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Jan 1, 2005 | 0 comments

November 15, 2005

Topic: I can’t seem to learn to say, “No!”

This may have been a fine quandry during my slut phase in college, but in
my “responsible” life, I’ve got to get a grip! I agreed to direct two
shows for the high school. You’d think I would have learned my lesson
last year when I directed and wrote the middle school production for
Michaela, but, evidently not… The first show, Once Upon a Mattress,
opens on Thursday. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and I’ve been
wanting to direct it for a number of years. What was I going to say?
How could one possibly pass up the opportunity to work with 30 high school
students between the ages of 14 and 18? How could anyone not relish the
thought of the lack of attention, over committed schedules, raging
hormones, severe mood swings, and soaring egos and insecurities that make
up members of our species during this stage of development? See? Of
course, how could I not agree to subject myself to nearly two months of
this? I knew it would make sense to you. Just think, I get a break of a
month and a half and I get to start the spring show….which I am also
writing….but it’s a really good idea that I’m wicked excited
about….there is no hope for me; I will never learn.

Overall, life is really good–or I’m just too busy to notice that it’s not!

So, what do you all think about the newly approved KWPN stallions? Talk
about high movment scores across the board! Wow! Talk about dressage
horses that don’t have the aptitude to jump a stick….not so wow. From
what I understand, soon, dressage specialists are not even going to be
required to jump even in the preselection rounds. Here’s what I predict:
this is not a bad thing for dressage breeders. We just have to stop
looking at stallions bred to be dressage horses, and start looking at the
approved jumpers from all purpose pedigrees and with decent movement
scores. The best KWPN dressage horses and progenitors of successful
dressage horses have historically come from jumper lines; this isn’t going
to change. Look at Jazz. For better or worse (and I’m a Jazz fan), he’s
in the immediate pedigree of five out of the eight newly approved dressage
specialists. Jazz’s sire may have been a dressage horse, but within two
generations we see names such as Purioso, Nimmerdor, and Amor. Dressage
specialists? What are two of the most successful Jazz niches? Flemmingh
and Contango. Got to love those Holsteiners bred to be dressage
specialists. Really, I think we’re still OK–for a moment or two. If we
allow the all purpose names to become distant names within the pedigrees,
then we’re going to get in trouble, however. My solution is to breed more
mares to Contango and stallions from foreign studbooks that are not yet so
focused on specialization. Still, to be honest, I’m torn. I love the
look of some of the modern dressage specialists, as long as they still
sit. The modern dressage specialists that have the type but not the
slinky in the butt mechanism are a problem for breeding. I’m wandering.

This year: Contango on Orchis and Werites. UB 40 on Ombria and possibly
LaLiscia. Diamond Hit on Oleander. Donatelli on Oisther. Biggles on

October 20, 2005

Topic: Thoughts on the Restructuring

About a week ago, I sent an email to the NA/WPN office, throwing my name
into the hat for consideration for the Board of Directors. I thought:
No one cares any more than I do about this organization; I have
incredible energy and passion to do what is best for Dutch horses and
Dutch horse breeders in North America; I know the history of this
organization and have a keen interest and vision for its future. For
these same reasons, I withdrew my name from consideration today.

Have you seen the Bill Murray movie, Meatballs? “It just doesn’t
matter.” From all indications (and I hope that I’m wrong), we’re not
going to see any real change with our new Members Committee. If this
committee were allowed to function as it was intended, then we would see
change; but, that’s not going to happen. And, the bottom line is that
regardless of the lack of effectiveness of our new Members Committee or
our current (and probably continuing) BOD it has little or no effect on
us as breeders, or riders, for that matter? For the vast majority of
people, everything is fine and dandy–our membership is much more
concerned (and confused, I might add) about the KWPN and its changes
than about the changes within the NA/WPN. We only had a 13% return on
the vote for the new committee. The documented average of surveys and
member votes in a healthy organization is around 35%. We don’t care.
Decisions made by the K really affect us more than decisions made by
anyone in the NA/WPN. I have been inside the organization enough to know
that things could be different. But, I really don’t believe that this
is the direction in which we’re headed. It’s not going to happen. In
our new by-laws, our current BOD has to approve any new or additional
appointments made by the Members Committee to the board, or
itself/themselves. The only real change that will make a difference is
if we replace or significantly reshape the current BOD and hire an
executive director. That’s not going to happen. Our membership is
accustomed to a more autocratic approach; our BOD members are accustomed
to a more autocratic approach. For the most part, it appears that the
vast majority of us is comfortable in this arrangement.

So, back to my point, I think that I do a lot more service to the
membership of the NA/WPN on the outside.

Another thought: Do we need the NA/WPN? Would we be just as well off
registering our horses through the KWPN directly? How much more benefit
would we bring to the promotion of Dutch horses in North America by
selling off the assets of the NA/WPN and taking the money to buy and
distribute free frozen semen to all NA/WPN breeders? This might not
help the 80% of our membership which is comprised of riders, but we
don’t really do anything for them anyway–they’re used to it; they won’t

I’m not really proposing this; it’s meant to be satirical. It’s kind of
fun to think about though, huh?

October 12, 2005

Topic: Sad Day…

Oladaula and Pioendaula leave for Canada today. Sad day. Of course, they
haven’t left yet, and the thought of that Donatelli baby in Oladaula may
be enough for me to hide them on a different farm before the transport
folks show up….

Normally, we sell babies. It’s a lot easier to sell horses that have
lived with you for a matter of months rather than years. We bought
Oladaula at the Borculo foal auction nine years ago. She’s lived with us
since she was four months old. We bought Pioen as a two year old, and
kept her in Holland for her first three breedings, so she hasn’t been with
us as long; nonetheless, she’s been with us for three years. My biggest
comfort is that I know that my girls are going to a great home and to a
good purpose; both mares will be super, super crosses for Freestyle. My
only regret is that I didn’t keep dibs on the Donatelli baby that’s coming
in 2006.

Anyway. To keep my mind off the departure of two of my girls…. I’ve
been thinking about breeding picks for 2006! There’s a surprise, huh?
Well, I’m going to be down five or six mares for next year, so I don’t get
to make quite so many picks, but I’m about to send off a check for two
doses of frozen….I’m not telling; UB-40 is too great a stallion for me
not to breed at least one or two mares to; and, I’m working on some deals
to bring in a really exciting young KWPN dressage stallion via
frozen–maybe two young dressage stallions. Can’t jinx it, so you’ll have
to check back to see who it is.

WBNA members, check out the members only forum at
www.warmbloodbreedersna.com; I’ve been detailing the entire process of
presenting a stallion for licensing, including jury comments, scores, and
written comments from the NA/WPN stallion evaluation forms.

September 24, 2005

Topic: The Future of the NA/WPN

As I must have mentioned before, one of my favorite parts of keeping this journal is
hearing from so many other Dutch horse enthusiasts from all over the world.
With permission from the author, I’m reprinting the bulk of an email I received a
couple weeks ago. Now that the keuring season is over and we have all received
our ballots for the new Member’s Committee, the timing feels right to address a
number of the issues that face us during the next few years. This letter below asks
a number of important questions and makes some intuitive observations. Since I
hear from so many of you, I know that the author of this letter is not the only frustrated
Dutch breeder or owner. As is quoted below, this may “fall on deaf ears,” but that has
never stopped me from voicing my opinions or thoughts in the past–I guess there’s no
reason to hesitate now!


I’m writing from Lincoln, NE, to 1) tell you that I have enjoyed your website
and, especially, your journal for the past several years (a secret admirer, if
you will), and 2) ask you for a simple explanation (if that’s possible) of
what’s going on with the NA/WPN.

I’ve read about “specialization” and “reorganization” (or “franchising” as you
called it), but I’m not quite able to figure out what’s between the lines of
these two discussions.

A little background: I have a four-year-old Dutch filly (Orame x Nimmerdor)
She has just been bred to Flemmingh and should foal next May.

My interest is in dressage, and this is my first experience in breeding. I don’t
plan on making a big deal of it, but am concerned that I do a good job of
choosing stallions for my mare. I might (or might not) add another mare to the
“herd,” which now includes only my Dutch mare and a benevolent QH gelding who
has acted as babysitter for the past 3-1/2 years. (I also have a seven-year-old
Holsteiner gelding who is working his way up the levels with a local

So, basically, I guess I’ve got a mare with “jumper” blood (Orame, Indoctro,
Nimmerdor, etc.), but my preference is to produce dressage horses. Am I now in
a “no-win” with the NA/WPN, given the fact that it’s moving to specialization?

I have not taken my mare to a keuring, although I wanted to do so this year. The
reason is simple: the closest one (either in Texas or Indiana) is 14 to 15 hours
away, and I won’t haul that far. A group of us tried to get a keuring in Kansas
City for this year, but our request fell on deaf ears. (I believe we had 10-15
horses that would have participated.)

Given the specialization approach and the fact that we’re apparently in a sort
of keuring “no man’s land,” I am giving serious consideration to trying to get
my mare into the Hanoverian registry. I have contacted them and I understand
that they will look over her pedigree and, if it is acceptable to them, I can
take her to a Hanoverian approvals (of which there is usually one nearby, as is
also the case with the Holsteiner Association, but I’m not really interested in
them for my mare). If she receives a certain score, she can get into the
Hanoverian book but cannot earn any predicates; her foals would be fully
Hanoverian if she makes it into their book.

In your opinion, is this a good or bad thing to contemplate, given the direction
of the NA/WPN and any other consideration you can think of? I assume that the
“bad” is mostly that at least some people looking for a Hanoverian for dressage
will wonder who Orame, Indoctro and Nimmerdor are (and might or might not be put
off if they know these stallions represent Dutch jumper blood). Also, I suppose
that if you want to do some degree of “line” breeding, it might be a little
hard to find Hanoverian pedigrees suitable for my mare.

Finally, I have noticed a lack of communication from the NA/WPN office of late.
For example, I don’t seem to be getting the international sporthorse magazine
they were sending anymore. Is this symptomatic of the “reorganization” that has
been going on?

I work in a political environment–I’m Director of Research for the Nebraska
Legislature–so I’m acutely aware of the difference between what the press
releases say and what’s really going on. And I guess I’d just like to know
what’s really going on with the NA/WPN before I get too far down the road.

Whenever you have time, although I suspect I say that at my peril!

OK. Here goes.

1. The Reorganization: I had many doubts about the voyage on which our
organization embarked last year, but I’m optimistic that that the restructuring
will be a really good thing. The membership has been given an opportunity
to vote the people it wants into decision making positions. The new Member’s
Committee will have real influence on the organization. It’s imperative that we
all get our ballots returned to the office. I could go into the political history of the
NA/WPN and fully analyze, give credit, and lay blame to the people that have
shaped what our organization has become, but I think that’s unnecessary and
unproductive, at this point in time. Right now, we need to get our Member’s
Committee elected, trust that this new committee will put together a stronger
Board of Directors, and then trust that a stronger Board of Directors will reorganize
the office. We need one or two people that have a sense of history with the
NA/WPN to remain, at least temporarily, both in the office and on the BOD, for the
sake of a smooth transition. But, many of the problems of the organization stem
from the people who are intrinsically involved. All this being said, I am optimistic
that the restructuring is going to help us develop a stronger and more accountable

2. Specialization: We have no choice. This is a KWPN mandate. As I’ve said
repeatedly, specialization makes sense on paper–I understand why we’re headed
in the direction, but I don’t have to agree with it. At the ISF keuring this year, even
the foals were being pegged as jumper type or dressage type by the jury. We
haven’t been asked to declare our foals into a specific discipline for keurings…yet,
but it’s coming. I’ll bet we’ll eventually see the possibility of five different foal
classes, dressage-bred, jumper-bred, hunter-bred, Gelders-bred, and
Tuigpaard-bred. This year, it was more obvious to me than ever that a keuring is
but one day in the life of an individual horse. Presenting foals brings in great
revenue for the NA/WPN, it’s interesting to see what younger stallions are producing,
and it helps breeders sell horses early, but, as an actual tool for a breeding program,
it has limited application. I will still be perfectly happy to bring one of my fancy moving
dressage babies so I can add another orange ribbon to my collection and so I have
more marketing ammunition, but, after seeing one of the top babies in the country
three years ago barely make studbook as an adult this year, am I going to take what
the jury says about a foal very seriously? No way. Am I going to decide on the career
of my foal, based on which type the jury decides it is at five months old? No. Are you
screwed because you have a jumper bred mare from whom you are breeding
dressage horses? Yes and no. I believe that you’re going to be able to declare the
breeding direction, regardless of the horse’s pedigree. If your jumper-bred mare looks,
moves, and thinks the way you want a dressage horse to look, move, and think–and if
she produces what you like– then take the offspring to a keuring as adults, get them
branded, and don’t give a shit that the jury thinks your dressage horses are jumpers.
If you’re worried about breeding indices and linear score sheets because your main
focus is producing breeding stock, that’s a different story. Our Jazz mare, Orchis, is the
highest indexed dressage breeding mare in North America. If I breed her to Concorde,
who has one of the highest jumping indices, I’m going to get a foal without a good
jumping index or dressage index. A better analogy is considering Burggraaf for Orchis–
not that could produce a hell of a dressage horse! But, I’d be in the same index situation
and less likely to produce breeding stock. With the pedigree of your mare, Flemmingh
may very well be a great cross. Are you going to be guaranteed that you get a dressage
horse? Probably not. Though, I’m not sure that if I were to breed my dressage-bred
Orchis to Flemmingh that I’m “guaranteed” to get a dressage horse. After all, Flemmingh
was bred to be a jumper; as was Contango, as was Roemer, as was Amor, as was
Sandro Hit, for that matter. So what are these jumper specialists doing producing
dressage horses? Guess they didn’t read the book. As far as I’m concerned, the only
thing you can predict when breeding horses, no matter how much you specialize, is that
you’re going to spend a lot of money, you’re going to get your heart broken, and,
fortunately, you’re going to have a few moments of pure joy that make all the money and
heartbreak worthwhile.

3. Keuring Locations: I don’t know how the decision process was handled this year.
Typically, if you don’t get a keuring one year and you have enough horses, the powers
that be try to get a keuring to you the next year. As far as your request “falling on deaf ears,
” I’m sorry. It can be difficult to find a friendly face in our organization. It only takes a
phone call or an email to let you know why your location or request was or wasn’t considered.

4. Should You Switch Studbooks: You know what? I don’t know. Given the fact that the
Hanoverian studbook is also going the way of specialization and it’s particularly interested
in building a stronger jumper program, your Orame x Nimmerdor mare could be really
attractive to both the studbook and to buyers of German jumping horses. On the other hand,
you could be right about difficulty in stallion selection for your mare–there’s only been one
Hanoverian stallion that has ever had a positive influence in the Dutch population; that’s
Eclatant. But, there are some newer lines that have been heavily influenced by TB blood–
they could be interesting. Of course, you’re breeding her for dressage, so that puts you in the
same situation as with the NA/WPN.

Here’s what I’d do. I believe that the new Member’s Committee is going to make a difference
that we, as members, will feel within months. It’s probably worth trying to get to the annual
meeting, making a few connections, and applying for a keuring next year. If, after that, you
still feel as frustrated as you do now, then go to a different studbook. None of us should have
to feel as if the NA/WPN is doing us a favor by allowing us to breed Dutch horses.

5. Communication and the Political Environment: Honestly, I don’t think that there’s anyone
right now who really knows what’s going on on all levels. I think that there are few people, in
particular John Sanzo, that are trying to do the right things to get the NA/WPN back on track,
but there are a lot of holes in the communication processes that need to be filled. If the
reorganization stays on track, things are going to get better soon. As far as politics, as long as
human egos and horses are involved, we’re not going to escape them. Though, I have to say
that I don’t believe that politics affect the jury’s decisions–perhaps they affect the way the
decisions are described or reported, but I don’t think that they affect the decisions themselves.
There are some strong personalities running for the Member’s Committee; it could be interesting.

Summary: I think the reorganization is going to be good; specialization has positives and negatives,
but that doesn’t matter, we have to live with it, at least until the KWPN changes its mind again; the
squeaky wheel gets the grease…you can get a keuring; it’s worth hanging out for another six
months to a year before you switch studbooks; no one really knows what’s going on with the
NA/WPN, but a few people are trying hard to make things work.

OK. So this goes down in history as the longest journal entry I’ve ever written. There’s a lot of
information and opinion to siphon through here. I hope I addressed the original questions. As
an English teacher, I’ve read a number of essays that have nothing to do with the question asked!
Hopefully, I haven’t fallen into that trap!

Take it for what it’s worth. Get involved. Breed Gelderlanders.

September 18, 2005

Topic: Good News, Bad News, and It Figures.

Guido won the DG Bar Cup. It was a really nice moment to be standing in
Mary Alice’s dressage ring, shaking Willy’s hand, and watching the first
place neck sash and DG Bar Cup cooler being put on Guido. But, as soon
as I heard Jacques carefully worded description of the winner, I knew
that we were not licensed. I’m disappointed, of course, but I’m
really happy with Guido; he was phenomenal under saddle. Willy came up
to me after I had put Guido back in his stall, and said that even in
Holland you won’t see four year olds with the kind of self-carriage and
balance that Guido has, let alone three year olds. So, we’ve bred an
international quality dressage horse that isn’t long enough in the body
for the jury to consider as a licensed stallion. There are worse
situations in which to be. Jim and Guido also won best presentation in
the DG Bar Cup; so, all in all, there are things to be celebrated.

What impresses me most about this horse is that he has an incredible
temperament and work ethic. The jumps that he was asked to jump were
ridiculously big. Without hesitation, Guido did his absolute best to
accommodate some fairly ridiculous requests of the jury. If I have any
complaints, it’s that, not for just Guido, but all the horses doing
IBOPS or licensing, the two jump combination was set up really badly.
The horses had to do nearly a 10 meter canter circle into the first
vertical. I’m not a jumper breeder, so, perhaps, this was supposed to
tell the jury something about the jumping ability of the horse–my guess
is that it was just poor planning, and all of our horses paid the
price. Regardless, this had nothing to do with whether Guido was
licensed or not; it simply endangered the horses. At ISF, Gert used to
have the free jumping shoot set up on audience’s right side–this was
much better for the horses. Now that the jumping combination has been
changed, I don’t know exactly how we could set that up differently in
the ISF indoor, but some change needs to be made.

Other notes for the keuring…my very favorite foal is the Rousseau x
Wanroij, bred by Siegi Belz-Fry. Super colt. He didn’t take top
honors, but, Grand Prix years from now, he’ll be the best of the foals
presented. ISF brought out a really super Sir Sinclair filly out of
Hivona. It’s easily the best foal that this mare has produced. Karin
and Carlos Jimenez showed a super filly; I’d list the pedigree, but I
can’t spell it–it’s the Baloubet de something filly out of their very
consistent Wanroij mare. I also really like the Judgement colt out of
the L. Titty mare. Our filly also went first premium, Ade Lente W.
(Freestyle x Cabochon)–had she been a bit older, she probably would
have placed higher in the line up that she did. There were really no
adult horses that blew me away. Loucky had a nice Contango mare–there
were a couple of interesting Corlands, but that ‘s about it. The foal
class will be touted as one of the best foal classes in the history of
the NA/WPN, but I’d like to go on record saying that three years from
now, a good percentage of these foals will be studbook and not ster.

Every keuring is a learning experience. If I’ve taken anything away
from this keuring it’s the fact that the results of a foal have very
little to do with the results of the same horse as an adult. This is
the first time in my sixteen years with the NA/WPN that I’ve said that.
I saw one of the top foals in the country three years ago barely make
studbook mare. I saw a fifth place second premium foal make ster
gelding. I will here and now call for the NA/WPN to stop keuring foals,
weanlings, yearlings, and two year olds other than stallion prospects.
It’s a waste of time and money. Let’s move our keurings to adult horses

And, yes, it figures…LaVita is in foal to Farrington.

September 14. 2005

Topic: Finally!!!

Yes, we now have no reason to be pissy; the first installment of our
beloved “Report from the Road” has been posted. Congrats to my friends at
Rancho del Oro on their two new ster mares and two first premium foals!
Very cool. And, thanks to Faith Fessenden; judging from the articulate
and breezy style of writing, it is my guess that it is Ms. Fessenden who
took time out of her busy jurist schedule to update those of us who live
and breathe for keuringen results. Thank you, Faith.

September 13, 2005

Topic: I’ve been too busy to express my pre-keuring hysteria

I would be remiss if I didnt’ devote at least one journal entry to
pre-keuring jitters; after all, it’s an annual event. Part of the reason
that I haven’t been talking about my pre-keuring obsessions is that I
haven’t had as many as usual. Can you believe it? For one thing, we only
have one horse going to a keuring–granted, it’s a fairly important one
horse–but, nonetheless, it’s still one horse. For another thing,

I’m going to show up at ISF on Friday morning to see what I see. It’s not
my job to clip, bathe, braid, trailer, or in any way prepare Guido for his
licensing. I haven’t even seen him since the end of March. This morning,
on my drive to work, I had a few (probably caffeine induced) moments of
panic, “What if Jim and Becca don’t clip him the way I would have? What
if they clip his legs too close and his ears and bridle path not close
enough? Do they know how far down to shave the sides of his tail? What
if his bridle isn’t soft and shiny? What if…..what if…. what if…..”
Why don’t I just stop hyperventilating and drive to work.

God, I torture myself. Poor Carol. No wonder she travels so much–she
has to escape me. No wonder Michaela went away for high school; I drove
her away! I overheard Keagan on the phone to his sister two nights ago,
asking if there is another room available for him at Exeter….I am, not
so slowly, driving my entire family to seek alternative living
arrangements because of my obsessive, guilt-ridden personality. Pretty
soon, it will be just LaVita and me, left alone to our compulsive stall
banging and nail biting. We’ll watch “Love Actually” together and cry.
She’ll eat her grain on the couch. I’ll drink my wine in her stall.

Speaking of LaVita, don’t casually thaw frozen semen at 4:30 in the
morning. I bred her to the wrong stallion. It’s a karma thing. I’ll
tell you about it, if it becomes necessary. LaVita has refused to get
pregnant this year, other than the 14 days she kept the Judgement embryo.
Of course, she’s probably pregnant now. I won’t know until I get back
from ISF. Let’s just say that double Lucky Boy isn’t something I would
have done on purpose in my dressage breeding program. Perhaps the gods of
horse breeding will look kindly upon me and either she won’t be pregnant,
or they will grant that the chromosonal blend avoids the short, low-set
neck, small body, short front leg, and short, rounded croup that could so
easily surface in a double Lucky Boy situation. Some people are afraid of
Jazz in a pedigree? I’m afraid of Lucky Boy. I want it by itself and at
least three generations back.

So, aren’t we all being left on pins and needles about the 2005 keuring
tour. I had been a big part of increasing the communication and
eduational initiatives of the NA/WPN over the last decade. It kills me
to see the apparent lack of concern about informing the membership about
what’s going on. This is the time period that always generates the most
activity on the NA/WPN site. It’s a shame not to take advantage of that
rather than leave us all hanging and pissy.

September 8, 2005

Topic: The Tolman Breeding Program

Let’s make a distinction here; there’s the SSF breeding program and, then,
there’s the “Tolman” breeding program, of which Michaela and Keagan are
the foal crop. Well, this week has been a big week for the Tolman
breeding program.

The morning that Michaela left for Exeter, I hugged her and told her that
it felt a lot like taking our horses to a keuring–except, if the jury
doesn’t like Guido, he gets gelded–if the world’s juries don’t see what I
see in Michaela, she still has to produce grandchildren.

Allowing Michaela to leave has been both or the easiest things I’ve ever
done and one of the most difficult. It’s easy in that I know who she is
and I believe in her–she has the intellect, the personality, and the
sense of humanity to great things in the world, while still maintaining a
strong sense of herself. It feels perfectly natural to see her take
flight. On the other hand, there’s an emptiness in my heart that I
haven’t quite experienced before. It leaves one a bit fragile. I’m
thinking about getting myself a puppy.

Keagan, on the other hand, sees no reason that Michaela’s room can’t now
become the primary location of his new Guinea Pig breeding business.
Nelly, Michaela’s very opinionated Siamese cat, and I think differently.
So, the Guinea pigs have taken up residence on a table near my
computer…they squeak. More quietly than I would have thought, but,
given the fact that we have two cats in the house and a Ball Python, it’s
probably wise that they don’t blatantly announce their presence.

Life is interesting.

August 11, 2005

Topic: I have no control

My general philosophy of life is that you (in Maya Angelou’s words),
“hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect something in
between.” Carol is a planner–she makes a decision, and then goes out
and makes it happen. I’m a thinker–I believe in being prepared for the
range of possibilities that could come next, but I’m not going to force
it–I have to feel my way through things. Our reactions to emergencies
really demonstrated the differences between our personalities. Carol
will immediately start moving and doing something, even if it might in
the end be the wrong thing. I immediately stop, process the options,
and then proceed. Even in more practical decision making, our
differences are stronger than our similarities. When were were deciding
the color scheme of the inside of our house, Carol wanted to paint every
wall a different color, and then see which one we liked best. I
periodically sat in the space over the course of two days and let colors
come to me.

My recent decision to pare down the breeding program so that I can be
more flexible in response to what I anticipate is coming feels right,
but I’m having a little difficulty living with the results. My one
journal entry about the possibility of selling some of our mares has
generated an unbelievable response, and is forcing me to face the fact
that I’ve made a non-Scot like decision. Since I’ve had a few calls and
emails asking if I am completely going out of the breeding business,
getting a divorce, and/or abandoning Dutch horses and switching to
Oldenburgs, let me assure you that none of this is so! Just as if the
situation arose in that I were forced to take my clothes off in public
(without the benefit of substantial amounts of alcohol), I’d have to
lose some weight, we have too many horses for me to be as
flexible/available as I’m feeling a need to be. That’s it.

The fact that two of our best mares have already sold merely because I
mentioned this in a journal entry both unsettles me and pleases me. On
the one hand, it tells me that people recognize the quality of mares
that is a result of the passion and thought that I’ve put into our
program; on the other, I haven’t’ had much time to process. Oladaula
and Pioendaula are sold. It makes it a lot easier that they are going
to someone as wonderful as Jennifer Arnoldt for Freestyle’s broodmare
band, but it’s a huge step for me. For clarity’s sake, I’m hanging on
to the kids’ horses, the stallions, LaVita and her Contango filly, the
two Jazz mares, and Weigelia’s granddaughter. The rest are informally
priced between 2500 and 20,000.; 5000. off any mare if I get the in
utero foal back. One of these days, I’ll get around to putting a list
on the sales page. LaLiscia is on loan from Trish Smith until she gets
back from Alaska, so this grand old mare is not for sale, and I’d really
like to hang on to her Iroko filly. We’ll see.

Speaking of no control…just as I’m trying to lighten our load, Keagan
catches a pig. Now, those of you who know my family know that we are
not genetically prone to the frenetic, fast movements necessary to
sprint down upon a poor, unsuspecting 8 week old piggy, handily toss him
into a burlap bag and turn around and thumb our noses at the two dozen
farm kids also trying to nab the piggies. Even when I knew the odds of
12 piggies and 24 kids in the Cheshire Fair annual Pig Scramble, I
wasn’t too worried that we were going to have yet another permanent
addition to the Tolman menagerie. It’s not that I doubt the athletic
prowess of my offspring. Oh, no. If it were a wrestling competition,
weight lifting, shot put, arm wrestling, hay toss, target shooting,
equestrian endeavor, or a cannon ball off the diving board, I would have
anticipated, if not success, at least competence and some measure of
genetic prowess. We are just not a fast people. We’re light on our
feet, great dancers, and tenacious as hell, but we’re not the kind of
people who are first to get to the piggies. It’s the tenacious part
that I shouldn’t have underestimated. We don’t give up. Now, I was
driving to the airport so I didn’t get to witness this first hand, but
I’m going to tell the story, nonetheless. There was one piggy left, the
most cunning, evasive, and terrified of the piggies. There were a
dozen, plus one, 10 to 12 year olds, burlap bag in hand, still in
pursuit of a porcine prize. These children are now covered in arena
dirt, sweat, and pig shit. Many members of the piggy pursuit have
lost much of the initial fervor which fed the frenzy of their chase.
Not the Tolman child. Keagan was still moving at the same pace which he
had maintained through out the event–in the beginning, slightly slower
than the average of the mob, now slightly quicker. With determination,
sweat, pig shit, and an elevated heart rate focusing his movements, he
dove for the piggy. Lo and behold, as luck would have it, and thanks to
the gods of pig catching, Keagan got a hold of the now insanely
squealing piglet. As it is with the members of the mob in these events,
they immediately circle a catch in anticipation of a clumsy and
accidental release. I’ve mentioned that we are not a people genetically
predisposed to catching things, but we are a people genetically
predisposed to hanging on to things. Keagan had his pig. The pig now
has one of my box stalls. Do you think that we will ever be allowed to
eat this pig? His name is Abe. Keagan says, “That’s Babe without the
Bacon.” I’m in trouble.

July 22-27, 2005

Topic: Life with Horses vs. Life without Horses

Sorry to have dropped the ball in organizing an official specialization
discussion. I just haven’t gotten to it. On the WBNA site, under the
“Specialization” topic, there’s a link to a fantastic article about
breeding. It’s really worth the read. Plus, after the solid work that
the restructuring committee has done, I may be willing to keep my mouth
shut and see what happens, rather than over-reacting.

Life has been really full lately:

I’m realizing that this is my last month with Michaela living full time
in my house. She’s off to Phillips Exeter as of September 7th–from
there, college, grad school, career, family…holy shit. I know that
I’m really playing on the histrionics here, but, seriously, will she
ever live full-time in our house again? How cool for her, though. What
more can I ask than my kids get the kinds of opportunities that I never

Carol has been traveling non-stop, plus entertaining some really
exciting job offers. After spending the last sixteen years building
this breeding program, it’s rather daunting thinking about moving or
significantly reducing it. But, life is about change, so if that’s
what we end up doing, that’s what we end up doing. There is a big part
of me that could really enjoy boarding two or three horses someplace,
rather than trying to manage 30 at our place or a new place. So, if
you’ve ever really wanted one of our mares, put your name in; you never
know what the Tolmans will be doing next.

I’m having trouble keeping my mother out of the road. What are you
going to do? We all get hit by the proverbial bus sooner or later.
That sounds a bit casual, doesn’t it. I don’t mean it that way; it’s
just that I know my parents. It would be a death sentence to forcibly
intervene and insist on residential care. In respect of the life that
they have left to live, I have to let go. Who am I to define what life
is supposed to be like for anyone else? The timing is interesting; just
as I’m having let go of my children, I’m having to let go of my
parents. Part of me wonders if by allowing the roles we play within our
lives to consume so much of us we, in turn, limit other pieces of whom
we could become. It’s an interesting time.

On the horse front:

Great news today…Guido passed his the xray requirement for the
Dutch!!! That’s one more step along the path to licensing for Mr.
Verito. ISF here we come. He’s got the type; he’s got the movement;
he’s got the pedigree. I’d like to see him have a bit more size, but
he’s three–I also wouldn’t want him to be over 17 hands or too heavy
already. Ab Barneveld (former head of the KWPN stallion selection
committee) always said that a young stallion should look like a young
stallion and not be overly developed–if he looks overly developed at
two and a half to three, he’s going to be too heavy as a mature
stallion. At any rate, all you Guido fans out there, if he passes the
next hurdle at ISF, then we’ll have to have a hell of a party Saturday
night. Of course, if he doesn’t get accepted, we’ll still have the
party, but we’ll start the drinking a bit earlier! Carol’s philosophy
is that for every step Guido passes, it just makes him that more
expensive as a gelding. Her philosophy just doesn’t cut if for me,
however; there’s not enough emotional turmoil involved.

Donatelli seems to have completely recovered from a chipped coffin
bone. We’ve missed much of the show season because he’s had to be on
hand walking and stall rest. It’s been great for the breeding season,
because it’s completely reduced the stress on him, but it would have
been nice for him to finish his PSG and I1 career at the National
Championships. At any rate, he’s come back better than ever; people are
crazy about his babies; and, he’s having a great breeding season. So,
Devon is the next stop for Donatelli.

My mares are just starting to cycle normally again. I don’t know what’s
been going on, but once June hit, my mares shut down. Fortunately, we
had a number bred by the end of May. So, still pregnant we have:
Oladaula to Donatelli, Oleander to Diamond Hit, Thea Vita to Contango,
Pioendaula to Special D, Oisther to Royal Prince, Kirona to
Johnson/Verdi. Breedings in the last week and a half: Orchis to
Donatelli, LaLiscia to Johnson/Verdi, Sibby to Donatelli, After Labor
Day to Donatelli, Facet to Donatelli, Ombria to Donatelli, and…LaVita
to Quattro–we’re trying our first on farm ET. Questionable mare, bred
with questionable frozen, employing a questionable process–I’ve really
stacked the odds against me! We’ve had no luck with the Sandreo semen
again this year. Though, Judy Yancey has a successful Sandreo ET, and
all other reports are that the his frozen is great. Overall, I can’t
complain much. LaVita has off years, and I’ve only tried frozen with
her so far this year–we did get the Judgement embryo that didn’t
continue growing. Orchis has had a really off year, and I’ve just
switched her to fresh cooled. Bea (Facet) is the only mare that I’ve
bred repeatedly with no luck. The most disconcerting thing about the
breeding season is that I’m nearing my 100th ultrasound. Every time I
turn my head to the right, I swear I smell horse shit. Once all the
mares are bred, checked, and rechecked, I think I’m going to have to
shave my right armpit, just so I can thoroughly disinfect the right side
of my upper body. Since I’m color-blind, I don’t know if the darkened
skin on my right side is a nice tan or slightly greenish brown stain…

July 14, 2005

Topic: Reorganization of the KWPN of North America

I don’t know how many of you have received your letter explaining the
reorganization, but mine came today. It’s a good plan. It’s not
without its dangers, but, with the right people in place, it could be
phenomenal. For non-members who read my journal, I’ll give you a quick
version of the plan. Five member Member’s Committee, elected at large,
four from the US and one from Canada. This committee makes the
appointments to the Board of Directors, which consists of five to seven
members. Both committees allow members four year terms with no term
cap. The BOD is responsible for the business and organizational aspects
of running the NA/WPN–hires and fires; the Member’s Committee is
elected representation that addresses the issues that affect us and acts
as a balance to the powers and directives of the BOD.

I really like the fact that we have a committee, with real influence,
elected by the membership. This gives the membership a much needed
voice. The biggest danger is that the election becomes a “gain a spot
by having the most recognized name” or “gain a spot by being the most
popular.” My experience in volunteering for this organization over the
last decade and a half is that there are only a few people who really
work. If people get elected because they have an axe to grind or see the
position as a place of prestige, but don’t possess both some sense of
altruism and an understanding of the importance of the greater good over
personal need, then the new system isn’t going to be as effective as it
could be.

I love the three-prong design–stikes my sense of Democracy. We have
the Member’s Committee, which is elected representation; the BOD, which
is appointed representation; and the KWPN which sets the breeding
direction. It’s a really good balance. There’s no mention in the letter
about an executive director or how he or she is selected. From what I
infer, this will be a BOD hire.

I have to say that I’m surprised there are no term limits. Possibly,
the reason is that we have so few people that are going to be willing to
fill the 10 to 12 committee positions. Regardless, it seems that term
limits would afford us a “safety net.” Other than that, I’m really
quite enthusiastic and encouraged.

June 23, 2005

Topic: Wow!

Thank you to those of you who are emailing me. I am going to set up a BLOG
space that we can use for discussions. From the mail I’ve received so far,
the biggest issues seem to be, one, disagreement with the KWPN’s focus on
specialization and, two, frustration with the lack of communication coming
from the NA/WPN. I’m going to attempt to break the discussion into these
two categories plus a couple more for future ideas, in order to keep it
organized. I won’t open the BLOG until I can get it organized the way I
want it, but if you would like the address so you can participate, then
email me and I’ll send it to you when it’s ready for conversations. This is
not a members only kind of thing, but I’m not going to provide a direct link
to it because the only people who really need to be participating are NA/WPN
members. Input from people who are not affected by the decisons made by the
KWPN and our board of directors has limited value. It also feels
inappropriate to me to have board members or jury members posting; though,
if you would like to read the conversations and opinions, it could be
beneficial to the organization.

Clarification in response to some emails: I am not calling for separation
from the organization, boycotting of keurings, or anything of the like–I
see KNMAC as a support to the organization and lobbying voice for the
membership. I want to see the NA/WPN strengthened, not weakened.

Special note to the boycotting of keurings: This would be the destruction
of the organization. I will admit that even I am taking fewer horses to the
keuring this year, in part, due to my discomfort with specialization and a
growing distrust of pidgeon-holing really young horses, but I believe in
keurings whole-heartedly. As a membership, we MUST continue attending and
supporting the keuring system. It is the backbone of our educational
process in North America.

June 22, 2005

Topic: KWPN of North America Members’ Action Coalition

KNMAC. What do you think? “Kan Make Things Happen” I’ve already begun to
get emails from members wanting to know more about what I’m thinking and
offering to help. Thank you. The first thing I’d like to do is to start
some discussion groups–I’m not sure exactly how to do this. On the SSF
site, we have a blog set up that we’ve never used–that may be an option.
Let me check it out, and I’ll get things moving.

June 21, 2005

Topic: KWPN of North America

I miss being excited about this organization. Carol and I have invested
too many years and too much money into our breeding program to switch
studbooks, but I can’t say that the thought isn’t there. This isn’t
Europe. A breeder in Holland doesn’t really have that many choices for
studbooks; we do.

First, as I’ve written before, the most recent specialization proposal
worries me. As far as I can tell, this proposed policy puts all of our
decision makers in a position of smiling politely at our membership and
punching preprogramed keys on the cash register: “That’s two breedings to
Jazz and one to Burggraaf. That’ll be two dressage horses and one jumper.

“But my mares are by Contango, Voltaire, and Zeoliet–I think there’s
a chance I’ll get three dressage horses.”

“That’ll be TWO dressage horses and ONE jumper. Please move along,
sir. Next.”

As I’ve said before, I believe that the KWPN of North America should be
in sync with the KWPN in breeding direction and breeding philosphy–we
should still be tied to the parent organization–much of the progress we have
made in our studbook is due to the fact that, as breeders, we have been held
to the exact same standard as the KWPN breeder. However, this is America;
we need to have a voice. We’re a different people, with a different
mindset and a different market for our products. As we become the first model
for franchising of the KWPN, shouldn’t we have something in the franchise
manual that allows for some individuality?

Second, and the most disturbing to me, is the loss of community that the
NA/WPN is undergoing. Through Gert and the NA/WPN, to Jacques, Mary, and
the NA/WPN, we had been on a path of education and individual breeder
empowerment. If there’s not a place for individual breeder empowerment, we’re
going to lose the integrity and community which we have built. We will
slowly become a smaller and smaller membership, producing fewer and fewer
horses, supporting fewer and fewer North American based KWPN stallions of
quality, and buying less and less frozen semen from Dutch Stallion owners.
There may be, at the end, a small group of Dutch immigrants and people
intrinsically tied to Dutch influences breeding Dutch horses in North America, but
it will take decades to rebuild an organization that could have been made
stronger, rather than weakened by such a strict narrowing of the breeding
focus and a lost sense of community.

Regardless of the outcome of our restructure, we need to organize a
coalition of members who are willing to maintain the heart of the NA/WPN. The
KWPN is bouyed by its Stallion Owners Association, Foal Auction Groups, and a
number of regional committees that work toward making the organization
stronger. We can do the same. For starters, I’d love to see our own
newsletter again. I’d love to see regional meetings. A foal auction. A
support group for stallion owners or people thinking about becoming stallion
owners. Regionally organized keurings. Jury training at the regional level.
There are so many positive things that we as members can be doing to
further educate ourselves and reinforce the environment in which we breed and
sell horses.

June 18, 2005

Topic: Notes from the Underground

First, I have always been a believer in working within a system to effect
change; second, I have always been a believer that we (meaning the NA/WPN)
need strong ties to the KWPN in order to maintain the value of our
organization; third, I have deferred from participating in the NA/WPN restructure
effort because I didn’t think that any of us would really make a
difference in shaping what the KWPN intends for us–I may be a martyr, but I’m too
busy to allow my life to become an exercise in futility. These three
things being said, timing is everything. I’m sure that the board and
restructure committees are close to presenting some model for the future of the
NA/WPN. It’s near the end of June, and I think I remember something about
an interim report due at the six month mark. Before its
arrival/presentation, I’d like to start a new committee, outside of the organization
itself, made up of NA/WPN members who are willing to have a voice and actively
represent the membership. I’m not saying that this committee will
disagree with any thing that is about to be proposed by our current board of
directors or advisory committee, but I’m also not saying that it won’t. I
just want some organized voice in place to give counterpoint to the
possibility of unacceptable KWPN mandates and/or support NA/WPN board members if
they choose to disagree with the KWPN. The membership of the NA/WPN deserves
a voice. Let’s create the vehicle.

June 14, 2005

Topic: Prego Report

No. Not me. I may look pregnant, but I assure you that it is merely an
illusion. The girls! So far:

Donatelli x Oladaula
Johnson (kwpn Verdi) x Kirona
Diamond Hit x Oleander
Contango x Thea Vita
Special D x Pioendaula
Royal Prince x Oisther

Not bad, huh? Out of the first eight mares for whom I’ve had my
ultrasound machine, six are pregnant, LaVita was pregnant to Judgement, and I
missed Facet. To go:

Johnson x LaLiscia
Sandreo x Ombria
Donatelli x Facet (breeding today)

If we get these mares clean:

either take a chance on frozen with Flemmingh or fresh cooled with
Donatelli x Orchis

no clue x LaVita–I’m so bummed that she lost her Judgement pregnancy
that I may just not breed her this year–there’s no one else that I really
want to use on her. She lost her Donatelli pregnancy last year–though
much later in the pregnancy. The Judgement embryo stopped growing at 14 days.
I don’t know what is going on with Ms. V. She and fate may be telling
me that if I ever intend to ride, now is the time to get my ass back in the
saddle. Though, given the fact that LaVita is the one who has to carry me
around, she’s probably not doing this intentionally…

June 9, 2005

Topic: Specialization

We have to breed our hearts. That’s my problem with the new
specialization proposal from the KWPN; it doesn’t allow for heart. Breeding horses
is not a mathematical formula designed by horticulturalists–just because
you can produce a black tulip, doesn’t mean that we all want our gardens
blackened in the spring. I want my garden frilly, orange, bright, and
smelling of lilacs. Go ahead. Produce your black tulip. I’ll bet the
bumble bees forsake it in hopes of healthier and happier days. Horses are not a
creation of man; man has become what he is because of the horse. So, I
chose to breed what I believe, not what a formula tells me is correct. Maybe
the KWPN believes that the breeders in Holland have been demanding this
shift to extreme specialization…great–do it. But, if you want me to
continue to breed Dutch horses, give me a caveat. Give me the benefit of the
doubt that I know my mares better than you do. Give me the benefit of the
doubt that I am intelligent enough to look at the pedigrees of 90% of the
internationally successful Dutch dressage horses, and realize that they were
bred to be jumpers. Give me the benefit of the doubt that I can see that a
longer front leg may make a better type, but has almost nothing to do with
the success of an FEI level dressage competitor. I believe that the KWPN
is setting us up to produce a few stellar horses and a multitude of mediocre
horses. If we had a stronger sausage market in North America, this would
be OK. We, however, are going to have to live with these mediocre horses
for at least two decades beyond the time that the KWPN decides to mandate
yet another breeding direction. As much as I have been a proponent of the
North American department of the KWPN maintaining cohesive and integral ties
to our parent organzation, I’m beginning to wonder if we wouldn’t be
better off planting our own garden.

June 4, 2005

Topic: OCD (We’re talking the mental kind, not the bone kind)

After my last journal entry, a thoughtful journal reader sent me a
suggestion in the “C” line for, I thought, the bulk frozen semen purchase I
had mentioned. “Celexa” Hmm. I’d never heard of him. So, I’m at
school (public educaiton here–tons of busy-body internet monitors making
sure that no teacher or student is using the school’s resources
inappropriately, don’t you know), and I do a search for Celexa. I’m not sure if
typed something in incorrectly or what, but I was quickly shown the links to
a variety of sites dealing with erectile dysfunction. Just what I want
the Keene High School internet monitors to think about me…Well, I unGoogled
myself has rapidly as possible, and went to the Holsteiner Verband to
continue looking for Celexa. I didn’t find him. After a couple of email
exchanges with my thoughtful reader….I now know that Celexa is a drug
commonly used to treat OCD. Well. That’s all I can say about that. Here I
was perfectly excited to be looking at a young C line Holsteiner as a
potential influence in the SSF program, yet I now find myself not so anxiously
awaiting the limp dick jokes in the hallowed hallways of Keene High
School–plus, I have at least one reader who thinks my self-medicating attempts with
bourbon and red wine have done little to alleviate my more obvious than I
care to admit compulsive disorder(s). Lovely.

Speaking of compulsive, LaVita is going to drive me crazy. My family is
convinced that I am the problem and not LaVita, but I just don’t think
that the are as in tune to her as am I. Although, given the volume of her
screams, the pile of wood in her stall this morning, and the yards of
destroyed fencing, she’s not being especially subtle. At 13 days, I saw a
Judgement x LaVita embryo in the right horn (my first frozen semen breeding!!!).
At 14 days, the embryo was slightly bigger and still in the right horn.
At 15 days, LaVita had completely and insanely bonded to the Jazz x Amor
mare, following her around screaming at her, allowing herself to be kicked
at, and squatting and peeing. I had the vet coming anyway to see if the
fluid I saw in Orchis’s uterus was, indeed, an infection–I had already
inseminated her with the first half of my last 10 straws of Special D at 24
hours post HCG–it was an infection. So, we scanned LaVita. This is a mare
who has lived in and out of our stocks through nine breeding seasons. For
the first time ever, she screamed and screamed. Nonetheless, the embryo was
still there–slightly bigger and now in the left horn. My old vet said,
“If she were my mare, I’d give her 5 cc’s of Progesterone every three
weeks for the rest of the pregnancy.

I said, “If she doesn’t stop this screaming she’s about to be your
mare, so why don’t you go ahead and give her the first shot.” We did.
I moved the Jazz x Amor mare away from the clingy, slut-friend LaVita, and
listened to Ms. V scream most of the rest of the day.

It’s been two days. I haven’t scanned her again; I don’t want to
know. LaVita has now attached herself to Oladaula, but is not teasing to
her. She does occasionally lift up her head, as if some wild, terrifying
thought had just poked her smaller-than-I-had-imagined brain, and start
screaming. If she loses this Judgement pregnancy, I swear I’m going to breed
her to a Percheron or something, just so I don’t have to worry about the
pregnancy. Of course, that’s just what I need, an 1800 pound version of
LaVita. I’d better go with a Mini stallion. Anyone know of a homozygous
Appy Mini stallion that likes big neurotic bay mares?

I’m starting to think that a prescription for Celexa might just be a good
idea…nah, it’s summer, I’ll just switch to vodka tonics.

May 24 and 25, 2005

Topic: My children now insist that I wash my hands a few times before I
start cooking.

Every once and a while, I have to resist falling off the edge of the
world. I called Susan Duncan yesterday, and said, “I’m either pregnant or
starting menopause. Nothing else can account for my completely irrational
emotional fragility.” She replied,

“Go for the pregnancy. Menopause is hell.”

Since, in reality, I can’t go for either, I’m stuck with simply
feeling as if I’m falling off some especially precipitous cliff. It’s
probably the weather. I’ve taken the tarp off the ark, just in case. I had
deluded myself into thinking that we would have a reasonably dry spring….I
hate it when mud becomes a metaphor for life. I’ve got to get my feet

So, the creation of two dream babies is underway–you all know about the
LaVita to Judgement on the 17th; the other is Oleander to Diamond Hit on the
23rd. Keep you collective fingers crossed! You think the first part of
this journal entry is depressing….wait until the end of next week if these
two mares aren’t pregnant!

I’m fairly certain that I’m going to have permanent manure stains on
the upper portion of my right arm. This and the every six hour schedule are
the only drawbacks to having your own ultrasound machine. It’s been
fascinating. Kirona was pregnant to Donatelli at 15 days, but not pregnant
any longer at 20. Facet had a 21 day size embryo at 21 days…and at 27
days. Can you say cyst? Fortunately, her strident demeaner when in heat was
an indication that something was amiss with my diagnosis of pregnancy. At
any rate, both mares have now been bred to Johnson–given that I couldn’t
get Donatell semen on a Monday. Pioen has three huge follicles–two on the
right and one on the left. One of the ones on the right has shrunk
steadily at every six hour check–the other stayed the same–the one on the left
has become enormous. Had I given this mare HCG, I’m sure she would have
triple ovulated. So, by the time I get home from school today, the left
one should be gone and I will have to finally decide to whom she is being
bred. I’m leaning toward Johnson–though having Contango fresh cooled
arriving today for Thea may be too much for me to resist. I think that next
year I’m going to send a dry shipper to Holland or German, and buy 20 or 30
doses of one stallion. Can you imagine? Me breeding all of my mares to
one stallion? Hmmm. Who would it be? If I could get a Krack C son,
that’s who it would be.


I am sleep deprived and stained up to my right arm pit with horse shit.
Ah, yes, the fun of owning your own ultrasound machine. Carol has said that
she thinks an every six hour scanning schedule somehow feeds and fits
perfectly with my control and compulsive issues….”What control and
compulsive issues?” was my response.

This morning, at just before 5 am, Pioendaula had finally
ovulated…twice–one on the left ovary and one on the right. I set up to thaw semen,
pulled the tank over, but still hadn’t decided to whom I was breeding her.
For about 30 seconds I contemplated Quattro, Johnson, and Special D, and
finally decided to go with the Special D because Keagan suggested it. (later,
I asked him why he thought we should go with Special D–he said,
“Because his name sounds cool.” He also proceeded to tell me that he knows the
color of all the stallions we breed to. “Go ahead. Say a stallion, and I’ll tell you his color.”
“Judgement.” “He’s white.”
“Jazz.” “Black.” I think I listened to the wrong person.) At any
rate, I pulled up the cane and dropped the first two straws into the water
bath. At this point in time, I realized that the cane held another plastic
vial with more straws below the straws I was thawing. “That’s funny.”
I said outloud to myself, “ I only have one dose of Special D–there are
two here.” Suddenly, it hit me that I was either thawing the wrong
frozen or I didn’t know the number of straws per dose of the Special D.
Lovely. Of course, it was also too dark for my 45 year old, I keep denying I
need glasses for reading eyes to make out the name on the straws that I had
just thawed. What are you going to do? I pulled up the semen into a
syringe and insemintated Pioen. By the time I brought the straws into the lab so
that I could actually see the print on the straws, millions of little
sperm cells were well on their way to one of two recently released ova. Good
news and bad news. The good news is that it is Special D that I thawed.
The bad news is that I have no idea how many straws per dose I was supposed
to have used, and most likely used at most half a dose. The moral of this
story? Having your own ultrasound machine allows you to be in complete
control of your breeding program–this is not necessarily a good thing.

Back to the 20 or 30 doses of one stallion–maybe something Holsteiner in
the C line. Anyone have any suggestions?

May 19, 2005

Topic: Freedom!!

I feel as if I have been liberated by my new ultrasound machine. It may
have cost $6,000., but, in the first week that I’ve had it, I followed
LaVita’s heat cycle from Thursday night to 1 am Tuesday morning (and was
able to inseminate pre and post ovulation), I’ve done four preg checks,
and I’ve checked a mare for oncoming heat. Total cost would have been 17
farm calls, 21 scans, and two inseminations. Even in a low-end cost
scenario, we’re talking a lot of money that this little machine has saved
me in the course of a week. Of course, my right arm will probably smell
like horse shit for the rest of the summer, but that has its benefits
too….it keeps the high school students at a distance and my children are
too embarrassed to ask me to drive them places, in fear that I’ll get out
of the vehicle and completely offend the olfactory senses of all within a
15 foot radius.

So, you may be asking yourself, to whom did I breed LaVita? OK. I’m
going for the thrill breeding here. I bred LaVita to Judgement. Life
is too short not to go for the crosses that you know in your heart and
soul are on the money. I’ve wanted to breed LaVita to a Farn line horse,
since she is Elcaro x Belisar x Ursus x Farn, plus this gives me both the
Amor and the Furioso that have been hallmarks of my breeding program. On
top of this, the dressage queen LaVita has already produced Rocco SSF and
a certain Contango filly that jumps out of her pasture at will, just to be
closer to me and the grain bucket. If Miss V is pregnant, during the next
11 months, I’m going to be even more obnoxious than usual about the best
mare in the universe.

In other farm news, we have three Donatelli pregnancies already!!
Oladaula, Facet, and Kirona are all prego on one shipment. We’re also
breeding our new Jazz x Amor mare to Donatelli, so there should be some
really fancy dressage babies at SSF next spring.

Other breedings….it’s getting too late for me to be too fickle–Oleander
to Diamond Hit is still on; Ombria to Sandreo is still on. I bought two
breedings to Johnson and one to Flemmingh, so Orchis still gets the
Flemmingh, but I haven’t decided for sure who gets the Johnson. It could
be Pioen and LaLiscia, or it could be Thea and LaLiscia, or it could
be…who knows. I have one dose of Quattro, one dose of Special D, one
dose of Farrington, and two Zeoliet. Plus, somebody is getting bred to
Contango. Carol is voting for Thea–I love the Contango x Pion colt so
much that I’m voting for Pioendaula. If I had to make the choice today,
Pioendaula and LaLiscia would get the Johnson, and Thea would go to
Contango. Of course, we all know that this is the surest prediction that
it won’t go this way once the decisions have to be made!

more news coming: Donatelli, Guido, life–for now, have to go pretend to
be a teacher, however.

May 3, 2005

Topic: The play is over and my nephew/webmaster/designer is back from Florida!

Conversations through Time, (it drives the English teacher in me crazy
that I can’t get titles either italicized or underlined in this email
program) the play, was not as dreadful as it could have been…., as a matter of
fact, the audiences seemed to really like it. It was nice to be writing
something other than horse stuff–of course, public deadlines and family
guilt are about the only things that inspire me to think, let alone write,
about anything other than horses. A number of you have asked me to post a link
to the script, but I’m just not sure that I can bring myself to endure
the potential humiliation of having adults repeat any of its lines to me.
If you promise never to mention to me that you have actually read it, then I’ll think about it.

Have I got a new foal….Contango x Pion x Michelangelo. This boy is
almost too fancy for a control freak like me to have in his barn–almost too
fancy–we’ve already had someone here interested in him, and, I have to
tell you, the thought of selling him literally makes me sick to my stomach.
Once, a friend of mine was on a buying trip to Holland, and saw this Ferro
daughter that simply blew her away–she had to have her. Well, the Ferro
mare was owned by a very old man who had been breeding horses most of his
life. When my friend tried to buy the mare, the old man said with a sheepish
smile on his face, “I am too old, and she is too pretty. She is not for
sale.” I know that I’m not that old, but Aztec is that pretty.

Speaking of pretty, both of our Donatelli foals are already sold. That
was fast, huh! The conformation on these babies is just outstanding–better
than any foals we’ve had–more rectangular, better shoulders, prettier
heads. I like them so much that Oladaula has already been bred to Donatelli,
I’ve rebred both of the mares that had Donatelli foals, and I’m
breeding our new Jazz x Amor mare out of the van Helvoirt program to Donatelli.
I had planned on breeding Pioendaula to him as well, but I just have to try
for a Contango filly that looks just like this new colt.

Every year I think that our foal crops get better and better–next year
should be really exciting. Since it’s been almost three weeks since any of
you have had to listen to me waffle about my breeding picks, I should
probably get you up to date! Mr. Guido still doesn’t know that he’s a
stallion, so, if he figures things out in the next month or so, many of these
decisions could change–I can’t stand to see my mares in heat more than a
couple of times without breeding, however; so the girls and I have begun
without him.

LaVita to Sandreo (already bred on one cycle)
Oladaula to Donatelli (just bred last week)
Oisther to Donatelli
Pioen back to Contango
Facet to Donatelli (bred at the end of last week)
Kirona to Donatelli (bred her today)
Ombria to Sandreo (frozen already in Florida)
Oleander to Diamond Hit (I just don’t give up, do I)
LaLiscia to Special D (By sheer fate, I have one dose left)
After Labor Day to O.Zarah (if my auction breeding is still good)

Thea Vita: Carol says Contango, but I think Contango to Pioen, so Thea to
Orchis: I’m still thinking Flemmingh, would love Sandreo, am also
thinking Donatelli

Big, big news! I just ordered my ultrasound machine yesterday. Yes!
Spent the weekend at a super ultrasound clinic, not that I’m quite
proficient yet, but, with the number of mares that we have, I’ll have plenty of
practice. Hence, you may have noticed my willingness to try more frozen
semen. Plus, recent studies seem to be consistently supporting that HCG on a
35+ follicle and then breeding with half a dose of frozen at 24 hours and
the other half at 40 hours has an equal success rate to breeding 4-6 hours
post ovulation. This information and my new ultrasound machine give me hope
that I can finally find consistent success with frozen semen. We’ll see.

April 12, 2005

Topic: KWPN of North America

I’ve been quiet on this topic for months. One, I’ve really been too
preoccupied with family matters and work to get overly involved (hard to
believe; I know). Two, the whole process reminds me of President Bush’s
Social Security “Reform”. Whether we like it or not, are we really going
to have a choice?

As I stated months ago, the NA/WPN is headed for franchising. Hence, KWPN
of North America. It’s minus the golden arches, but it’s franchising,
nonetheless. What I like about this is that we are on an absolutely even
keel/par/footing/accountability with the KWPN. What I don’t like about
this is that we are on an absolutely even keel/par/footing/accountability
with the KWPN. From the KWPN’s point of view, this makes perfect sense.
The K is starting satellite programs all over the globe–there should be a
system in place to establish uniformity and give the K complete control over
the breeding goals of any organization bearing its name. What I don’t
like about it is two-fold; one, our breeding base is so significantly
smaller than that of the KWPN that any decision made is going to affect us much
more profoundly (ie, specialization…I’ve heard rumored from discussions
at the Annual Meeting that breeders may have to start declaring a
discipline for their horses at an earlier age than studbook inspection….did anyone
notice that the rules for a mare receiving her preferent status have
changed–her offspring now have to earn their ster status in the same discipline
as she…will someone please tell Lavita that she wasn’t supposed to
produce the top jumping gelding in North America–the same top jumping gelding
that was one of the top five “dressage” foals three years earlier)–if
this works, the North American population is going to benefit from this
mandate disproportionately well…if this extreme move to specialization does
not work, however, we’re going to suffer disproportionately, as well;
two, we’re not Dutch–and all that that implies. All this being said,
I’m willing to go along for the ride. I’m just hoping that the movie,
Supersize Me, doesn’t have huge (pardon the pun) metaphoric implications.

ps. I have been informed that the wording on the question of the month is
wrong–the question was supposed to have read, “What three stallions,
born in 1990 and approved by either the KWPN or the NA/WPN, were bred by
Americans.” Of course, that is a completely different question than the one
posted. But, in order to make sure that the number three is correct in the
new question, we must also ask if “approved” also includes “licensed”?
If it does, then the answer includes four stallions, not three.

April 10, 2005

Topic: It has to be a trick question!

I was so excited to go to the NA/WPN site and see a new question. It’s not
mine, so I can play!!! Well, here is my anwer: It’s a trick question! One
would think that the answer is Roven, Idocus, and (the one that is actually
correct). This horse, which will remain unnamed until the end of the
contest, is the only one of the three that was actually born in the USA.
Roven was born in Argentina; Idocus was born in Holland. Or….there’s
actually something that I don’t know about Dutch horses….could that be
possible? Have my investigative and retentive abilities failed me? Am I
suffering from early dementia? Did I not drink enough rum at the last
annual meeting? Has Faith stumped me???? All of these scenarios could be
true. More likely, I’m just frustrated because I don’t know the answer!

April 3, 2005

Topic: Not that you’re interested, but here’s what’s been going on
in my life!

When I start getting emails of concern, I know that it’s been way too
long since I’ve posted in my journal. Sorry. My allotted minutes for
writing have been rechanneled to a project for Michaela. Stupidly, I agreed to
take on the Chesterfield School’s drama program. Given the fact that I
have two degrees in theatre and was a professional actor and director,
intellectually, it makes sense that I should be willing and able to give back
to the school community that has given my kids so much. Stupidly, I allowed
my standards for quality of literature to guide my decision process in
selecting the spring performance piece. Do you have any idea of the void that
exists in quality, intelligent, well-written,
middle-school-age-appropriate dramatic literature? Nor, did I. Stupidly,
I agreed to write the play.
I have completed 12 scenes, and now have four more to go by the end of
this week. Of course, the show opens on April 20th, so the last scene that I
write will not be two weeks old before it is seen in front of an
audience…I am an idiot. If any of you needed any further proof, you have it now.
If any of you would like to read this work of not-so-near genius, let me
know, and I’ll post a link from my journal. Please, don’t feel obligated.

On the horse front, we have two new Donatelli babies. I’ve also learned
that my new foaling cams only work when they’re turned to the right
camera. I was so sure that our Zalmeco mare was not going to foal, that I had
the broadcast on the Volkmar mare only….you know who foaled while I, snug
in my bed, was watching the Volkmar mare. Nonetheless, things went well.
The Donatelli is a filly, Anpetu Win SSF, named and spoken for by my
friend, Kathy Thompson. Since we’ve had so much rain, I only just put this
filly out this afternoon. Holy shit. She is one of the fanciest movers
we’ve ever bred. This filly is all bounce and lift. Plus, she’s amazingly
elegant and refined, especially given the fact that her mother is anything
but elegant or refined. Before Facet (Bea) came to us, word was that she
was long enough for an entire redneck family to ride to Church. It was with
much trepidation that I greeted the shipper. Fortunately, I’m not sure
that I agree with the redneck church limo description, but she’s
certainly…substantial. You know what, if a mare competes successfully at I1 and
she produces a filly that looks and moves like this Donatelli filly, she
gets to stay in my breeding program regardless of her phenotype. Our second
Donatelli baby is a huge, honking chestnut colt out of Kirona, our Volkmar
mare we bought from DG Bar’s program. Donny, Adonis SSF, is already one
of my favorite babies. He is powerful and cool, cool, cool. He’s got that
kind of charisma that is making the whole family quickly attached to him.

What I can tell you about the two Donatelli babies that have been born
here is that they have incredible fronts, with a gorgeous shoulder and really
vertical neck set–they are definitely rectangular–they have Donatelli’s
beautifully shaped ears–they also both have his head shape, though,
Donny’s is a little larger than Anpetu’s–they are really, really good
movers–they both have the “slinky” construction in the hind end; all the
joints are stacked on top of each other; it’s one of things I look for in
a horse that has a natural ability for collection. These babies are
definitely dressage horses.

Other horse news: Can you believe all the phenomenal new mares I have? I
swear to God it seems as if they have literally fallen from the sky.
They’ve also put a huge dent in my breeding budget for the next couple of
years. In light of this, I’ve decided that I’m really going to go for it,
and shoot for hosting an offspring inspection for Guido next year. With
the exception of our two Jazz mares, all the rest of the mares are going to
Guido this year. We’d already committed to four outside mares for Guido,
so his book is officially slammed shut. If Guido makes it through the
licensing, this will be the first offspring inspection ever held for a North
American KWPN stallion…that would be too cool for words. It will also be
one of the best parties ever held in New England, so save your frequent
flier miles now! In an ideal world, it will happen in conjuction with the
2006 New England keuring. Of course, if Guido isn’t licensed, then I may be
holding an Oldenburg offspring inspection, or Westfalen, or Amercian
Warmblood, or a really huge sale. Regardless, the party will be worth
attending, so your prepurchased tickets will not be in vain.

I am officially on the Sandreo bandwagon. I have access to a few doses of
his frozen this year, so our two Jazz mares are going in that direction.
That is, if I have any success with my soon-to-be new ultrasound machine!
Otherwise, both girls go to Donatelli.

(knock on wood) I may have more really exciting horse news to announce in
the next week or so…..remember, SSF is the place where dreams come true!
(and, if they don’t, I’m really good at making new dreams.)

March 13, 2005

Topic: Officially Middle-aged, Friends, and a Super New Colt

I got an early birthday present, Americus SSF!! Oladaula has produced the
fuzziest foal we’ve ever had. It was the end of a particularly crazy
day–we drove through the New England blizzard for Jim to ride Guido–we
waited in line for two hours to become bone marrow donors, in response to the
need of two local kids–we had a house-full of friends and laughter for
drinks and dinner–Michaela received her acceptance letter from Philips Exeter
Academy–we had just finished dinner at around 10pm, and Keagan, on his way
up to bed, glances at the TV that’s projecting the foaling camera
images, and starts screaming, “There’s a leg sticking out! Dad! Dad!
There’s a leg sticking out!” So, seven people pile onto our bed, while
Carol, the kids, and I run out to the barn. A few minutes later, Americus is
on the ground. If any of you have seen the ISF DVD of the Sir Sinclair
offspring inspection, you know what this colt looks like in type–especially
through the face and poll connection–if any of you have seen Oladaula, you
know the amount of muscle and “sit” that this colt brings to the
equation. He’s definitely cool. We’ll hang on to him for a while, just in
case he’s worth hanging on to….(Susan Duncan, I didn’t say it . If you
infer it, that’s your problem. I’m just keeping him because he has a
cute face, and I need another horse.)

It feels like a poignant time. I’m not stressed or over-obsessed about
turning 45 tomorrow, but my oldest child is going off to private school in
the fall and my 86 year old father is really sick. Am I supposed to feel
grown up by now? Or, is this what it feels like to be grown up? There are
other feelings that I have enjoyed more.
Nonetheless, I spent the weekend with some of my favorite people–eating
good food, laughing, and hugging lots. I think that life is really about
these moments–about love–about friends.

February 27, 2005

Topic: Vacation is over…but the weekend was incredible!!

I know vacation is over because it is now 7:45 pm, and I am within less
than hour of my bedtime. I’ve comforted myself with 1/3 of a box of Girl
Scout S’mores; we only have half a glass of wine in the house; I’ve just
shaved for the first time in nine days; both kids are in denial with
stereos and DVD players blaring simultaneously; Carol is her usual positive and
optimistic self, happily typing away on yet another powerpoint presentation
and playfully scolding Keagan’s very-much-in-heat cat who insists on
belly rubbing and butt raising across Carol’s laptop–fortunately, both of
my children have inherited at least some of my self-pitying mood swings and
awareness of the darker side of human existence–like the end of vacations.
My only hope is the huge snow storm coming our way tomorrow night; I
might just get a snow day on Tuesday!!!!! I’ll try to avoid any
bourbon-induced journal entries tomorrow night. The last time I did that, in
anticipation of a snow day, the snow day didn’t happen….talk about the darker
side of human existence.

Life is not all Scot feeling sorry for himself, however…check out the
new additions to our mares’ page!!!! I won’t write more here, because I’ve already
written a bunch there. Let me just say, “WHOOO HOOOO
This all happened in a matter of two days–just ask Gary Lane how many emails
he and I have exchanged over the course of 48 hours. Of course, this
expenditure does cut into the farm breeding budget for the year….let’s just
say that I’ll trust fate has put me into plan A mode for breeding
decisions. I’ve promised my family that I’ll never be anything but optimistic
again after the sensational horse weekend I’ve had, so don’t mention
the first paragraph of this journal entry!February 24, 2005

Re: Let the Foaling Begin!

Ave Vita SSF (Iroko x Vincent x Elcaro) is safe and sound and on the
ground!! I swear, if Iroko were still here, I’d breed this mare right back to
him for a third time. This is a gorgeous filly. She’s chestnut, huge
blaze and at least one high white behind–really modern in type, long-lined,
leggy, great angles. Plus, within an hour, she was up and nursing.
That’s the kind of foal I want to be producing!

Have I been remiss in my postings or what? Maybe I’m just getting
quieter in my old age….you know, fewer opinions, less to say, happier with the
state of the world and horse breeding in general….something must be
going on. I’m not heavily medicated, unless you include wine as a form of
medication (saw the movie, Sideways; as if I need encouragement to drink even
more wine–the poetry in the metaphor of a life well lived and a wine well
made has engendered a certain heightened interest in embarking on a quest
for self-fulfillment and actualization through fermentation (hopefully,
that’s not my personal euphemism for alcoholism) *** Tia, if you ever read
this journal, what the hell is the name of the wine we shared at dinner
during the DG Bar annual meeting? I can’t remember for the life of me.) I
think I need writer’s viagra, if there is such a thing. I have in the
works two different book ideas, a play, a middle school performance piece, a
collection of short stories for my nieces about their father/my brother who
died, and three or four articles for different horse publications–I
can’t seem to finish anything. Enough whining! I’d better get writing on
something; if Bush’s plan for Social Security gets forced through, I’m
going to need some kind of alternative income in about 25 years. Whatever
hopes Social Security has for a successful shoring up don’t lie within
his plan. (Did I ever vow not to mention politics agian?) Before I
completely alienate all Bush fans and fundamentalist Christians out there, I do
think that I was wrong about Dr. Rice. I have been super impressed with her
graciousness and intelligence in her first few weeks as Secretary of State.
It would be most interesting if we were to be faced with a presidential
race between Hillary Clinton and Condaleezza Rice in 2008.

Can you say, VACATION?!?!?! I’m on winter break. What do I do? Cook,
drink wine, foal horses, and watch dressage videos and stallion tapes.
Life doesn’t get much better than this. Of course, it has snowed every day
of vacation so far. That’s OK, though; it hides the horse shit and
delays the onset of mud season.

Speaking of breeding picks ( Weren’t we? Could it be that I’m so
obsessed with breeding picks that I thought we were having the conversation?) ,
my new mantra for my program is “think type and balance.” My mares
have all the movement they need, so I don’t really care if a stallion has
the kind of super-horse movement that is such a hallmark of young horse
champions and high-priced auction horses. I care that a stallion has the kind
of overall athleticism and balance to stay sound and competitive. This is
one of the reasons that I’ve been such a big Iroko fan. Do you know that
after four years off, he went immediately back into work and even competed
in the Hengstkeuring? He didn’t win, but he beat some big names. We
will really miss him in our program.

I just watched the new footage of Sandreo on the Nijhof DVD. Somebody in
my barn is going to have a Sandreo baby next year–maybe more than one
somebody. There can not be a prettier stallion anywhere. As he’s developed
and become stronger, his hindleg is much better. Plus, my Daula girls
should add a little bit of power and snap to the hind leg. He is balanced,
supple, and moves like silk. Hopefully, in the next week or so, I’ll have
some jpegs of two or three Sandreo offspring on my site. Looks like his
foals are just as beautiful as he is. Type and balance.

Have also rethought some of my other picks. Surprised? Actually, the
stallion choices aren’t that much different; it’s just the combinations.
One of the reasons that I’ve been so interested in LaLiscia, Trish
Smith’s TB mare that we’ve been fortunate enough to add to the mareband, is
how close up she has some famous old TB sires in her pedigree–especially
Hyperion. Well, did you know that Hyperion is not that far back in Facet’s
pedigree as well? Hmmm. This makes the cross just too irresistable to
pass up–so Guido loses a date and LaLiscia steals the Facet breeding from
LaVita. And, since I can get frozen from Verdi/Johnson (Jazz x Flemmingh x
Sultan), champion dressage horse of the Hengstkeuring, LaVita will get to
have the first North American born Johnson foal. That is, if she’ll
cooperate and get pregnant. Normally, after a year off, LaVita takes on the
first try….(knock on wood). My only other dilemma right now is that I really
like Rubiquil. But, where to use him? After seeing how nicely our
Rafurstinels filly out of Pioendaula is turning out, I’m thinking that that’s
where I should use another Rubenstein son. But, with Sandreo, I know for
the one price I get up to ten doses of frozen and two years to get the
pregnancy–these per dose stallions have lost me thousands of dollars over the
last few years. Even if I do get my new ultrasound machine for my birthday
(Carol, are you reading this?), who’s to say that I’m going to be any
good using it the first year? Can you imagine my poor mares? Between my by
big arms and my obsessive nature, I’ll be checking for ovulation so
often that the girls will probably figure out a system to say, “Not yet,
idiot! When I stop kicking your damn head off, you’ll know it’s time.”

February 8, 2005

Topic: I’ve got to get a more flexible job!

I can’t stand missing the stallion show three years in a row. One of my
favorite dressage stallions produces the top dressage horse and one of my
favorite jumper stallions produces the top jumping horse…and I miss it.
Plus, even more importantly, I didn’t get to personally witness Loucky
Hagens’ Contango x Jazz make to the 70 Day Test!!!! Phenomenal.
Congratulations to Loucky and to North American breeders. High fives all
the way around. Oh, well; I’m just going to have to wait for IDS.

Even though I had to miss the stallion show, again, the job is not all
bad. Today, I got to argue Creationism vs. Evolution in one class, talk
about the ultimate act of friendship which occurs at the end of Of Mice
and Men with another class, and, then, with the last class, discuss what
makes the spirit of Gatsby so admirable and so resonant with the poetry of
the American Dream. Hard to beat that kind of stuff, in my book.

OK. I ordered frozen for Orchis. I haven’t paid for it yet, so things
could change, but that would make me feel shitty, so they won’t. I’m
going with Flemmingh. Those of you who have been reading my journal for a
bit know that this is not an easy decision for me–I have railed against
him in the past, and now I’m turning around and breeding our best mare to
him. Well, (and you can ask Katie Kuhn) I actually decided before I knew
the results of the stallion show. Now, with a Jazz x Flemmingh and a
Krack C x Jazz in the top three, I’m sure that I made the right decision.
I want long lines, movement, and both a proven niche and dressage ability.
Plus, I really like Janko and all he has done to be supportive of North
American breeders–I’ve only bought one breeding from VDL in the past;
it’s time for another one. So, I’m whittling away at my stallion line up
for 2005. Now I just have to convince my wife to buy me an ultrasound
machine for my birthday!

February 1, 2005

Topic: Have I mentioned that I will not waffle on breeding picks this

Yeah, right. Here’s where I’m at right now:

Thea to Roemer
LaVita to Facet

These two are really definite. I’ve committed.

LaLiscia to Guido
Facet to Guido or Donatelli
Kirona to Guido or Donatelli
new mare(sorry, can’t tell you yet)…..to Guido

These four are also on the definite edge of things.

Oladaula to Sandreo or Donatelli
Pioendaula to Sir Sinclair or Donatelli

I’ll admit; these two are not definites–but I’m pretty sure that’s
the direction

Orchis. Who the hell knows? With Facet’s index, he’s the only
stallion in North America higher than Orchis, but she needs a more rectangular
type. I love Contango and the Contango x Jazz is a proven niche–but after
our ET fiasco last year, I just don’t think that this cross is meant to
be. I have a dose of Special D. Biar 899 has the most impressive lateral
work I’ve ever seen, but I’m so hooked on the Dutch hind leg that it
colors my opinion of even proven Grand Prix stallions. I really want Krack C,
but can’t have him, so maybe I should just go with Flemmingh. Unless, it’s worth
spending as much as I spent on unsuccessful ET’s with Orchis
last year and simply sending her to Holland for breeding, and then bring
her home. It wouldn’t be much more expensive. If that were the case, I
should probably breed her to Contango first and then send her, but keep her
there and breed to Krack C next year. Of course, imagine the breeding index
on an 007 x Orchis. And, then there’s the fact that every time I type
in the specs I want to improve on her at kwpnstallion.com, I get the names
Donnerhall and Don Primaire. Hmmm. I wonder who owns a Donnerhall x Pik
Bube son? OK. I’ll open it up. Given her pedigree and type, which
stallion would you pick for the mare with the highest dressage index in North
America? Please. Put me out of my misery. Make this decision for me.

January 30, 2005

Topic: So much to talk about!

Table of Contents:

-Reactions to my last journal entry
-Judgement is accepted by the KWPN
-Foaling cameras, spring shots, and shedding
-This year’s video and Donatelli

I always enjoy getting reactions from my journal–not that I write solely
for the purpose of reaction–I write what I’m thinking and feeling. The
deal is that it never takes long once the words leave my fingers or mouth
to test the resonance of what I’ve been thinking. I don’t always agree
with myself, once I’ve seen it in print or heard it repeated to me. In
this case, I still think that the keuring system is intrinsically connected
to the Dutch sport horse. That being said, a breeder can breed all second
premium horses and still be breeding top sport horses. The bottom line has
to be that the horses do well in sport–a second premium mare who has
proven herself in sport is, ultimately, worth more than a first premium mare
who has not…unless, of course, that first premium mare is either out of a
proven sport family or has produced sport offspring. Nonetheless, the ideal
is a successful keuring horse that goes on to do well in sport and/or
produce offspring that are successful in sport. I believe that this is the
intention and directive of the keuring system.

Speaking of a successful keuring horse who has become a successful sport
horse, Judgement has been accepted by the KWPN. This is a huge deal.
Congratulations to Mary Alice Malone and Iron Spring Farm. Judgement is the
first North American bred stallion to be accepted by the KWPN soley on his
sport record and offspring at North American keurings. This is a gigantic
step in North American sport horse breeding. After all that ISF has done for
us breeders in NA, it is a well-deserved accomplishment.

OK. Those of you who have been reading my journal from the beginning know
how many times I have referred to the van Norel family breeding program;
you remember Thea, the “bubble baby” by Vincent; you’ve read about my
devotion and adoration of Cabochon. Well, SSF is taking advantage of the
fact that a van Norel product is standing in North America–we are breeding
to Facet. I love the Pretendent influence on Dutch dressage breeding.
Facet never produced many offspring in Holland, because he was sold at a
fairly young age to Germany. Those offspring which he has produced have done
really well in sport, as has he himself. Plus, name a stallion standing in
North America that has higher dressage breeding value index than Facet. I
am hoping for a bright chestnut colt with TONS of white.

We are three weeks away from our first foal. This is the earliest we have
ever had a foal at SSF. I bred Thea on her nine day heat last year,
because I thought that Iroko was going to be standing at Cornell and I didn’t
want to deal with shipping semen. Given the subzero weather we’ve been
having, I’ve been more than reticent about hourly foal checks in February.
Well, Carol bought me two foaling cameras for Christmas. We set them up
this weekend…SO COOL! I can lie in bed and obsess over my mares without
having to get out of the covers, get dressed, walk down two flights of
stairs, throw my barn clothes on, trudge through the snow and cold, and wake
all the horses. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to get this hooked up to
the internet so that I can monitor the mares all day while I’m at
school….do you think people would pay a monthly fee to be able to witness a
foaling? It could be the new reality TV. I’m glad no one has thought of
this; as it is, it’s really a wonder that I ever leave the barn during
foaling season. Since our foaling season spans February to August this year,
these cameras are going to make my life remarkabley saner.

My horses are shedding. What the hell are they thinking? We’ve had two
days above zero in the past two weeks, and they’re shedding. We did
deworming and spring shots today–maybe they were just nervous about the large
man grinning maniacally with a dripping needle in his hand, and it caused
them to shed. Maybe they know something we don’t know. Or, more likely,
they all want their own blankets, since they see Queen LaVita with her
blanket, so they’re getting rid of their winter hair too early in order to
add urgency to their requests….All I can I say is that they had better be
right–we better be headed into an early spring.

I can’t believe the interest we keep getting in Guido. I’m going to
limit him to 12 mares this year–four of them are ours. So, the best eight
mares to commit to breeding are it–my preference is that he be bred to
mares who are eligible to produce a Dutch registerable offspring. The
breeding fee is free this year, but I’m going to ask for a deposit of the first
collection fee to secure a spot. So, if you’re seriously interested, let
me know.

January 17, 2005

Topic: The Perfect Horse

Finally, this year’s DVD is done. Some new footage of Donatelli
schooling piaffe, passage, pirouettes, and changes–a few moments of him canter
around a hunter course…I have to tell you, it was hard on me putting that
in my dressage tape, but it’s there. I don’t think Donatelli has jumped
at all since his 100 Day Testing in 1997–he loves it. Of course, it’s
not especially polished–Donatelli gets so excited that he’s tossing his
head around and trying to get Jim to let him go. I doubt that he’ll ever
produce a grand prix jumper, but he certainly should produce some hunters.
The DVD has a bit of footage of Guido, and we’ve added some new keuring
footage. There are few goosebumply moments for me–still love the moment
when Zaz (who goes to Florida for the winter and forgets she has friends
preparing for a night at windchill 25 degrees below zero–you’d think the
girl could at least send a fruit basket…) and LaVita round the corner
during LaVita’s IBOP and you can see my parents standing on the rail behind
them. Gets me every time I watch our video. Speaking of hunters, there is
some fun footage of Thea free jumping–I’ve already told her to forget any
thoughts of tight little braids and some perfectly poised young girl with
short stirrups–she’s a dressage horse, not a hunter. Plus, some footage
of LaVita and the Princess. It’s a good video–Donatelli looks amazingly
more supple and relaxed than in the footage taken at the German stallion
exhibition. His piaffe work looks great–his passage is coming. His
extensions are better than they have ever been. The footage of Guido gives a
couple moments of how amazing he’s going to be–the horse grows a full hand
when he lifts in the withers. If any of you would like a copy, please
email Julia at ssfbilling@yahoo.com–I’d love to have you see it.

As of yet, I haven’t been able to put my shift in breeding philosophy
into words–hence, the suggestions of Morgans, Arabs, and Tuigpaarden.
There have been certain threads that I always woven into our program, but, for
the most part, I’ve always picked stallions based on individual mares’
strengths and weaknesses and gut impulses. My shift in philosophy is that I
want to be producing a more consistent type–I want people to be able to
look at a horse and say, “I’ll bet that’s an SSF bred horse.” Of
course, if I were to define the type that I really like, I’d be breeding a
whole herd of horses that move and look like Aktion. Unfortunately, a
shortish-thick neck, a flat croup, and bordering on Gelders type are not things
that will fare well in the keuring system. People can say that they
don’t breed keuring horses; they breed sport horses–but that’s bullshit.
Anyone who says that is getting a lot of second premiums and isn’t happy
about it. It means that this particular breeder is a generation or two
behind and can’t admit it to him or herself. In an ideal world, the keuring
system should support the sport system. Does it make any sense that we
would encourage people to breed non-sport type horses? Can anyone honestly
say that keurings are just for pretty horses? No. They still have to move
and show athleticism. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying
again–in the fifteen years that I’ve been attending keurings, I’ve only
disagreed with the jury four times. Two of those times were on my own
horses, so that doesn’t count. One of those times was when they didn’t
approve the Jazz colt, Titus, out of Colimbria–after seeing him a year later, I
have to agree that the jury was right. The other time was when the jury
gave Judy Reggio’s Zeoliet filly a second premium. As a mare, she went on
to make the top ten, so, in that case, the jury corrected itself. Of
course, none of this means that these second premium horses aren’t sport
types–but it also doesn’t mean that the keuring system is giving first
premiums out to non-sport types. It’s a ridiculous claim to say that “I don’t
breed keuring horses; I breed sport horses.” They’re one and the
same. If I could be happy with second premiums, I could breed a whole
herd of Aktions. Since I can’t be happy with a whole herd of seond
premiums, then I have to look at a horse like Aktion and evaluate what it is that I
like so much about him. That’s the process I’m in. So what’s the
perfect horse? I want Aktion, but I want him to look like Sandreo, and I
want him to be as ridable as Donatelli. That’s not asking too much is it?
Oh, yeah. And, as always, he has to have an ass bigger than mine.

January 11, 2005

Topic: Possible Snow Day!!!

This has not been a good night during which to allow Keagan to watch The
Day After Tomorrow (pretend that this title is either underlined or in
italics–my email program doesn’t support either or these technologically
advanced conventions). You see, we, in New England, are about to experience
one of our lovely winter ice storms. I know I’ve mentioned this before,
but my suspension of disbelief is too great. I stepped outside to stock the
downstairs with some extra wood, expecting to nearly freeze to death when I
opened the slider. I’m an idiot; what can I say? At any rate, I am
convinced that we’re having a snow day, so a Southern Comfort Manhattan and
I are sitting up past my bedtime to think about horses a little longer. Of
course, I never know for sure that we have a snow day until 5:30 or later
in the morning…I get up at 4:30. By 5:30, I’ve had my double shot of
espresso (without LaVita), fixed breakfast, and fed the horses. What are
the chances that I’m going to back to bed at this point in time? Imagine
my dismay if there really is school tomorrow. Just be glad that you’re
not one of my students….Moody? Who’s moody?

Thank you to all of you who are expressing interest in breeding to Mr.
Guido. I must say that I’m surprised. He’s cool, but he’s not approved
yet. Keagan and I trailered him to Joe and Patty Forrest’s to be
started under saddle. He gets three months of baby work, then moves to Southern
Pines, NC, with Mr. Jimmy Koford. The plan is to get him ready for the
licensing presentation with both the NA/WPN and Oldenburg in the Fall. If
things go well, he’ll do the DG Bar Cup also. It’s really a lot to ask of
a three year old stallion, so we’ll take it step by step. I’ll be
posting new pics and more info. under our stallion page in the next couple of

Mr. Donatelli seems to be our super star at the moment, though. We’ve
never stood a stallion who has had this many bookings this early in the
season. Holy shit. We are closing his book at 50 mares, again this year. So,
if you’ve got your heart set on a Donatelli baby, don’t wait too long;
we’re only in the second week of January, and, not including our mares,
we have over a dozen bookings already. Also, any of you hunter fans out
there, we have new footage of Donatelli jumping a course–of course, in true
family-pony style, Jim finished shooting the schooling of the Grand Prix
movements, shortened his stirrups, and then shot the jumping round. This is
a cool stallion.

So, think I’m waffling on breeding picks? Think I’m really breeding
Orchis to a swan-necked Morgan stallion with tons of white? All I can say
is that life is short, and there’s not much I enjoy more than
contemplating breeding picks. So, I’m now breeding to all Arabian stallions so that
I can cross in the Tuigpaards in the next generation. Have to keep my wits
about me as far as future markets, you know.

January 9, 2005

Topic: Consistency

I just wanted to prove to you all that I don’t have to change my mind.
Now, I have not gone back and looked at my stallion picks from a couple of
days ago–these are purely off the top of my head:

Everyone gets bred to Guido except for Thea, who is going to Roemer, and
Guido’s mother, Orchis, who is going to the Morgan stallion, Pot O’

See. I can decided not to waffle.

January 6, 2005

Topic: Life Goes On…Fortunately!

Welcome to Scot’s Journal 2005! Happy holidays from the Tolman family
to all of your families. I hope that you all enjoy a safe and vet-bill free
2005! Holy cow. I can’t believe how quickly years go by–if I were
only to put as much thought and time into writing one of my book or play
projects, I’d have something done by now!

What do you all think of the new NA/WPN website? Looks good. Of course,
I can’t access it from home on my old Mac, but, when I get to see it, it
looks good. As a matter of fact, I think that the new face of the NA/WPN
appears professional and progressive. Nice letter from the board, nice
website, nice phone calls and emails. As an organization, we have a great
future ahead of us.

“Could I have a side of fries with that keuring entry, please?”

Just kidding! Really, I’m pleased with the transition to date. My only
disappointment is that not enough has been said about how far we came
under the guidance of Dr. Giddens. Frankly, I think it’s embarrassing that
the board of directors has not done a better job of publicly thanking and
acknowledging Mary for all of her years of service. I didn’t always agree
with Mary, but I certainly recognize that we would not be the organization
we are without her years and years of work.

So, let me tell you ahead of time that I’m insanely jealous of those of
you going to the Stallion Show and Annual Meeting. I’m going to neither.
We teachers may get summers off and fairly frequent, week-long breaks
during the school year, but just try and get a day or two off that isn’t
scheduled. As it is, I have to use my one personal day to take Michaela to an
interview at St. Paul’s School. Can you believe it? The only thing I
ever wanted in life is to have children and to run their lives; now it looks
as if both my kids will leave home at fourteen. Talk about empty nest.
Guess I’ll just have to keep more fillies so I have more mares so I have
more horse babies! If both kids are at private school and Carol is on the
road almost every week, I figure I can finally get that addition built that
moves LaVita’s stall into the house. No matter how hard she bangs on her
door, LaVita is not getting a double espresso at 4:30 am, however–she’s
already neurotic enough. I need that double espresso to refuel my
neurosis; she doesn’t. We can have breakfast together, though–I’ll bet
she’d like oatmeal.

Speaking of mares and speaking of LaVita, I have to have a Judgement
foal. I am not willing to wait another year. I know that I breed dressage
horses, but I’m also mentally unstable and, therefore, not responsible for
all of my decisions. So, Meghan, when I bring Thea down to ISF for her date
with the Roemer tank, LaVita gets a couple tries to Judgement. OK?

Today, most of the rest of the mares are going to Donatelli. LaLiscia
still gets to be Guido’s SSF test mare. Orchis is the only one that I’m
really up in the air about. Believe it or not, you non-believers out there,
Scot is not going to keep changing his mind as much this year…..I’m
serious. I’ve decided. I do not have to be fickle and indecisive if I don’t want to be.
My only decision is for Orchis…right now, I’m
considering Contango, Donatelli, Special D, Vincent, Thatcher, and Sandreo. So,
that gives us four Donatelli, one Roemer, one Judgement, one Guido,
whatever the kids and my dad decide for their mares, and one unknown.

Happy new year!