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Jan 1, 2014 | 0 comments


Totilas as a Sire

As many of you know, when he was first offered for breeding, I jumped onto the Totilas band wagon with both feet, my soon-to-be-depleted checkbook, and a religious-like reverence. People have reacted strongly; primarily, they’ve fallen into a two, distinct camps: Ridicule/”Scot thinks he’s going to reproduce that trot. It’s manufactured. Bad training. Totilas will never reproduce himself unless Edward Gal rides the offspring.”—Hyperbolic Enthusiasm/”Those foals are going to be worth SO MUCH MONEY! I love Totilas! Can I have one of them? Please?!?!” In a more sensible vein, my favorite comment, however, came from none other than Denny Emerson. Upon seeing my two Totilas x Jazz fillies, he said,

“Don’t sell these two. They’re the seed corn of your breeding program.”

When I first saw Totilas in the flesh, yes, I was blown away by his trot, but I was more blown away by his athleticism. I’ve never seen a horse physically go to the extremes of perfect pirouettes, extended canter, the most expressive extended trot I’ve ever seen, and a beautiful, relaxed, supple walk on the long rein in a matter of minutes. (See the most-viewed Youtube video of Totilas, the one that’s been appropriately dubbed with Born This Way—the video was taken by my friend Martyna at the KWPN Stallion Show, and, I was there!) The horse can literally turn his body inside out. Of course, it certainly helped to have Edward Gal in the saddle, but Edward didn’t create the athleticism of this horse, the Gribaldi x Glendale genetics did. And, granted, it doesn’t appear that any of Totilas’ (grammar pedants, I’m purposefully using the apostrophe this way) full siblings are going to demonstrate the magnificence their big brother does, but that doesn’t diminish what Totilas himself can do and, in my humble opinion, reproduce.

Recently, Jane Hannigan took our oldest Totilas mare to a Tristan Tucker clinic. If you don’t know Tristan, he’s a brilliant Australian “Natural Horsemanship” trainer who lives and works in Holland. He starts a lot of horses. He loved our mare. He commented specifically on her amazing athleticism and balance. I asked him specifically if he’d worked with any Totilas offspring, and, if he had, what was he seeing. He said he’d started six of them. I don’t remember the exact quotation, but here’s the gist of what he said:

“I really like the Totilas offspring. Super athletes. Many people are disappointed in them because they don’t come out with their front legs flinging about their head and neck, but they are really athletic and balanced. They have super canters and very good walks. And, very good brains. They are really trainable. Their trots are normal, but I think there is a lot more trot in them. You just won’t see it until they get a little older and further along in their training.”

Again, these are not Tristan’s exact words, but they’re close. If you look at the scores and test reports on the Totilas sons that have gone through the 70 Day Test, you’ll see his comments are consistent with the jury’s opinions. Totilas offspring may well vary in type and they may have normal to good trots, but they are athletic and balanced with especially good canters and walks, AND, they are very rideable. As a dressage breeder, this seems ideal to me.

So, yes, I’m feeling vindicated, just a little bit! Not that it really matters—from day one of beginning our breeding program, I’ve bred for us, not for anyone else. If a breeder listens to too many people, then his or her decisions are going to be muted and inconsistent. You have to trust your gut and breed for yourself, not for what you think you can sell or what you think someone else will like. I love Totilas as a sport horse and I love him even more as a sire. So, rather than vindicated, mostly, I’m feeling thankful that I trusted my gut and made the leap of faith and checkbook to breed to him to begin with.

Our two Totilas mares are, indeed, the “seed corn” of our program. To guarantee Orchis her prestatie predicate, we’ve decided to put one of our girls into sport and one into the breeding program. And, now, the fun really begins: We get to watch one of our dream girls become the dressage super star I knew we’d create, and I get to start picking stallions for a fantastic coming three-year-old Totilas x Jazz mare!


Gold Breeder Status, Breeding Season Recap, Sales, Huge Success in Holland and North America, and One-handed Typing

Let’s start at the end of the title: One-handed typing. What with my decades of weight lifting, stall cleaning, restaurant work (knife work, carrying trays, bartending), grading essays, etc., I deserve, and have rightfully earned, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It has gotten to the point at which my hands would fall asleep multiple times per day and frequently at night. Since it would have been a little awkward at best to palpate, scan, and inseminate the dozen or more mares I was working with this season, I scheduled my first surgery for the first available slot after our keuring. Six weeks later, we do my left hand. Essentially, this puts me out of lifting and gripping commission until mid-December. Plenty of time for researching next year’s breeding picks!

Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano) surpassed all of our expectations and made the final cut in Ermelo at the National Mare Show. She ended up in sixth place! We’re super excited. Thanks to Gerard Vervoorn for breeding her and Wim Cazemier for preparing for the keuring season. Gazania is now under saddle and being prepped for her IBOP in November. We’re also excitedly awaiting her Eye Catcher foal in April!

Our North American keuring season couldn’t have gone much better:

Godot SSF (UB-40 x Sir Sinclair) became ster, high point adult dressage horse at the Clarion Farm keuring, number one gelding in North America, and high point adult dressage horse of all North America. Sammy is now with Lilly Joseph, getting back under saddle.

Galearites SSF (Totilas x Jazz) became the top ster mare at the Clarion Farm keuring, keur eligible, and made the top five ster mares in North America. Mazey just moved to Littleton, MA, to start her under saddle career with Jane Hannigan. Look for her in the show ring as SSF Glory.

Jubilation SSF (UB-40 x Vincent) became first premium, first in the ringing order, and Champion young dressage horse at the Clarion Farm keuring. We’re especially excited about this because he started his life undergoing major umbilical surgery and the rehabbing for an extended period of time. Jubes will be moving to his new home at Rhodes Farm after weaning.

Jelisco SSF (Florianus II x UB-40) became first premium and second in the ringing order. Beebs is joining the dressage horse ranks at Larkspur Farm at the next Grand Prix prospect for Jenn Raffi.

J’Orites SSF (Florianus II x Donatelli) became first premium and fourth in the ringing order. Jia is moving South! Long-time friend and Donatelli groupie, Maria Di Fazio wasn’t about to let this filly belong to anyone else.

Jubilantes SSF (UB-40 x Freestyle) became first premium and fifth in the ringing order…that’s right! Out of the nine or ten dressage foals at the Clarion Farm keuring, the SSF brood placed first, second, fourth, and fifth. Pretty impressive showing! Much to Michaela’s dismay and disappointment, Button is joining Jan Downs-Barrett’s successful breeding program at Riverstone Farm, in Pennsylvania.

A special thanks to all our friends and family who came out to support SSF at the keuring. We couldn’t have done it with out you. Mark Choper, you’re the best. We ended up taking four mares and babies and two three-year-olds. We had to leave one of the best foals at home because we just couldn’t fit everyone on the truck. Since Orchis really owes us nothing and really doesn’t need to be traveling anymore, when it came time to make the final decision about who was staying home, I opted for Orchis and JaBam SSF. It’s too bad, because then we would have had five out of the top six foals. Bammers is definitely the strongest of our foals in development and conformation this year. But, he’ll get his own little trip before too long. Bammers is moving to Canada as future prospect for Grand Prix rider and trainer, Eiren Crawford.

So, as you can tell from reading this so far, all five babies have sold into top riding or breeding programs this year. We couldn’t be more pleased and proud. It is completely our pleasure and our mission to help people find and be able to afford absolute top quality dressage prospects. With that being said, we already have to first options taken for next year’s foals and one for a 2016 foal. We’re not offering in utero sales, at this point in time, but we are happy to give you first option if there’s a cross in which you’re interested. Of course, we have to keep a couple fillies next year to replace some older mares, so, depending on the genetic lottery, our breeding program needs may take precedence over options.

Confirmed pregnancies for 2015:

Eye Catcher x Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano) RESERVED

UB-40 x BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz) FIRST OPTION TAKEN

Fairytale x D’Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz) FIRST OPTION TAKEN

Governor x Nemels (Samber x Lector)

Governor x ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro)

UB-40 x Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz)

UB-40 x Mistral (Vincent x El Corona)

Mares we are breeding for 2016 foals:

Mistral (Vincent x El Corona)
Nemels (Samber x Lector)
Orchis (Jazz x Roemer)
Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz)
ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro)
BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz)
D’Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz)
Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) FIRST OPTION TAKEN
Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano)
Honorites SSF (Totilas x Jazz)
Hyacintia (Charmeur x Santano)

And, to go back to the beginning of the title of this post: Gold Breeder Status! You know, I breed KWPN horses because I love my horses. As many of you now, there’s nothing I think about more during my day than my breeding program. It’s a passion and an obsession. To reach Gold Status and be recognized for being among the top few breeders in North America is really satisfying and validating, I have to admit. Now Carol and I just need those grandchildren to start popping out so there’s a guarantee of this program lasting for the long haul!

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014

Summer 2014

What an incredible summer we’re having at SSF. The gardens are gorgeous; we have one of the best foal crops we’ve ever had; knock on wood, six mares are pregnant so far for next year; and, our mare in Holland was just invited to the National Championships in Ermelo. On top of all this, Keagan, Michaela, Carol, and I have had multiple adventures and lots of time together. Life is good.

Of course, we’ve had our fair share of “balancing” situations, as well, this year. Our vet bills are closing in on $10,000. for a combination of Jubilation SSF’s umbilical surgery, Princess’s check ligament, Mazey’s hematoma, and Frenchy’s trashed hind leg… when you have horses, it never takes long for the tragedies to balance out the joys. Fortunately, there is, normally, a balance.

So, our most recent big news is the success of Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano x Biotop). She became a ster mare a few weeks ago with very good scores for movement and conformation. In Holland, the ster mares have to go to a central inspection at a different time for their keur eligible evaluation. Well, Gazania somehow hurt her hind leg in her stall one night, so she missed the central keuring in the region where she’s in training with Wim Cazemier. Consequently, Wim took her and three other mares he has in training to the Drenthe location. In a huge class of mares (the pedigrees would have boggled your dressage-loving brains), Gazania took first in the ringing order, and, better yet, was the only mare selected for the National Championships. Since we are not breeders in that region, she was not eligible for champion of the keuring itself, but, since she was the only mare invited to Ermelo, she would have been champion if she were eligible. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to get to go to the finals in Ermelo next month. We just have too much going on and buying a plane ticket at this late date is especially cost prohibitive. I think I’d rather put the $3,000. I would have spent going to Holland toward her import in the Fall. She will stay in Holland until November to do her riding test and complete her keur predicate. I’m really hoping to have her home for the winter so she can deliver her Eye Catcher foal here at the farm.

Speaking of Eye Catcher, he was just selected for Verden!!! I love this horse. He hasn’t bred that many mares in Holland because, one, he’s chestnut and, two, there are a number of other Vivaldi sons that aren’t chestnut. However, I thought his foals were the best of the three or four Vivaldi sons’ offspring I saw in Ermelo last year. They’re super adjustable with very good leg technique. I’m excited about this cross.

Speaking of crosses, we’ve got some super exciting foals on the way for next year: The Eye Catcher x Bon Bravour, a Fairytale x Donatelli, a UB-40 x Freestyle and a UB-40 x Sir Sinclair, and…a Governor x Contango and a Governor x Samber! Pretty exciting! I just bred Mistral (Vincent x El Corona) back to UB-40 and I just short cycled Orchis for one more try with Fairytale.

This year’s foals are proving to be outstanding individuals. We’re going to keep Orchis’s Everdale colt, JaBam SSF. There’s no telling if we’ll get another shot at a stallion son from her, plus he’s pretty special. The other four foals are all worth keeping, and I have family members routing for each of them, but I’m the one who sees the farm income/expense totals at the end of the year–we need to sell some babies this year. Therefore, for the first time ever, we’re offering two fillies out of Orchis’s mareline. One is Jubilantes SSF (UB-40 x Werites x Freestyle x Orchis) and the other is J’Orites SSF (Florianus II x D’Orites x Donatelli x Orchis). Both fillies are fancy movers and really nice types. Either one could end up being a sport mare or a top producer for a breeding program. The two colts available have the two people with the most pull routing for them to stay on the farm, Carol and me. Carol is in love with Jelisco SSF (Florianus II x Elsicia SSF x UB-40). He is truly a black beauty. Tall, gorgeous, sweet, laid back, and a crazy good mover. I’m in love with the youngest, Jubilation SSF (UB-40 x Mistral x Vincent). He’s one of the prettiest foals we’ve ever had–type-wise, he’s a 10. Since he just went through the umbilical surgery, he hasn’t had a chance to really exercise and get as strong as he could be, so we hadn’t seen his movement until this weekend at the Open House. Holy shit. Uphill, supple, incredible leg technique. He’s a special boy. I’ve begun posting some pictures and videos from our Open House of Facebook. If we’re not friends or you’re not on Facebook, email me, and I’ll get you access. As usual, our foals are not cheap, but we offer extremely generous terms.

I’m going to stop here on this entry and try to get a separate entry written about our Open House and one on Princess and her recovery.

MONDAY, MAY 26, 2014

Balance: Spectacular Foals and an Injured Riding Mare

It’s all about the balance; that’s what I keep telling myself. We really have three outstanding foals so far this year. The Everdale out of Orchis is powerful, elastic, and really adjusts well in his body. Not to be out done, Eliscia SSF had the most beautiful foal we’ve ever had here. He’s a black, with a big white diamond and a white foot; he’s beautifully put together–really leggy and typey; and he’s a super mover. I expected a nice colt out of Florianus and this mare, but I didn’t expect this nice. And, third, Werites had the prettiest, little UB-40 filly you can imagine. She’s a little angel. Looks just like Werites. Technically, she was due until tomorrow, so she was about ten days early, but what a personality and what a mover. JaBam SSF, Jelisco SSF, and Jubilantes SSF–known on the farm as J-Bam, Beebs, and Button. I have every expectation of selling three out of the five foals this year, so please, someone, step up immediately on this black colt before I can’t part with him. I’ve been waiting for seven years for another Orchis colt, and Michaela has laid claim to the Werites filly–that means Beebs and the two babies coming (Florianus out of D’Orites SSF and UB-40 out of Mistral) have to be for sale. Or, we refinance the house…

The other side of the balance is that Princess and I are on a four to six month hiatus from riding. She had an emotional and hormonal reaction to the horses returning from Florida and the barn we were at and the subsequent changes in stalls and paddocks. In short, she was an idiot to deal with inside and out for a few days. Somewhere between the time she took me off and dumped me in the cushy Travel Rite footing of the outdoor dressage ring and the next time I rode, she injured her check ligament. It’s not a definite tear, but you can see the weakening and swelling of the ligament on ultrasound. Dr. Mike Davis, from New England Equin Surgical and Medical has us on a fairly aggressive treatment plan, but it’s still a major bummer for me. Riding has become such an outlet for me and Princess and I have really been clicking the past few weeks. I’m just bummed. In a month or so, supposedly, I can get on and just walk her….yeah, right! After a month of hand walking and recovery pen confinement, Princess is going to just walk. Oh, well. It’s going to be a different kind of summer than I’d planned. Next year I’ll have Sammy to play with, as well, so at least if something happens to one of them, I’ll have one to ride.

We’re planning a Foal Show party some time in July, so be on the lookout. It’ll be an afternoon of seeing horses, talking pedigrees and Dutch horses, and fun food and drink. Plus, my gardens are in full bloom in July, so it’s a pretty place to see, as well. I’ll post the date as soon as I know.

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2014

Scot Who?

OK. This is the longest break I’ve taken from my journal in 13 or 14 years. Three months? I have no excuses other than being busy and getting sick of hearing my own opinions, I guess. So, let’s play catch up:

We have an exceptional first foal, JaBam SSF (Everdale x Orchis), who will be a month old already Friday. He is the first foal we’ve had in 23 foal crops about whom I have no doubts as a stallion prospect. There have been colts I love, but there’s always at least some little thing in the back of my mind going, “Ingh.” Too short-coupled, slightly off type, pedigree not quite good enough, movement good, but not special, etc. Not this time. He’s the whole package. I’ve posted a few short clips of him on Facebook, but I’ve yet to capture him really moving. This is a top colt.

Elisica SSF (UB-40 x LaLiscia) is officially a week over due. She’s huge. Birth Alarm went off at 3:14 this morning…false alarm. As I keep telling Carol, “Well, at least she’s one day closer.”

Werites SSF (Freestyle x Orchis) is completely bagged up and has been bagged up for close to two weeks. She’s not due until the 27th, but, at the rate they’re going, it wouldn’t surprise if the mare due on the 27th foals before the mare due on the 6th.

Orchis got her shot of Sucramate this morning between 4:30 and 5:00, so I should be using my first dose of Fairytale tomorrow late afternoon or early evening. She had a 30 on her left and a 48 on her right with good edema. I don’t want twins, but I do like the odds of catching one of those follicles.

Centurian, the fancy Mini teaser pony, has moved in. He thinks he’s large and in charge! The smaller the teaser, the better I like him. He makes the noise I want, but in a “TEEEEny, little living space!” (movie game–what’s that from? I know my kids will know.)

Have you missed my annual winter and spring months of vacillating about stallion picks? I thought so! Well, the good news is that I’m still vacillating, so there’s plenty of time to revel in my frustration. Four mares are booked to Fairytale, and the semen is bought, paid for, and in my tank; so, Orchis, Werites, Dior (Donatelli x Orchis), and Mistral (Vincent x El Corona) are about as set as I ever get. This means I could still change my mind, but I don’t foresee that happening. I think I’m starting with Donatelli frozen on BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz), and if that doesn’t work we’ll go directly with fresh from my friends at Iron Spring Farm. I want to use our last dose of Voyager (the German Riding Pony) on Carol’s Morgan mare. I’ve been pretty much set on a certain F line stallion for Eliscia, but now that a really special KWPN boy is unexpectedly available, I don’t think I can help myself try at least one dose. At this point in time, we’re not breeding ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro) because I do’t want to risk the financial expenditure of ET work, nor do I want to lose the months of riding time if she were to carry and nurse. I think we’ve also decided not to breed Galearites SSF (Totilas x Orchis) this year. As much as I’d like to have one of the first Totilas grandchildren, it’s more important to get her going under saddle and have her be one of the first Totilas children out in sport. And, I’ve turned down three or four free mares and leases, so what could have been a huge foal year looks as if it’s going to be a moderate foal year next year. (knock on wood) The mares have started cycling so late that I’ve got to be on my A-game to make sure everyone’s pregnant by August…or early September… maybe.

Godot SSF, aka, Sammy, (UB-40 x BoWendy) and Galearites SSF, aka, Mazey, are both off being started. It’s crazy how quickly time goes by. Both of these horses were born in the months after I finished Chemo, and now, I’ve just passed my four-years-from-surgery check-up with flying colors and they’ve begun the process of becoming my riding horses. I’m too big and too breakable to be on either one of them for a while, but I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be actualizing my personal dreams and riding horses as cool as the ones we breed. Princess (ZaVita) and I have really ratcheted up our training sessions. She’s looking fantastic. It’s been a long winter for riding in New England, but our work is paying off. Hopefully, Sammy and Mazey will not have to be as patient with me as Princess has.

We’re about to initiate a complete overhaul of our website and marketing (in the meantime, contact me directly for up-to-date horses available and pricing). I really want to be up to a dozen or more foals per year of the kind of top quality we’re producing, and I really want to be selling these foals on terms to people who might not otherwise be able to afford the caliber of horse they want to ride and/or breed. We will have at least three foals to sell this year, plus a really fancy late-born colt from last year. If you know of a rider or breeder who deserves a fancy horse and a relationship with a breeder/seller who wants to promote American-bred for American breeders and riders, send him or her my way. This may sound overly gushy, but I firmly believe in the slogan we’ve used since the beginning of Shooting Star Farm: “A place where dreams come true.”

Got to run, but “I’ll be back!”


2014 KWPN Stallion Show

I’m almost done with my commentary on this year’s KWPN Stallion Show. Again this year, I’m sharing it via Google Drive instead of an open post on the internet. My primary impetus for writing these reports is to provide information about the current trends in Dutch breeding for our friends, clients, and fellow Dutch breeders who can’t attend this event in person. I really don’t want my opinions taken in any context other than for educational purposes: hence, the closed document. If you’d like access, email me and I will share it with you. It’s easiest if you have a Gmail account. I’m not sharing with people I don’t know, so if you request it anonymously, I’m going to ignore it.


Headed to the Stallion Show!

As those of you who read my journal on a regular basis know, this is one of my favorite weekends of the year, the KWPN Stallion Show. In the past 20 years, I think I’ve only missed two. Maybe three. Even better, Michaela goes with me now. My dream vacation? All four of us going to the Stallion Show together. I would absolutely love that. Of course, the last time Carol went with me, we weren’t sitting in the VIP section, so we stood at the rail for HOURS watching horse, after horse, after horse, after horse…which is perfect for me, but Carol practiced casually taking off one shoe with the toes of her other foot, putting it back on, then doing the same thing with the other shoe. Poor woman. She loves our horses, but she can only take so much of other people’s horses. Now that we sit at table with a constant supply of tea, wine, beer, and snacks, the whole experience is a whole lot more user-friendly. Keagan would be fine on all accounts. One, he is willing to talk to anyone; two, there’s an unlimited supply of free beer. Actually, both Keagan and Carol have a super eye for quality horse flesh–they’re just not as obsessed with the whole experience as Michaela and I are.

This year, I am unabashedly excited about seeing the first Totilas sons. Our two Totilas fillies have given me almost three years of time to analyze what he brought to the equation; I can’t wait to see what he produced on Annabel and the full sister of Parzivel. I’m also excited to see the Bon Bravours. I think he’s going to be a really good horse to have in a pedigree. Plus, there’s an Alexandro P in the second ring for the Gelders horses. And, of course, there are something like six Jazz sons in the mix. It’s pretty incredible to have a 22-year-old stallion still producing top foals, mares, and stallion candidates. Not that Jazz sons do our program that much good, since all but three of our mares are either by Jazz or have him as a dam’s sire…

Of course, even better than the horses (almost) is catching up with friends and fellow breeders. Michaela says we’re staying for the dance party this year. We’re sharing our table with Loucky Hagens and the Jansen family. Margret Peters has already arranged a meeting place and time for some whiskey celebration of the Gelders horses. It should be a fun time!

So, early next week, look for my annual report. It may take me a few days to get all of my observations put together, but I am planning on posting. If you need some fun reading material in the mean time, check out my new blog, Project Shadbelly. I’m chronicling Princess and my journey to FEI.


The State of SSF and Future Sales

What a nice weekend. I didn’t get a chance to pick up mail this week until Saturday morning, and, much to my delight, the most recent edition of the KWPN-NA Newsletter was waiting for me. Our breeding program has had a lot of success over the last 20 years (knock on wood), but it never gets old to open a magazine and read such positive comments about SSF horses. We are positioned to be breeding better and better horses. Our mareband is the strongest it has ever been, and, with the maturation of some of our best-bred fillies, we’re looking forward to a really exciting next few years of foals.

On top of this, I’m finding more and more satisfaction and personal fulfillment from riding, especially since I’m riding an SSF-bred horse. Over the next couple of years, I have two more “saved” horses entering the riding regimen. It’s, indeed, a dream come true. Today, Princess (ZaVita SSF) and I had one of our most relaxed, through sessions we’ve ever had. Thanks to Melinda Johnson for being on the ground and slowing down my brain and intensity level.

I’m also working on developing a slightly different business plan for SSF. My current five-year plan is to continue building our mare base so that we’re producing at least a dozen foals per year. Since our marebase is the strongest it’s ever been, I’m also planning on producing a series of stallion prospects in the next five years. Additionally, I want to increase our sales over the next few years, but I want to do it in a specific way. Some of my most rewarding experiences in producing the quality horses we produce is to get them in the hands of really deserving people. As part of my refocusing of our program, I want our foal to go to talented people who need a little help in acquiring top horses. Recently, we just made a partial-ownership deal with a super talented young rider to help her and to promote one of our most talented mares. Repeatedly, we’ve sold horses on terms so the right horse got with the right owner. I’d like to make this the norm for our sales. I want to sell our babies as low as $250/month to people who have a dream of owning and competing a super talented dressage horse. Currently, we have a UB-40 x Sir Sinclair weanling/yearling available. He’s a super mover and really sweet. Next year, we’ll potentially have four foals available for this option. The following year, we’ll have, perhaps, six or seven foals available. If you or someone you know wants to raise your own top dressage prospect, I want you to think of our program and what we’re willing to do to help you. Our logo is, and always has been, “the place where dreams come true.” As sappy as that may seem, it’s the way I want to do business.

Of course, I haven’t updated the website in ages, so none of this is reflected anywhere but here; hopefully, since I’ve taken some significant steps in downshifting my outside commitments, over the next few months, I’ll get our website reorganized and more reflective of our SSF present and future.


Happy New Year!

Not only is it the new year, but, also, I’m on my second snow day in a row! School was supposed to start on Thursday; however, thanks to the convergence of two storm systems, New England has been beset with a major snow event. On top of this, tonight, we’re supposed to have record lows… -20F… before the windchill factor. Holy crap.

So, New Year’s resolutions? Nope. Not really. During the last few months of 2013, I began to take some actions to refocus my life a bit. One, I’m about to write and direct my last production for Keene High School; two, my last column in Warmbloods Today just hit the newsstands; three, in spite of the cold, the rain, my schedule, my moods, etc, I ride four to five days per week.

Speaking of riding, it’s going well. Princess and I are definitely in a transition phase. We’ve been basically on our own since leaving Jane’s in the middle of August. I’ve had a couple really good lessons with Zaz Putnam and some important feedback from Melinda Johnson, but, otherwise, it’s been just Princess and me. As much as I was almost afraid to leave the constant instruction and guidance of Jane, I see now that it was an important step for me as a rider to really have to figure out some things on my own. I think both Princess and I are better for it, and I’m really looking forward to more and more progress. It’s slow, but that’s how it probably should be. Denny Emerson’s posts on Facebook really motivate me to just take it slow and put in the day-to-day small efforts necessary to get all the pieces in place for success.

Speaking of Princess, yes, I am going to try an ET from her. I know that after all of our unsuccessful attempts I’ve sworn never to try again, but I love this mare. There’s no way she’s coming out of work to have a baby at this point in time, so there’s no other option. Of course, making the right choice for her is now my primary focus in life! Those of you who obsess over breeding picks as much as I do certainly understand this. Michaela and I are both on the task. At the top of our list right now are Floriscount and Bordeaux–but, since this baby is a keeper, much as Princess was destined to be a keeper (Carol gave me the breeding to Contango for Father’s Day, with the stipulation I keep the resulting foal for my own riding horse…guess it worked out!), I’m really tempted to go with one of the two stallions that make my heart go pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat. One of these is Totilas. Since we’re already risking the ET procedure, I can’t justify spending the money on a dose of him, however. The other is Lyjanero. Few horses have had the immediate effect on me that he did when I walked into his stall at Gestut Sprehe. As corny as it sounds, his energy just clicked with my energy, and it was love at first sight. We have two Lyjanero fillies, both really special. I’d really like a colt. As a little reminder of who he is, here’s my favorite clip:

Big news I discovered yesterday: Special D is going to be at stud in South Carolina for the 2014 season! $1200 stud fee, fresh cooled semen. He might be just the ticket for Eliscia (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx). I’ve watched Special D for years in Holland. Some of his offspring are top-notch movers and nice types—really top dressage horse prospects. Unfortunately, some of his offspring look like Friesians, complete with the fetlock feathers. He has to be crossed with a more modern type mare, unless you want to breed a Gelders horse, which is also a legitimate option. Nonetheless, I’m psyched that his owner has decided to stand him to North American breeders. We need him as an option.

Well, time to get out into the snow and feed the ponies! I wish you all the happiest and healthiest of New Years.