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In Memoriam: Ernestyna

Ernestyna 9 January 1989 – 6 April 2020

An illustrious chapter of Polish Arabian horse history came to a respectful close with the passing of Ernestyna on 6 April, at the grand age of thirty-one. Born in the January of 1989, Ernestyna was among the very first foals born in Poland by the Janów Podlaski-bred Piechur (Banat x Pierzeja by Bandos), a universally respected Polish Derby winner and United States Top Ten Stallion, who had spent the 1988 season on lease to Michałów Stud from Weatherford Farms in Texas. In retrospect, three decades on, that Piechur foal crop of 1989 would be memorialised as pivotal, yielding a celebrated collection of formidable show fillies, including Zaleta (ex Zula by Probat), Estetyka (ex Estancja by Palas), Freja (ex Frejlina by Pepton) and Espinoza (ex Esperanca by Set), as well those who not only achieved significantly in the show-ring, but whose influence is still relevant in the success of modern day the world over: Premiera (ex Premia by Palas), whose descendants include Premier (by Monogramm), Poganinka (El Omari x Pentra by Poganin) and Piacenza (QR Marc x Primawera by Emigrant); Wybranka (ex Wilejka by El Paso), granddam of international champion Wkra (Gazal al Shaqab x Wyborna by Monogramm); Ekologia (ex Emigracja by Palas), tail-female descendant of the exotic multiple-international champion Eralda (Emerald J x Enezja by Marajj); and the charismatic Plaza (ex Plisa by Probat), maternal source of international sire of significance Dominic M (Da Vinci FM x Rosa la Valentina by DA Valentino).

Ernestyna’s sire, Piechur. Credit Stuart Vesty

Maternally, Ernestyna belonged to Michałów’s world-famous ‘E’ family of meritorious matrons, those descended directly tail-female to the most important foundress of the stud: Oaks and Criterium winner Estokada (Amurath Sahib x Saga by Hardy). While the more celebrated and prolific branch of the family descends through Eskapada (by Nabor), Ernestyna belonged to the smaller branch still intact at Michałów tracing to the very first European Champion Mare, Estebna, Eskapada’s younger full sister that remained the all-time favourite mare of her legendary breeder, Director Ignacy Jaworowski. The inspiring beauty of Estebna was enhanced with a generous dose of exotic oriental type in Ernestyna’s dam, Erwina, a daughter of the Tersk-bred Palas (Aswan x Panel by Nil), who boasted both a sire and maternal grandsire of straight Egyptian origin. The auspiciously alluring Erwina (ex Elegancja by Burkan), full sister to Polish National Junior Champion Elewka, would prove a pivotal bargaining chip in the successful lease of another American-owned stallion, one that would elevate the standard of excellence in Poland to unprecedented levels of achievement: the late, great Monogramm (Negatraz x Monogramma by Knippel).

Ernestyna’s dam, Erwina. Credit Maplewood Farms

While Ernestyna was not selected as a promising show prospect like several of the other Piechur daughters, she was among the first to be incorporated into the Michałów breeding progamme following a year at the racetrack in Warsaw. Bred as a four-year old in 1993, she produced her first foal on 10 January 1994: a fuzzy, compact, crackerjack of a grey colt with a decidedly exotic face by none other than Monogramm, the stallion who lease had been procured by the exchange of Ernestyna’s granddam to the States. This striking, decidedly different-looking foal was among the first to be born by Monogramm in Poland in that epoch-defining foal crop of 1994, and was given the rather unceremonious name of Ekstern, a name that is now celebrated the world over for the iconic show horse, stallion and sire he has since become.

Ernestyna, photographed in 2013

Ekstern would commence his unprecedented career in the show-ring the following spring in 1995, coincidentally the same season his maternal grandsire Piechur would enjoy his greatest triumphs in the show-ring as All Nations’ Cup and UK International Senior Male Champion for Halsdon Arabians. Honoured as Polish Spring Show Junior Champion Colt among his paternal sibings and stablemates Ganges (ex Garonna by Fanatyk), Premier and Fernando (ex Frejlina by Pepton), all future show stars with their own stories to later define, this first outing for Ekstern portended an epic history yet ahead. On lease to Jadem Arabians in Belgium as a mature stallion, Ekstern would go on to be named European Triple Crown Champion in 2000, winning the World Championships, the European Championships and the All Nations’ Cup in the same year he returned to Poland to claim the Senior Male title at the Polish National Show. Ekstern’s final appearance in the show-ring was in 2003, at the first Mercedes Diamond Cup in Belgium, where he was named ‘Champion of Champions’ among an elite group of competitors. He retired from the show-ring undefeated in ten outings, a record that has yet to be bested by any other Polish-bred stallion.

The dynamic Ernestyna son, Ekstern (and below, credit L Pawlowska)

Ekstern photographed at Michałów in 2015 on his 21st birthday

While the exotic type, powerhouse trot and charismatic presence that has come to define both Ekstern and his paternal legacy throughout the breed is rightfully attributed to the influence of his legendary sire Monogramm, one must recognise the plethora of other admirable attributes that characterise Ekstern and his universally admired descendants that are the undeniable gifts of his esteemed dam, Ernestyna. These include exceptional balance and harmony of proportion, substance, strength and solid structure, a superlative topline, a powerful, perfectly designed hindquarter and that indefatigable tail carriage, an indispensible quality for every Arabian of superior type and character. There is a unique and instantly recognisable style and quality that defines the Ekstern descendants we have all come to love and appreciate, one that must be attributed in large part to the prepotent phenotype and distinguished genotype of Ernestyna.


While her lifetime production record will be remembered as modest, the enduring contribution of Ernestyna to the Arabian breed remains positive and pervasive, through the ever-evolving impact of her first-born son Ekstern. She was in every way a tribute to her regal heritage, and to the genius, dedication and vision of those insightful breeders who collaborated across centuries and continents to assure her legacy would live on.

Among the fabled mares of Michałów, Ernestyna will be venerated for years to come with the very best…

Gaskonia (Probat x Gizela by Palas) and Ernestyna in August 2012

All photography unless stated Anette Mattsson


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