Riding's AUGUST, 2008 COVER STORY!

California Riding Magazine • August, 2008

by Jane Rangel

With the Olympic Games starting this month, people world over will witness the very best in athletics. And the world will again behold one of the most wondrous partnerships in history: man and horse, working together in what is undoubtedly a truly special partnership.
One doesn’t have to be an Olympian to share in this kind of experience. All horsemen, from a little girl taking her first riding lessons, to an experienced professional riding the Grand Prix, have a special feeling of mutual understanding and partnership for their mount. A horse is more than just a vehicle for a rider’s goals, he is a teammate.

Purchasing a horse, however, can feel even more complex than the NBA draft. A prospective buyer is looking for many qualities in their partner: good gaits, a favorable disposition, a suitable level of experience, etc. Searching through the myriad of sale ads and poor leads can be a frustrating experience. But in such a maze of confusion, there is a beacon of light, shining from Ankum, Germany: Performance Sales International.

Performance Sales International is the largest, most successful private sporthorse auction in the world. Owned and operated for more than 20 years by Ulrich Kasselmann and Paul Schockemoehle, P.S.I. has sold some of the world’s most famous sporthorses. Robert Dover’s 1984 Olympic mount Romantico was sold from P.S.I.. Bugs Bunny, an international show jumper, was sold from P.S.I. to Susie Hutchinson in 1990. Carol Lavell won a team bronze on her horse Gifted at the 1992 Games in Barcelona; he, too, came from P.S.I.. But P.S.I. doesn’t just cater to the professional elite. Any level of amateur at any given horse show may find themselves in the warm-up ring with a P.S.I. horse.

Ulli Kasselmann’s story is one of great vision paired with a superior work ethic. As a young man, Ulli and his wife Bianca both worked as riders for the Hanoverian Verband. As is typical for a Verband rider, Ulli also worked in sales and general farm management at the Verband. He carried over this sales and management experience to his own dressage farm, founded over 40 years ago. The farm, Hoff Kasselman, was established on land that has been in the Kasselman name since 1322. It is located on 100 rolling acres in Hagen, northern Germany. There are over 30 riders on the property, as well as about 180 horses.

Bianca Kasselmann, whose credentials include the German Championess in Show Jumping in 1980 and acting German Championess of the Professionals in Dressage, plays a great role in the farm’s success, helping manage and train the horses, as well as gracefully entertaining the never-ending flow of customers and guests. The farm has built a strong reputation for its friendly and accommodating manner.

As Ulli’s farm grew larger and more successful, he was struck with the idea of putting together an annual auction, showcasing the most talented of his sales stock. He paired up with Paul Schockemoehle, who owns and manages an esteemed jumping farm in Mühlen, about half an hour from Hagen. Together, they rolled the dice and flew west.

P.S.I. Is Born

The first P.S.I. auction was held in Newport, RI, in 1981. It was a great success. Nearly 60 horses went under the hammer; selected dressage and jumping horses from leading German breeding regions. In February 1982, a second successful auction was held in Ocala, FL. By this time, the P.S.I. name had become a wild success, and it was decided, for logistic reasons, to begin holding the annual auction in Germany. Ulli explains, “That’s when we agreed it’s actually better to get the customers over here than send the horses to the USA. Besides, the Americans’ interest in top European horses, above all German-bred horses, had grown enormously.”

The next auction was held in November 1982 in Ankum, Germany, 30 minutes away from Hagen. The Westphalian dressage horse Entertainer was sold for 230,000 German Marks, a considerable amount of money in 1982. Dr. Reiner Klimke later rode Entertainer in many successful Grand Prix competitions.

Today, about 40 horses between the ages of 3 to 7 can be seen at the annual P.S.I. auction in Ankum. None of the horses are sold on consignment; every horse is privately owned by Ulli or Paul. In previous years, Ulli bought horses specifically for sale at the auction, but now, most dressage horses up for sale are ones that have been bred and raised at his own farm. This enables P.S.I. to inform the buyer of every aspect of the horse’s training and show career, so that the customer has the best understanding of the horse possible. Ulli explains that this is one key to providing customers with the best possible match. “All the horses are owned by P.S.I., and that means we can really assess which horse fits which rider. If the match is not 100 percent right, we can often offer an exchange.”

Ulli runs his own high-quality breeding program with several stallions (including the famous Sandro Hit, Sir Donnerhall and Lord Sinclair) and over 15 mares. Ulli operates the breeding program with Dr. Ulf Moeller, a young horse specialist. Ulf, who also rode at the Hanoverian Verband, is a former FEI Young Horse World Champion with stallion Sandro Hit, and has won numerous prestigious Bundeschampionat titles. Both Ulf and Ulli learned the finer points of conformation and breeding from famous horse specialist H. J. Köhler, an innovator of auctions and one of the most historically influential horsemen of our time. Ulli’s and Ulf’s intense attention to detail has resulted in producing some of the finest offspring in the world, such as Weltclassiker and Whizzkid, two very successful international Grand Prix horses.

The P.S.I. auction is a phenomenal event. It takes place over the course of three days, usually in early December. Customers begin with a greeting party on the first day, where they have the opportunity to become acquainted with Ulli, Paul and the P.S.I. riders. On the first two days, customers are encouraged to view and ride horses of their choice. Bidding takes place on the last day. The auction is complemented by an impressive black-tie gala, where the champagne flows freely.

Many agree that P.S.I. has revolutionized the sporthorse industry. Aside from producing and selling the world’s best, P.S.I. sells a variety of quality sporthorses that is hard to find elsewhere. In the rare event that a customer doesn’t find his ideal horse at the auction, Ulli is more than happy to take customers back to his farm in Hagen and show the sale horses in his barn. With over 180 horses on the property, ranging in age from 2 to 20 and trained anywhere from Training Level to Grand Prix, there is always something for everyone. In fact, Ulli’s biggest customer base is made up of amateurs and junior riders. Contrary to popular belief, there is something in every price range. Don’t be fooled by the long-standing misconception that Germany only entertains big money; prices seriously rival those in the U.S.

W Farms & P.S.I. Partnerships

David and Alisa Wilson of W Farms in San Bernardino County’s Chino Hills, have long been familiar with P.S.I.. David’s dressage career accomplishments are lengthy. He is a USDF bronze, silver and gold medalist. He was the USET Intermediate I Reserve Champion in 1997, and has won numerous regional and state championships, including the 2004 CDS Horse of the Year Grand Prix Championship on World In Motion, his Hanoverian gelding which he selected from P.S.I. in 1998. David and Ulli shared a partnership on World In Motion, and in 2004 the talented gelding returned to Hagen and was sold to a rider with serious international goals. David has had the pleasure of doing business with Ulli for over 16 years. He was introduced to him in 1992 by renowned dressage master Herbert Rehbein. Herbert also encouraged Ulli to take a business interest in David, assuring Ulli that David shared the same visionary work ethic and attention to detail that Ulli has.

In addition to World In Motion, David has assisted in the sale of many other P.S.I. horses, both for himself and for clients. David is developing his own sale program for dressage school masters, all of which he purchases through Ulli’s farm. David is candid about his faith in the P.S.I. program and Ulli in general. “I found a program, a system, that works. Ulli and P.S.I. are honest, efficient and exemplify an element of class that you do not find elsewhere.”

Alisa Wilson has also had the pleasure of owning several successful P.S.I. horses. Alisa is an international Grand Prix rider, with an impressive FEI record. All of her FEI horses have been purchased through P.S.I. “These horses were fundamental stepping stones in my riding education,” she explains. Her most current mount, Weltclassiker, a 12-year-old Grand Prix Oldenburg gelding, was purchased in 2007 from P.S.I. Weltclassiker was bred and trained at Ulli’s farm. This year’s show season has felt somewhat challenging for Alisa, as she has been working on getting to know the flashy dark bay. Things came together at the June San Diego CDS Chapter show, where hard work and perseverance resulted in a very successful weekend. David earned a 67 percent in the Grand Prix, and Alisa won the Intermediate II with a 73.4 percent. Alisa hopes to duplicate this success at the Grand Prix level over the rest of the season, and next year qualify Weltclassiker for the USEF Festival of Champions.

Alisa explains why P.S.I. and Ulli stand apart from other sales auctions and sale barns. “P.S.I. and Ulli Kasselman cater to customers to the most professional degree. They organize everything for the customer, and make buying a horse truly a pleasant experience.” Today, the Wilsons’ professional relationship with the Kasselmans has transcended to a more personal level. “Our families are very close, and as a whole, they have been very inspiring to us. There are many levels to our relationship.”

Each year P.S.I. contributes to yet another chapter of dressage history. Is it possible that we all have a perfect horse waiting for us in Ankum, Germany? There is, of course, only one way to
find out!

Interested parties may contact David Wilson and W Farms at www.wfarms.net or 909-902-5447 for information regarding the 2008 P.S.I. Auction, or they may contact Ulli Kasselman and his staff, via phone 01149 54019430 or through the P.S.I. website: www.PSI-sporthorses.de.