California Riding Magazine • May, 2011

Andalusian Dressage Partners
Brilliant, beautiful horses take breeder from sulking to success.

by Kim F. Miller

Erin Lohec with filly Centella (Noble GF x Palena KDW).

Andalusian Dressage Partners owner Erin Lohec has an unusual source to thank for finding her beloved Pure Spanish horses: rheumatoid arthritis. Today she is involved with every aspect of her small, select breeding business in Northern California's Pleasanton. Fourteen years ago, however, the lifelong horsewoman was constantly cringing from pain in her shoulders, back and hands. Steroid injections enabled her to keep pursuing dressage with her Warmblood at the time, but at a certain point Erin's doctor told her to quit riding because the pulling and strain was exacerbating the condition. "I sulked for a while," Erin recalls. "Then I said, 'What I have to do is find a better breed of horse to ride.'"

That epiphany led Erin to a Pura Raza Española gelding who rocked her world. "I just fell in love with him and I never had to have another joint injection or take pain pills to ride him," she shares. The horse's rideability was great, but it was his temperament that sealed the deal. "I learned later that they are bred for their temperaments," she relays. "They have that 'brio,' or showmanship, when they need it, but are very people-oriented, docile animals."

Things snowballed happily from there. Erin's Andalusian Dressage Partners is now welcoming the fourth crop of foals from their foundation stallion, the beautiful black/bay Pura Raza Española Noble GF, by Goucho III. In addition to siring remarkable youngsters, the stallion is advancing steadily on the breed and open dressage circuit with his trainer and rider, Michael Etherly. Noble (pronounced No-blay) was named Grand Champion for First and Second Level by the United States PRE Association as well as being High Point Champion twice. And he competed successfully with first and seconds in Open dressage classes. Noble received high marks on his core card and many positive remarks from the judges, such as "impressive horse," "powerful horse," and "commands attention," Erin reports.

Santo ADP (Noble GF x Kudu GF)

Last year was a great year in the show ring, but not so great for selling young horses, thanks to the economy. Rather than accept under-market offers, Erin held onto her 2010 babies, and there's been a great benefit in that.

"In 2009 half of my foal crop was sold at two months of age so I never really got a chance to see the horses I bred mature beyond 6 months of age," she explains. "Last year was a challenging year for a breeder in terms of foal sales, but the upside to it is that I had a chance to see some of Noble's offspring mature and develop into their yearling year."

A good example of this is a very tall 2010 colt, Santo. "He took some time to grow into himself and to show us his potential," Erin notes. "Fortunately for me, by the time he was around 7 months old, he blew me away with the quality and expression in his gaits. I have placed him with Howard Peet of Peet Equestrian in Mira Loma, and he is in training for the major PRE breed show, the Copa California, this June (See story, page 44). He will be shown along with his sire and half-brother Fainero III, who is owned by Nick Phillips.

Sweet Year Ahead

Having made lemonade from 2010's lemon of an economy, Erin is looking forward to a sweet 2011. "I have two fabulous Noble sons competing at major shows this year and Noble is excelling in his training for Third and Fourth level. From what I saw during his training sessions, it looks to be another successful year for him and his trainer. I am already seeing an increase in inquiries on my foals and if the first two foals that arrived in March is an indication of what is to come; this is going to be a banner year!"

The opportunity to keep some of her babies enables Erin to get to another of her priorities, developing riding age horses. That's a big plus when marketing horses to the dressage community, which generally prefers well-started horses to babies. Andalusians have made terrific inroads as wonderful amateur and professional dressage partners, but because the breed is relatively rare in the U.S., their price tags as riding-ready mounts are often more than that constituency expects to pay. "I am trying to move into being able to offer one or two riding horses," Erin says.

Fainero ADP (Noble GF x Joya D). Photo © Lee Locke

She also plans to expand her breeding program by keeping a few of Noble's daughters as broodmares.

The foals that result from the carefully selected bloodlines in her stallion and small band of broodmares are given every chance to reach their full potential at Andalusian Dressage Partners. By six months of age, ADP's youngsters stand quietly for the vet and farrier and are well mannered on a leadline thanks to patient, kind handling from birth. Erin and her staff's daily work is augmented by a weekly visit from a foundation trainer, all of which enhances these horses' already great natures. All of ADP's horses' diets are supervised by equine nutritionist Dr. Claire Thunes and careful farrier work, starting at four months, ensures healthy hoof development.

"Our daily handling of the foals makes them very people oriented," Erin notes. "Along with our professional and extensive foal-training program, which is one of the best in the market, our young horses are safe and easy to handle. In other words, we do all the work so our owners can enjoy their horse."

For more information on Andalusian Dressage Partners, visit www.andalusiandressagepartners.com or call Erin Lohec at 925-248-5311.