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‘For Fun’ breeding leads to many successes for Ralf Jünger and his family

One of the first auctions that featured on the Barnbridge platform was the Zangersheide Quality Auction of 2021. Part of the success of the auction was the top selling foal Especial For Fun Z. The Eldorado colt out of the legendary mare Fit For Fun 13 broke all records with a knockdown price of 160.000 euro. A show jumping foal had never sold for so much money at an auction – worldwide. We spoke with the owner of Fit For Fun 13, who is also the breeder of Especial For Fun Z, Ralf Jünger. Although the Jünger family humbly call themselves hobby breeders, there are many successes that stem from their farm in Germany…

How did you get into breeding?
“It is really a family thing. My father Bernhard was very much into breeding sport horses when I was younger. He used to breed or buy horses that we could ride in the sport and continue breeding with after their sports career. My father was quite successful, and I inherited his passion for it. I was eighteen when I started breeding. And two decades on I have learned a lot. But the goals is to always keep improving.”

You call yourself a hobby breeder, but there are many professionals that have not achieved what you have. What do you think is part of that success?
“I think there are two things that are very important, besides that breeding is a passion in which you also need a little bit of luck.

First, the best belongs in breeding, meaning the top sport mares should be allowed the chance to continue their bloodlines. In this day and age there are many possibilities to breed with mares that are in the sport or have retired. Of course, it is a process and maybe it is not for every horse, but I believe the breeding world has finally embraced the idea that the mare is as important, if not more important, that he choice of stallion.

Second, the choice of stallion. I am a firm believer in not always choosing the most popular or best proven stallion. The risk of bloodlines not being diverse enough in the future only increases this way. From my perspective you have to look for a stallion that compensates or is likely to improve the points that your mare lacks. The right fit is the most important. Not going for the popular choice is maybe not very commercial, but since we are hobby breeders, we can take a chance on that. The biggest and most famous stallions also did not start out as super stars. We all have to begin somewhere, and we like to give stallions from other studbooks or younger stallions a chance. It might not be a guaranteed success, but it is good for the future.”

Fit For Fun 13 is the foundation of many successful pedigrees. Are there more blood lines within your company/farm?
“Yes, we have a few other mares that we breed with. There is one Baloubet du Rouet mare out of Corrado that has produced quite a lot of 1.40m/1.50m jumpers. She did not perform in the sport herself, but her offspring does very well. Then we have a mare from Luciana Diniz, Delia VDL (by Mr Blue x Diamant de Semilly x Darco), a Contender x Capitol mare that jumped at 1.50m level and a Bavarian bred mare that stems from the Sosath family stud farm.  And now Fit For Fun 13 is back at home with us and she is in foal herself by Eldorado van de Zeshoek. If all goes well, we should have four foals this spring.”

Your family bought Fit For Fun 13 as a foal, what was the motivation for that?
“At that point in time, we did not have so many own breeding products to ride. We also enjoyed competing at shows, so my father decided to do a package-deal with a breeder and bought six foals/young horses at once. One of those horses was Fit For Fun 13. Of course, there is always a bit of luck involved with buying horses, and the other five horses did not turn our anywhere near as good, but we were very lucky to buy her. I was also lucky enough to ride her in the early days of her career. She jumped to the higher lever quite fast and that is when Luciana took over the reins.”

You bred her first foal from her when she was four years old, why did you choose to breed with her first?

“Normally we always breed one foal from our mares before they go into the sport. With Fit For Fun 13, or Fitti as we call her, we bred two instead of one, because we really wanted a mare out of her because of her interesting pedigree (For Pleasure out of Fabriano-mare Fetzi). But we got two stallions and since then three more stallions. You can guess how much we want the next foal to be a mare! After the sporting career that Fitti has had, we feel she deserves a relaxed retirement. She has given us so much, so every foal we now breed from her is a bonus, there is no pressure, but the part of this foal being a mare, that is a big deal for our breeding farm. She has already blessed us with her first foal, Camargo 2. This stallion by Canturo, is approved by seven studbooks and jumped successfully with Luciana Diniz, Ludger Beerbaum and three gentlemen of the Philippaerts-family.”

You still have one of the two foals born in 2021 from Fit For Fun 13 at your farm. This colt was the beginning of a new collaboration, right?
“Yes, that is Vino For Fun, by Verdi TN. He was one of the two foals born from the embryo transplantation of Fitti in 2021. Of course, many people know what happened to the Eldorado-foal, Especial For Fun Z. That story all began with me calling Zangersheide and asking if they also thought it would be a good idea to include him in their auction. The rest is history.” If you are not familiar with the story, you can read it on the website of the Zangersheide studbook. “But we did keep the other colt. Henk Nijhof visited us after he was born. Initially to ask if he could get Camargo 2 available for breeding at his stud farm, but he also asked if we could do something together with the Verdi-foal out of Fitti. He is now 50% owner of Vino For Fun, and my family owns the other half.”

The Zangersheide Quality Auction in 2021 was a night to remember for many reasons. Did you ever sell a foal through another auction before?
“We have been contacted before by the Grand Prix Sales to see if we wanted to collaborate on a foal by Fit For Fun 13. But we did not have any available at the time. We do collaborate a lot with the local auctions in Germany from the DSP, the Deutsche Sport Pferd. We have had a few good sales with young horses there and two foals. These auctions are usually held during big event shows, like the Zangersheide Quality Auction. The auctions are live, and the atmosphere is really good. You know when people have a few drinks, the bidding goes easier and the fun starts. I enjoy those evenings, not just to see how much money the lots we have in the auction sell for, but in general. You never know what might happen. Breeding and trading horses is always a gamble and auctions are no different.”

The online sales of horses has really increased of the past few years, what do you think about that?
“In general, I think auctions are a good place for people to find young horses that they might otherwise not see or miss. Maybe they will get lucky with these horses and maybe they won’t, but the prices are usually quite good. Not all of them sell for a record price. As a seller at a top auction, like the Zangersheide Quality Auction for example, you are almost always guaranteed of a good price for your foal or horse. But no one knows the outcome before an auction begins. I’ve also had to buy back one of my foals once in a different auction. That is the reality of it.

I like the live auctions because of the atmosphere but I do think online auctions are also the future. You can see many horses in one place from the comfort of your own home. And with Barnbridge it is even easier, because you can pre-select the stallions and or bloodlines you are interested in and see all the horses that will come up for auction. There are many different auctions on the website, not just from one country or studbook. I understand that all auctions that want to list their lots can join. For me as a consumer, that is very easy browsing. For the actual shopping or let’s say bidding there is a link to the official auction site, so it could not be easier.”

To make it easy for our readers to become a member and for example to see the sales history of Especial For Fun Z or many of the other lots sold at our partner auctions that have agreed to show their sales prices, we are offering a 50% discount on a membership. Enter ralf50 at the sign-up process to claim your offer. Click to become a Barnbridge member.

*The promo-code is only valid for two weeks after the publication of this article.




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