California Riding Magazine •September, 2013

Hidden Springs Ranch
Elite Mare status is the latest success for a fast-growing sporthorse breeding program.

Floradonna at her mare performance test, ridden by Charni Lewis. Photo: Tass

Math skills are not a prerequisite for sporthorse breeding but they've come in handy for Hidden Springs Ranch's Anita Nardine. Since debuting a small crop of Oldenburg foals in 2006, the program has presented 28 youngsters. Twenty-three of those are now Premium Foals and nine of them have earned the additional title of Foal of Distinction. That's 73 percent earning Premium and 40 percent earning Foal Of Distinction status. The program also includes a newly-anointed Elite mare, Floradonna, and two stallion prospects, one of which is currently in Germany preparing for his stallion test.

Those are terrific numbers for any program and especially so for one that is both relatively small and young.

Headlined by Floradonna, (Florestan x Donnerhall x Anduc) Hidden Springs' broodmare band is responsible for much of the program's stellar success. From the outset, Anita has been an absolute stickler about the bloodlines, performance records, conformation and temperaments of her mare band. The band now numbers 12– all members of the Oldenburg registry's Main Mare Book.

Several Premiums and two States Premium mares join Floradonna as top producers. Floradonna's receipt of Elite Mare status was earned by producing three Premium foals. She also counts two Foals of Distinction among her offspring, including an already-licensed stallion and Simone, the 2011 North American Oldenburg Inspection Tour Champion Dressage Filly, and the Premium Foal, Stirling Hit.

Fortuna. Photo: Erpelding Photography

Floradonna's Elite designation caps an already-great year. During the Ranch's August 10 Oldenburg inspection, 11 of 12 foals earned Premium honors.

The second generation of Hidden Springs' mares is propelling the program's reputation for quality. The first mare Anita purchased, Risiko (Relevant), has a daughter, Santina (Sir Donnerhall), with four embryo transfer foals over the last two years. All are Premiums and both of this year's babies are Foals of Distinction. Two other second generation mares are also producing Premium Foals: Dear John (Ferro x Rousseau) and Frederica (Fuerst Henrich x Risiko) and both Santina
and Renaissance are second generation Premium Mares.

Hadrian. Photo: Erpelding Photography

The pattern of consistent quality is no accident. Before making any purchases, Anita toured Germany with her dressage trainer, Gerhard Politz, and with Holly Simenson, the North American director of the Oldenburg GOV, to educate herself. By studying many, many horses and soaking up the knowledge of expert breeders, she developed a knack for predicting what qualities various pairings will produce.

Speaking on behalf of the Oldenburg registry, Holly is thrilled with Hidden Springs' progress. "Anita bought very good mares at the onset and has done an outstanding job of choosing stallions for them, which is not an easy feat. We are very pleased about and proud of the horses she is producing."

Attending and now hosting inspections is excellent ongoing education, Anita notes. The Oldenburg registry requires that candidates undergo an in-person inspection, and the resulting observations and suggestions are a goldmine for attentive breeders, Anita says. At last month's Hidden Springs inspection, Holly and Thomas Rhinow, marketing director of Oldenburg Auctions, were characteristically helpful officials. "They have been incredibly supportive of my breeding program and very generous with their expertise and advice," Anita comments. Having Holly and other inspectors recognize and reward the traits of Hidden Springs' mares and stallion match-ups across many offspring is a gratifying validation of Anita's efforts and growing expertise.

Fidessa. Photo: Erpelding Photography

Among the many she credits with contributing to Hidden Springs' success, Anita is particularly grateful to Jens Richter of Global Equine Sires, who has handled the Ranch's horses at inspections for the last four years. "He is an outstanding handler and always brings out the best in the mares and foals."

Rideability & Athleticism

The rare combination of elite athletic abilities and terrific temperaments is Hidden Springs' priority. "We are breeding some very talented horses with great temperaments and rideability. They have the quality desired by the professional rider, but they have great minds and are suitable for amateur riders," Anita notes.

It's a perfect combination for current trends in the U.S. equestrian market. "Americans are becoming more and more discerning about the quality of horses, their gaits, suppleness and conformation that allows them to compete successfully at the highest levels," says Anita, who recently earned her USDF silver medal. "As an amateur myself, I really appreciate a horse with a great attitude. As more amateurs aspire to compete at the FEI level, that's important. Many of us start out on school masters, but at a certain point, I think a lot of people want younger horses with whom they can progress up to the highest levels."

Hidden Springs is well positioned to take advantage of another trend Anita sees in buyers recognizing that the West Coast is producing some terrific dressage and jumping prospects. The costs involved in travelling to Europe are no longer necessary to get a horse that can take good riders to the top of their sport. "There are a lot of top quality horses being produced here, and they are very affordable because you don't have the costs of importing and quarantine, etc."

Including the 12 foals that arrived this year, Hidden Springs Ranch has a total of 24 horses under 5 years of age. They are still too young to be making their mark under saddle in the show ring, but all indicators point to a big splash when that time comes. Meantime, Anita welcomes inquires on any of her youngsters and looks forward to them fulfilling the promises inherent in their carefully-determined pedigrees.

For more information on Hidden Springs Ranch, visit or call Anita Nardine at 951-659-2014.