By Britney Grover
Portraits by Shawna Simmons
High Point Hanoverians began in Cherstertown, Maryland, as the dream of one woman to produce warmbloods with the athleticism to compete in all English disciplines and the temperament to be rideable by amateurs. Supported by her husband, John, and business partner Klaus Schengber, Angela Barilar’s dream became a reality.
High Point’s stallion Rosenthal was named the #1 USDF Dressage Stallion of the Year 2007, and Angela was named the Third USEF Dressage Breeder of the Year for 2010. The recognition was bittersweet, since Angela herself was not there. An aggressive brain cancer suddenly took Angela from her family and her farm, but it couldn’t destroy her dream.
“My original support for Angela’s dream was purely driven by my love for my beautiful wife and her incredible enthusiasm for life, her horses and her business plan. She was always so positive and so sure of the direction she wanted to go in that I just couldn’t say no to her!” John said with a laugh. “I felt that with all the blood, sweat and tears that we both had put into the business, along with Klaus’ unwavering dedication to High Point and my daughter Larissa’s desire to continue in the business moving forward, we needed to keep the business going all together.”
And that’s exactly what they’ve done: stuck together and made High Point a continued success after the tragedy of Angela’s passing. Their stallions and offspring have earned top awards in the U.S. and North America, including Rosenthal being a top producer of premium GOV (German Oldenburg Verband) foals and ranked top Hunter Breeding Stallion of the Year in 2016 and 2017. The team is poised to keep High Point growing despite another tragedy: Rosenthal’s unexpected death in 2018.
The High Point Team
John has continued to work diligently supporting High Point, managing the farm’s finances. Klaus has been head trainer at High Point since its founding, bringing with him the experience and connections to help High Point thrive. “Living in Germany has left me with great connections in the industry,” he said. “I’ve kept in touch with many breeders that have helped us in finding great horses for our breeding program. Growing up at Hof Kasselmann (PSI Auctions) taught me customer service and developed my eye for a good horse.”
And for Klaus, High Point is more than just a job. “The continued success means everything to me because Larissa is taking over the business that her mother, Angela, started so many years ago.”
“Growing up around horses and breeding was every little girl’s dream, especially mine,” Larissa said. “Although I grew up at High Point, my mother never pressured me to get involved. Eventually I began to realize my calling in life, which was to continue the High Point legacy. I vividly remember bringing a placenta to show-and-tell one day — I think the class was grossed out, but it was a typical day on the farm. The best part of the year, for me at least, was bringing in the new crop of foals. I would lay with my mom on the couch all night during foaling season and wait for the mares to foal.”
Larissa was hooked on horses — and the family business — since her parents gave her Nike, her first pony, when she was 5 years old. “I started to become inquisitive of my mom’s business at a young age,” she said. “She made me work hard and do the ‘not so fun’ chores, such as mucking and feeding. I believe she did that to see how invested I was in the horses. I’d beg to be let out of school early to travel to horse sales and shows. She was hesitant, as education was always important to her. I started finishing my classes early in order to travel with my mom, and learn her trade spending time as a working student. It was a lifestyle that I never imagined changing.”
Of course, things changed when Angela passed away; but some things didn’t change, like the dedication of everyone involved. “Both my mom and dad poured their heart and soul into starting what is now High Point Hanoverians,” Larissa said. “After my mom passed away I felt continuing what she started was to honor her memory. I wouldn’t have been able to start taking the reins at such a young age if it wasn’t for all of the help of Klaus and my father. It really is a team effort.”
The most recent addition to the team is assistant trainer Colby Dean, whose passion for horses fits right in with the High Point family. “I was lucky enough to grow up with horses and began riding at a young age,” he said. “I did some eventing and hunter-jumpers then took a break from riding when I went to college with plans of picking it right back up when I graduated — I couldn’t see myself doing anything else!”
For the High Point family, it’s all about the horses — and Rosenthal was quite the horse. “My mom and Klaus were friends with Rubinstein’s owner, Gudula Vorwerk,” Larissa said. “She would keep them updated on exciting stallion prospects by Rubinstein. They were looking for a stallion by Rubinstein because of the athletic ability and temperament he produced. My mom and Klaus went to her farm one year and it was love at first sight. She noticed Rosenthal’s beauty, excellent disposition and movement immediately.”
“Rosenthal and Angela had such a special bond,” John said. “Her belief in this great stallion from the time she was able to come into ownership of him as a youngster through the years was truly very special for us; she always felt he would be tremendously successful, and he certainly has proven that! Angela always had such a keen eye for horses and she wouldn’t be denied the opportunity to own him.”
Klaus wasn’t a whit behind Angela in his admiration of the handsome black horse. “Rosenthal was one of a kind,” he said. “It was clear right from the start that we had found something very special. He was only 9 months old at the time, but he stood out from all the others. After he arrived I remember telling Angela, who got sick of me raving about him every day for at least the first year, how beautiful he was. I could still go on and on about him. He had a huge heart and would never quit. When people — members of his fan club — came to visit him, they would look at him as though they were meeting the Black Stallion. He was all too aware of how much he was loved and he would ham it up.”
At 19 years old, Rosenthal suddenly became ill in May 2018 and passed away just short of his 20th birthday, leaving his own legacy entwined with Angela’s dream to be perpetuated into High Point’s future. Though their primary discipline has been dressage, both Larissa and Colby have experience in eventing and jumping, so they hope to expand the High Point influence and have acquired some well-bred jumper mares to that end. “I enjoyed eventing in my teens and competed up through the preliminary level with a great mare named ‘Tonka Toyz,’” Larissa said. “We have a couple of nice offspring that that are at the age that they can start jumping and I’m having a lot of fun getting back into that. Along with riding sales horses that we have, I’m fortunate to be able to ride out newest stallion, Friendscout II. We imported him from Germany last year. I’m excited as he has a bright future ahead of him.”
In addition to Friendscout II, Sinatra Song and Coeur d’Amour round out the current standing High Point stallions. There were 18 foals born at High Point in 2018, with 15 on the way for this spring. “We’re excited to meet the first foal crop of our new stallion Friendscout II and it will be bittersweet to meet Rosenthal’s last foal crop,” Larissa said.
Once again, Larissa will be listening for the foaling alarm each night, hearkening back to the years she spent on the couch with her mother. Angela’s dream continues to grow, but not with just anyone — with her family. “Though I miss my mom dearly, I am lucky to be reminded of her daily by doing the work that she did. It’s special that still to this day High Point Hanoverians is very much a family business.”
Photos by Shawna Simmons, www.sasequinephotography.com, unless noted otherwise