An example of American breeding was recognized on the global stage at last week’s FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses, when the five-year-old stallion Carrasca Z was approved by the Zangersheide studbook in Lanaken, Belgium. It is the first time in its history that Zangersheide has approved a stallion bred, raised, and developed in the United States.

Taylor Flury has owned Carrasca Z (Asca Z x Calato x Cantus), or “Hank” since he was a foal, and she developed him through the levels at her family’s AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Illinois. Known for her success in the grand prix ring with Role Model and as a popular Chronicle of the Horse blogger, 24-year-old Flury reveals that her true passion is for breeding and developing young horses, and she spent much of this season preparing another horse – her five year old mare Catania Saflo Z – to qualify and compete at Lanaken. Flury, who visited Lanaken in 2008 and vowed to one day return with horses to compete, spent months this summer fundraising to cover the expense of the journey, which was originally planned with just one horse.

Breeders in Europe must qualify to compete at Lanaken, but American riders, must apply to receive an invitation. “Back in May, I sent an application in for my mare, but at the same time I thought, ‘you never know, what if she’s not ready’, anything can happen with horses, so I sent in an application for Hank too,” Flury explains.

During the first week of September, Flury received notice that both horses had been accepted. “Hank” the horse is named after her grandfather Hank, and it was with his help that she and her family were able to put the handsome grey stallion on the plane last minute along with Catania.

Flury and Carrasca Z jumping clean at the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses. Ph ©SportFot
Flury and Carrasca Z jumping clean at the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses. Photo ©SportFot

After the mad dash to arrange health papers and ship two horses instead of one, the horses’ equipment was accidentally left behind by the shippers in Chicago. Flury spent an anxious day in Belgium with no gear, and was grateful to Zangersheide staff, who stepped up and loaned her blankets and buckets until her equipment arrived the following day.

With two horses in the Five Year Old division, it was a busy week for Flury. Competing against over 200 horses in the division, Carrasca Z jumped clear in his first two rounds, but missed qualifying for the Final by just one time fault. However, “Hank” impressed all who were watching, including the panel of four stallion judges. A stallion approval is held at Lanaken alongside the Championships, and Hank passed the conformation, height and movement tests with flying colors.

“Because he had two clean rounds Thursday and Friday, they thought he was a really special horse, and he was approved,” said Flury. “The judges all said that this will be a top international horse one day.”

Standing the first U.S. bred Zangersheide Approved Stallion in the United States is an honor not only for Flury, but also for his breeder, who watched with excitement from back at home in the U.S. Vicky Castegren of Hyperion Stud bred Carrasca Z at her Virginia farm in 2010, and has followed every step of the stallion’s career.

“I am proud that Taylor kept him as a stallion and it’s an honor to be the first U.S. breeder to have a stallion approved by the Zangersheide studbook,” Castegren says. “It will now be up to Taylor to give that horse all the best opportunity to achieve success with the potential for the top levels of the sport. I believe he can do it and Taylor has done a wonderful job raising him up thus far.”

Carrasca Z proudly wearing his approval ribbon

Castegren notes that all the foals born from Carrasca’s dam Carraleena have extraordinary temperaments and are easy to handle and work around. They share the same beautiful heads and excellent confirmation, and Castegren jokes that the two foals from Carraleena now have a lot to live up to with the success of Carrasca.

For his progeny and all U.S.-bred horses, Carrasca Z’s success marks an important moment in American sport horse breeding.

“This shows that we have just as good quality in horses over here [in America],” Flury says. “We’re raising and developing phenomenal horses, and it’s cool to see how our horses compare in Europe. Ours held their own, and I think people will take notice.”

Flury plans to keep developing Carrasca Z through the six and seven year old divisions, and isn’t ruling out a return trip to Lanaken. Carrasca Z’s first foal crop will be on the ground in 2016, and she’s excited to see what the future holds for those foals, and for her stunning grey stallion that turned heads on the other side of the world.