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Jan 1, 2013 | 0 comments


Early Breeding Decisions

Merry Christmas! I’m spending Christmas Eve keeping Carol company in the kitchen, filling out breeding contracts, as she works on Christmas dinner, her one cooking foray of the year. It’s kind of nice to give over the kitchen and know that I don’t have to think about cooking anything more than breakfast tomorrow. Of course, the Jim Beam in front of me helps the control freak in me relax a little…

So, yes! Breeding contracts. I just filled out four contracts to Fairytale. With a little luck, our 2015 crop will include:

Fairytale x Jazz x Roemer
Fairytale x Vincent x El Corona
Fairytale x Donatelli x Jazz
Fairytale x Freestyle x Jazz

I’m also committing to our 16th and 17th UB-40 foals:

UB-40 x Sir Sinclair x Jazz
UB-40 x Totilas x Jazz!!!!

Fortunately, I still have a few breedings to vacillate over for the next few months. It would be WAY too boring to have everything settled now, but Iron Spring Farm has been too good to us not to breed at least a mare or two with them (plus, ever since I saw UB in den Bosch, I’ve just pretended he was my personal stallion), and Hilltop has played Santa by giving us an amazingly generous discount for our mares if we book by the end of the year—so, fortunately, we have enough mares to breed that I can both make some early bookings and still have some to entertain myself with until the last minute.

Quandry number one: Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano x Biotop). She’s in Holland, so the breeding choices are nearly limitless. This year, her job is to do well at her keuring and get pregnant to the perfect stallion. I’m hoping to import her in the Fall. As far as talking about her man-date, that’s pointless right now; the options are too exciting for me to even begin to narrow it down. Maybe after the Stallion Show I’ll be willing to make a short list.

Quandry number two: ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro x Belisar). Carol has agreed to let me try an ET with Princess. She continues to do really well under saddle, so I’m not taking her, or me, out of work, but I’d love another couple foals from her. She produced one really nice UB-40 filly, who’s now a coming five-year-old. There are a couple solidly proven Contango niches out there that would be worth trying. There are a couple young KWPN stallions for whom I might be willing to break my “No Frozen without a LFG” policy, if I know the semen is good. And, additionally, I want a grey dressage horse in the worst way, so I’m scouting all grey stallion possibilities.

Quandry number three: Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) First, there’s a possibility she’s sold, so I’m not going to sign a breeding contract for her unless I know for sure. Second, I bought the 10 doses of Chagall specifically to cross with her—I’ve used seven doses unsuccessfully (not all on her–only two on her), so I have three left. It might be worth thawing all three and dumping them in her for one last ditch effort at getting that cross. Three, she needs to do her IBOP to complete her keur status this year, and it might be best to give her the year off, especially since she’s going to have a foal by her side.

Did you just count how many possible 2015 foals that is? Four Fairytale, two UB, and three undecided… nine, and not a one that I wouldn’t consider keeping as either a future broodmare or stallion prospect. We need a bigger farm.


DBNA Lives On

Breeding is not for someone who can’t have a little patience. For those of you who don’t know or remember DBNA (Dutch Breeders of North America), which morphed into WBNA (Warmblood Breeders of North America), about 13 years ago, I had an idea to bring better bloodlines to the continent by creating a stallion co-op that leased interesting stallions, imported them, and stood them to the general public/greater breeding community. I forget now just how many people were involved, but we sold close to 100 memberships, some people buying multiple memberships because they had multiple mares on which to use the free breeding that came with each membership. The idea was that members could continue to breed for free as long as they each sold a breeding in a given year, so we would continue to generate income to pay for the lease fees and the upkeep on the three stallions we imported, Freestyle, Iroko, and Hierarch. And, it worked for a while. In the end, a few of us ended up with the bulk of the expenses because members got their one or two free breedings and stopped participating. Although it was a costly venture for us, it also introduced me to some incredible people, with whom I’m still really close.

Related to where I’m going with this entry, in 1996, we bought a filly at the Borculo auction to replace our foundation mare, who died of a prolapsed uterus two days after foaling. That filly, Oladaula, went on to be the high point dressage mare at the New England keuring and one of our top producers.

Still related to where I’m going, when DBNA closed shop, Jennifer Arnoldt asked me to act as broker/negotiator between her and the Nijhofs to buy Freestyle. A couple years later, when she was starting to improve the quality of her mare band, she asked me to send her a couple of mares that were good crosses for Freestyle. I sent her Oladaula and her sister, Pioendaula.

Now to my point, the recent overall winner of the 70 Days Test is Fabian DSF (Freestyle x Oladaula x Hierarch). Now do you see the connection? It’s been 18 years since we imported that filly; 13 years since we imported Freestyle; and 8 years since we sent her to Dreamscape Farm—it can take a hell of a long time for your selection decisions to make much of an impact in the breeding world, but the overall effects of DBNA are going to be long-lasting.

Of course, along the way, there have been multiple keuring winners and site champions, top tens and top fives, a Gert Van der Veen winner, young jumper champions, a silver medal in the Young Riders, and even some HOY awards as recently as this year, not to mention the positive influence on literally hundreds of breeding programs—all because of DBNA.

It could happen again. Given the right people and, most importantly, the right selection. It could happen again…



Recently, a regular reader emailed me and asked if I would comment on this stallion in my journal. Here goes. I’ve only seen him once; he was presented at the Stallion Show last year. At the time, I knew nothing about him. My initial impression was, wow, he’s cool. For some reason, however, his rider chose to only show him in piaffe and passage—we never saw him canter. When a friend of mine in Holland told me he had bred his mare to Netto, I asked, “Does he have a canter?”

I wasn’t being snide. Why would you show your Grand Prix stallion in front of thousands of potential breeders and only piaffe and passage? Evidently, Netto does have a canter—I just haven’t seen it.

As a breeding stallion, I’m not sure about him. He’s obviously a really talented and powerful dressage horse who has made it to Grand Prix, so, right there, he’s worth breeding to on some level. However, as a young horse, he was presented to the KWPN and refused. I don’t know the reason, but I can surmise that his sire, Negro, hadn’t yet made his splash, so the weakness in the mareline and type of Netto couldn’t be overlooked. Now, everyone is Negro crazy—hence, a powerful, expressive stallion son who is at Grand Prix looks pretty good, regardless of his motherline and how he looked as a young horse.

The motherline has some good stallions, but there’s only one good mare that I can see, his granddam. His mother has produced a number of offspring, but most of them are foalbook or studbook. The mareline is known as a jumper line—that could be another reason Netto wasn’t interesting to the KWPN when he was first presented; he’s bred to be an all rounder, and the KWPN shifted to specialists right around the time he would have been presented. This being said, he’s got Purioso, Nimmerdor, and Courville xx as sires his mareline—all good to very good stallions.

So, as you can see, my opinion is all over the place on this stallion. My guess is that he’s not going to be a super consistent producer of type or keuring horses, but that doesn’t mean he won’t produce sport horses, especially since he himself has made it to Grand Prix. Personally, I’m going to wait a bit and see what he produces. I know I’m in the minority, but I’m not a huge Negro fan. I’m happier breeding to Everdale or Fairytale—they’re a little more removed from Negro himself and more interesting in the mareline than Netto.


The Lack of KWPN Stallions in North America, continued

If you’re new to my blog or haven’t read all of the entries, scroll down a bit and find the earlier post about the lack of KWPN stallions for US and Canadian breeders.

Rather than rehash my impassioned speech, I want to pick up where I left off in the post: It’s time for another collaborative effort to bring new stallions to North America. I know that Carol and I aren’t willing to afford the time or expense we incurred with DBNA or WBNA, but I also can’t stand by and do nothing. North American breeders need stallion options. Our breeding programs are suffering because of the lack of genetic diversity, our studbook is suffering because we’re not producing more horses or attracting new members, and our pocketbooks are suffering because we have to shell out way too much moolah for not only frozen semen with no guarantee, but also the breeding and shipping costs that are an unavoidable side effect of using frozen semen.

In the past, for our personal program and for DBNA and WBNA, we leased already approved stallions. This is still an option, but it’s not as easy it seems. One, you have to find a stallion that is a quality producer but not breeding that much in Holland or Germany; two, you have to be able to afford this stallion (one stallion I inquired about in the past six months came with a price tag 60,000 Euro/year, even though he had bred fewer than a dozen mares last year); three, you need to find a retired stallion or a deal with a good rider to compete the stallion. So, finding an already approved stallion is possible, but not as easy as I’ve made it look in the past.

A more long term and affordable approach, from my perspective, is to buy promising colts and take them through the approval process. Is this a gamble? By all means. That’s why a group purchase of 10 or more people makes it more palatable—the risk gets split 10 or more ways. Have I got all the details worked out? No. Do I have a first colt in mind? Yes.

I saw this colt on my recent trip to Holland. He has a number of things in his favor as a potential stallion: he’s from a first crop of a newly approved stallion who did not breed that many mares; he’s out of one of the top marelines in Holland; he’s a gorgeous type with excellent conformation; he has no Jazz, Ferro, or Flemmingh. I can get him for 10,000 Euro, but the breeder wants a 25,000 Euro bonus if the colt eventually becomes approved. This is a common practice among the top breeders who regularly have foals from their programs approved. The cost of boarding this colt for two years averages 150 Euro/month or less. The prep for the stallion approvals is approximately 500 Euro/month. The colt will have to go through the xrays, semen analysis, etc. I don’t know how much all of that costs. So, you can do the math. totaled, it’s not an insignificant investment, but month-to-month, it’s minimal, especially in a group of 10 or more. Four or five people I’ve told about this colt are already interested in participating. If you want to know more about him, drop me an email.

What I’d love to see happen eventually is that we buy a colt every year, maybe two. With the right kind of selection, the odds of getting a horse approved can be shifted in our favor. It’s still a long shot, but it’s an action plan for alleviating our reliance on frozen semen.


Keuring Post Mortem

Alas, another keuring season has come and gone. We faired well:

Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) was represented for ster. She redeemed herself from last year’s fiasco, and not only went ster and keur eligible, she also garnered the high point dressage horse award for the keuring. Her scores were high enough to place her third in the country of all ster mares, but, since she was presented last year, she doesn’t go into the rankings. Nonetheless, she did finish in the Top Five for the DG Bar Cup. This also makes her dam, LaLiscia, a preferent mare. I have raised the price on this mare and am not anxious to sell her.

D’Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz) completed a super IBOP; therefore, fulfilling her requirements to become a keur mare. She also placed in the KWPN Top Five for IBOPs. Hard to complain about having a new D-line x Jazz cross keur mare in our breeding program. She is no longer for sale.

Cervantes SSF (Donatelli x Jazz) was presented by his owner, Kim Scudder, in the geldings’ class. He, like his full sister, was a hit with the jury. Receiving super comments, “Georgie” is now a ster gelding. Better yet…

Orchis (Jazz x Roemer) is a new preferent mare!!! Hopefully, her prestatie predicate is right around the corner, as well!

Ignazio SSF (Don Tango B x Vincent) was first premium and first in his class, and top young dressage horse. Pretty interesting pedigree… Don Tango B x Vincent x El Corona x Lector x Doruto…there are a number of top horses produced by the boys in this pedigree. What to do, what to do? He’s currently for sale.

Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Jazz) didn’t have her best day. As a three-year-old undersaddle, she got was too stressed out. The jury was impressed with her, nonetheless, and excited to see her presented for ster. By the time we got to free movement, however, she was too tired to care much about he whole experience. She had moments of absolute brilliance, but also moments of tiredness. I think the jury was as surprised as I that she didn’t make ster. Oh, well. She is branded and in the studbook. Next year, she’ll be a keur-eligible mare. I’m so impressed by this mare’s talent under saddle that I really want her with a professional, and am willing to negotiate a deal for the right person.

Princess and I did, indeed, ride an IBOP. I think our final score was a 72. Not bad for my first time. She only received a 6 for her walk, which was totally my fault. The mare has an incredible walk, but I just didn’t get it together enough to make it happen. We’ll just have to earn her keur status through sport! We’re still shooting for PSG by the end of next year.

So, we had a good day: Two new preferent mares, a new keur mare, a new keur-eligible mare, high point adult dressage horse, first premium and high point young dressage horse, a new ster gelding, and three horses in the Top Five for the USA and Canada. Not bad.


Specifics from the Offspring Inspections

Since a few people have already contacted me for more information about specific stallions, I’m going to post my notes on the dressage stallions… without a commentary, however. These are purely my observations, and I made the notes before listening to the jury’s comments. In some cases, we agree—in others, we do not.

Connaisseur (Con Amore x Donnerhall):
Nice conformation. Really nice type. Quite out-behind in movement. Need more power. Flat front leg. Supple. Nice hunter foals.

Hofrat (Gribaldi x Guter Planet):
Spectacular types. Really lift in the movement. Need quicker hind leg and more knee. Fluid, easy movers.

Dark Pleasure (Ufo x Jazz):
Big and leggy. Consistently good hind leg. Some a little giraffe-like in neck. Drop off behind the withers a bit. Super big and scopey movement. Elastic. A couple smaller, blockier foals.

Etoile (Don Schufro x Rubinstein I):
Not so good. Backs sink. Not enough lift in the canter. They adjust well. Foals not as good as their mothers.

Davino VOD (Hotline x Michelangelo:
Incredible foals.

Estoril (Zhivago x Gribaldi):
Dip in loin. Can REALLY move. Really uniform group.

Everdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro):
Fabulous dressage movers. Type can vary. Best foal of the day out of the Farmer dam.

Desperado (Vivaldi x Havidoff):
Very uphill. Beautiful types. Super movers. Somehow not my favorite foals, though.

El Capone (UB-40 x Contango):
Consistent enough. Nice, but not special. Good movers. Could be a little longer-llined. One really special filly.

Eye Catcher (Vivaldi x TCN Partout)
Good movers and types. Not as leggy as the Desperados, but better dressage movement. Really adjustable.

So, there you go. For what it’s worth.


Unexpected Trip to Holland

I can’t believe I haven’t written about this yet! So sorry. All summer long I’d wanted to get to Holland to see our horses and visit with friends, but just never got around to making it happen. Well, a good friend of mine asked me to help her shop for her next jumper prospect, and a week later we were in Holland horse-shopping and visiting friends. To top it off, the KWPN’s new offspring inspection day almost coincided with our trip. We were scheduled to return to the US on Friday, and it was on Saturday. It took a lot of arm-twisting, like, maybe three minutes, but “one who will not be named” convinced us over dinner to change our flight and stay for the inaugural event. So glad we did!

If you haven’t heard about the new system for offspring inspections, let me fill you in. Previously, the KWPN required all owners of new stallions to hold an inspection of their offspring. 50% of the foals could be selected by the stallion owner, and 50% were randomly selected by the KWPN. Each year, the KWPN would schedule these inspections much like we schedule our keurings. They existed in different locations, two were normally held on the same day, and the jury members traveled from location to location over a two-week period. Now, KWPN has decided to hold all of the offspring inspections on the same day, at the same place, in Ermelo, at the new KWPN facility. Stallion owners are allowed to bring 6-10 selected foals. Prior to the event, the KWPN jury and its minions inspect a random sampling of each stallion’s foals at their homes.

On the day of the event, each stallion owner brings the selected foals and their dams to Ermelo. The offspring of the new jumper stallions were shown in the morning; the offspring of the new dressage stallions in the afternoon. At the end of each type, the five best foals (no more than one from each stallion) competed for the Championship of the inspection. This year, an Everdale son was Champion of the dressage foals, and an Etoulon son was Champion of the jumper foals. It was a fascinating day. We saw the offspring of almost all the E stallions, a number of the D stallions, and Connaisseur. At the end of each stallion’s presentation, the jury read its report of the foals, including the ones that were inspected at home.

I’ve had the good fortune to travel to Holland repeatedly over the years to attend shows, keurings, foal inspections, etc., so I knew how much information I was going to gain, yet I wasn’t certain I was going to like this new format because stallion owners are obviously going to pick the best foals. I was concerned that this could skew the perception of a particular stallion’s offspring, but I don’t think so. It’s a great format. The strengths and weaknesses of each stallion’s contribution to the gene pool were clearly evident, plus it provided us with the opportunity to see those strengths and weaknesses juxtaposed with multiple other stallion’s offspring. This may become another must-attend event for me, similar to the Stallion Show. Possibly, it’s more important, because no matter how much I like a particular stallion, if he can’t produce, I’m not interested in breeding to him. This was clearly evident to me after seeing the offspring of two different stallions that I’ve been crazy about. Now, there’s no way I’d breed to them until I see older, under-saddle offspring. The opposite is also true—there are a couple of stallions I’d written off, but, after seeing their offspring in this format, I’m completely willing to reconsider. Of course, I was also relieved at the confirmation of most of my predictions. At any rate, this event provided really beneficial and tangible information that I can apply immediately to my breeding program and future planning. Oh, and, yes! We found a jumper. Actually, we found two jumpers! Congrats, my friend. May many years of successful partnerships be ahead of you.


The Human Sausage and Another Pregnancy

Mistral is pregnant to UB-40! We’re excited about this. Mistral (Vincent x El Corona) was Reserve Champion mare at the UTV as a three year old, she produced a Welt Hit son who was selected for den Bosch, she produced the licensed son, Thatcher, and the top ten star mare V-Eight, then had no foals for ten years. We did a lease-to-purchase on the condition that we could get her pregnant and get a live foal. Well, we have a spectacular Don Tango B colt and now a UB-40 embryo that must be a filly, because things are going according to plan. Fingers crossed for a healthy baby.

As I think I mentioned in my last entry, I’m riding my first IBOP at the New England Keuring. Believe it or not, I’m not nervous about the riding part; I’m nervous about the clothing part. My body in white breeches and a tight show coat is not necessarily the most charming of sights. Jane and Sibley Hannigan were kind enought to give me a show coat. When I first put it on, I couldn’t even button it, but it was close. A couple weeks ago, I could button it, but the stress on the coat and on my abdomen were equally Vesuvian. Today, I can uncomfortably, but safely, button the coat. I’m hoping by Sept. 4th I can button the coat without looking like a human sausage stuffed in a formal casing. Just in case, I have an appointment with a seamstress next Tuesday…wish me luck!



OK. First, my riding has been going amazingly well. The other day, during the warm-up, I felt as if I were on an Olympic horse. Princess was bouncy, though responsive, expressive, brilliant—it was amazing. if you know me really well, then email me and ask just how amazing it was… not kosher for mass posting. Of course, 2/3rds of the way through the ride, we were approaching the changes again—then, things were not so incredible. Nonetheless, I’m confident that I’m going to be showing a horse I bred at PSG by the end of next year. Goals. Love. Persistence. Dreams… what you will.

Fedex f*ck up.

Decided at the last minute that I had to veer from my one-try-with-frozen-then-call-ISF breeding philosophy and buy a breeding to Connaisseur. BoWendy is the mare. Last mare to breed this year. She ovulates on a 40+. I called Connaisseur’s owner late one night. She called Juan Samper to see if he could collect the next moring. Yes. I called his office, ordered semen, all good in the world. Or so I thought… the USDA held my shipment for 24 hours. Since I was tracking the shipment, I knew this, fortunately. So, I followed the mare’s cycle every four hours. She ovulated sometime just before 6 am on the 9th. The semen should have arrived by noon on the 8th. It didn’t. I bred her with the most fertile dose of frozen I had in my tank, Lyjanero. We’ll see what happens. I had been saving that dose for my Totilas x Jazz filly, but I will be delighted if we have a pregnancy. Of course, now I’ve paid for a Connaisseur breeding, never got the semen, and have to get a mare pregnant next year. Silly.

I’m riding an IBOP at the New England Keuring this year. Oh, yes. You read that correctly. I’m putting my fat ass in white breeches, strapping on a too-tight show coat, and riding my Contango mare in an IBOP for re-evaluation as a keur mare. What the hell. Life is short. On a good day, this mare is phenomenal. On a good day, my belly fat doesn’t pull me too far out of the saddle. Maybe it’ll be a pity ride, but this mare deserves to be keur.

We have to sell a couple horses. I guess I don’t really care which ones. Here’s what we have available:

  • Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz) This mare was seriously injured in a shipping accident after we had been offered an extraordinary amount of money for her. She is currently sound. The mare knows her changes, piaffe, and passage; she was ready for the developing horse classes before she was injured. She is light, fluid, and an international talent. She’s also out of one of the top marelines in the world and currently in foal to UB-40. Due to her injuries, I can’t guarantee that she’ll stay sound, so he’s offered under the following terms: $25,000. down; $25,000 in six months if she’s still sound in a competition home; access to one ET baby at some point in the future.
  • D’Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz) Dior was the Reserve Champion Dressage mare of the KWPN-NA last year. She is now solidly under saddle and progressing really well. She’s light, talented, but needs a smaller rider. We will present her for her keur status at the New England Keuring. She is currently in foal to Florianus. $25,000.
  • Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) Lily is one of our most talented offspring. She has a nervous disposition—she stall spins. Nonetheless, she is going super well under saddle, and is a big, scopey mover with an incredible hind leg. She will be presented a the New England Keuring for IBOP, ster, adn keur. She is currently in foal to Florianus. $25,000.
  • Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Jazz) Ms. P (Nicknamed this because she was a “perfect” foal) is going to be someone’s dream horse. She is an uber talented dressage mare, with a super modern type. She’s also hot and sensitive as hell as a young horse, so she’s only suitable for a serious rider. She will be presented for ster/keur at the New England Keuring… and possibly under saddle for her IBOP. $30,000.
  • Ignazio SSF (Don Tango B x Vincent) Iggy is the most personable foal we’ve ever had. He loves attention and loves people. He will literally run over to you in the pasture to be scratched. His first blacksmith adventure was far from adventurous. His pedigree and conformation make him a legitimate stallion prospect or future sport partner. $15,000.
  • Ionesco SSF (UB-40 x Sir Sinclair) “Frenchy” is out of the famous Wendy line, same as the most popular young dressage stallion in Holland, Charmeur. Frenchy is the third full brother out of this cross. The first brother sold as a weanling to a good dressage home, and the second, Godot SSF, I’ve had multiple offers for, but have decided to keep as my next FEI prospect. Frenchy is more typey than the first two, bay, and equally as good a mover. He will make someone a super dressage partner. $15,000.

It’s a tough position to be in, but if it weren’t for me having to pay farm bills, I wouldn’t care if any of these horses sold or not. Of course, I’m not in the position of being independently wealthy, so someone has to go. Please let me know if you want to have a conversation about any of these SSF kids.

Two more weeks of summer vacation! Would love visitors. Come watch us work horses, see babies in free movement, grab a glass of wine/coffee/strawberry margarita, and have a meal. Give me a shout.


Individual Horses and the Training Process

This last week has been a dream week for me. Princess (ZaVita SSF) and I have made major breakthroughs in our training process. We both seem to have figured out some things simultaneously, and, all of a sudden, I feel as if I’m on an international quality horse. Of course, since I refuse to be video-taped or look at myself in the mirror for more than a couple of quick glances, this feeling is probably colored by my own lack of experience and idealism—nonetheless, a “click” has happened and things are just coming together. Huge thanks to Jane Hannigan for putting up with me and believing in my horse and me. We certainly wouldn’t be making the progress we are without Jane’s constant input and talent. On the home front, we are fortunate to have Jasper Gaarenstroom with us for a couple months working our young horses and helping prep for the keuring. He and Michaela are in the barn by 7 am every morning working D’Orites SSF, Felicites SSF, Eliscia SSF and Werites SSF. It’s a complete thrill to be able to see five horses we bred working on a daily basis. After my two-year intensive with Princess, my appreciation for the training process and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each individual horse has never been so developed. It may be cliche’ to say it, but the more you learn the more you know there is to learn. Fun times. I’m grateful for the people and horses in my life.

Faith Fessenden Will Be at the New England Keuring!

I’m delighted to announce that Faith will be at our keuring this year. Apple Lane Farm, Shooting Star Farm, and the New England breeders are joining together to sponsor her participation. The New England Keuring traditionally has one of the largest audiences of any keuring. Part of this is due to the focus we continually put on education. Faith will talk audience members and participants through the keuring process, explain linear scoring, expound on bloodlines, and take questions. Please join us at Apple Lane Farm, September 4th, for great horses and great conversation. For more information on directions, timing, or bringing groups, contact Dayna Gant, at dayna@applelanefarm.com.


Werites Pregnant!

Finally! After five tries last year and three tries this year, Werites is pregnant to UB-40. Her first and last colt, also by UB, is exceptional, so we’re excited about this cross again. I use the “we’re” liberally… Michaela is not as excited as the rest of us. She’s been riding Werites and is totally in love with her. The mare has had three years off since her shipping injury, and is (knock on wood) finally sound again. I’m sure she’d never hold up to serious, hard-core training again, but it’s pretty amazing to see her talent in the dressage ring again. From a breeding standpoint, the only thing I did different with this breeding was to use both doses of fresh-cooled semen at the same time. I decided that maybe the small volume of frozen and single doses of fresh-cooled might be the issue, so I put it all in immediately, then kept the mare on Oxytocin every six hours for the next 24 hours. Not sure what worked, but something did. So, at this point in time, we have three confirmed pregnancies: Orchis to Everdale, Eliscia SSF to Florianus, and Werites SSF to UB-40. We bred D’Orites SSF to Florianus this morning, and will breed Mistral to Contango tomorrow.

MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013

Ruined T-Shirts

It’s a sign of breeding season: permanent green/brown stains on the right sleeve of my white t-shirts. For Father’s Day yesterday, my kids bought me a pack of black t-shirts, so the stains won’t show… thoughtful.

Still no pregnancy for Werites, but Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) is in foal to Florianus. This should be a really beautiful foal.

I was up WAY TOO EARLY this morning to breed Mistral. Perfect cycle, perfect follicle, perfect timing… so I decided to try Chagall one more time. I was within two hours of ovulation; the mare’s 30 day heat; wide-open cervix… couldn’t resist at least one shot at a Chagall x Vincent x El Corona x Rechter x Doruto baby. Keep your fingers crossed.

Two mares to breed this week, LaVita and Werites. Anyone have any bionic semen out there I can use on Werites?

SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

This Morning’s Post-Scanning Musings

Michaela and I just saw a 30 day, healthy Everdale baby in Orchis! Knock on wood this pregnancy lasts and Orchis stays healthy. Mistral has two follicles coming for her 30 day heat. If I use Sucramate, then I’ll get a double ovulation… maybe it’s worth a shot trying the Chagall at least once on her. The mare has a collection of cysts at the bottom of her left horn, so picking up twins immediately could be a challenge. LaVita came home last night for breeding. She has a really fancy Contango filly at her side, Isabella, bred by LaVita’s new owners, Sean and Melissa Hardy. My family is stumping for a Wynton baby from LaVita. We’re all quite nostalgic to have her home. Should be a busy breeding week. Beautiful day in New Hampshire! Off to ride.

FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2013

Breeding Update

I was so hoping for an easy breeding year this year… it’s not to be. Good news, Orchis is pregnant to Everdale. Bad news, three doses of Santano and one dose of Chagall result in no pregnancies. This is my fifth dose of Chagall, over two years, with three different mares, and no pregnancies. I still have five doses, but I’m hesitant to waste my time or another cycle. The stallion owner reports that people in England and Germany are having no trouble with the frozen, so it must be me. Who knows, I got three pregnancies with three doses of Totilas, frozen at the same stallion station. At any rate, all my mares are getting one chance with frozen then switching to fresh-cooled. Thank goodness for Iron Spring Farm. Werites (Freestyle x Jazz) went to Sir Sinclair last week, and Eliscia (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) to Florianus. I bred D’Orites (Donatelli x Jazz) with a second dose of Santano because I think I screwed up the timing on the first breeding. She’s off at Roddy Strang’s for a month or more, so I won’t be able to check her until she gets back. This coming week, I’m breeding Mistral (Vincent x El Corona) and LaVita (Elcaro x Belisar)–both will get one shot with frozen, but I probably won’t know until I open the tank to thaw the semen to whom. Tank inventory: one dose Lyjanero, a few doses of Donatelli, one dose Wynton, five doses Chagall, one dose Santano, one dose Voyager, one dose Everdale. I am not buying any more frozen this year. Maybe if I say it again I’ll be more convinced. I am not buying any more frozen this year.

Dutch Stallions in North America

My friend Meghan just posted on FB about her frustrations with breeding with frozen semen so far this year, and how she’s just covered her very well-bred jumper mare with a dressage stallion because she just can’t afford to keep breeding unsuccessfully with frozen or continue to pay collection and shipping fees for a fresh-cooled stallion. How many of us have been in this situation? The lack of quality KWPN-approved stallions, available at a reasonable price with fresh-cooled semen in North America, is probably the single biggest contributing factor to the stagnation of our studbook. We need more stallions, to incite more breeding, to increase our membership, to increase our breeding pool, to get new people involved—all in order to grow a healthy, non-incestuous organization and breeding population. At this point in time, we would be better off without a North American office or studbook and just use the Dutch office for registrations, reporting, keuring and event organization, and promotion. This move might also, finally, get our horses recognized in the KWPN breeding indices. For how many years has the membership been asking for our mares and offspring to be recognized and recorded within the KWPN system? For over 12 years. Given our current state of technology, you can tell me it takes over a decade to make this happen? Ridiculous. It’s purely inefficiency and lack of direction. If our membership were as strong as our Dutch counterparts within the KWPN, or if we had enough stallions to have a stallion owners lobbying group, changes as simple as combining data bases wouldn’t still be unaccomplished after 12 years. The KWPN-NA is a top-down organization. The KWPN, although beset with its own political issues, is very much a member-driven organization. OK. That’s a vent that took me a little off topic. We don’t have more KWPN-approved stallions in North America for a number of reasons: One, KWPN-approved stallions are more expensive than German-approved stallions; two, our breeding base is smaller, so the opportunity to recoup the investment of purchasing one of these stallions is less assured; three, promoting and competing a stallion is significantly more expensive in North America than it is in Europe; four, the number of top riders who can successfully stand, train, and compete a breeding stallion are few and far between; five, the KWPN does more to promote stallions standing in Holland than the KWPN-NA does to promote stallions standing here. These are formidable odds for a potential stallion owner. The only way Dutch breeders are going to have access to a larger selection of quality stallions in North America on a consistent basis is if we form some kind of collaborative effort. Otherwise, we’re bound by a large organization that is delighted to promote its frozen semen and a small organization that ineffectively promotes what few stallions it has available.

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2013

…and Breeding Season Has Begun!

Sorry for the delay in updates, y’all—I’m still waiting for the updated site to be active. Nonetheless, thought it was about time to give you some SSF news. Great news: Our first baby of the year is safely here. Ignazio SSF (Don Tango B x Vincent x El Corona). He’s a super fancy, chestnut; very little white; quite modern in type; really well-balanced and strong. We love him. His dam, Mistral, is a new mare to us. She is the dam of the licensed stallion Thatcher, top ten star mare, V Eight, and a second ring stallion son in Holland. She herself was the Reserve Champion mare at the National Mare Show as a three-year-old. She hadn’t had a foal in a number of years, so we’re relieved that all went well, and now are looking forward to breeding her back to Chagall.

Breeding so far: Orchis didn’t take to Florianus. We bred her on the next cycle to Everdale. Should know by the end of the week if she took—it was a great cycle; caught her just as she was ovulating. Werites has been bred on once cycle to Santano—again, will know by the end of the week if we caught her. Lily (Eliscia SSF) was bred to Chagall—and, yet again, we’ll know by the weekend if she’s pregnant or not. D’Orites SSF did not take on her first cycle. We’re breeding her again tomorrow morning with a dose of Santano. Breeding to come: As I mentioned above, Mistral will go to Chagall. BoWendy isn’t due until around the Fourth of July, but I’m planning on going back to UB-40 with her. One, the cross is outstanding; two, she’s foaling so late, I’d like to try to catch her on the foal heat and not mess around with frozen.

We’re also excited to be able to use LaVita for one more foal. We’re going to start with our dose of Wynton. LaVita just presented Sean and Melissa Hardy with a full sister to Princess yesterday (Contango x LaVita). Looks like a HUGE filly! And, lastly, I think we’re going to try to breed Carol’s Morgan mare, Jules, with our last dose of Voyager. She’s an old girl, but that pony’s frozen seems bionic. Could be a fun cross. That’s right; you counted correctly. We’re breeding eight mares. Crazy. But, since we cut back so much when I was sick, we don’t have the inventory of horses to sell to pay the farm bills. It’s time to produce some babies! Speaking of needing to sell a horse… because we don’t have the babies available, we’re having to offer an adult: Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Orchis). We call her Ms.P because she’s so perfect. She’s three-years-old, about to be started, and fancy. This is the first Orchis daughter we’ve ever offered for sale. I hate to part with them; however, the two Totilas fillies are going no where; Werites was injured and deserves her place in the broodmare band; Dior is keur eligible and our only Donatelli offspring… so Ms.P is the unlucky one. With a pedigree that reads Rousseau x Jazz x Roemer, out of the highest ranked dressage breeding mare outside of Holland, she ought to make someone a super fancy addition to or beginning of a solid breeding program. She’s probably going to mature around 16.1, so she’s not super big, but she can really move. Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested. She’s at $25,000. right now, but once we get her started and going, the price will go up.

Other news: Welcome, Jasper Gaarenstroom. Jasper is a young jumper rider who is a recent graduate of the Deurne school and will be joining us at Shooting Star Farm for early July until after the New England keuring in September. His task is to get two horses ready for their IBOPs, get Ms. P going solidly, and work with our other young horses. We’re excited to have him join us for the summer.

FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2013

Orchis to Florianus II

Orchis lost her pregnancy some time over the winter. She was definitely pregnant to Sir Sinclair when I last checked her in September or October. Oh, well. We don’t sell many of her babies anyways, so it’s one fewer horse I have to keep! I scanned her last night, and, as luck would have it, she needs to be bred this weekend. ISF to the rescue one more time! I can always count on Meghan to save my ass. She had extra Florianus and Sir Sinclair. I love the temperament and rideability of Florianus, plus he was successful at Grand Prix—additionally, the pictures I’ve seen of his adult offspring are impressive. So, when Meghan suggested him, I said, “Let’s do it.”

This could mean a middle of March baby… hmmm…. who has a birthday in the middle of March? A liver chestnut foal would make a super 54th birthday present next year!

New Website and New Journal Format

Over the past 13 or 14 years that my journal has been published on shootingstarfarm.com, there have been literally hundreds of you who have emailed thoughts, encouragement, questions, and hate mail. Well, it’s about time to give my journal a more interactive and immediately gratifying factor. The only rule is that all posts need to be signed–no aliases and no anonymous posts. Agree, disagree, question, comment… it’s all good.

FEBRUARY 12, 2013


Two more stallions were accepted by the KWPN today at the under-saddle presentation, and one of them is Escobedo (Vivaldi x Havidoff x Roemer) You got it! The Roemer in the pedigree is Charites–this Orchis’s nephew. Congratulations to my friend, Gerard Vervoorn, breeder of this horse. Nice to see our mareline doing so well!

FEBRUARY 11, 2013

Couple News Items and Stallion Show 2013 Report Share

OK. If you requested the Google Drive Share of the 2013 Stallion Show Report, it’s sent; so, if you didn’t get it, let me know and I’ll reshare the document with you.

News from the KWPN: There’s significant talk about discontinuing foal inspections for newly approved stallions. Evidently, it’s considered too expensive for the benefits it provides. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this. There are certainly stallions I’ve avoided because of their foal reports, but then again, there are stallions who had crappy foal reports and turned out to be top producers of sport horses. Personally, I get a lot of information from watching the collection of foals, all in one place, at one time, or on one video feed. There’s really not another time in a stallion’s breeding career when people get to see so many offspring at the same time. The different jury members get to see multiple offspring, but breeders don’t. Since the bulk of the expense for a stallion’s foal inspection is borne by the stallion owners, and there more owners of multiple stallions, my guess is that they are the ones complaining about the expense. If van Uytert has to hold five foal inspections each year, it’s going to cost him thousands and thousands of euros to do it. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

It sounds as if next year’s KWPN-NA Annual Meeting is going to be held in Holland again, at the Stallion Show. From what I can gather, this was a really successful experience for people. The biggest complaint I heard was having to sit in the Sky Box area of the VIP seating. These are terrible seats. It’s crowded, and you’re way too far way from the ring to really be able to see much. If you do go on this trip, head up to the Sky Box, have a couple drinks or a cup of coffee, then sit yourself closer to the main ring or stand out back by the warm-up area. You’ll get a much better view of the horses.

Speaking of the Stallion Show 2014, my tables are already almost full. There are only two or three seats remaining. If you want to sit with us, let me know now.

FEBRUARY 7, 2013

Stallion Show Report Update

Don’t get impatient! I’m four pages in and just finished the Johnson son. Since I’m sharing it through Google Drive, I think it will be easier to let you know when the whole thing is done, rather than have to send separate notifications for each entry. Thanks for all the requests! I’ll post here when I’ve shared the document. If you didn’t get a notification and you emailed me your request, then drop me another email and I’ll try to figure out what happened.

FEBRUARY 5, 2013

New Format for Stallion Show Entry

The Stallion Show was fantastic, and I’ve got a ton to say about it. For a couple of reasons that will make me sound like an asshole if I explain them, I want more control over who reads my thoughts and opinions on the stallions and what I perceive to be going on with the KWPN and KWPN-NA. So, I’m creating this year’s entry in Google Drive. If you drop me an email, I’ll add your email address to the “share” component of the document. It will give you access, but you can’t share it, give anyone else access, or copy and paste from it. I realize this is slightly awkward, but you’re going to have to bear with me. I’ve barely started the piece, so don’t look for anything for a couple of days, but Google Drive should send you an email alerting you that you have access to the document. If you have trouble, give me a shout and I’ll talk you through it.

JANUARY 10, 2013

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it? 2013? I remember sitting in my second-grade class, realizing I’d be 40-years-old at the turn of the century and thinking how far away that seemed. Crazy.

Short entry today: I still have one seat left at our tables for the Stallion Show. Carol can’t go due to work constraints. If you’d like to join a collection of Dutch and American breeders and enthusiasts, sitting at two VIP tables, in den Bosch, please give me a shout. Last year, we have great tables, right at the ringside. It’s absolutely the best way to see the Stallion Show.

For those of you who can’t make the Stallion Show, I’m planning a detailed accounting of the dressage stallions, so look for that in early Februrary.