Good Horsemanship Brings Jaguar Van Paemel to his California Home

Geri and Jaggy at home

BY Piper Klemm, Ph.D.

Fate came to Geri Bidwell when she imported two horses for her twin daughters, both of whom were by BWP approved stallion Jaguar Van Paemel. Following the breeding of family member Senna Van Paemel, the Bidwell Family hoped to recreate the magic with the two mares on their family farm in Santa Barbara, CA, and started to move up the ranks under the tutelage of legendary horseman Hap Hansen.

“J’Adore Van Paemel has the nicest canter I have ever sat on in my life,” says Bidwell.

On a subsequent trip to Europe, Bidwell had to meet the legendary stallion that produced both of these mares. Meeting the young Jaguar Van Paemel in person at a horse show, Bidwell was entranced.

“I instantly felt that this was the horse I had been looking for for the last few decades. The sport came naturally to him. I had never owned a stallion and didn’t know anything about that. But he was relaxed, and then went right to work and tackled every course with the fluidity of a hunter and let his scope and track do all the talking.”

Meeting his owners and breeders (Kim Borloo, Luc Van Eeckhoudt and Karin Verdeyen of Stoeterij Van Paemel in Belgium) 
and caretakers, Bidwell was struck with how the big 17.2 h stallion (Cicero Z x Sissi, Sandro) was a favorite to handle of all the ladies at the farm. She dreamed of a future where it was her daughters and herself caring for and riding this powerful horse.

Bidwell flew home to California and did what we have all done when you love some-one else’s horse. Stateside, she obsessively watched all of his rounds and shows. She followed his results. She cheered for his off-spring and studied them as they started their own young horse careers and moved into Grand Prix classes. Then, one day while working at Blenheim Equisports, she got the call: “We want you to have Jaguar.”

Viva Jaguar winning his Elite BWP status

“The BWP/NAD has been inspecting Jaguar offspring for several years, including foals and yearlings. They consistently score very high, including the High Score Colt 2022 for North America ‘Whoa Jumanji’ by Jaguar out of a Sir Caletto mare. Our judge, Boudewijn Schepers, is the former Head Stallion Judge for BWP in Belgium and currently a judge of mares and foals in several countries. He believes the quality of the foals here in North America are just as good as all the foals he judges in Belgium, which says a lot when he scored Jaguar’s colt the highest for 2022! 
I have been with Boudewijn at all the Keurings with Jaguar offspring and can say they all consistently have good modern conformation, light athletic movement for all disciplines and fantastic temperaments much like Jaguar.” —Chris Sallee, Executive Director for BWP/NAD, traveling on the Keuring tour inspections for over 15 years

Bidwell immediately tried to figure out if there was a language barrier. She couldn’t imagine how, after over 100 FEI classes, that they would sell this winning, sensational stallion to the United States. To her delight, they had envisioned the same match she had after seeing her love and care for her Jaguar offspring. In March 2019, Jaguar Van Paemel arrived in Santa Barbara to settle in with Bidwell and her family. Without a roadmap to owning or standing a breeding stallion, Bidwell learned quickly and has formed a special bond with Jaggy.

“He is big and impressive. We were both cautious around each other for the first few days, but he is so smart and we really learned to trust each other. Not ever having handled a stallion before, his big size and athleticism felt impressive and I got many warnings from others, but he is just light and lovely to ride and handle,” says Bidwell.

Like most scopey and talented horses, developing the Jaguar Van Paemel babies has been a reflection of the sire. Often the most challenging part is the excitement and being disciplined enough to follow slow building blocks so that the most rideable horse reaches the top of the sport. They are light on the flat and bred to seek out and love jumping.

“This horse has taught me so much about management, pace of training, and making decisions in the horse’s best interests. Even choosing to focus on his breeding career when he is still sound and lovely to ride is all about priorities. I enjoy riding him at home,” says Bidwell.

Prolific Progeny

Jaguar is still getting mares in foal in both Europe and all over North America. He is known for getting difficult to breed mares in foal quickly, including senior maiden mares on the first try.

“It makes me happy that he is being used so much and is making many people’s dreams come true. I’m happy to share him—I feel lucky to have him!” says Bidwell.

“The best rewards come from being intuitive about their progression and having long-term vision for their success. Every step as youngsters leads them into being mature and confident producers of clear round after clear round,” adds Bidwell. “The babies love to work and all have his lightness on the flat. They are best if you take your time and really earn their confidence as they mature. They are rewarding to work with and have had so much success doing this sport correctly.” 

Otis Blue From Breeder Wesley Beirnaert

A young Otis Blue in Belgium

“Otis Blue is really nice to flat, and he has a lot of blood jumping. He has a lot of talent. I’m hoping to do some Grand Prix classes with him by the end of circuit.”

—Shane Sweetnam, Olympic Rider on Otis Blue (Jaguar Van Paemel x Jinx Van Paemel, Numero Uno)

“My father-in-law, André Callebaut, and I were among the first to breed with Jaguar Van Paemel, resulting in Otis Blue AC/WB. André has followed both the sire and grandsire of Jaguar since they were foals. He was immediately impressed by Jaguar van Paemel, and has since remained impressed,” Wesley Beirnaert told The Plaid Horse.

The dam always plays a key role in breeding, but Jaguar had everything Beirnaert and Callebaut were searching for: long-legs, flexible, beautiful appearance and a big heart. Even as a young horse, Beirnaert and Callebaut quickly realized that Otis Blue AC/WB was no ordinary athlete. After leaving their care, they began to see Otis everywhere, at every competition.

“To hear that Otis is under the wing of a top ten rider in the world is unbelievable,” said Beirnaert.

“Querido Blue AC/WB, full brother to Otis and 2 years younger, is also doing very well. I have high hopes that he too, will be scouted by a talented rider to further develop his career.

Our main goal remains breeding, and just hoping that our horses go far in the sport. You cannot get a better reference as a modest breeder. We are expect two healthy, full siblings from Otis Blue AC/WB.”

For more information, visit