The Bridge to Europe
His name was mentioned for the first time in Europe during the 3rd European Championship of the Missouri Fox Trotter in Linz, Austria in the year 2000.
We are talking about “GMC Black Velvet”.
GMC Black Velvet. was born April 5, 1988 in Nixa, Missouri. Junior and Virginia Combs of Spokane, Missouri were the breeders.
In 1992 he became a World Grand Champion Model horse and in 1993 won a World Champion Reserve in 3-Gait Performance.
He is one of the few stallions out of Missouri having been shown with success in both Model and Performance classes.
The Miller-Ranch bought “GMC Black Velvet” in 1996, expressly to improve and extend their breeding program.
“GMC Black Velvet” had two offspring living in Europe in 2000; “Velvet’s Momo M.R., a mare born in Berlin, July 28, 1997 and a very exceptional seven year old gelding, “Velvet’s Grand Slam”.
“Velvet’s Grand Slam” was six years old when he arrived in Germany. These two were the only horses in Europe at this time, owned by the Miller-Ranch of Arizona.
Beginning in 1996, the DMFTA e.V. (now EMFTHA e.V.) organized and hosted the European Championship Tournament every two years.
“Velvet’s Momo M.R. and “Velvet’s Grand Slam” were presented for their first tournament at the 2000 European Championship of the Missouri Fox Trotter in Linz, Austria. “Velvet’s Momo M.R.” shown by Lothar Rowe, won the Junior Model European Championship and “Velvet’s Grand Slam” won four European Champion Classes and became the “European Champion of Champions” for the year.
Sonja Guenther and Lothar Rowe showed him during this tournament. Also, at that time, a 25-mile endurance competition was still part of the program.
Sonja Guenther won this event with “Velvet’s Grand Slam”, completing the course30 minutes ahead of the successive team.
In the spring of 2002 “GMC Black Velvet” came to Europe. He was shown by Juergen Hess at the 4th European Championship. Of the 16 classes entered, the team placed 1st in 9 classes and 2nd in 5 classes; winning eight European Champion Titles and the coveted title “European Champion of Champions”.
“GMC Black Velvet” and Juergen Hess participated successfully in a number of subsequent tournaments, winning many more championship awards.
In 2004 the team continued their successes again earning the “European Champion of Champions” title.
After being unbeaten in all these years, this was the end of GMC Black Velvet’s tournament/show life.
The 2004 European Championship Tournament in Rieden-Kreuth/Germany was the final tournament for the winning team.
“GMC Black Velvet” also had offspring that made an impressive showing in the 2004 European Tournaments. Although still few in number, they showed what it means to have blood from “GMC Black Velvet” in their veins.
“Velvet’s Leonard” with Simone Guenther became the European Champion in Western Pleasure.
“Velvet’s Momo” became European Champion in Pleasure Driving.
This was to be the beginning of an unbelievably successful career with her owner Julia Schaefer.
For the next few years, Momo and Julia became an unbeatable team within the European World of the Fox Trotters.
Velvet’s Grand Slam shown by Lothar Rowe repeated his European Championship in his special discipline, the Speed Fox Trot.
Grand Slam also placed 2nd behind his father as European Reserve Champion in the Model Class.
Velvet’s Cheyenne was shown for the first time during this tournament by Simone Guenther.
Cheyenne and Simone won the Championship in the Junior Horse Performance Breeding Class and Junior Horse Western Pleasure.
Velvet’s Eliminator M.R., a beautiful gelding born, in the USA and a World Champion, was a winner in Europe as well.
Given all of these achievements, GMC Black Velvet. certainly made a successful start with his first offspring born in Europe.
There were other offspring of “GMC Black Velvet” that were ready for competing but were not available in Europe at that time.
The 2006 European Championship tournament was cancelled. At an alternative tournament held in Berlin-Brandenburg, Julia Schaefer with Momo showed who was in the driver’s seat in the Versatility Classes.
The pair brought home five blue ribbons.
Velvet’s Grand Slam with Tabea Kinnemann placed 1st in the Performance 3- Gait Stallions/geldings;
Velvet’s Cheyenne with Lothar Rowe placed 1st in the Performance 3-gait mares’ class and in the Stake Class. Velvet’s Grand Slam placed 2nd in the Stake Class.
Out of 24 classes in the 2006 European Championship, 12 blue ribbons were awarded to horses out of the Velvet Family.
It became quite apparent what kind of quality “GMC Black Velvet” was producing.
“GMC Black Velvet and his son “Velvet’s Grand Slam” returned to Arizona in 2006 to maintain the high quality breeding program of the Miller-Ranch.
Velvet’s Leonard, born in Germany, followed one year later.
The 2007 tournaments were dominated by Julia Schaefer with Velvet´s Momo M.R..
In 2008, Velvet’s Cheyenne under the new ownership of Stefan Herzog started entering the tournaments. Now more and more often sons and daughters from “GMC Black Velvet” were entering the show ring.
In most classes they enter, they either earn the blue ribbon or come in second behind one of their siblings.
By 2009 more than 50% of all the blue ribbons in the European tournaments were presented to Black Velvet’s offspring and this percentage is still increasing, even today. It is not unusual for the Velvet family to occupy all 3 places on the winners’ list.
Looking at the winners’ list of the European tournaments, one could have the impression that “GMC Black Velvet” produced most of the offspring in Europe.
However, when viewing the statistic unemotionally, one is surprised to find out that there are only 32 sons and daughters.
Twenty-five of the offspring were born in Europe and seven arrived from the USA.
Today there are almost 25 breeding stallions in Europe; most have between 10 and 25 offspring each in Europe. Two have produced more than 50 foals each in Europe.
During tournaments those offspring show little or no significance in the winners lists. The tournaments are dominated by the offspring of “GMC Black Velvet”.
In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the remarkable mare, “Velvet’s Cheyenne with owner/rider Stefan Herzog earned the title “European High Point Champion” with a commanding lead in total points.
The class and quality produced by “GMC Black Velvet” is shown not only in this remarkable mare, but also in the other High Point placements:
2nd Place = Velvet’s Giant Shadow with Gerti Merk
3rd Place = Velvet´s Liberty Star with Johanna Merk
4th Place = Aladin’s Samurai M.R. (Grandson of GMC Black Velvet) with Judith Schilling
5th Place = Velvet’s Momo with Julia Schaefer
6th, 7th and 8th places were also exceptional offspring from “GMC Black Velvet” and 9th place was a grandchild.
In the Breeding Class Performance 3-gait (the Kings’ Class of the Fox Trotter), offspring from “GMC Black Velvet” again dominated:
1st Place = Velvet´s Cheyenne
2nd Place =Velvet´s Liberty Star (Sister of Cheyenne)
3rd Place = Velvet´s Jasmine.
No further explanation is necessary to illustrate the incredible achievements of “GMC Black Velvet” as a sire when one examines the show record of his beautiful talented daughter, “Velvet’s Cheyenne”. Black Velvet is an exceptional stallion that covers a very broad bloodline and improves the quality of offspring from every mare.
This fact is most eloquently demonstrated by his daughter Velvet´s Cheyenne.
A good horse with such potential must also have a rider who is qualified to use and enhance this disposition and talent; one who is willing to invest a lot of time, time and more time into the training.
In 2010 Stefan Herzog and in 2011 Julia Schaefer demonstrated that “Velvet’s Cheyenne” belongs to the very best of the Missouri Fox Trotter.
In 2012 Stephan Herzog continued this unbelievable progression with his mare. Although the competition between siblings is getting stronger, Stefan Herzog with Velvet’s Cheyenne, was able to further improve their performance.
In June during the first High Point Tournament of the Missouri Fox Trotter in Europe at Baden-Wuerttemberg, judged by Karen Grady, Stephen and Cheyenne confidently won all the classes in which they started.
The second 2012 tournament in July at Tom Heberle’s Clay Pit Stables in Bavaria became a highlight to the many exceptional performances by Stefan and Cheyenne.
Velvet’s Cheyenne and Stefan started in seven classes and won seven blue ribbons. The top honors were won by a substantial lead in scores to the competition in Performance classes as well as the Western Versatility Classes.
The team presented a flawless performance, which inspired not only the spectators but convinced and impressed the judge, Suzanne Nebeker, from the USA. The judge handed 99 points to the team in the 3-Gait Performance.
Indeed all was perfect here; the total picture, simply an inspiring performance. Furthermore it was a prime example of how to present the Show Canter in the 3-Gait Performance – for many riders a difficult task – with grace, easiness, and elegance and in total harmony between rider and horse.
The two were riding together on a different galaxy from the rest.
This was a presentation not yet seen in Europe or the USA.
Also in Western Pleasure the team showed constant harmony and a flawless tact in all gaits, never seen before. Will we ever see such a performance again?
In other classes the team demonstrated that they had become completely united during this year; a dream team, whose efficiency and perfection will set the benchmark in future tournaments.
After both High Point Tournaments in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria, it was understood who would win the 2012 European High Point Champion Title. The dream team was leading and uncatchable.
The last of the three High Point Tournaments was held in Berlin on August 3rd – 5th. During this tournament judged by Julie Moore, the dream team again would gain by far the highest number of points.
Except in two classes, the team left the arena each time with a blue ribbon. In the 3-Gait Performance, the team demonstrated again a brilliant presentation, especially in the performance of an elegant Show Canter that was a delight to watch.
We will not see “Cheyenne” next year in a tournament, because she is pregnant. When Stefan and Cheyenne finally left the arena on the last day of the tournament, totally relaxed and free from show stress, one could once more enjoy this picture of total harmony between horse and rider.
The gaits, the rhythm, the exterior of the mare were pure perfection. It was a farewell for the time being, but hopefully we will see them again in 2014.
“GMC Black Velvet” left Europe in 2004, unbeaten as the two-time “European Champion of Champions”. He has left a worthy successor as ambassador of the Missouri Fox Trotter in Europe in his daughter, “Velvet’s Cheyenne”.
He is now 24 years of age and is standing as a breeding stallion at the Miller-Ranch in Arizona. He is delighted about each mare that comes to visit him for breeding and treats each with respect and gentleness.
His semen is tested at each breeding and maintains a high quality. He is fit, in excellent health and still impresses our visitors from Europe, the USA, Canada and Russia during our annual trail ride through the Sonoran Desert.
“GMC Black Velvet” is the only breeding stallion of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed qualified for an entry into the European Stud Book at the highest Breeding Class III; the Elite Class of the Breed.
“GMC Black Velvet” with his offspring, will positively influence the Missouri Fox Trotter breed in the years to come and will make an important contribution to building a quality breed in Europe.
By Lothar Rowe