He is one of those who is never overlooked, who is never passed by, who attracts attention… like no other: Argentinus.
This Hanoverian who led the FN statistics of his age group for the sum of prize money earned by his offspring for an astounding seven years, is a true genius when it comes to passing on desirable traits. Only very few stallions have sired high performance horses that reached international level not only in dressage but in jumping as well. But for Argentinus, this was common place. In 1996, the son of the Celle stallion, ArgentanI, became Germany’s youngest millionaire measured by the prize money his off-spring won.
Successful in advanced level jumping himself, this imposing sire has produced 28 approved sons and 48 State Premium mares. Horses such as the Oldenburg, Albano, who won team gold at the 2001 European Championships in dressage with Heike Kemmer, Isabell Werth’s two-time German Champion in dressage, Amaretto, who unfortunately died too early, or Autogramm, ridden by Thomas Mühlbauer, who participated in 10 Nation Cups - all of these and many more are examples of the willingness to perform that Argentinus gave to his off-spring. Expressed in numbers: his children have earned more than three million D-Mark which comes to approximately 1.5 million Euros.
Argentinus was born at Jacob Büther’s farm in Hollern, Stade county in Lower Saxony located just a few miles from the dikes along the Elbe River on February 15, 1980. His dam, Dorle, was 15 years old when this bay stallion with the characteristic flowing star and snip was born. “Dorle had a very sweet disposition and was a loyal mare with a wonderful personality” remembers the breeder’s daughter, Jutta Hagner, who describes the State Premium mare as “a work horse, a bit on the heavy side - the way all Hanoverians were in those days.”
Mr. Büther sold the Argentan I son as a weanling to Jan Munderloh in Elsfleth, a very experienced, elderly stallion raiser. Heinrich Klatte senior discovered him during the pre-selections for the Oldenburg approval. “At that time, Argentinus was already a very impressive horse. He stood out as soon as he came into view. My husband wanted the stallion right away, before he had even been selected for the approval”, says Gisela Klatte, thinking back. Their son, Heinrich, remembers, “My father was all excited when he got home. ‘I saw a stallion that I just have to have’, he said. But easier said than done. Negotiations went on for two whole days and ended with Klatte also having to buy two very average yearlings as well before they could take Argentinus home. 65,000 DM crossed the table before the Hanoverian and the two yearlings were loaded onto the trailer.
Large-boned, narrow and elegant but a bit skinny was the way Argentinus looked at two and a half when hemoved to Zuchthof Klatte in Klein Roscharden. His stable - the first one on the left side of the stallion stables- became his permanent residence. Argentinus has become a member of the family like no other horse. “You can buy practically anything here”, Heinrich Klatte senior once said, “but not my wife, my children, Grannus or Argentinus”.
At the approval, the two and a half year old Argentinus presented himself so impressively that even Uwe Heckmann, an approval commissioner, got carried away with praise. However, the Waldlöwe son, Waldstern, became Champions Stallion and the new boy in Klein Roscharden received the Ib Premium. Two years later, based on Argentinus’ stallion performance test and the evaluation of his first crop, he left all of his competitors far behind, ending on first place and thereby receiving the Main Premium.
Unfortunately, his breeder, Jacob Büther, did not live to see Argentinus’ glorious day. He died in 1984 at the age of 77, the year Argentinus’ firstcrop was born. Argentinus proved his versatility at the stallion performance test in 1983 in Adelheidsdorf. With a score of 126points, he finished third out of a group of 54 stallions. The bay stallion entered his first show as a four year old - a novice level jumping test. Argentinus and his rider, Andreas Nienaber, sovereignly finished the course, taking first place. In those days, it was not common at all to enter breeding stallions in shows. A year later, the Hanoverian collected blue ribbons in elementary level jumping tests. His first entry with Heinrich’s brother, Guido Klatte, who owns a worldwide shipping agency for transporting horses, was also a complete success. In the meanwhile, Argentinus was collecting ribbons in medium level. In 1987, Alexandra Klatte, who nowlives in Australia, sat in Argentinus’ saddle and the pair were also successful in fault and style and time score jumping.
Whether with Alexandra, Guido, or later with Henrik, Argentinus proved his potential at shows until he was 11 years old, collecting around 4,000 Euros in prize money. His willingness to perform - that is probably the most significant trait of this impressive sire. There really are stallions that radiate their exceptional potential, and without a doubt, Argentinus is one of these. With a proudly curved crest, Argentinus prances on the hand of his long time groom and insemination technician, Werner Venekamp, on his way to the breeding station. Majestic whinnying, excited tail swishing, veins that stand out plastically under his skin. “A stallion of excellent character” says Venekamp proudly. It’s very rare that Argentinus brings pearls of sweat on Venekamp’s forehead - usually only when Argentinus knows he has an audience. “A trot is no longer possible then - it’s cantering on the spot, prancing, piaffing, whinnying, snorting - you know, the way we are all used to seeing Argentinus when he is presented at the Oldenburg approval, especially when he’s marching in the Old Stallion Parade. Then he acts like a three year old who hasn’t been outside for a year, forgets himself completely and does as he pleases.”
But at home, whether he’s being groomed or ridden, and even when he’s breeding, he’s like a lamb. “Argentinus is always very gentle at home”, says Venekamp. But he does have a quirk that he will probably always have: just as if he had a thermometer to read, Argentinus takes his blanket off - by himself, or course - as soon as the temperature reaches 15°C (60°F). It’s amazing: “In the morning, the blanket lies in the corner, not torn or damaged, just neatly left there. We’ve never been able to catch him when he does this, and he does it so carefully and neatly, at first we thought someone had forgotten to put his blanket on”, grins Ingrid Menne, Heinrich Klatte’s life partner.
Character and charisma - Argentinus has more than his share of both. “He jumped out of his paddock into the neighbor’s pasture once and the gate to the pasture was open. He just stayed put and started to graze. Any other stallion would have taken advantage of his freedom, but not Argentinus”, remembers junior boss, Heinrich Klatte. In spite of his gentleness, there is one thing he absolutely insists on: being the number one in Klatte’s manège. When visitors arrive at the farm and the door to the stallion stable is opened, if steps go past his stable without opening his door or, God forbid, they continue to another stable instead, his majesty is insulted and sulks with his head down in a far corner - his backside facing the door. If that isn’t the airs of a star!
Argentinus has classic Hanoverian performance lines pulsing through his veins. Longevity must have also put into his cradle: the sire, Argentan I, who was a sire in the State of Lower Saxony’s State Stud Celle at the traditional Bargstedt Station all of his life, died at the age of 29. Argentinus’ dam’s sire, Duden II, even lived to celebrate his 30th birthday.
Dynamic movements and impulsion were passed down to Argentinus’ dam’s sire, Duden II, from his sire, the great Duellant. And a dash of Thoroughbred from the steel-hard Der Löwe rounds off his pedigree. In other words: the very best of Hanoverian performance lines of that day are consolidated in Argentinus. If it says Argentinus on it, it is Argentinus - you don’t find too many stallions whose off-spring can be identified at a glance without looking at their papers. But Klein Roscharden’s top sire is certainly one of those.
His first crop produced the approved stallion, Azarro, who was an active sire in Australia from 1987 to 1992 at Heinrich Klatte’s brother’s - Ulrich Klatte’s - stud farm. This chestnut stallion was successful in the dressage ring up to St. Georg and left a number of successful off-spring in Australia before he returned to Germany. Back in Germany, Holger Wulschner, a show jumping rider from Mecklenburg, purchased Azarro for his new breeding station. “A stallion with unlimited possibilities, enormous talent and very careful”, is the way Wulschner describes the stallion who became successful under a jumping saddle. In 1995 the two of them took eighth place at the German Championships, won many advanced level jumping tests, even placed upfront in puissance and in 1996 also placed at the biggest show in the world, the CHIO in Aachen.