Since his progression to the CSI5* level in December of 2015, the ten year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion Halifax van het Kluizebos (Heartbreaker x Fetiche Du Pas) has left an impressionable impact on the sport. This month, he beat out more experienced, veteran horses to top the Final Rankings of the WBFSH Show Jumping Studbook, and the Belgian Warmblood was ranked number one breed. Under the hands of Italian rider Lorenzo de Luca, the duo perform like a well-oiled machine, capturing multiple top ten placings and grands prix victories on the international circuit.
They started the 2017 year off with back to back CSI5* victories at the Longines Global Champions Tour, and have continued to climb the levels of the sport ever since. On the eve of the Kingsland Oslo Horse Show in Norway, we caught up with de Luca to discuss his evolving partnership with Halifax.
- He was always a good horse. At six-years-old he competed at the [World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses] with Frederic Vernaet, who produced him very well.
- As soon as I moved to Stephex Stables in 2015, Stephan [Conter] decided to give me Halifax, who was being ridden by Daniel [Deusser]. I was doing the smaller shows at that time, so [Halifax] had better opportunities to go to the CSI2* events. I took him with me everywhere because I wasn’t doing the CSI5* classes frequently.
- Going from the 1.35m to the 1.65m was a slow, step by step process. We were both a bit unexperienced at that level and we came up to the CSI5* level together. He is a fantastic horse. He’s fast, he’s careful, and you can trust him. In the ring he is such a winner and it’s amazing to ride a horse like that. We’ve grown together and we developed a good partnership.
- He was quite — and still is — energetic in the ring. He likes to play with his mouth and he likes to run a little bit. He has a lot of character, so with him you really need to have a good balance. Everything comes together because I leave his character as is.
- Sometimes he is all over the place with his legs. Before, it was a bit difficult in the jump-off because his gallop is quite energetic, so it always looked faster than it was. It took quite a bit of time for us to not just look fast, but become it.
- His stable name is Hali.
- He always likes to play. After he works in the morning, and if the weather is good in the afternoon, I let him free in the paddock and he just plays around. When you’re hand walking him he tries to walk you around like he’s the boss, but he does it just to play. He is still a young horse and I think it’s good for him, for his future and career.
- He loves sugar. As soon as he goes by the sugar box he really screams because he want’s it. All of my horses are a little spoiled but he will give a proper shout.
- We have a fantastic stable. The facility has a racetrack which he normally goes to twice a week. If he stays home on Sunday he has an easy day. He goes in the walker and in the afternoon he’ll go on the field for a little bit. On Monday he is normally quite fresh so I let him play around a little bit and then I’ll ask him for collection, which is always quite easy with him.
- Before the show I don’t jump him much, I’ll just do a few exercises and gymnastics. Normally he is so energetic that I always need a couple of classes before the grand prix to get him how I want him. Even if we jump at home, he acts like a young horse at the shows and has so much energy that he’s not 100% focused. He always needs one or two small classes and one day off to get really focused for the grand prix. That’s our plan for the show and it suits him really well. It’s something that I feel brings home good results.
- He is a modern sporting horse and he just wants to do well in the ring. He can jump anywhere.
- We are doing the Kingsland Oslow Horse Show CSI5*-W.
- For the remainder of the year I’ll try and get some points with him for the World Cup. If I have a really good feeling and if I qualify, I think I will take him to the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Paris, France.
- If we qualify, I’ll do small shows with him until April. Just before the World Cup Final I will do two good grands prix with him to get ready. I’m lucky because I have three good horses, so I can alternate between them which helps a lot.