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Jan 1, 2006 | 0 comments


December 22, 2006

Topic: Quick Update

I know, I know, I know! It’s been ages since I’ve posted in my journal.
No tragedies have befalled us (knock on
wood); I’m not going out of the horse business; I haven’t stopped writing.
The deal is simple: my writing energies
have had to go to other places. One, I teach juniors and seniors, so I am
a primary source for college
recommendations (I wrote six, just yesterday); two, I’ve joined a new
writing group so that I’m forced to be working
on pieces that I want to get published–I have a novel, a new cookbook, a
collection of stories, and a new play in the
works. Three, I have to say that I’ve become fairly apathetic about the
workings of both the KWPN of NA and the
KWPN itself. There are some fun journal entries coming up, however:

-the introduction to the two newest members of the Tolman menagerie, Faith
and T-Bone
-my purchase of six doses of frozen from one of my favorite KWPN stallions
-“depigged” and “desnaked”
-Scot’s trauma over dealing with the prospect of his second child going off
to private school
-the sale of close to half of our horses

So, lots to write about when I get a second. In the meantime, from my
family to yours, may the holiday season bring
you joy and time with your families. May the world make some sense out of
the conflicts in Darfur and the Middle
East, and bring peace and comfort to those people in the world so much less
fortunate than are we.

November 3, 2006

Topic: Jury Comments about Bravour

I totally spaced including the jury comments about our new Jazz x Cabochon

“Foal with appealing front, in action displaying excellent use of the
hindleg, powerful movements. Fantastic exterior, well built,long-lined foal
with a lot of ability as a dressage horse.”

Bravour was first premium and placed first of the riding type colts.

The more research I do on this mareline, the more pleased I am that this
colt has become an SSF horse. More details to come.

October 28, 2006

Topic: Welcome, Bravour!

Here he is; this is our third and final stallion prospect out of the 2006
year. This exciting colt was bred by the Spiering family. Jazz x Cabochon
x Fruhling x Caritas. His dam is keur; his granddam keur preferent; his
great granddam keur preferent prestatie.

A note from the breeder: “This hengst foal has an excellent dressage
family, that has produced for example Patser (Dutch champion of the
Pavo-cup dressage 2003 and 2004), Cocktail Time (German Federal Champion in
1995, sold by P.S.I. in Germany
for 425 000 Euros. The family of this hengst foal has already produced a
lot of stallions which are used for the Dutch breeding program, like
Dutchboy, Just Royal Dancer.”

As a dressage breeder, a pedigree with Jazz x Cabochon makes my heart
flutter and my knees go weak. For those of you out there who really know
pedigrees, look at the line breeding with Pretendent…more importantly, to
me, the line breeding of the Commandant daughter, Gonnie. Gonnie is
Cabochon’s dam. She is also dam to the approved KWPN stallion, Vanitas.
Caritas is the only approved son of Vanitas. So, through Cabochon and
Caritas, we have Gonnie and Pretendent twice in the pedigree. Granted,
it’s a ways back, but it’s very interesting.

Nonetheless, with a Jazz x Cabochon colt added to a Burggraaf x Zeoliet and
a Donatelli x Hierarch, I’ll have plenty to be thinking about over the next
couple of years!

October 23, 2006

Topic: A Couple of the Ladies in Ben’s Family

Here are a couple fun pictures for you. The lighter mare is Ben’s dam
Mesina keur (Zeoliet x Nimmerdor); the darker mare is his full sister,
Rhonda keur (Burggraaf x Zeoliet). Rhonda placed among the top
jumping mares of her year.

October 17, 2006

Topic: Ben Harper MVDL

Well, here he is…Big Ben! This colt is bred by Martijn van der Linden,
from Haarle, the Netherlands. Martijn is a veterinarian who breeds
“jumpers that must move well.” I’m going to paste in some of the
information that Martijn has shared with me about Ben’s mareline.

‘The dam of this colt is Mesina is a good showjumper , a fighter and a
winner (Abgar-like). The first rider she had, started only in dressage and that
went so well that we rode her to Z1-level. Because I found it a pity that she had
never been in jumping courses, we rode her last year 4 times in 1.10 level.
After a short period of training she became 3 times first and one time third place!
Out of his full sister I have an excellent showjumper, a 4 year old
gelding by Parco. He is bit Darco-like, but is very cooperative and has a
good scope. He (Ben) is bred out of an Hannoverian family with number 800,
his ancestors go back untill 1900. The “800- family” is well known in Germany
and has produced a lot of approved stallions, excellent showjumpers
(Deister from Paul Schockemoehle) and many good dressage-horses. His mother
Mesina is KEUR and SPORT – dressage ( from Zeoliet), his grandmother ( from
Purioso) is PREFERENT and PRESTATIE, his great grandmother (from Nimmerdor)
is KEUR, PREFERENT and PRESTATIE. It is a heathy family ( X- rays) with good
characters. A full sister of this colt is also KEUR and jumping 1.30 meter
level at this time, she was 12th in the national free-jumping contest of 3
year old KWPN-mares. A half brother by Calvados is at Z-level dressage.
Two half sisters of the Mother have been international showjumpers on 1.40 level.
Further on a lot of good dressage-horses and showjumpers.”

Ben will be staying in Holland for a bit, but the plan is that he will move
to New Hampshire in the next year or so.

Other good news, someone has taken me up on my offer to share a very
special dressage-bred colt, and, consequently, SSF has acquired another stallion
prospect–he has to pass his vetting, but, knock on wood, there’s
going to be an incredible Jazz x Cabochon x Fruhling in the SSF line-up!

October 15, 2006

Topic: Fences

Over the years of horse-ownership/farming, I’ve put up and/or mended fences
for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, it was either to accomodate
LaVita’s latest hormonal mood swing or to keep a certain pig in his pen.
My last fence experience has a more personal resonance: I built a fence for
my mother.

Elizabeth. Few people really know her. One, she’s a difficult personality;
two, she’s a difficult personality.

I adore my mother. Even though, now, she plays with dolls, pees her pants
in my driveway, and, out of her incessant-now-warped need to feed people,
insists that Keagan share her Bourbon and Ginger, I love her. She is the
woman in my head. White Shoulders perfume. High heels. Great legs.
Farting, giggling, then farting again. That’s my mother. No one else has
had such a profound effect on me as a human being. For some of you out
there, this may explain a lot. Nontheless, much of who I am is due to her.

Some time before we sold the restaurant, my mother began having a series of
small “pin” strokes. Over the last six or seven years, this has manifested
as dementia. My father, bless his heart and his eternal sense of good
humor, takes care of my mother. He calls her his “little girl.” Elizabeth
has regressed to a much simpler, and sillier, time. Although she still
makes my brother’s bed–Gary died in a snowmobile accident in 1989–just in
case he decides to come home, my mother has become the sweet, lovable,
ornery child she was never allowed to be in time appropriate. I hug her. I
laugh with her. Today I said, “What the hell are you jabbering about?”

In August, Michaela and I built her a fence. For a year or more, I’ve been
getting calls from all the people who were not brave enough to confront my

“Scot, your mother was in the road today. I stopped and walked her back
into the yard.”

“Scot, this is Greg (my first cousin), a friend of mine called me today and
told me that your mother was out in the road. He had to stop and go around

“Hello, Scot. I’m sorry to call you about this, but your brother’s wife
told me to call you because they don’t know what to do. Many of us have
had to stop and take your mother back to the driveway. I just think that we
should do something.”

One of my parents’ neighbors had evidently contacted the Swanzey police.
They contacted my father…to no avail.

You have to understand my father. He’s an old-time New Englander through
and through. Yankee. The Swanzey Police are one of the banes of his
existence. The town was doing work on Route 32, a few miles from his
house. Of course, as mandated by state law, a police officer had to be on
duty. My dad was driving through the construction and didn’t stop at the
designated police line. The police officer on duty railed at him, ” When
you see my hand go up, I want you to stop. Do you understand that?” A few
days later, my dad was driving through the same section of highway. The
same Swanzey policeman was on duty. This officer waved to someone who was
going through the construction. My father, who was nearly a quarter mile
away, stopped. The officer began aggressively motioning for my father to
come forward. My father didn’t move. Cars began backing up behind him.
Finally, the officer hurriedly walked the distance to my father’s pickup.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Why, officer, you told me that when I saw your hand go up in the air, I
was to stop immediately. That’s what I did.”

Needless-to-say, my father has delighted in this story over and over.
Similarly to Argo. Argo is (was, God bless his soul) the Swanzey Police
dog. My father thought it was absolutely ridiculous that Swanzey needed to
spend the money on training and outfitting a police dog. So, on a regular
basis, he called the police station to speak with Argo. He would say that,
since he was a tax payer, he wanted to check with Argo himself to see how
his training was progressing.

Another time, a young man had a car accident on the rather difficult corner
in front of my parent’s house. The man had his 18 month son with him.
Since it was in the winter, my father offered to take the little boy in the
house while the guy got his car out of the snowbank. In the meantime, a
number of Swanzey police and State Troopers showed up. It seems that the
guy who got into the accident was wanted in some mid-Western state, so the
officers took the man away. A police officer came to my father’s door and
asked to take the little boy…my father said,

“I’m not trusting this little tyke to you bastards. Get me the boy’s
mother, and I’ll let him go.”

Long-story-short, four hours later, his yard filled with local and state
police officers, my father finally released the little boy to the mother.
{I had a few neighbor and relative calls on this one.} My dad said to me,
“Well, at least your mother had a good time playing with him. The little
tyke sat in front of the TV, she played with her dolls. I got em both cocoa
and popcorn. I wasn’t going to give him up to those bastards–they would
put in some welfare, daycare, foster parent situation.”

One of my father’s proudest moments recently is that his granddaughter,
Michaela, was spoken to by the Exeter police for campaining for the Exeter
Democratic Society in front of some business in downtown Exeter. My father
is a life-long-dyed-in-the-wool-Nixon-should-still-be-President Republican,
but, if his granddaughter can torment the police by campaigning for a
Democrat, that’s good enough for him.

So, needless-to-say, it’s safer for my relatives and his neighbors to call
me when they have an issue with him or my mother. When I confronted my
father with the fact that my mother was getting in the road too much and
that it would be bad enough if she were hit and killed, but what would
happen to the poor person who hit her, all he could ask is who called me.
Of course, I wouldn’t tell him. His response was, “Boy, you better tell
me. Because whoever fucks with me gets fucked.” He’s 86. Still, when he
gives me one of his affection slaps on the back, it hurts. I refused to
tell him who called.

Michaela and I put up the fence. He was pissed. When we were done, my
mother came out to the fence. She kind of smiled and nodded. I told her
that it was her birthday present. She pursed her lips together and
careened her eyes up in a silly face–the same silly face she makes when
she farts. I love her. Of course, immediately she tried to climb through
the fence and get back out into the road, but, fortunately, her sense of
balance is not what it used to be. My father told me that she fell over
into the day lilies a few weeks ago. He left her there, sputtering, for a
bit so he could get some work done. What do you do?

Life, for me, is about living. Hopefully my latest fence will allow my
mother a few more months of “living.” If I have to, I’ll make the next one

October 14, 2006

Topic: Representing a new stallion….

The excitement just doesn’t stop around here! I recently inquired about
frozen semen from one of my favorite young KWPN stallions, and, as the
conversation progressed, have begun talking about SSF promoting this boy in
North America. My, my. You dressage-breeding enthusiasts out there are
going to be excited about this one. Stay tuned. I don’t want to announce
who it is until everything is confirmed, but there are many of you who will
want to breed to this boy next year.

October 13, 2006

Topic: Polarized

OK. I bought one of the stallion prospects I’ve been looking at. Knock on
wood, that is–he has to pass the vetting. He’s an exciting boy! I’ll wait
to expand upon the details until everything has gone through; would hate to
jinx it.

So, that’s two new stallion prospects for me, Donatelli x Hierarch x
Michelangelo and Burggraaf x Zeoliet x Purioso (wait until you hear about
this mareline)…but, there’s one more.

This is the point at which the polarized views of stallion owning come in:
I’ve got a couple just for me. Now, who wants in on a group project? I’ve
found this really special dressage-bred colt. He’s by a super popular sire
that does not have a North American-based son; his dam’s sire is also
HIGHLY desirable and he only has one approved son; the mareline is a proven
dressage-producing machine, loaded with the prestatie predicate; the colt
has had keuring success…if I beg and plead and promise to keep the house
clean from now until eternity, my wife will let me put in an offer on him
and not have to share him….but…I’d love to have the excitement and
energy that can only be generated by a group dream. When I’m talking about
“in”, I’m talking about buying the colt in the range of $10,000., and then
splitting board until we decide what to do with him. It could be two of us;
it could be three of us; it could be ten of us. I don’t care. If you’re
as crazy as I am and willing to take the risk, email me, and I’ll give you
pictures and more details. Don’t wait, though; one more funeral, one more
call from a disgruntled mare owner, or one more
slightly-rude-I-have-a-date-in-30-minutes McDonald’s employee, and I may
keep this an SSF solo project.

October 8, 2006

Topic: Like it or not, life goes on

I’ve been to two funerals this week. It wrecked me. I got so drunk on
Friday night that by 2:30 in the morning I was completely incoherent.
Coincidentally, I had to officiate at a wedding on Saturday
afternoon….fortunately, it went well. Just what the lucky couple would
have needed was a hung-over, mad-at-the-world justice of the peace. I’m not
mad at the world—but I am a little bogged down in the realities of life on
this planet.

Horses always save me. I don’t know about you, but the simple act of
standing by the fence watching my mares and thinking about breeding picks
for next year is enough to give me peace. Sometimes, all you can do is
breathe. Sometimes, that’s enough.

So, I’ve been horse shopping a bit. I haven’t bought anything, but I’m
looking. We’re going to be down to 15 horses for the winter—unbelievable!
I still have a really loudly colored pinto gelding for sale and I’m willing
to part with two more mares—but we’re down in numbers. I haven’t updated
our sales page because I haven’t had to; horses have been selling without
me keeping it up to date. If you’re interested in a KWPN pinto hunter
gelding, give me a call. If you’re interested in a mare in foal, call me.
Prices are cheap, cheap, cheap. The gelding is a repo; with the mares, I’m
more interested in the quality of the home they go to.

Back to the shopping, I’m always on the look out for a stallion prospect.
Of course, my idea of purchasing a stallion has polarizing approaches; one,
I’d like to involve a number of American breeders and buy two or three
stallion prospects a year in order to eventually end up with two or three
really high quality stallions that are group owned; two, I want one special
stallion that I can afford to use for my program only and never have to
deal with any outside people what-so-ever. It’s a bitch to vacillate
between these two extremes.

Anyway, I learned something interesting in my recent shopping foray. Did
you know that Register A foals are not eligible for the finals in Holland?
That’s right. You can take your Register A foal to a keuring—the foal can
do really well and be one of the top foals—however, that foal can not go to
the Paardendaagen/horse days for the finals. Hmmm. What’s that all
about? Look at the foal auctions; which foals are selling for the highest
prices…the Register A foals. How would it look for the KWPN if the top
foals at the KWPN Horse Days were all sired by non-approved stallions?
Maybe that’s not the reason. I don’t know. But, it’s interesting. Looking
at the top ten in North America, the make-up would be quite a bit different
if Register A foals had been removed. Hopefully, that won’t happen.

September 12, 2006

Topic: Keuring 2006

Two weeks ago, overwhelmed with the prospect of Michaela’s return to
school and annoyed by the fact that my job would preclude me from
attending the ISF keuring (80+ horses!!!), I wasn’t sure that we would
even be attending the Pineland Farm keuring. However, bouyed by how much
the whole family likes Werites, the only reason we were going to a keuring
this year, we decided to make it happen. It proved to be a good decision.
Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz) was phenomenal. She went top star mare,
high point adult horse, and keur eligible. Can’t ask for much more than
that! Well, I can ask a little more…I’d be happier if the mare had
relaxed a little more–a large rabbit would have shown a better canter!
That aside, Werites was really amazing. My favorite moment was watching
her in hand with Janko, during the presentation of star mares for keur.

So, that’s one really good reason to have participated in the Pineland
keuring. An equally important reason, however, is that it was so relaxed
and enjoyable. I don’t know when I’ve had a more enjoyable time at a
keuring. Jacques Verkerk and Faith Fessenden, our jury, were open,
communicative, and approachable; the facility is perhaps the nicest equine
facility in New England; and, there were some really good horses. My
favorite horse of the day was a yearling filly by Indoctro–I don’t
remember her name, but she’s a full sister to the approved stallion
Sarantos. Long-lined, lovely and supple mover, gorgeous type. This filly
is welcome at SSF anytime! She’d be reason enough to start a jumper
program. I’m also crazy about the Thatcher x Argus colt, bred by
Madeleine Austin. He’s a true dressage powerhouse–uphill, strong, and
super well balanced. Pineland Farms presented a really pretty Rhodium
mare that went star. They brought her back out undersaddle and did a DG
Bar Cup demo–the mare looked even better in tack.

Of course, for me, the most important part of the whole day was that Carol
and Keagan were with me and Michaela was on the phone with repeatedly.
On the way home, since she couldn’t attend the keuring, we drove the truck
and trailer through the narrow streets of Exeter, NH, and stopped by
Michaela’s dorm, so she could see her new keur eligible mare and have a
first premium ribbon for her dorm room.

And then there’s Keagan. Faith asked him to be ribbon boy…he had
ribbons hanging from every pocket of his cargo shorts. I asked him to be
our photographer…260 pictures later (I’m planning on posting a link to
Keagan’s photos), his best shots were of his favorite part of the keuring,
branding. We have horses upside down, blurry, and nose-to-the-camera, but
the branding shots are really focused and interesting. It’s obvious, to a
thirteen-year-old, that presenting a horse is no where near as interesting
as burning a horse. There is some hope, though. Kathy Hickerson and I
had a conversation about starting a Youth division for the KWPN of NA–I
told Keagan about this (he’s planning on becoming president of this would
be organization…). The day after the keuring, I looked out the window
and, first, saw Keagan dragging his
Volkmar mare around by the halter, trying to get an in-hand trot out of
her, then, second, saw him sitting on her in the pasture with no bridle or
saddle, doing his best to get her to move. The last time I was on this
mare, a goat jumped up on our picnic table/mounting block at the same time
I was getting on–the mare lurched into the air and I landed on my ass.
Fortunately, there were no goats in the mares’ pasture on Sunday.

August 5, 2006

Topic: Cuddles

There are few things that I truly fear in life—failure doesn’t bother me;
humiliation may sting for a minute or two; spiders, bugs, heights, small
spaces, menopausal women, nasty stallions…no problem. Snakes, however,
give me pause. To speak in the vernacular, “they scare the shit out of
me.” To see someone of my bulk in a near catatonic state at the sight of a
6” Garter snake isn’t pretty. Nonetheless, it is my cross to bear.

Keagan, ever since he could speak, has wanted every creature known to man
housed in his bedroom. We’ve had the hamsters, the mice, the rats, the
fish, the spiders, the Bearded Dragons, the turtles, the birds, and even
the leeches that he brought in from the pond…(during the night, they
crawled out of the bucket, and we found them all dried up in his carpet).
Well, up until about two years ago, I resisted….THE SNAKE. He begged. He
pleaded. He whined. He argued. He bargained. Finally, after years of
creative and tenacious persistence, he said, “Dad, the only reason that you
won’t let me have a snake is that you can’t face your own fears.”

What could I say to that? I looked at him and said, “You’re right.” Now,
most sane fathers with a reasonable sense of self-preservation would have
left it right there. I caved. We began the research. We visited pet
shops. Keagan, delighted that there was even the remotest possibility of
getting snake, allowed me to set the parameters. The snake had to be of
the nearly immobile variety and it had to eat frozen prey. Months went by
and I thought that I was in the clear; either the snakes moved too fast or
they didn’t eat frozen food. My luck didn’t hold.

It was at Paul’s Pet store in the Center at Keene. The sales girl, every
visible body part pierced and hair dyed punk black, brought out a young
Ball Python. She put the snake on the floor. It didn’t move. She picked
it up. It didn’t move. She put it back in its cage. It didn’t move.
Unfortunately for me, this particular snake had also just dined on its
second frozen mouse. Every instinct in my body and soul told me to quickly
add more to the parameters I had set…but it was too late. I had made a
deal. Keagan had his snake.

Do you know what it’s like to ride in a closed vehicle with a snake in a
box? Can you imagine the carnage if I had even sensed that the box was
moving, let alone opening? We made it home—me sure that I would never have
a complete night’s sleep in my own house again. By the end of the first
evening, the snake ( a she) was named Cuddles. My life would never be the

For one thing, the first thing I do every morning is to go to Keagan’s room
and make sure the fucking snake is still in her cage. Every morning.
Without fail. If there is ever a morning that I peer into Keagan’s room
and find the cover of Cuddle’s aquarium slightly ajar and sans snake, I’m
not sure what I’ll do. Most likely, I’ll scream like a little girl, run
outside onto the deck, and pound on Keagan’s window to get the Hell up and
find the fricking snake. There is no way that I will knowingly be in my
house and have a snake loose in it at the same time. It’s not going to

Well, me being who I am and children being who they are when it comes to
the care of pets, I was the one to most quickly know when Cuddles needed
another mouscickle. Now, it’s a ratscickle. This brings me to the point
of this journal entry. A few days ago, I had been harping on Keagan that
we needed another ratscickle. Every time that I would hesitantly peer into
Keagan’s room, I could see Cuddle’s oozing around the cage, pushing her
head against the lid, desparate to get out and….feed. (I’m such an idiot.
I should have played bad parent and just gone back on my parameters—no
snake—no way—too bad.) The downside to all of this is that I’m the one
with the driver’s license and the five bucks. Keagan can’t get the
ratscickle on his own. So, his job is to remind me to get the frozen rodent
treat while we’re in the vicinity of the pet store. This week, we’d already
returned home three times before either he or I remembered. Cuddles was
getting progressively more active and I was getting progressively more
likely to light the house on fire just to get rid of the snake. Almost
home on the the third day of forgetfulness, I turned to Keagan and said,
“Shit. We forgot again. We have to get a rat for Cuddles.” No sooner had
I said those words and glanced at Keagan in the front passenger’s seat than
we hit a red squirrel, pulling a Japanese bomber routine across Old Swanzey

I stopped the truck. Keagan says, “Dad, what are you doing?”

“Get out and get the squirrel.”


“Get out and get the squirrel. We need to feed Cuddles.”


I opened the door and started to get out.

“Dad, you can’t take that squirrel!”

“Watch me.”

Long story short, I apologized to the poor thing that I hadn’t stopped
quickly enough, picked him up by the hairs on his tail, and set him into
the back of my truck.

“I’m not feeding that to Cuddles, Dad. You’re not going to either.”

“Watch me.”

The snake ate the roadkilled squirrel. It saved me five bucks. For those
of you wondering how quickly snakes grow, Cuddles is now nearly three feet
long. My primary motivation for convincing Keagan to follow in the
footsteps of his sister and attend private high school is that if he
doesn’t live in the house, the snake doesn’t live in the house. Right now,
I have at least another year of dealing with the dual compulsions of
wanting the snake to starve to death and my uncontrollable need to feed
things. Lovely.

July 25, 2006


By gum, summer is flying! Due to my negligence in posting in my journal,
the phone calls and emails worried that
something is wrong at SSF have been coming in for a couple weeks now–we’re
all fine. The pig is still alive; all four
foals are growing well and doing well; the Royal Prince x Jazz filly
doesn’t seem to realize that she’s blind in one
eye…as long as I don’t let the wheelbarrow handles stick out into the
aisle way when she’s not expecting it; and, six
out of eight mares are confirmed in foal–Thea still isn’t pregnant–I just
rebred Oleander to Diamond Hit last week.
So, we have three Donatelli pregnancies, a Farrington, Keagan’s mare to
Zeoliet, and….the Queen herself, Ms. LaVita,
is in foal to Freestyle! Thanks to Jen Arnoldt for her incredible
willingness to help out. Only one keuring entry this
year: Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz) for studbook/star.

more soon…

June 7, 2006

Topic: Report from the Ark

Call me Noah. Given the condition of our turnout situations, I should be
breeding event horses–not one of my foals
will ever refuse at a water element. Perhaps the FEI will institute some
new dressage classes…in mud.

I wrote a journal entry between this one and the “Not yet depigged” entry,
but, for some reason, it was lost in the
cyber ethers. Oh, well. In short, the email detailed the mauling of
Bailar, our Royal Prince x Jazz filly. I came home
from school one afternoon, only to find a blood clot in place of a right
eye and an extremely swollen face. Someone,
no names please (it had to be “hormones from hell” Thea), kicked the shit
out of this filly. Her jaw and nasal cavity
were fractured, and she has since gone blind in her right eye, due to the
trauma. Fortunately, the filly is the devil
incarnate, and nothing stops her. This is the only filly we’ve ever had
that teases other mares by pretending to nurse
from them. She’s the only filly that we’ve ever had brave enough to dive
under the electric fence (one piece of tape
that I have on to keep the babies out of the wheelbarrows, etc.) and dance
around until her mother is competely
panicked. This filly is the epitome of a hellion. Now, she’s also blind
in one eye. Good thing that she’s nearly a
perfect conformational model and of a super pedigree; she can at least be a

Much to my chagrin and Carol’s relief, our token boy is spoken for. Grand
Prix rider, Jane Hannigan wants first dibs.
Scooter (aka, Bonfire SSF (Contango x Vincent x Elcaro)) is a dressage
machine. He is the most balanced and
naturally talented baby we’ve produced. Interesting–in type, I still
think he’s probably a second premium, but
there’s no doubt in my mind that if I’ve produced a horse with the innate
ability to perform at the highest levels of
dressage, Scooter’s the one. Congrats to Jane.

Breeding, breeding, and more breeding…I’ve been spending way too much of
my time with my arm up a mare’s
rectum over the last few weeks. Since we couldn’t get more Johnson frozen
in time to breed Kirona, Keagan went
through the options and decided on our last dose of Zeoliet for his first
official Dutch Warmblood baby–at 15 days,
Kirona is pregnant. Go, Keagan. I’ve bred Ombria and LaVita to
Dayano–doesn’t look as if Ombria is pregnant…will
scan LaVita tomorrow. Friday, I bred Oleander right back to Diamond
Hit–no reason to mess with success–and I
bred Thea to Roven….yup, a TB stallion. I love him, and I think Thea can
use the infusion of blood up close. Keep
your fingers crossed.

Have got to run right now, but I’m planning an entry on the five and six
year old FEI classes that I recently watched
at the Raleigh show. Also, more on Donatelli and his first CDI.

May 19, 2006

Topic: Rough Week–Tough Filly–TB Blood

Monday, our Royal Prince filly, Bailar, was kicked in the head while I was
at school. I don’t know who did it or exactly
when it happened, but her jaw and nasal cavity are fractured, and it looks
like she’s going to lose her right eye.

Of course, I didn’t see the injury until I brought the mares and babies in
during night chores. In these situations, I’ve
come to a point at which I simply remove myself, wait for the vet, and
continue doing chores. John Sanzo’s line,
“Horses are born, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to kill
themselves,” goes through my head almost

This filly is beautiful; I mean, really beautiful. Even with a bandange
wrapped over her eye, around her muzzle, and
up between her ears, she is elegant, refined, and simply lovely.
Yesterday, it was time to change the bandage. I had
no one around to help me, so she and I were on our own. This very hot, 12
day old filly stood nearly stock still and
allowed me to cut off the old bandage, swab her weepy, swollen eyelids, and
rewrap between her ears, over the
fracture, and around the muzzle. She is smart and she is tough.

Injury aside, the correctness and vitality of this filly are further
testament for the need of strong Thoroughbreds
close up in the pedigrees of our warmblood sport horses. I decided on this
cross because I wanted the Prince Thatch
in Royal Prince’s pedigree for this mare. It’s turned out to be an
absolutely super cross. This year, one of my
reasons for wanting to breed to Dayano is the double Ladykiller. Even as
far back as our breeding days with Zeoliet,
it was the Abgar in his pedigree that I really liked. So, in keeping with
my belief in TB’s, I’m going to try Roven on
Thea this year. I had planned on using Diamond Hit or Dayano on her, but
she is producing heavier than herself–
more muscle, more bone, more overall substance–I think a TB stallion may
be just right for her. In looking at van
Norel’s program, from which Vincent (Thea’s sire) came, he crossed
Appollonius on all of his lines with super
success. Although Roven is not as good of a mover as Appollonius was, he is
better conformationally, and I like his
pedigree better. I think it can work.

Keep Bailar in your thoughts. She’s amazing.

May 12, 2006

Topic: Not yet depigged

He is finally “contained,” but is, as of yet, still not wrapped in little,
white packages and in my freezer. I doubt that
few pigs have had better lives. At the moment, Abe is sharing the goats’
pen. In the run-in section, he has piles of
hay that he has stolen from the goats and made into a cushy bed–outside,
in their yard, he has plowed troughs of
dirt and goat shit into pig-shaped, oblong bowls, which have, of course,
after nearly a week of rain, become
saturated pools/mini ponds. The bigger issue is that Abe has become
addicted to goat’s milk.

One of my tasks during chores is to milk Julia–my dear, sensitive, overly
neurotic and emotional, Nubian doe. Julia
freshened about a month ago. (I try to have a goat freshen at the same
time that my mares are due to foal, just in
case.) Now, when the animals hear me make my way from the house to the barn
to start chores, not only do the
mares start urinating, the dogs start chasing the chickens, and the geese
start trying to drive the outside horses
away from their grain buckets, Julia also starts an incessant blAAAAtting
cry. At first, I attributed this pleasant,
cacophonous addition to the pre-chore symphony to Julia’s neurosis and
neediness…little did I realize, that, since
I’ve been giving Abe the extra goat’s milk at every milking, that he now
starts driving poor Julia toward the door the
minute he hears me come into the barn. My poor girl. Imagine a 300 pound
oblong animal, compulsively driven to
eat, following you around with expectant grunts, trying to force you
through a secured door. I get Julia out of the
harm’s way and onto the milking stand. The moment that Abe hears the first
squirt of milk hit the bottom of my
plastic milk container, he begins a series of excited squeals, and
continuously pushes against the door of the goat
pen in an attempt to hurry me. It’s really pathetic. Until he gets his fix,
Abe allows no goat rest and no human quiet.
When I’m done milking, I release Julia from her stanchion, and the two of
us make our way cautiously toward the
rattling door and screeching pig. Julia knows that there’s more grain on
the other side of the door–I know that I
have to parry with a pig and attempt to actually get the milk into his
bucket without becoming covered in frothy
goat’s milk myself. It’s an ordeal. Although Abe now outweighs me, I am
still more surly, so I prevail. For how much
longer? Your guess is as good as mine.

May 9, 2006

Topic: Update

Four foals are on the ground and two mares pregnant. I’ve got to get some
pictures–all four foals are just super.
Names have settled…I think:

Bunny SSF (Johnson x Volkmar)
Bonfire SSF (Contango x Vincent)
Buttercup SSF (Diamond Hit x Havidoff)
Bailar SSF (Royal Prince x Jazz)


Donatelli x Orchis
Farrington x LaLiscia

Johnson really modernized Kirona–Bunny is a long-lined, leggy filly with a
gorgeous head. She’s an ideal modern
type, out of a mare that is far from the modern type. The temperament on
this filly is exceptional.

I love my Contangos–they’ve all been a little different, but every one is
an athlete. I’ve been calling Bonfire,
“Scooter.” This colt is a classic example of a horse that will never be a
keuring horse (front leg and neck are too
short, tail set is too high, croup is too flat), but has as much physical
ability and talent as can be seen in a foal. I
love him. He has all of that Vincent suppleness and “hingy-ness”, combined
with the Contango power. Absolutely
super colt.

The Diamond Hit filly is probably the best foal we’ve ever produced. I
have to pinch myself that we bred her. I can
fault her conformation a bit, but then she moves–and I forget it. There’s
no faulting her anymore. She’s the kind
of filly that lifts you right up off your ass and sends chills down your
spine. Holy shit.

Bialar is our cinco de mayo baby; hence, the Spanish name. It means, “to
dance.” Conformationally, we’ve never had
a more correct foal; she is a conformational model horse. She’s a little
finer boned than I had expected from this
cross, but she’s lovely–really correct movement with all kinds of balance
and tact.

All in all, this is probably the best foal crop we’ve ever had. I don’t
care if none of them sells…don’t tell Carol I said
that, however. The other day, I’m going on and on about Scooter, the
Contango x Vincent colt, and how much I like
him, but that he’s just not a stallion prospect because of his
type–Carol’s response is, “Great. Then he’ll sell as a
nice gelding. We don’t keep geldings.” I didn’t even see it coming.

Great news that Orchis is finally pregnant…but, it’s not without a
caveat: the pregnancy is in a uterus that looks less
than normal and it’s so high up in the right horn that I thought it was a
follicle at first. Keep your fingers crossed. A
Donatelli x Orchis baby born in the C year would thrill all of us,
especially a Ms. Michaela Tolman who has been
gunning for this cross for three years. I’ve already promised her the baby.

Surprise news that LaLiscia is pregnant to Farrington. I’ve used three
doses of Farrington and have gotten three
pregnancies–thank you, Kathy Hickerson and VDL. The surprise is that I
lost the dose of Farrington for almost a
year; I dropped half the straws on the floor when I was thawing them; the
semen looked like crap under the
microscope (I was assuming it was my fault because the first two doses were
beautiful under the scope); and LaLiscia
is an older mare that has never been bred with frozen and was in her first
definite heat of the season. This could be
an awesome foal. The more I learn about LaLiscia’s pedigree, the luckier I
feel to be borrowing her from Trish Smith.
Liscia is the kind of TB that I would breed to my mares if she were a
stallion–really long-lined, powerful movement,
and super athleticism.

So, that’s my news. I just ordered my shipment of frozen–I’m sticking
with Dayano and Diamond Hit, through
frozen. Keagan is breeding Kirona (he bought her; he gets to make the
decision and pay for the breeding) to

Bunny SSF

May 3, 2006

Topic: Sleep Deprivation

I thought that I was so lucky to have all four mares due in the same
week…our first mare foaled just after midnight
in the early morning of the 21st. The next, about 8:00 on the 27th. The
third, just last night at about 10:30. I still
have one to go and I haven’t had a complete night’s sleep in almost two
weeks. Next year, I’m going to shoot for
one baby per month, from March to August.

On a happy note, we’re have the beginnings of a great foal crop this year.
Names? Did I write something about
names a couple weeks ago? I haven’t stuck with a single planned name yet.
Right now, we have Bunny SSF (Johnson
x Volkmar), Bonfire SSF (Contango x Vincent), and Belagelia SSF (Diamond
Hit x Havidoff)–all three are super, super foals.

April 19, 2006

Topic: Here we go!

The first of four babies is finally imminent; Kessel (Kirona) began waxing
this morning. I’m really excited about this
baby. For one, it’s my last foal from this mare–Keagan bought
her–secondly, it’s the first Johnson (Jazz x
Flemmingh) foal North America. This should be a really good cross. There
are some new pictures of Kessel’s
Freestyle filly on our “my visit to SSF” page. Hopefully, this baby is
just as big and just as fancy as Zirona. Also, I’m
hearing great things about both her Zeoliet filly, Virona, and her Metall
filly, Urona. Both mares are going
wonderfully undersaddle. What’s the name if this is a filly? Of course!
Birona. But, I think it’s a colt–a big, round,
athletic colt that is destined to have an ass bigger than mine. If that’s
the case, I don’t think I’ll go with Birono…but
maybe…I’m thinking Baroque. Though, now that I see the name in print,
Birono SSF is kind of nice. Love this time of

Have two more mares right on Kessel’s heels. I opened Oleander’s Caslick
last night–she’s fully bagged–I’m
completely torn on this one (no pun intended, having just opened the
Caslick…); not sure if I really want a Diamond
Hit x Havidoff out of Wiegelia’s mare line or a Diamond Hit colt (the only
reason I didn’t type “stallion prospect” is
that Susan Duncan is my friend). Biegelia just doesn’t work for me–but, I
think it’s a filly–will probably go The
Princess Bride and go with Buttercup. I’m all over the place on SP names:
Big Hit SSF, Bacchus SSF, Beacon
SSF….Who knows? Ms. Thea is also so distended that her Contango baby is
going to fall out. Bella Vita is what I’m
hoping for, but I’m willing to settle for a Bongo or a Bono Vito.

Let the breeding begin! I planned on waiting another week or so before I
started breeding our mares, but Orchis and
LaVita were both in the best heats I’ve seen for almost two years–thank
you Mr. Double Black Knockout, Morgan
stallion supreme! Bred both mares to Donatelli–keep your fingers crossed.
The next day, LaLiscia started showing
a really strong heat. I decided I’d be on the safe side and scan her
during chores that night….lo and behold, a 44 on
the left side, already elongating, and LaLiscia normally ovulates on a high
30 or low 40–too late to get fresh
cooled–had to have KWPN approved since she’s a TB–couldn’t find my last
dose of Farrington–called Kathy
Hickerson to see what she had that would improve the neck set and give me
more length of neck–planned on
driving the hour to pick up a dose of something–found my last dose of
Farrington–thawed the dose, dropping half
of the straws on the floor or into my grain cart….bred LaLiscia. How
many years have I been doing this? Isn’t the
process supposed to become calmer?

Other really good news is that Oladaula had a super Donatelli colt a couple
weeks ago–I’m trying to make him
mine! Bastion SSF.

April 14, 2006

Topic: Reactions to My Entry Below

I’ve had more reactions to my last journal entry than I normally get.
Interesting. This isn’t the first time that I’ve written about
specialization/current breeding trends within the warmblood studbooks, but
something must have struck a chord with people.
The responses have ranged from general agreement to pointed
disagreement–disagreement in that there is no room for specialization.
My favorite quote from these responses (and I apologize that I
unintentionally deleted the email from which it came): “Specialization
equals obsolescence.”

Personally, the whole issue has stopped becoming an emotional trigger for
me. I’m over it. Now, it’s just interesting to sit back and watch what
happens. I must be getting old! The horror of the situation is that I
think this is exactly what’s going on for me. As I’ve said before, my
goal in breeding Dutch horses has always been two fold: one, to breed the
best horses in the KWPN system and, two, to breed the kind of horse for me
to ride that I couldn’t afford to buy when I started breeding these
horses. Well, some things have changed. The horse that I want to ride
doesn’t have a place in the KWPN breeding philosophy anymore and I can
afford to buy the riding horse I couldn’t afford to buy when I started
out. So, what am I doing still breeding horses? Good question. Anybody
want to buy some really nice breeding stock?

Part of my current state of mind is bouyed by the fact that I’ve ridden
more in the last two months than I’ve ridden in the last two years. Poor
horses….you should see the scared looks on their faces as the crane
nears them. I can see them shaking as the cables lower me into the
saddle. It’s pathetic really. Animal cruelty. I’ve installed these new
hoof ID pads at both ends of the barn–similar to fingerprints–the horse
has to place his or her front left foot up to the ID pad, if a horse
hasn’t carried me around the yard often enough, I deactivate his or her
code, so he or she is no longer granted access to the barn and food.
That’s my new rule: Carry the owner around the yard at least once a week
or don’t eat. Fortunately, I have not had to deny access to Bea (Facet)
as of yet–I’d have no barn left. She’d start with her front left foot on
the pad as expected, quickly move to her front right if that didn’t work,
then, even more quickly and with mounting panic, pound the pad with both
of her back feet. If all else failed, the mare would simply pick up the
pig with her teeth and ram him through the barn door. She’d get in. It’s
safer that I ride.

April 4, 2006

Topic: Thoughts on Breeding and “Modernism”

For those of you who look forward to my annual waffling over stallion
picks, I’m sorry that I’ve been neither that public nor fickle in my
choices this year. Of course, this is only the first week of April, so
I’m still at least three weeks away from breeding my first mare–given the
fact that I have been known to change my mind three or four times a day,
there are still hundreds of opportunities for me to vacillate. But, I
don’t think so. I continue to be less and less interested in Dutch
dressage stallions and more and more interested in improving my Dutch
dressage program through the use of German lines. The ideal is a German
stallion that is KWPN approved, but KWPN approval by itself won’t make the
determination for me. I’m pretty much convinced that I want in on the
first foal crop of Dayano–Donatelli is proving over and over that he
possesses not only the qualities of a top sport horse, but also the
qualities of a top sire–and then there’s Diamond Hit. D, D, D. I think
it’s going to be difficult for any line to surpass the Dominance of the D
line in Dressage breeding. The reason is different than you may suspect,
however. Certainly, the D line produces horses with an aptitude for
dressage–no doubt. This is definitely a piece of the equation. The
overriding factor/determinate, however, is the fact that the D line
produces such good conformation–and, good conformation’s direct
descendant, soundness. These horses last; they stand up to the rigors of
years of training.

I’m not sure if I’ve previously referred to this article in my
journal–and I don’t remember the name of it–it is an interview, in the
new English version of IdS, with the newest member of the KWPN’s dressage
stallion selection jury. (If I’ve already mentioned it, too bad; it’s
worth repeating.) The gentleman interviewed hails from a background in
genetics and the cattle industry. He is a proponent of specialization,
due to his experiences in the cattle industry. On to the point, he
relates his observations of two different epochs of cattle breeding:
During the first, the specialization focus swung heavily to milk
production–during the second, the specialization focus swung heavily to
conformation and type. When asked which was more successful, he answers
that the breeders who were most successful were the ones who kept
conformation in mind when the pendulum swung heavily toward milk
production and the breeders who kept milk production in mind when the
pendulum swung heavily to conformation and type.

As I know I have repeatedly stated, my observation is that the modern KWPN
dressage horse, during this age of extreme specialization, is losing
longterm soundness due to not enough focus on correct conformation. The
more our foundation stock is diluted in the pedigree, the more avidly we,
as breeders, must replace it with what gives us these desired traits. I’ve
begun to believe that the KWPN xray system is meaningless. At this point
in time, the percentage of two and a half year olds with clean xrays
should be fairly high. I want to see the xrays of these same horses
three, six, and nine years into training and competition. If the KWPN
would adopt a longitudinal approach to the analysis of radiographs, then
we’d really have some worthwhile information upon which to base our
breeding decisions. In lieu of this, we can only rely on lines that
consistently produce sound, upper level sport horses. Hence, the D line.

I haven’t changed my mind since returning from the stallion show; I’m
becoming more and more OK with the specialization model–but only because
I think I’m figuring out how to use it for my program. The irony in this
for me is that, in the beginning, I felt as if the move toward
specialization dictated my breeding choices–now, I’m feeling more than
ever that this move forces me as a breeder to be even more educated and
more honest and analytical about my program. Keuring results become much
less important; sport results become significantly more important; my
clear identification on which traits I’m unwilling to compromise is,
ultimately, paramount.

March 29, 2006

Topic: Caught in the Rye

Tomorrow night is opening night of my first nearly full length play. I’ve
been working on this idea for about six months, and have been in
full-fledged rehearsals all of March. Of course, the ideal situation
would have been just to write it, and then to sit back and watch other
people work on it….but, no. I was already slotted to direct at Keene
High School and I couldn’t find anyone experienced enough to play the role
of the teacher. So, going against everything I believe in theatre, I have
written, directed, and am acting a major role in this production.
Nonetheless, with the last minute help of my theatre partner and longtime
friend, Kim Dupuis, I think we may pull it off. Before last night, I
didn’t think we had a shot, so I haven’t been rallying all of you New
Englanders to come see my show. After last night, I’m willing to put out
the call to come see it. It’s at Keene High School, 7pm, Thursday,
Friday, and Saturday–tickets at the door. The show centers around a
teacher teaching Catcher in the Rye and the common controversies still
surrounding the novel. There’s John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Chapman–it’s a
combination of film, video, song, and stage. Pretty cool. So, if you’re
around the central New England area this weekend, it’s worth seeing.

Did you notice the news blurb on our homepage? Donatelli has now won
three out of his four Grand Prix efforts! Granted, we haven’t hit a
really big show yet, but he’s been consistently scoring in the high 60’s
under some tough judges. Huge kudos to Jim Koford for his talent and his
belief in our boy. Look for a herd of Donatelli babies at SSF next
spring–”knock on wood,”this stallion is blowing me away with his
soundness of mind and body–he remains easy, easy, easy to deal with, yet
gets in the ring and gives it his all. What a good boy.

March 23, 2006

Topic: Double Black Knockout

We have a new man on the SSF campus, Mr. Double Black Knockout. For any
of you Morgan enthusiasts, he is sired by a full brother to the famous
mare, Century Enjolie, and out of a Fiddler’s Black River daughter. Super
breeding. Super fancy boy. On top of this, his first foals are
spectacular. As soon as I get a couple good pictures, I’ll have Joe start
a Morgan page on the site.

Why a Morgan stallion? Couple reasons. First and foremost, I like having
a stallion on the property. All of my mares cycle better, and we end up
having a significantly better on farm conception rate when we have the
real thing around. Secondly, this is New England–I was born and raised
around Morgan horses. To this day, I find few horses more beautiful than
the classic Morgan. With its dishy face, huge, wide-set eyes, high curvy
neck, and sensible, versatile brain, the Morgan possesses many qualities
that the contemporary sport horse doesn’t. Granted, the quality of
movement, in particular the canter, can limit the Morgan from competing in
the same league as warmbloods at the very upper levels of sport, but how
many people are really looking for an Olympic mount? Most people are
looking for a beautiful horse that can be their best friend and trusted
riding companion. I believe that through my dressage breeding experience,
I can produce a really quality Morgan or Morgan cross sport horse.
Thirdly, come August, any of my warmblood mares that are not pregnant are
going the live cover route and not staying open for another year.

None of this is an indication that I’m diverting the focus of my warmblood
breeding program, but I’m too old not to have some fun. And, frankly,
lately, the warmblood world just isn’t that much fun. I have horses
because I love them; they inspire me and they bring peace to my soul.
Maybe the Morgan Association will start its half Morgan registry, and I’ll
be in on the ground floor!

March 20, 2006

Topic: Big weekend for SSF at the Florida Horse Park!

I’m not one to get on the forums and suggest my stallion for every mare,
or report every dressage score and the individual success of every
offspring. As opinionated as I am and as vocal as I can be, I always find
it unattractive to hear a stallion owner touting his or her boy over and
over. Maybe it’s just me; I don’t know. At any rate, in my own journal,
I guess it’s OK to toss a little praise Donatelli’s way. What a good boy
he is.

When we bought Donatelli and imported him, the general consensus was,
although he is a super producer and a really good light tour horse, he
wouldn’t be a Grand Prix horse. I didn’t really understand why. Jim
didn’t understand why. So, we ignored the advice to simply stand
Donatelli and not compete him further. As the gods of horses would have
it, our belief in Donatelli came to fruition last weekend. In his second
ever Grand Prix, he scored a 68%. If he hadn’t bobbled in his
piaffe/passage tour in his first Grand Prix, in which he scored a 62, he
would have been close to his second day score. Not bad for a horse’s
first weekend at Grand Prix!

Still, most impressive to me as a breeder is that through all of the
breeding, traveling, training, and competing Mr. Donatelli is as laid back
as an old gelding. Under saddle, he comes to life and becomes Mr.
Showman; on the ground, he is quiet, attentive, and easy. I only wish
that I had bred him–then I could take some credit for this!

Anyway, wish Jim and Donatelli luck. They’re competing again this
weekend. If the scores hold up (knock on wood), Jim and Donatelli will
aim for the National Championships at Grand Prix.

March 8, 2006

Topic: A note from a friend in Holland

Hi there!

More good news for you:

Donelli a 3 year old by Donatelli x Akzent II ,owned by Paul Schockemohle
was approved in Sweden with a 9 for trot,7 for walk,8 for canter and 7 for
free jumping!

On another note your “wishes” have been heard: at the nakeuring 2
stallions with jumping pedigree were invited as dressagehorse for the Stalliontest:

1.Negro x Monaco (=Animo x Voltaire)
2.Ramon (Marlon-Nurzeus) x Nimmerdor x Notaris

Both of them bring plenty of power from behind!

And since we (KWPN) listen so well to you,here is my choice for Orchis : Flemmingh….

March 8, 2006

Topic: The Perfect Stallion

Before we get started on this journal entry and for those of you who may
be concerned with what I’m wearing, I just want you all to know that I’m
dressed appropriately for writing–I’m in brushed twill pants with a
classy plaid, country gentleman type wool shirt. My socks are pulled up
and dark, not distracting from the overall ensemble, and my shoes, though
not polished, are clean, shining, and sufficiently dressy. I do have a bit
of cologne on but not too much, and I am wearing no jewelry other than my
wedding ring.

So, I’ve found the perfect stallion. Love the pedigree; love the type;
absolutely love the way the horse uses his body. And, given the fact that
I’m finding impetus to use fewer and fewer North American Dutch stallions,
he’s not here. Better still, he’s already approved in some German
registries, which gives me options for my foals. Most importantly, I look
at his picture and I see what I want to be producing in my own breeding
program: the perfect length of hindend, perfect top line construction, and
superb engagement and lift. Having seen the horse in person also
helps–he may not be a lower level superstar that wows crowds with his
front leg and upper level frame in a first level test–but I’m here to
tell you that this is a horse that will not only go all the way but he
will also produce offspring that will go all the way. May the gods of
ultrasounds and estrus cycles be with me!

March 3, 2006

Topic: Expanding Bellies

Though I well could be talking about the author of this journal by
entitling this entry thusly, the real reference is to
four Dutch mares, located just east of the Vermont state line, on a humble,
wooded farm in Spofford, NH.

Every day, before I open the barn door and so rudely transition my girls
from the warmth and darkness of the night
to the cold and artificial brightness of the pre-dawn morning, I begin my
little mantra of, “Good morning, girls. Hey,
pretty girls.” Without fail, either my voice, my arrival, or the barn
lights triggers a massive outburst of urination–
much like a series of waterfalls, having been dry for a season, suddenly
crashing with intesity and new life.

Sleepy, stirring, and anticipating the squeaking tires of the grain cart
and the scraping of my scoop against the
partially frozen sweet feed, LaVita will wait until I’ve sufficiently
passed her stall and begin a series of bangings on
her stall door. Since she’s not pregnant, Queen LaVita has been moved out
of her customary stall so that one of the
mares who is actually foaling gets the larger stall. If she only realized
that her grain portion would be significantly
increased if she would remain pregnant, she would, indeed, remain pregnant.

While the inside girls are eating, I feed the outside horses, then begin
spreading hay in the pond pasture for the
mares. I love rowen–that sweet, green, second cut hay that smells so good
I’ve thought of steaming it and serving
it as a vegetable. I then begin marching the inside girls out among the
fading stars of the early morning air,
shadows from the barn lights playing on their rapidly expanding bellies.
These are the times my dreams are so
close I can barely stand it. I stand among my mares in the waning
moonlight and await the day.

March 2, 2006

Topic: New KWPN Index!!!!

Go, Orchis! Orchis’s dam, Charites, is still the #1 KWPN dressage mare,
with an index of 205; Orchis’s sire, Olympic Jazz, has jumped to an index
of 181. This puts Ms. Orchis in the top 10 KWPN mares, world-wide,
with an index of 193!!! Of course, the NA system is not yet interfaced with
the KWPN system, so you won’t see Orchis’s name there, but it should be!
So, do me a favor; when you receive your copy of the indices, put a little
asterisk with Orchis’s name with the couple other mares that are at 193.
Now, if I can just get this mare pregnant this year….

February 16, 2006

Topic: Discovering the Farmer Within

For years, every time we’ve had some extra “farm” money, I’ve bought more
breeding stock. Gradually, as the years have gone by, the number of horses
increased, and the size of the manure pile begun to rival Everest, Carol has
become more and more insistent that we buy a tractor instead of a new
horse. I came home one day a few weeks ago to find a brand spanky new
red tractor sitting in the lower driveway. Let’s just say that I wasn’t consulted in this

The first evening that the tractor made its appearance, I approached it
cautiously. Speaking to it softly, I did a walk around and inspected the new
presense at SSF. Eventually, I got up the nerve to actually climb aboard and carefully
place my weight into the black, padded seat. I saw the key. I also saw an
array of handles, pedals, switches, and dials–about which, I hadn’t the faintest
idea how to operate. So, I just sat there like a kid at a fair pretending to
drive the display tractor. The tractor sat in the lower driveway for three
days before I received the call from the dealership asking how we liked our new
tractor. I was forced to confess that although I found the tractor quite
attractive, I was rather intimidated. The next day, a rep showed up to “go
over the finer points of this particular model.” One of the “finer points” involved
how to start the tractor. Isn’t it amazing that I can be a couple years
younger than Susan Duncan and still be made to feel like a complete idiot.

Well, fortunately, I’m a quick study. Plus, I understand the difference
between forward and reverse, off and on, and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears.
No one prepared me for the use of…”the bucket”, however. Up and down I get.
Dump and tilt back are a little more confusing. Nonetheless, I’ve only gotten
the tractor stuck in the mud once, so far, and, fortunately, the ground froze
around it so that I could eventually get the tires onto some solid ground. The tractor
has also come in handy because I’m always getting my truck stuck–I’ve
pulled myself out twice now. Back to the “bucket” thing. I took out a section of
fence last night. You see, I had to think about gears, forward and reverse, up
and down, and dump the seven bale of hay all at the same time….I did the
up thing with the bucket so that I could do the dump thing with the hay on the
other side of the fence. Well, when I did the up thing, some of the bale
things fell out of the bucket and landed on the tractor and me.
Immediately, I started doing the down thing, forgetting that I was still doing the
forward thing. Fortunately, the quickly splitting rails didn’t puncture the chest of
the Jazz mare who doesn’t remember that she’s supposed to be afraid of the
large red tractor careening through her fence towards her.

Fortunately, there is baler twine. I fixed the fence. So, if you visit
SSF in the near future, make sure, before you get out of your car, that you don’t
see me on the tractor. I can’t make any promises about your safety.

February 16, 2006

Topic: Rumor…

It looks like we NA/WPN breeders are in for the biggest jury change since
Jacques replaced Gert. Should be interesting.

February 9, 2006

Topic: Whew!

I’ve been receiving tons of responses to my thoughts on the stallion show.
It’s probably best that I make a few more notes, or I’ll never keep my thoughts

Flemmingh: My favorite resonse I’ve received on this topic is something to
the effect of, “Welcome back from the dark side!” I know that there are masses
of Flemmingh fans out there–so, now I’m one of you. It’s not a “if you
can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” kind of thing. For me, the most important
aspects of conformation are the “connections” in the top line. Flemmingh
tends to produce an odd neck/wither connection and a weak loin connection.
However, the proof is in the pudding. Flemmingh is producing some of my
favorite dressage horses–whatever conformation issues I may have, they are
no longer important if a horse can perform. I’m also really liking Flemmingh in
the mare line. I’m also really liking Flemmingh with the Jazz cross, the Contender
cross, and the Ramiro cross….those are my bloodlines. Add to all this that
Janko VDL is such a nice guy, I’m going public on my new-found belief in

Long Front Leg: I like the look of a longer front leg in a dressage horse.
I will agree that it is ideal, but it shouldn’t be one of our primary focuses in selection.
The KWPN breeding population has a really interesting phenomenon
occurring–the horse that is built uphill naturally, but still moves on the
forehand. The use of the hind leg and the horse’s ability to lift the wither,
whether or not it is naturally built uphill, is what we need as a benchmark for
selection, not just a type that is built uphill.

Specialization: I’m beginning to believe that it’s all semantics. Call it
specialization, specialized selection, selection for a specific discipline,
whatever. I breed dressage horses–it’s ridiculous of me to say that I’m not breeding a
specialist. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want a balanced, overall
athletic horse. I’m probably not going to breed one of my dressage mares
to a jumper if I want to improve the canter in my program; I’m more likely to look for a
dressage pedigree that consistently produces better canters. Chances are
that that pedigree also produces good jumpers–I’ll throw out the Holsteiner
C line as an example. My concern about the current KWPN selection process
for dressage horses has little to do with whether the modern type dressage
horse can jump or not. Sitting in the Brabanthallen, watching close to 100 young
dressage-bred stallions, I was amazed at how many horses had a
difficult time with the transition from canter to trot. A huge percentage
of these horses fell out of the canter, instead of staying balanced and sitting
out of the canter. In comparison, the number of jumper-bred horses that
easily transitioned from canter trot was staggeringly larger.

So, if you ask me to make a blanket statement that specialization is the
way to go, then I can’t. But, I can say that the improvements that I observed
in two of the three discipline specific populations are due to selecting for fewer

If you have a question about a specific horse or bloodline, then I’m happy
to chat with you one on one. Just give me a call.

Huge news for both our breeding program, as well as Barb Funk’s breeding
program…two horses out of Vervoorn’s mare line were selected to go on.
One, a Rousseau x Roemer, is half brother to Orchis, both of them out of the top
KWPN mare, Charites. The second is a Krack C x Partout x Roemer, out of
Orchis’s half sister. Too bad Mr. Guido didn’t get licensed this year; that would
have made it three out this mare line.

February 7, 2006

Topic: Stallion Show

Let me start by saying that anything expressed here is purely my subjective
observation. I love horses and, in
particular, breeding KWPN horses. I am not out to “slam” anyone, nor do I
think that I have all the answers–the
more time I spend around horses and horse people, the more I know that I
know, but, more importantly, the more I
know that I don’t know.

The driving force behind my desire to go to the stallion show this year is
to see how specialization is affecting the
breeding base. It’s been three years since I’ve been to a stallion show
and about a decade from the time I went to
my first stallion show. Here are the generalizations of what I saw:

1. The selection process is working really well for the Tuigpaarden. The
modern KWPN harness horse is athletic,
supple, extravagant and completely captivating.

2. The selection process is working really well for the Jumping Horse. I
saw a marked improvement in the quality of
movement and type of the jumpers. The KWPN has always produced a horse
that can jump, and, through
specialization, it appears to me that we are producing better jumpers than
ever. There is suppleness, power,
athleticism, balance, and a good ability to transfer the weight to the hind

3. The dressage horse has suffered from specialization. I’ll try to
explain what I saw and what I think is going on.
This does not make me right; two weeks from now, I may come to a different

In the jumping horse and the harness horse, we are selecting for fewer
traits and traits that have greater correlation
to a horse’s given sport ability. This is the reason that marked success
can be determined fairly quickly in the
breeding population. In the dressage horse, the traits are not as concrete
as in the jumper and the harness horse,
so one must make a decision as to which traits are the focus of selection.
The KWPN has determined that the overall
quality of gaits, combined with a lighter, more uphill conformation, and an
overall rectangular, supple shape will
produce the best dressage horses. What is missing from this equation is
two-fold, in my estimation. One, you can
not confuse uphill conformation with a horse’s ability to transfer weight
to the hind end–just because a horse is
built uphill does not mean that he will transfer weight efficiently. I
know that it seems as if he should, but look at
the jumpers–many of them are built down hill, yet they still have, and
must have, a super ability to transfer weight
to the hind end. Right now, we are selecting for uphill conformation over
the ability to transfer weight; this is
hurting the dressage population. Two, we are losing the quickness and the
sit in the hindleg. Consequently, we are
breeding more and more really good lower level horses and fewer and fewer
upper level horses. Without the
quickness in the hindleg and the ability to sit, collection, and,
specifically, piaffe and passage become really
difficult–and, as anyone who watched the warm-up ring can attest, a number
of those KWPN stallions making the
transition out of the lower levels agree that the work is getting

What all this means to me is that, as a dressage breeder, I have to be
religious in my selection process and brutally
honest with myself about the needs of my mare base. If I were breeding
jumpers or harness horses, I would be
patting the KWPN on the back and thinking that I could experiment a little
more and relax into the possibilities of a
successful breeding program due to the support of my studbook. I, Scot
Tolman, KWPN dressage breeder, am not
feeling that way, however.

On the other hand, I left the Stallion Show a supporter of specialization.
I did not miss seeing the dressage horses
jump–their overall lack of balance and insufficient use of their hind leg
was obvious without this. The success in
the jumping and harness directions make me believe that we can achieve
equal success in the dressage direction–
or, at least, that I can personally in my program. I have identified
what’s missing in the population for my needs.
Now, I have to identify how to maintain that in my own breeding program
with a dwindling number of choices of
stallions from which to get it.

My favorite horses from the selection:

-Flemmingh x Contango
-Contender x Ramiro
-Krack C x Ulft

Though, given the goals of the KWPN and the individual development of the
horses presented, I agree completely
with the selection of the Rousseau and the Lupicor as riding horse
champions. They were not the horses that I
wanted to take home, however.

Other highlights for me:

-breed to Nassau. I absolutely loved the three daughters that were brought
out when Nassau was presented with
the Horse of the Year award.

-Parcival is amazing. We need Koss blood in North America.

-I have been wrong about Flemmingh all these years. Any horse that can
produce Lingh, Krack C, and the
Flemmingh x Contango needs to be used in my breeding program.

So, that’s it. I’m not willing to be specifically negative; I’ve come to
believe that it’s not my place–my place is to
evaluate a system that affects me in order to use the system more
effectively for my own program. I learned a lot,
and I accomplished my primary objective in attending the stallion show. It
was delightful to see old friends and
make new friends. The Peters family has won my heart. I had the best time
I’ve had at a Stallion Show.

February 1, 2006

Topic: Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.

At our house, on the first day of a new month, this is the first thing you
hear in the morning; it’s our good luck omen for the month. Keagan,
before he went to bed last night, made me promise to wake him up and
not let him say anything else until he said rabbit, rabbit, rabbit. I called
Michaela at Exeter before she was out of bed this morning;
she anwered the phone by saying, “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.” My father is,
perhaps, one of the most superstitious men on the planet. I didn’t get the
full load of the superstition DNA, but there are trace elements in my psyche.
But, my father, that’s a different story. One day, when I was a kid, we were
driving down the road in his pick-up truck with a crate of young, laying hens
he had just bought. Of course, this was back in the days when kids didn’t
have to be buckled in, so I was on my knees, in the middle of the seat,
looking at the chickens’ feathers being whipped around by the wind. For
some compulsive reason, not that I have any compulsive traits, I counted the
chickens–not once, of course, but five or six times, starting in different
directions/counting every other chicken/etc./etc. Well, I remember turning
around, sitting down, and saying to my father,

“I thought we were supposed to have a dozen hens. They’re 13 in there.”

By God, I had barely spoken the number 13, before my father slammed on the
brakes, stopped in the middle of the road, got out, went to the back of the pick-up,
opened the crate, and tossed one chicken out into the woods next to
the road. Now, that’s superstitious.

I’m leaving for the Stallion Show today. The last time I tried to fly to the Stallion
Show, the plane turned around in mid-flight and returned to Boston due to
“mechanical” issues. The pilot’s voice came over the speaker saying,
“We’re not going to make it to Amsterdam, but I’m pretty sure we’ll make it
back to Boston.” I hate to fly. It scares the shit out of me.

“Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.”

Other than the flight, I’m excited. I haven’t been to the Stallion Show since the
KWPN split the riding type so decisively. It’s going to be really interesting to
see just how pronounced the difference in type is between the
dressage type and the jumping type. If the Select Sale video is any
indication, the difference is really pronounced. Things I’m looking especially
forward to:

Rhodium offspring as adults
Johnson under saddle
Krack C sons
Loucky’s stallion
the warm-up ring
meeting the Peters family and Emmy de Jeu

Haven’t I mentioned this? I’m looking to buy myself a birthday present…of course,
my birthday isn’t until March, but, hey, I’ve got to start the shopping….I’m in no hurry,
though–it has to be exactly the right present.

Look for the full report, with pictures, some time next week!

“Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.” (knock on wood) fingers and toes all crossed

January 28, 2006

Topic: Grand Prix Debut

OK, all you Donatelli fans out there…Jim and Donatelli will make their
Grand Prix debut in Ocala, sometime during the second weekend of March
(knock on wood)! There will be plenty of celebrating and revelry going on,
so if any of you happen to be in Florida that weekend, check the entries at

I’ve been terrible about getting the site updated, but we have great new
pictures of Donatelli coming. His personal photographer, Arielle Perry, has
become quite accomplished. Also, breeders please note that we are capping
Donatelli’s book at 25 outside mares this year, so that we can concentrate
on the Grand Prix. This number includes any rebreeds. The way our
contract works is that you don’t pay for your breeding until your mare is
pregnant, so if you are planning on rebreeding, you need to let me know

Donatelli offspring were really successful at North American inspections.
He had the site champion at an ISR/Old inspection, as well as a number of
premium foals with the GOV. In Germany, a Donatelli son and a Donatelli
grandson were recently selected to go on in the stallion process. The
Tolman family gives thanks to the gods of horses and Jim Koford. If an
altar sacrifice is necessary, I have a certain demanding, pink pig in

January 25, 2006

Topic: My life is being destroyed by a pig

The expression, “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em,” is, unfortunately, not
holding true at Shooting Star Farm. You all remember that Keagan caught
himself a pig at the annual Cheshire County Fair 4-H Pig Scramble?
Abe. That’s “Babe” without the “B”acon…I thought this was funny at
the time. Not anymore. This pig is now approaching my body weight. He
has a keener sense of smell than I, a more insatiable thirst and hunger,
and a much greater penchant for ripping apart grain bags, digging in
shit, and building beds out of lead ropes, lunge lines, spare blankets,
and broken halters. Abe and I are also on opposite ends of the
sociability continuum–I’m more of a morning person–coffee, eggs,
shower, no conversation for the first 45 minutes; he’s more of a late
afternoon pig–eat the dog food, uproot the chicken pen, scratch his ass
on stall grates, constantly bark/grunt/squeal that I’m not fast enough
with the goat’s milk, corn, and spillings of grain from the horses. I
use the bathroom in the house (or, occasionally, much to Carol’s dismay,
I’ll pee wherever I happen to be working around the farm’s far as I’m
concerned, this is a male’s perogative–plus, it’s one of the only
advantages that the evolutionary forces have given to men over women–I
don’t intend to buck an evolutionary bonus). Abe pees in my breeding
stocks…in my barn…whenever he wants to. I don’t think that he
understands the Darwinian implications of a human becoming pissed off at
a porcine member of our global community. Carol’s on my side in this
battle–we would eat the pig; take him to the slaughter house and bring
him home in little white packages, stored ever so lovingly in the
freezer. Michaela and Keagan, however, are with the pig. This scares
me. I’ve seen the progression. When Abe first joined our happy little
menagerie, he was small, cute, pink, and at the bottom of the pecking
order–even the chickens would drive him away from his food dish. As he
has grown, the dogs no longer think it’s quite so much fun to play
tag–the goats butt him only to have him body slam them into the side of
the barn–he no longer moves when the horses come through; they have to
go around him…..we’re next. I have visions of coming down stairs in
the morning to find Abe lying on the couch, covered up with Guido’s DB
Bar Cup cooler. I’ll back against the staircase and try to get by him
as quietly as possible so as not to disturb him. Before I can even make
my coffee, he’ll bark/grunt/squeal that I best be making his oatmeal and
it best be drizzled in butter and topped with brown sugar…this is my

January 5, 2006

Topic: Horses and Horse People

You know, the more time I spend around horses and horse people, the more
I realize how unimportant studbooks, registries, keurings, approvals,
etc. really are. Human beings are attracted to horses for qualities
that they, the humans, don’t possess: the ability to swiftly flee on
hard hoof at the slightest danger, the strength and beauty of speed, the
sense of belonging to something greater–the herd. As time flies by and
we are confronted with yet more wars, famines, and natural disasters,
such as New Orleans or Pakistan, we are in even greater need of the
horse. We humans need the majesty and the freedom that is the horse.

When I think of what horses first captivated me, I think of “The
Black.” I think of that horse that is only tamed because of devotion
to, loyalty towards, and protection of his human, Alec. I’m not sure
this is the soundest foundation upon which to base a breeding program,
but, then again, I’m not sure it’s not. As I watch the studbook models
that I’ve held in fairly high esteem for the last decade and a half
constantly readjust their breeding goals according to what is perceived
as the desired model for a specific discipline, I realize how the
Friesian has become so popular. For the most part, people don’t care
about discipline-specific breeding programs; they care about horses that
make their dreams come true. The Friesian is black, long maned, even
tempered, and dramatic. For the average horse lover, what’s more
appealing than that? Does the average horse person know or care that
this breed is intended to be pulling a cart? No. Should the average
person care that this breed was never intended to be ridden? No.

This isn’t a diatribe expounding upon the reasons that I’ve started
breeding Friesians; it’s a few paragraphs intended to support the
idealistic breeder in breeding what he or she finds “dreamy.” What else
are we breeding for? Are we breeding for Anky to come knocking at our
door, begging to buy our weanling? Are we expecting one of Robert
Dover’s benefactors to suddenly say, “We’re going to buy an
American-bred prospect!” I don’t think so. I think that we’re a
country of dreamers. We know that the American dream is that we can
accomplish anything to which we set our minds, so we do that. We set out
to breed the perfect horse. Every time.

I spent about 45 minutes today pouring over the list of preferent and
prestatie mares that was sent as a supplement to In de Strengen. This
list is published every couple of years, so it contains hundreds of
mares, their pedigrees, and the sires and disciplines of their offspring
that qualified them for these prestigious predicates. Fascinating.
(side note: HUGE congrats to Barb Funk on her new prestatie mare, Ixia
(Belisar x Roemer)–very cool! It’s also cool that this mare happens to
be Orchis’s sister and Werites’s aunt! Conrats, Barb, and congrats to
the breeder of this mareline, the Vervoorn family.) It’s been my
contention for years that the best breeders in any studbook rarely like
or use the same bloodlines. The best breeders find the niches that work
for their programs…and stick with them. Well, I’ve been driving Carol
crazy because I keep erasing the white board in the barn and redoing my
breeding picks for the year–see, you people are not the only ones that
must endure this madness. Tonight, after reviewing the list of
preferent and prestatie mares, I, once again, redid my picks for the
year. We have three basic categories of mares: our Holsteiner-bred
(LaVita and her daughters); our Amor/Jazz-bred (Orchis, Werites, and
Oisther); and our TB and or TB/Gelders-bred (Ombria, LaLiscia, and
Kirona (officially Keagan’s mare; he’s paid in full)); Ombria is kind of
a mix–she doesn’t really fit any of my primary categories. What I want
to accomplish is to have a mix of these three categories in subsequent
generations; so, I have to make sure that the stallions we select bring
the missing pieces. The most important line to me, as a base for
breeding, is the Jazz/Amor. That means that any mare that is not
Jazz/Amor, needs to be bred to a Jazz/Amor stallion. Fortunately, ISF
has done us all the huge service of buying and importing UB-40 (doing
the happy dance here). There’s also the newly approved Johnson (Jazz x
Flemmingh) to consider. For the Jazz/Amor mares, I need to use the
Holsteiner, TB-Gelders, and a fourth line that I’m crazy about, the
German “D” line. That gives me tons of options, starting right at home
with Mr. Donatelli. Keeping with the “D” theme, I’m not going to be
happy until I have two or three Diamond Hit babies on the ground. Then,
fortunately, Mr. Contango and Sir Sinclair can bring home some of the
Holsteiner blood I like. In addition, even though he’s approved
Oldenburg, Serano Gold brings that dash of Holsteiner with a crap load
of ridability. (if you don’t know Serano Gold, he is Sandro Hit x
Grundstein; he has just been signed by Edward Gal; he got huge scores in
his 30 day test, with a 9.7 for ridability; he’s a phenomenal mover and
classically pretty; he’s out of a great, performance-producing mare
line….plus he’s available to WBNA members for $350/dose or $1000./3
doses–he’s worth checking out.)

Can you believe how logical I’m being this year? What the heck? It’s a
new year; I believe in making my dreams come true. More importantly, I
believe in having them to begin with. Happy new year to you and yours.
May all good things come to you.