Tellie’s Tale

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Tellie with her Hanoverian approved, Oldenburg dam, Tiadora (Tantris -Dachs). Tiadora was bred by Dressage judge, Jeanne McDonald. This was their Hanoverian inspection at Hilltop Farm in 2009 (William Alphin photo).

By Kim Kobryn

Hanoverians are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for March!  This breed originated in Germany, and is one of the oldest and most numerous of the Warmblood breeds.  Hanoverians are known for their good temperament, athleticism, beauty, and grace. Dressage enthusiasts who ride Hanoverians have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as The American Hanoverian Society is a Participating Organization


We recently asked our social media followers to share stories of what makes this breed so special to them.  Here, breeder Kim Kobryn shares her adventures with her homebred Hanoverian,
Donatella CF aka Tellie.

My breeding journey started in 2008. I was a very young newlywed and used my wedding money to buy my first broodmares (because that’s what you’re supposed to do with your wedding money, right?). One mare was an Elite Hanoverian mare, already approved for breeding, and the other was a younger, registered Oldenburg mare. I decided to go with the Hanoverian breed, since I already had one approved mare. I later had the Oldenburg mare approved for breeding with the American Hanoverian Society. That year, I bred both mares to Hanoverian stallions, and had two fillies the next year. The first mare went into labor, and it was a huge event. I had all of my college friends there. As soon as the Oldenburg mare’s water broke, I said, “I really want a black filly with four white socks and a star!” 

I sold one filly and kept the other, a black filly with four white socks and a star. Her name is Donatella CF, affectionately known to everyone as “Tellie.” Tellie started her show career in hand, a highlight being named Grand Champion of the last Fair Hill breed show. 

Tellie and me, displaying her champion ribbon at the Fair Hill breed show in 2010 (Erin McCardell photo).

Tellie was under saddle as a three-year-old, and I had high hopes. After eating the dirt a couple of times that first summer, the fall came and we both had learned a lot about each other. I competed her in three-year-old filly materiale classes, including at Dressage at Devon. Our relationship solidified that winter, and I began competing with her as a four-year-old in First Level. Tellie also became a Hanoverian Premium Mare Candidate with the American Hanoverian Society, having passed her Mare Performance Test that summer. 

By the end of her five-year-old year, she helped me earn my USDF Bronze Medal. Flying changes were easy for Tellie. 

Tellie’s six-year-old year came, and we were doing tempi changes. She thrived in the upper level work. We competed at Fourth Level and had earned half our silver medal scores. Tellie then helped introduce me to the FEI Levels, and we competed in our first Prix St Georges, completing the requirements for the silver medal on our first try. Tellie also had been given the Competition Mare designation with the American Hanoverian Society that year because of her competition record in upper level dressage.  

Tellie, age 4, in the free jumping phase of her Mare Performance Test at her Hanoverian inspection at Hilltop Farm (William Alphin photo).

When Tellie was seven, she won the CBLM championship at Fourth Level and placed well in the Prix St Georges (my other homebred Hanoverian, Ramora CF, won the Training Level championship). It was a show I will never forget! 

In Tellie’s eighth year, we came out at Intermediate I (Tellie ended the year reserve champion at All Breeds Awards at this level with AHS). After 2 shows, I had half the scores toward the USDF Gold Medal. I was hungry to get to Grand Prix. Any time I took a lesson or clinic, the instructor would ask what my goals were. Inevitably, my response was, “Make me a Grand Prix rider!” By this time, Tellie already had most of the movements for the Grand Prix down, but I needed help with piaffe and passage. 

I started riding with Heather Mason in 2017, because Heather has made numerous Grand Prix horses herself. Heather asked me about my goals, and I told her the same thing: I wanted to be a Grand Prix rider and wanted my gold medal.  She looked at me and said, “Normally I start showing horses at Grand Prix when they’re 10.”  I was slightly crushed! I respected her advice, and accepted that we were just going to focus on the training. That was most important. 

Heather Mason and me on Tellie, displaying our ribbons for the Intermediate II Championship class at the 2019 US Dressage Finals in Lexington, KY (Flying Change Farm photo).

Heather taught Tellie to piaffe easily, and then eventually Tellie learned passage and became stronger in the other movements. Then randomly (to me), Heather gave me some show dates to do my first shows at Grand Prix! I remember being terrified, losing sleep, and practicing so hard on my own. Then we did it! I was so relieved when it was over, but then started analyzing my weak points. Tellie and I worked diligently and about a month later, scored several percentage points higher in our second Grand Prix. Tellie had officially helped me earn all three of my USDF medals. It is really special. 

In Tellie’s 9th year, I worked on Intermediate II and being more competitive at Grand Prix. Our scores were consistent. She ended the competition year as champion at Intermediate II for All Breeds Awards. By the next year, we placed in both levels at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships (plus were reserve champion at Grand Prix for All Breeds Awards), and earned a ticket to the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®(my other homebred Hanoverian also earned a spot at Finals at Intermediate I).  

At the US Dressage Finals. (Photo by Susan J. Stickle)

I will never forget my experience at the US Dressage Finals. Heather really helped us in Kentucky in every way. The Alltech Arena was intimidating, and while it wasn’t our best ride, there were highlights, biggest and best being that we placed 4th in the Intermediate II Championship Class (Heather won the class on her horse, Lincoln). 

Tellie helped me learn how to ride and train every level. Since our journey to Grand Prix, I’ve brought along two more homebred horses to Grand Prix as well. One is Billy, aka Bulgari CF, who is out of the Elite Hanoverian mare I purchased with my wedding money. 

Tellie isn’t just a show horse for me. Now at age 12, I still ride her and have hopes of breeding her so she can pass on her valuable genetics. We also hack on trails and have been on rides at the beach. She will also “give you a kiss” on command for a treat. She does tricks both on the ground and under saddle. Hanoverians hold a special place in my life and I owe a lot of it to Tellie, for giving me such amazing experiences and shaping who I am—professionally and personally—today.

A fun little video of Tellie doing 26 one-handed one tempis on a circle

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