His bloodlines are elite and he’s proven himself as a versatile athlete, but Galten Farms’ tall, dark and handsome stallion is as Humble as his name.
Humble GS, a 17-hand Trakehner/Canadian Sport Horse, seamlessly transitions between two riders, Canadian Team eventer Jessica Phoenix and amateur dressage rider Tom Nowaskey, capably combines breeding duties with showing, and gently accepts cuddles from Phoenix’s young daughter, Jordan.
Galten Farms has been breeding sport horses since 1960 and has produced many exceptional horses, but second-generation breeder Charlotte Schickedanz says there was something special about the bay colt born on the farm 15 years ago to elite mare Haiti E and sired by Ferrari GS, son of winning U.S. hunter, Storyteller (Heinzelmann). Humble possessed the correct conformation Schickedanz looks for – a powerful back end and good angles – as well as a pedigree representing the very best of Galten’s breeding legacy.
“He had all that and was unique. He stood out,” she recalls. Schickedanz’s husband Nowaskey has put all the training into Humble and has done a “remarkable job”, she says. The pair are schooling at the Prix St. Georges level with dressage coach Karin Davis, but as Nowaskey works in the U.S. four days a week, his schedule makes showing difficult. Phoenix had started eventing another Galten horse, Abbey GS, and Schickedanz pegged her to introduce Humble to eventing.
Phoenix had been introduced to Schickedanz by Sue Bundy, mother of Phoenix’s client Hannah Bundy, who had helped Schickedanz prepare Humble’s grandsire Amiego for the 1987 Pan Am Games. Phoenix and Humble made their horse trials debut at Dreamcrest in 2013 and have since competed on both sides of the border and moved up to the four-star level.
“He’s a gifted cross-country horse. It comes naturally to him and he loves galloping across the fields,” says Phoenix. “He has incredible balance and a unique ability cross-country and that’s a trait I admire in his children. His offspring are some of the best jumpers I’ve ever sat on.”
Phoenix co-owns one of Humble’s sons, Watson GS, with Schickedanz and has ridden many of his get. Watson has qualified for Tokyo Olympics in eventing and Humble daughters Freedom, Isla and Virginia are FEI two-star eventers ridden by Phoenix. Like their sire, their careers will include eventing and show jumping.
Humble is based at Galten Farms, the Markham breeding operation founded by Schickedanz’s father Gerhard. Nowaskey schools Humble three times a week on the flat and he is trailered to Phoenix’s farm one to three times a week for jumping. During breeding season, his most important shows are mapped out and his breeding schedule – both live cover and by artificial insemination – is planned around them.
“He trailers with the mares and geldings anywhere we go,” says Phoenix. “He’s the nicest horse to be around. He’s so thoughtful and kind.”
“You will not find a horse with a better mind,” agrees Schickedanz, Equestrian Canada’s 2014 Breeder of the Year. She believes breeding is more an ‘art’ or ‘feel’ than a science, and is happy that her hunch to line-breed to create Humble was so successful. His dam, Haiti, is also his grand-dam; her sire was Amiego, Pan Am bronze medal eventer and half-brother to the famous international show jumper Abdullah. Amiego was also a grand prix show jumper and a successful conformation hunter.
Humble is also talented in multiple disciplines: dressage, show jumping and eventing. He’s currently competing at the CCI4*-S level in eventing and show jumping 1.35 to 1.45 metres. What is also unusual is that he is being developed by two riders.
“At the upper levels, horses usually require a consistent rider, but he has the ability to switch between Tom and me easily,” says Phoenix. “Tom’s done an incredible job producing Humble. He’s very well trained on the flat and has super muscle. It’s a very unique situation and I’m thankful it works for us.”
When Phoenix decided to purchase a Galten horse for herself six years ago, Schickedanz had multiple prospects capable of taking Phoenix to high levels of the sport. But a young Humble gelding stood out. “Watson was a rising four-year-old and had just been backed. When he came into the ring, he took me back with the way he looked at me. I felt a special connection and knew he was the one.”
However, as the rider of many Humble babies, she claims she doesn’t have a favourite and riding their sire has given her insight into how to develop them. “I’m very consistent in the way I ride them and my basic method for training them is the same. They all have pure athleticism and a willingness to perform for you. They have different strengths, but I love their willingness to go.”
Another trait Humble offspring share is their love of food. “They all love food and treats! They love to snuggle and are really cuddly. They want to be loved on.”
Phoenix and Humble made their debuts in the Grand Prix show jumping ring at Caledon Equestrian Park last year and capably handled the challenge. “It was incredible. She’d never ridden him at that height before or ridden it herself,” says Schickedanz. “He has so much scope. He is really remarkable.” His son Watson also acquitted himself well, placing fifth place in 1.35 metre competition.
Phoenix is planning to do more jumper competitions this year with Humble, including “hopefully more grand prixes” and a four-star event in the fall. And to make it even more of a family affair, some of Humble’s kids will also be competing at the same shows alongside their dad.