October 20, 2007

Lex Barker’s ¾ sister shines at Mare Performance Test

Last week, on October 16th, the Longchamp daughter Ladivia won by miles in the state performance mare test at the Bavarian government state stud of Schwaiganger, under the saddle of German star trainer Uwe Schwanz. Ladivia is not just any horse, and so her achievement sent ripples of pride around the world, with congratulations pouring in to her owner, American Michelle Beachner, from all over the globe. Ladivia, by Longchamps x Werther, is the ¾ sister of dressage series winner Lex Barker, currently shown highly successfully under U.S. Olympic rider Michelle Gibson in the United States. Among others, Lex Barker under Gibson took the title of AHS FEI Horse of Year in 2006.

“I think it’s just wonderful,” Gibson said from the United States by telephone. “This is another significant achievement for the Longchamps x Werther line, and were are all very proud of Uwe and Ladivia.”

Gibson and Schwanz, who trained Ladivia for the mare performance test, could draw many parallels in the characters of their two horses that are so closely related. “Lex Barker loves to perform,” Gibson said, “and he really likes being in the limelight. He loves having the cameras turned on him, and being the center of attention. In his stall, he is always standing at the door, wanting to interact with people. He is very curious, and very intelligent. Under the saddle, he needs to apply his immense intelligence and he likes learning new lessons. Put it that way, if I don’t challenge him, then he will challenge me.”

Schwanz concurs, as far as Ladivia goes. "When she first came to our yard," he says, "she was initially somewhat difficult under the saddle and not overly responsive to the riders' aids.
We spent a lot of work doing the basics, forward-downward, engaging the haunches, swinging over the back. I decided not to push her too far too soon but to wait until she offered herself to me of her own accord. And one day she did. From then on, she was the most responsive horse you can imagine. At the performance test, she then not only achieved the dream mark of 8.2 overall, but was also awarded an 8.5 for rideability, both by the judges and the test rider. It was as though she really enjoyed the chance to show her stuff.”

Ladivia’s and Lex Barker’s sire, Longchamps, a Lauries Crusader xx son, was Reserve Champion at the 1995 Federal Championships in Germany. One year later, he took the Bronze Medal. He achieved a dream mark of 157.52 points in dressage at his stallion performance test, which he completed as reserve champion. “Longchamps is one of the finest sons of Lauries Crusader xx,” says Barbara Schmidt of Bridlewood Farm in Kentucky, who owns Longchamp’s full sister, the state premium mare SPS Laureen. “And Lauries Crusador, of course, made history when, in 2006, he became the first thoroughbred stallion ever to be honoured with the title of Stallion of the Year by the German Hanoverian Society. I know Longchamps personally and what always struck me, aside from his extremely good movements, is his wonderful personality. I travel to Germany several times a year and I always make a point of looking in on him because he is one of my favorite sires of all times. You can just walk up to him and pat him, he does not kick out with his front legs or behave in any other kind of difficult manner, as can be seen with breeding stallions. I think we are very lucky to have his full sister here at Bridlewood. From now on, we will also be following closely the progress of Ladivia in Germany who, I understand, has been accepted by Uwe Schwanz to be shown there next year on the circuit.”

Michelle Gibson says that she will attempt to meet with the “other Michelle” when she flies to Hubertus Schmidt’s yard in Germany for training next month with Lex Barker. “I think it is great that Michelle and I will get to meet,” comments Beachner. “Since our horses are so closely related, I think it makes sense for us to stay in touch and exchange information about their achievements. I look forward to meeting Lex Barker in person, and I hope that Michelle will find the time to make it down from Hubertus’ yard to meet Ladivia. When my husband’s time in Germany is through in about 3 years, I plan to take Ladivia to the States with me and, eventually, she will probably go into breeding. We are looking at a very interesting colt right now who is a stallion prospect and would be a perfect match for her lines, so we may eventually end up taking both a mare and a licensed stallion back with us. For me, this is a dream come true. I had picked out Ladivia as a youngster and I had always believed in her and her quality. Back in the States, I have worked at plenty of good yards and soI have learned how to develop a good eye for horses. I am glad that it paid off in the end.” 

Meanwhile, Olympic gold medallist and Dressage World-and-European champion Hubertus Schmidt in Germany is preparing for the arrival of Michelle Gibson and Lex Barker. “Our plan is to work on the Grand Prix lessons when Michelle is here, especially on the piaffe and passage, which is coming on really well. Michelle built Lex Barker up slowly, so he has been competing in the small tour for quite some time, and I now feel that he could be ready for Grand Prix and, not only that, but that he is could very well make a fine international horse. His gaits are great, and he has the kind of mind that you want to see in an international competitor: extremely willing, responsive to the aids, and eager to learn. As for Longchamps, I actually rode him myself once, when I had him under my saddle for the finals in the national pro rider championships. I still remember that he was a delightful horse to ride and that his good character matched his exceptional gaits.”

By Tess Crebbin

Photo: Michelle Beachner and Ladivia

Further information can be found on the following websites: Uwe Schwanz (with photo gallery of Ladivia:, Bridlewood Farm (with plenty of interesting information about Longchamps and Lauries Crusador xx:, and Elite European Sport Horses (home of Lex Barker and Michelle Gibson: Information about Hubertus Schmidt can be found on his website: www.

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