The striking grey stallion, LB Convall, jumped onto everyone’s radar on July 17th when he won the coveted Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen with Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt. The stallion’s double clear was so performed with such a cool confidence it would suggest he’s no stranger to high profile competitions, but to the nine-year-old Holsteiner, this is all new.
Only recently has LB Convall made the quantum leap to the pinnacle of top sport, going from jumping his first CSI5* grand prix to winning what is arguably the toughest Grand Prix in the world, all in less than a month’s time.
A Holsteiner by Colman x Cascavelle, LB Convall was bred by Ernst Carsten Rolfs of Germany, and is owned by Hans Liebherr, father to Swiss rider, Christina Liebherr.
“We bought the horse when he was 3-years-old and we left him with the breeder until he was six, at which time we moved him to Switzerland,” explained Liebherr of the stallion’s beginnings. Liebherr herself is a highly decorated show jumper, who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, picking up a Team Bronze medal in 2008.
It was under Liebherr’s guidance that LB Convall began his career. She campaigned the stallion at the national level in young horses classes across Europe in 2014 and 2015.
From the beginning, LB Convall showed an aptitude for jumping but was never a simple ride. “You have to stay very concentrated riding him,” said Liebherr. “You couldn’t think of other things; he’s a horse who you have to be with, just to make sure he is connected with you. He has to know the boss is up there.”
But Liebherr always felt a confidence when entering the ring with the powerful stallion. “When he hears the beep of the timers to jump, he’s really on the job,” she described.
The spirit the stallion shows in ring is reflected in his mannerisms on the ground. “To handle in the stable he’s a bit of a macho-man,” said Liebherr. “He’s not difficult to care for, but sometimes you have to ask him twice before he agrees.”
Late last year, Liebherr made the decision to pass the reins over to Philip Weishaupt, who works as a rider for Ludger Beerbaum Stables. Coincidentally, Hans Liebherr was born in the same village as Weishaupt, but it took more than a hometown connection for Weishaupt to earn the ride.
“I’ve been working with Beerbaum stables for many years,” explained Liebherr, who in 2010 spent three months training in Germany with Ludger Beerbaum. “We have a great relationship, and they help me a lot with the horses. I realized Convall was quite a big stallion, and that Philipp would suit the ride really well.”
Weishaupt seems to have a knack for big bodied horses– one of his other top mounts, Chico 784, stands well over 17 hands and utterly dwarfs his competition.
Regarding LB Convall, Weishaupt was thrilled to add the talented stallion to his string. “It’s an outstanding horse for sure,” said Weishaupt. “I’m lucky to get the ride from Hans Liebherr.
“At the beginning we had some problems because he’s a big horse and needed to get to know me a bit better,” Weishaupt admitted. “But it started to get really good in the outdoor season. How the horse developed in the last four to eight weeks is unbelievable.”
LB Convall’s ascent to the top of the sport began early in the spring, when the pair competed in their first CSI3* Grand Prix in Mannheim, producing a double-clear performance that earned them a 5th place finish. Two weeks later, the pair competed in another Grand Prix in Nörten-Hardenberg, finishing in the top 10.
From there, the stallion took his first trip overseas to compete at Spruce Meadows in the four week long Summer Series.
“In the first two weeks of Spruce Meadows, in the big grass field, he was not used to that. He was green and didn’t feel very comfortable,” said Weishaupt.
But it did not take the stallion long to adjust to Calgary’s open air. By week three of the series, Weihaupt and LB Convall entered their first ever CSI5* grand hrix, the Pan American Cup. Under stormy skies, the stallion effortlessly put in a double clear performance to finish 4th against a field of seasoned veterans. The pair also jumped the CSI5* Queen Elizabeth Cup on July 9th, where they finished 14th.
After Spruce Meadows, LB Convall flew back to Germany, ready to impress in front of a home crowd at CHIO Aachen after gaining invaluable experience in Canada.
“And as soon as I cantered into the ring [in Aachen] on Wednesday the first time, it felt like he had done this his whole life,” described Wesihaupt.
When the pair entered Sunday’s Grand Prix, it seemed like all the cards were stacked against them: At just nine-years-old, LB Convall was the youngest, and least experienced off all the entries, and to add to the challenge, the pair were positioned as first to go in the order.
But after two rounds of thrilling competition, Weishaupt and LB Convall found themselves accepting the Rolex trophy as winners of the historic Grand Prix of Aachen, proving talent can trump experience.
“I think that talks to how special the horse is,” said Weishaupt. “Compared to all those horses with all the experience in the world, [to win] with my nine year old, it’s quite a dream.” And to win it all as a German rider on a German-bred horse made the victory all the more sensational for Weishaupt and the 40,000 spectators who couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing.
While Liebherr always knew the stallion had unlocked potential, even she could not have predicted his rapid climb to the top of the sport. “It all worked out so fast and so well; it’s really amazing,” she said. “Convall has done a fantastic job in the last six months. We are very proud of him, and of course the work Philipp has done with him.”
There’s no telling what the grey stallion will accomplish next, but on his immediate agenda–some well earned R&R at home. In fact, the morning after his big win, LB Convall was already back at Ludger Beerbaum Stables, basking in a lush paddock and knowing he deserved every minute of the spotlight.