the history of PremiuMares ? How do you start this company and why ?

Milena Pappas: “Founded about 4 years ago, PremiuMares, as the name implies, is dedicated to breeding show jumpers of excellence. We search for mares of supreme geneological backgrounds and mares with already established successful careers in the highest level. Modern showjumping has become very demanding, especially at the top level. PremiuMares seeks to breed horses that can successfully cope with these demands at the sports’ highest level. This is no easy task and is undeniably a big risk; both, concerning the breeding part, but equally so, in the proper upbringing and producing of any young horse. Having said that, seeing a horse eventually succeed in the sport and make his rider happy, is the greatest reward and makes it all worthwhile. PremiuMares has a very strict policy regarding the health of its sport horses, youngsters and broodmares. We xray all the broodmares and young mares before we decide to reproduce them, in order to avoid any and all genetical predispositions. Great care and attention are paid in our breeding, to ensure the best possible result in our foals.
Horse riding is more than a passion, it is a way of life. To be able to truly understand the nature of the sport, one has to be part of all facets of it. And it all starts from the breeding part! PremiuMares is born out of passion for quality, and this is what we strive to achieve and give to our clients. We follow the sport closely and ask ourselves daily “What we would ask from the best competition horse?”, and that is precisely what we seek to attain with our breeding!”

GP: How do you do to make the perfect young horse ? What are the best qualities a young horse should have ?
M.P.: “At PremiuMares, we believe that it all starts with the right choice of mare! The dam and the direct dam-line are acclaimed to be responsible for up to 70% of the genetic package of the foal. From thereon, you have to find the right stallion to pair with the mare, both concerning the horses’ anatomy, as well as their character compatibility. A strong healthy body, well proportioned, with a brave character and smart mind, are instrumental. And whilst one can enhance the chances for a healthy and fit foal, there is more one can do to help with the shaping of the temperament! Keeping the foals and youngsters in herds helps both their overall developmental. The foals learn to build character by interacting with each other, asserting themselves, they learn to depend on themselves and ‘fight’ for what they want. Furthermore, the playful interaction in the fields is decisive for the development of bones, tendons and the general physiological growth. We closely observe our foals, and most mares are inseminated at 3years of age, unless they are not ready. Having a foal has been proven to be beneficial for the build of a mare. After having a foal, the mares are slowly introduced to the sport. It’s important not to start training and riding a young horse too early in his development, as it can cause physical damage. We opt for a long and healthy career for our horses, and so we prefer to take our time and respond to each horse’s individual needs! If we were to name the top three qualities of a future winner, these would be: health, braveness and intelligence! Health will give you a long lasting career as well as stamina. Braveness will bring the horse to reach its full potential. And intelligence is what makes for a winner!”

GP: How do you select the mares and stallions you choose ?
M.P.: “It is very important to know each mare’s individual unique characteristics. This is pivotal and at the core of horse breeding. Physiology of the mare will determine what stallion is best chosen to complement the mare. A smaller sized mare for example, would be better paired with a bigger sized stallion. One should always look at everything though, from the size of a horse, to the hooves’ shape, to the body conformation! The second thing, is character. A very sensitive mare might be more matching with a stallion that is more cold blooded. For our company, we choose mares based on their genealogical tree. This means mares that have either already bred successful showjumpers, and/or mares that have in their bloodline showjumpers that have reached the highest level. We also select to breed mares that have jumped at the top sport themselves successfully. We pay extreme attention to the mares’ health, taking care not to breed any mares with potential genetical predispositions. Good health is our number one priority.”

GP: Where your young horses grow up ? How your breeding works, and can you tell us more about your team ?

M.P.: “Our breeding mares are primarily based in Holland. With an annual breeding rate of about 5-10 foals. All fillies are kept and all colts are sold either through auctions or private sales. This is why we have chosen to be close to our clients. Our program keeps all the fillies, in order to continue the breeding line, for at least one birth, before either selling or introducing the mares into the sport. The young mares are then sent mostly to Italy, where we have a dedicated team of professionals who break in the young horses. From there on, we have our more ‘seasoned’ youngsters in Switzerland with Pius Schwizer and more recently in Germany as well. Good breeding by itself cannot guarantee the success of a good horse. This depends on more contributing factors, like the caretakers, the grooms, the vets, the farriers and of course the rider; indeed a big team of professionals. Our team of experts is composed by professionals of similar ideology and work ethic; all of who help maintain the high standards of our company.””

GP: How do you manage to work, ride and manage your company at the same time ?
M.P.:“Life is all about balance. But it is also about following your passions! I am blessed with a work that I consider a way of life. Just like horses are! So inherently, when you love what you do, you find the way! I travel a lot for both, so I try to combine (when possible) the two. It is not rare that I have a flight out to China or Japan, and on the way back I stop in Italy or Belgium or France for a competition! I also try to combine the two by participating in competitions at cities where I can also organize work meetings. One example of this is Antwerp and LGCT Monaco! Otherwise, between courses I work on my Ipad and during flights I catch up either on work or on the riding world! When there is a will, there is a way, as they say! It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it!”

GP: What is the best show you ever have been ?
M.P.: “Nowadays, the shows are becoming all the more impressive in every way! The competitions have become much more than a competition. I am not sure one single show can be picked. Rather, there are many, each distinct for its’ own part. LGCT St.Tropez, formerly known as the Athina Onassis Horse Show, is uniquely positioned in the Plague de Pampelonne. With an exquisite VIP, at an incredible location, it is much more than just a show – it is an experience! LGCT Rome is another example. Taking place in the historical Stadio dei Marmi, the ambience of this venue paired with an incredible atmosphere, some of the best horses and riders of the world, in the ancient city of Rome, this
competition is indeed breathtaking. We, as PremiuMares, are very proud to be sponsoring big part of both these events. Salzburg Indoor competition is another example. This extraordinary competition has it all when it comes to horses – CD5, CSI4, vaulting, cross country, CSI2 – truly almost everything one would like to see takes place in this competition, with an incredible audience and a fantastic organizer putting on a great show every year, and shops to meet every desire!”

GP: Can you tell us more about the Challenge PremiuMares ? It’s the second time, so were you pleased with the first edition and why ?
M.P.: “PremiuMares is proud to be sponsoring  for a second year a newfound series of young horses competition. There are not many young horses series, and the idea in combination with Grand Prix, was indeed very appealing to us! PremiuMares Challenges, help young horses gain experience in different arenas, in two incredible locations that are Fontainebleau and Deauville, whilst also promoting the future stars of our sport. Young horses are the future of the sport. They represent and reflect where modern showjumping is heading and what it will look like in the near future!”

GP: Can you tell us about the best horses you have at the moment ?
M.P.: “We are very proud of all our horses, but if we had to name a few then we are certainly very excited to own the superstar mare, About a Dream. She is a KWPN mare, born 2009 out of Clinton and out of an Indoctro dam. She is currently competing in the CSI5* with huge success, under Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer. What is more, About a Dream was awarded the prestigious prize of one of the most successful horses in Switzerland for 2018. Pius, also rides our talented mare Cima di Castella B Z (Zanghersheide mare by Come d’Api) with top placings for 2018 at the 7 year old classes.
We still own Constance (2007 KWPN mare by Indoctro x Animo) who had huge success under Jessica Mendoza, being placed up to 1.60 GP competitions. Unfortunately, the mare suffered an injury and is now in the breeding program. Regarding our younger lot, we own, the young super talented mare
Toulanda degli Assi (2014 Toulon x Nabab de Reve) which is the granddaughter of the dam of Glock’s London (CSI5* 1.60m with Gerco Shröder, NED) and Golden Hawk (CSI5* 1.60m with Shane Breen, IRL).
We are very happy to own Nuit de Reves PM (2018 Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Lancelot) who is the half sister of Alfa Jordan Z (CSI5* 1.60m with Max Kühner, AUT), out of the same dam but out of the famous sire, Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve. We have the filly of the full sister of Dejavu ( CSI5* 1.60m with
Bassem Mohammed, QAT), Leestone Cannon Breaker (2014 Kannan x Heartbreaker). Last but certainly not least, one of our top broodmares is Itousche vd Vosberg (2008 Kashmir van Schutterschoff x Clinton) which is the granddaughter of Reed Kessler’s 2012 Olympic partner, Cylana. Itousche is half sister to approved stallion Jugano vd Vosberg, she is full sister to former GP mare of Abdel Said, Gigi vd Daalhof and full sister to 5* GP mare owned by Stephex, called Hoepala vd Daalhof. The above are just to name a few!”

GP: How do you see the company going forward ?
M.P.: “The company is based on two philosophies: first of all, it is a very selective program of mares that are unique in their reproductive abilities and/or their proven abilities in the sport. In that sense, we do not simple have mares with good papers, but we have mares of top pedigrees and of supreme lines. And we aim to reproduce and then bring them into the sport, under the very best of care. This brings us to the second philosophy: mindfulness! We strive to produce modern show jumpers that will have both the abilities required in the ever more demanding sport, but also will have a long lasting career. To achieve this, you need good health and a natural upbringing whereby, our riders and the whole team, take their time and ‘listen’ to each horse’s individual needs. Horses are athletes, and we need to
remember that! Therefore, we aim to stay smaller in numbers but strong in the quality of showjumpers we breed and produce! The ultimate goal being of course, the breeding of the best quality competition horses for the highest level and for every level of rider!”


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