Vitalis is a lovely stallion with an interesting history. He came to my attention recently when perusing the 2017 Oldenburg Elite Foal Auction catalog. I remember having been impressed with his offspring in the past, so I decided to do some research.
Registered name – Vitalis
Breed – KWPN
Foal Date – 2007
Height – 170cm
Approved for – KWPN, Rhineland, Westfalen, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, Hanoverian Verband, all South German Registries, Bavarian
Performance Test 2010 Warendorf: Overall: 116.20, Dressage: 129.70, Jumping: 93.98
Bloodline Info –
Vitalis’ sire Vivaldi is one of the most desired dressage sires of his generation and come from the highly appreciated Utopia line. There are three generations Grand Prix horses in a row in Vivaldi’s pedigree.
His dam is KWPN mare Tolivia (D-Day – Argus – Aktioin – Uniform) and as three year old was the mare champion of the province Limburg in Holland. Dam sire D-day was successful at Prix St George level and acted as a schoolmaster for many years after being gelded – his influence is strongly felt in Swedish dressage breeding. Third sire Argus competed up to 1.50m level showjumping and also at grand prix dressage, while Aktion J, who follows in the fourth generation, counts as one of the most successful dressage horses of his generation under Hungarian Gyula Dallos.
Vitalis is in interesting stallion in many ways, not the least of which being that he almost was not approved for breeding by KWPN! Originally bred by A. de Crom, Vitalis was a champion foal and was reserve champion at the Westphalian Licensing in Germany in 2009. In 2012 he was rejected for licensing by the KWPN while owned by Willeke Bos and Eugene Reesink due to a weak hindleg and a bloodline not considered unique enough for approval. The exact wording as quoted to Eurodressage was “Vitalis is a nice dressage horse in our opinion. The standards we demand for a breeding stallion exceed the quality of movement of a horse. In the second phase pedigree plays an important part. Many sons by Vivaldi have been offered to the stallion licensing process and it is expected that many will follow. Vitalis’ blood line is, therefore, not unique. In that case the performance of the stallion – if exceptional – can stimulate a positive verdict. Vitalis produced a good result in several stallion competition shows, but it is our opinion that especially in trot the power of the hindleg is focal point and the stallion has the tendency to go wide behind in the trot extension. Therefore we concluded that Vitalis is a nice dressage horse, which does not excel enough with his pedigree and strength of the hind leg in order to continue to the third phase of the KWPN (licensing process).”
The stallion then sold to the US based Charlotte Jorst, who rides as an amateur. She campaigned him in the FEI 6 year old classes up to I1 in the US from 2013-2014, and in 2013 placed 13th at the World Young Horse Championships in Verden. Vitalis was then sold to breeders Paul Schockemöhle and Lone Bøegh Henriksen who paired him with Isabel Freese, the pair went on to win the 2016 Nurnberger Burgpokal Finals for German Developing Prix St Georges horses. In addition, Vitalis’ daughter Victoria’s Secret became the 2016 World Young Horse Champion in Ermelo while he won the Intermédiaire I and was particularly distinguished as “Stallion of the Year”.
The KWPN decided against their previous ruling and in 2016 approved Vitalis for breeding. Their motivation behind this decision was captured in a quote from in interview with Eurodressage – “he’s extremely successful in the Prix St Georges/Intermediaire I under Isabel Freese. In breeding he scores remarkably with the 5-year old World Champion. Also the champion of the last Westfalian Stallion Licensing is a son by Vitalis.”
Vitals debuted at stud in 2016 and since his Westphalian Licensing in 2009 has produced some spectacular horses. Notable offspring include Valverde, the dressage winner of the Westphalian licensing 2016, In Rhineland in 2014, his daughter Virginia K was the winner of the elite show and at the Westphalian Week, all five of the three-year-old mare and gelding finalists were offspring of Vitalis. At an elite auction in Münster-Handorf, the four top priced horses were offspring of Vitalis with two selling for over 200.000 euros each. So far, 18 of his sons have been licensed, including Veneno who sold for 310.000 euros. As stated above Victoria’s Secret was German National Champion in 2015, two other descendants of Vitalis also reached the final, and his daughter Vienna was at the top of the Westphalian elite mare show. In 2016, the licensed Villeneuve won the bronze medal at the German national championships of the four-year-old stallions.
Vitalis was ranked No. 16 on the German dressage index with an index of 157, based on only 2 foal crops.
Collected Comments and Offspring Impressions –
Vitalis is heralded as a dominant, prepotent stallion who’s stamp is easily recognizable in his offspring, especially in regards to frame and size. He passes a nice shape to the topline and a nice neck set, with flashy front leg action and uphill carriage. Length of leg is often added, and he very reliably produces friendly foals with super temperaments suitable for both AA riders and pros, which is not surprising as he was campaigned by a (very skilled) amateur as a young stallion.
He is said to pass on a walk that is inferior to the other two gaits, and while he has high hocks and longer hindlegs, he doesn’t seem to consistently pass on his tendency to go wide behind, although it seems it would be best to use him on a mare who is very correct behind with a superior walk.