Andras Szieberth has a heritage of classical horsemanship: He inherited the passion for horses from not one but both of his parents, who met on a college riding team in Hungary, where Andras was born and raised. When he moved to the U.S. for university, his own passion took over and he ended up starting a training program instead.
For many years, Andras primarily competed and trained; he only bred two to four mares a year, instead training horses bred by clients and friends who in turn benefited from Andras’ expertise bringing along young horses. Then, with the recession in 2008, financial difficulties put an end to the “co-op” and Andras began producing 10 to 12 foals per year. Coupled with beginning a family of his own, being a larger-scale breeder made Andras take a step back from extensive showing to focus on developing his young horses.
Now, Andras is seeking to change American breeding by sharing his knowledge and experience. “Last year I started the LotusTeam Breeder Support Program, which is a knowledge base and financial support tool for breeders who want to breed top quality sporthorses competitively and have an outlet for those horses to the show industry,” he said. “There’s a tremendous need for this because the American reality is that most top horses in any discipline are imported from Europe. The greatest factors are breeding horses more reasonably due to better knowledge base and superior support system, and developing those horses cheaper by better access to good training. I have a vision that we can flip the tables on this—but we can only do it by working together.”
How long have you been part of the horse world?
I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s in Hungary. My parents met in college where they were both on the equestrian team, led by Imre Magyar, a former member of the Spanish Riding School of Hungary. This sister institution of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna unfortunately didn’t survive WWII, but its influence lived on through some of its trainees, including USET coach Bert deNemethy. As a firstborn child, I was introduced to horses early in life and they became my passion.
How did you get involved with the equestrian world?
I was initially trained by my father, then he sent me off to train and study under the best show jumping and dressage trainers in Hungary. I also became an international-level swimmer and pentathlete, which formed my thoughts on the proper athletic training of horses as well.
You’re involved with hunters, jumpers and dressage—what do you like about each of these disciplines?
In Europe, all training used to start with proper dressage basics. Then, 30 or 40 years ago, all horses had to go through a developmental phase of dressage, show jumping and cross-country training until they were 6-7 years old. Only after their all-encompassing education were they specialized according to their strengths. Unfortunately, market forces have changed this system even in Europe. I’m trying to adhere to the age-proven principle of producing physically and mentally well-rounded horses as a foundation of long-term success in the sport. When I came to the United States, I added hunters to my training program because relaxation, lightness and proper jumping form should also be an important aspect while developing young horses. Besides, it’s an integral part of the industry on this side of the pond.
How did you get started in breeding and showing young horses?
In Europe I rode as a young rider for major breeding farms, where I learned hands-on about practical aspects of breeding as well as bloodlines. They would always put me, a tall kid, on big Holsteiner stallions, which started my love affair with the breed. Showing was also considered an essential part of developing the young horses; however, not just showing for showing’s sake and pursuing blue ribbons, but as a test of the effectiveness of training. I also expanded my knowledge by studying agriculture in college, where I could expand my theoretical knowledge of all aspects of farming operations.
When did you start Prairie Pines Sporthorses?
I came to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in agriculture, but life circumstances and pursuing my passion led me to start a training and lesson business with my ex-wife, Leanne Ellingson. As a good old European farm boy, I insisted it include starting a small breeding operation on the side, which was named Prairie Pines after the Iowa roots. In 1998 we relocated it to Wellborn, Florida, to be closer to Ocala, but still able to afford land to raise and train horses the proper way. Two years ago I re-named the business LotusTeam in honor of our late flagship stallion, Lotus T.
What do you love about breeding?
I absolutely love waking up in the morning, looking out of my window and seeing foals, youngsters, competition horses, broodmares and a few of the old timers. My past, present and future!
Do you have any great stallions that have been part of your program?
I had some phenomenal Landgraf-line Holsteiner stallions throughout my career. I purchased some as young horses and developed them through Grand Prix in jumping and high-performance hunters, such as Lasting Impression and Lansing. Some came to me late in their lives, when I saved them from obscurity, like Caligula II (Cambridge x Landego x Roman), Don Quichot (Quite Easy x Ramiro x Alme) and Catiago (Cambridge x Carthago x Leonardo I). I gave them the attention and exposure they duly deserved. But my greatest stallion was Holsteiner stallion Lotus T (Lemgo x For The Moment xx x Key To The Mint xx), who achieved prominence as a sire of super-talented and amateur-friendly jumpers, hunters, eventers and dressage horses. I bred him, raised him, had him approved (Holsteiner, Belgian WB, Westfalen, Oldenburg), prepared him for the 100-day stallion test where he won his age group, then successfully showed him in the high-performance hunters and open jumpers. He was everything that a great stallion should be. He lives on in his many, many sons and daughters, including Holsteiner Verband and Westfalen approved stallion Long Island T (Lotus T x Calato x Carneval), who has taken a baton from his sire and is a world-leading stallion of producing premium foals!
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
To look into a newborn foal’s eyes and imagine the future—then actually making it happen!
What’s your biggest achievement in the horse world?
I had my share of wins at horse shows; I’ve bred countless premium foals, a number of champion mares and approved stallions. However, I consider my greatest accomplishment is when I can help others achieve their dreams by guiding them through the breeding-training-showing process. It’s uplifting when Olympic and five-star riders buy my youngsters—but I get greater satisfaction out of teaching, training and mentoring the next generation of breeders and trainers.
What’s the best thing about your life?
The absolute best thing in my life is that I live what I love—and that I do it with my wife, Daina Greene, and my kids!
What’s the best-kept secret of what you do?
There’s absolutely no secret to what I do. Passion, dedication and hard work always got me there. And I believe “there” is here, at LotusTeam in Wellborn, Florida!
For more information, visit holsteinerstallion.com
Featured image by Tami Johnson