Estancia Las Rosas, located in the scenic country of Uruguay in South America, is owned by Princess Laetitia d’Arenberg and managed by Olivia Strauch. Both ladies are passionate breeders of the Arabian horse, and this year sees a pivotal moment for this beautiful farm.
Located in the south of Uruguay, just 100km north of the country’s capital Montevideo, Las Rosas is an oasis set in 3,500 hectares. Here, Arabian horses graze alongside cattle and sheep, and the farm is as famous around the world for its milk and wool as it is in the world of the Arabian horse for the noble steeds that have called Las Rosas home. What began in 1973 as Laetitia’s business has slowly evolved to be the incredible Estancia that it is today – and one where the Arabian horses reign supreme.
“I have always loved all equine breeds,” smiles Laetitia. “But for me, the Arabian horse is the most noble. They are a symbol of freedom and elegance, and they have always been linked with my life. I have always had Arabian horses, but it was in 2004 that I decided to commit myself to the breed in earnest; just over 10 years later, we had bred a World Champion.”
Such dedication to the breed shows a true belief in the Arabian horse from both Laetitia and Olivia, who has now worked at Las Rosas for 15 years. And in spite of amazing show results over the years, Laetitia and Olivia remain committed to their role as breeders above all else.
“When I decided that I wanted to ‘work’ with horses when I was 20 years old, I wasn’t completely aware that I was choosing a lifestyle which would define everything,” explains Olivia, who worked for Rodolfo Guzzo first before returning to her native Uruguay and joining Las Rosas.
“I was lucky enough to end up at Las Rosas with Laetitia, and with that came an amazing group of people as well as this beautiful farm that has been my home for the past 10 years. Over time, the ideas that I had at the beginning have changed a lot; I guess in the early days, I was probably more motivated about winning. Now, however, it is very much sharing our story with the world through our horses.
“The fillies that we carefully bred at the start of our programme are now amazing broodmares, and we have a handful of exceptional mares who can breed something very special indeed. This has always been our plan – to breed our own high quality Arabian horses that could compete anywhere in the world, and to have four or five generations of ‘LR’ breeding.
“We have always had this long-term plan and having had great success both with horses that we have bred ourselves and those we carefully selected for Estancia Las Rosas, now is the time to ensure that the world recognises us as great breeders.”
The carefully selected horses that Olivia speaks of include Excalibur EA (Shanghai EA x Essence of Marwan EA) and Dominic M (DA Vinci FM x Rosa La Valentina), two seven-year old stallions who have had a huge influence on Las Rosas. The location of Estancia Las Rosas in, as Olivia describes, “the end of the world” meant that early on Laetitia decided that the best solution was to purchase two young colts to enhance their already successful breeding programme.
“We were lucky enough to choose two great colts who have gone on to be great sires,” says Olivia. “The first of these was Excalibur EA, who won in the US under the Estancia Las Rosas name, before setting Europe alight and taking the European Triple Crown title, culminating in a memorable World Championship win in Paris in 2014. And then we have Dominic M, who has just been on lease to Al Hawajer Stud in the United Arab Emirates and is now on lease to the European Breeders’ Trust, the aim being to share his bloodlines with other breeders. We very much believe that bloodlines and pedigrees are only relevant if the individual horse represents the quality of its ancestors. With both Excalibur and Dominic, this was the case.”
This year marks a special time at Estancia Las Rosas as the first daughter of Dominic M is due to Excalibur, while two Excalibur daughters are due to Dominic. “We are very much looking forward to seeing the results of the combination of the two stallions that defined our path in the programme for the last four years,” says Laetitia. “Of course, we already know that Excalibur is an excellent producer as he sired LR Era de Excalibur (ex LR Expected Beauty by Shael Dream Desert) for us. She was the 2017 World Champion Yearling Filly, and she represents the dreams and vision that we have long-held for Estancia Las Rosas. She is now owned by Alsayed Stud in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and she continues to shine.
“I am very proud of everything that we have achieved these last years. When Uruguay won its first World Championship title with Excalibur EA it was an amazing moment but, of course, the absolute highlight was when Era was named World Champion. This is surely the dream of any breeder, and only four South American breeders have achieved this feat in history – and I am one of them. I feel very blessed.”
Olivia continues, saying: “It is hugely satisfying to see something that you dreamed about for so long become reality. We decided to apply the power of our dreams to our passion for our horses, and it is certainly working.”
As for the future, both Laetitia and Olivia agree that the next step would be to breed a stallion of global influence. “Winning the World Championship with our homebred filly was amazing,” Olivia explains. “But to breed a truly significant stallion, one that could help shape the world, has to truly be the goal of any great breeder.
“For now, however, we enjoy our horses living out in the pastures. We are very excited for this year’s foals, as every new foal crop has exceeded the quality of the one before. However, we remain very critical of our own horses because we do not want to carry any faults into future generations.”
Everywhere around Estancia Las Rosas is peaceful. From the sheep grazing in the pastures to the cattle gathered together under the shade of the trees to chew the cud. In between are horses of all breeds, but the Arabian horse is truly the heart of the farm. “My dream was to breed fine Arabian horses and be able to share them with the world,” concludes Princess Laetitia.
“Our adventure with the Arabian horses is to live the process. Be with them every day; dream with every foal; ensure their wellbeing; and to make decisions that will enable each horse to reach full potential. We now truly are Arabian horse captives forever. That is the only thing I know.”
Words by Samantha Mattocks
Photography by Gregor Aymar www.eyecatcher-advertising.com