Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ksar d'Esprit

Living in the Virginia Hunt Country is wonderful, but one of the best parts is living among the history of the horses.  The state has been the center of the universe in many ways for the horse show world.  I do research from time-to-time for a project the Virginia Horse Show Association is working on and I sometimes get to interview some famous horse people for our archives.  I have a few to do this month!

I've been doing some digging this week on this incredible thoroughbred, Ksar d'Esprit, a horse bred by Hugh Wiley in Maryland.  Some of you may know of him.  He was famous in his day and you can find some old video clips of him on the Internet thanks to the work of horseman Bernie Traurig.

If you are lucky enough to own a copy of Bill Steinkraus' Riding and Jumping you can read about him. Here's what Steinkraus says in the book:

"'Ksarro' had his share of personal idiosyncrasies, too, and getting bored with small fences was one of them. How grateful have I been to him for knowing just what to do with the big ones, however! In the picture he is taking me quite unconcernedly over the biggest fence I'd ever ridden up to that time, Rotterdam's Puissance wall set at just over seven feet. He was to take me over many more very big walls before his retirement, and I can still say that if my life depended on jumping one of them, I'd prefer to see it looming larger between those wise gray ears of his."

If you are into pedigrees you can see his here.

Bill Steinkraus rode the horse who was owned by Eleonora Sears.  He helped the USET win medals at the 1960 Olympics and other shows but was known as a Pruissance specialist, having jumped just over 7' at Rotterdam. Ksar d'Esprit was by Coq d'Esprit, out of Kristin by Kzar. His grandsire, Coq Gaulois, won the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris in 1920; his damsire, Ksar, is seen in the pedigrees of winners of all the top steeplechase races through sons Tourbillon and Formor, and through many daughters. Ksar d'Esprit is descended from the Darley Arabian line. 

The horse was retired to Miss Sears' farm in Middleburg, Virginia.  She owned what is now known as Hickory Tree Farm. Incidentally, I learned that she burned down the main house in 1961, intentionally to avoid paying taxes – evidently, in those days your real estate taxes were based on how many windows your house had – key word being “had.”

Hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve.  And a safe one too!

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy to say I count Bernie T among my friends if you need to reach him, just ask
    Eleo Sears is quite the horse story too - Kurth Sprague is a good bio source about her!


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