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Jan 1, 2015 | 0 comments


2016 Foals for Sale: Updated 3/18/16

A Place Where Dreams Come True

Keno SSF
(Governor x ZaVita SSF x Contango)

Here he is! The top dressage foal in North America for the 2015 keuring tour! Congratulations to Andria and Mike Allen–they had placed a first option on this breeding a few months before he was born, and are now the excited owners of the top foal in the country.

Other than the two we’re keeping, all of our 2015 foals are sold.

2016 Breedings

Shooting Star Farm is a dream come true for my family and me, and we strive to be “a place where dreams come true” for others. Our goal is to help people who want a top quality KWPN dressage horse for sport or breeding get the horse of their dreams. We offer generous, no-interest payment plans, so anyone who recognizes the quality of our horses can afford to buy one. The base price for most of our foals is $15,000. We offer discounts to FEI riders and repeat customers and friends. If you’re seriously interested in a foal from a particular breeding, contact us and we’ll give you first option on that foal. No deposit is necessary. Once the foal is born, we’ll get pictures and some short video to you, and you have until the foal is two weeks old to make your final decision.

Mares in order of age: (for detailed information about our mares, please see the Mares’ Page)

LaVita keur preferent (Elcaro x Belisar) In foal to Florianus II (Florestan I x Damenstolz)

LaVita has spent the last few years with Sean and Melissa Hardy, in Vernon, VT, where she produced a two top mares for their new breeding program. She has come home to SSF to retire. Of course, I couldn’t resist trying to breed her one more time. She will be 23 when she delivers this foal. Over the years, LaVita has been a fantastic producer for us. She’s the grandmother of Keno, the top foal in North America this year. Local people also know her as the mother of Alisa Dearden’s Rocco SSF and Melinda Johnson’s Udo SSF.

Under Karin Rehbein, Florianus II was the most successful Grand Prix horse in Germany for a period of time. We’ve had two Flori foals at SSF so far–both Carol and I are really impressed by the strong conformation, athleticism, and tractability of his offspring.

Mistral ster (Vincent x El Corona) Hopefully, in foal to Governor (Totilas x Jazz)

We lost Mistral this winter. She had lost her pregnancy to Governor prior, but still a sad situation.

Nemels elite (Samber x Rechter) In foal to Governor (Totilas x Jazz)

We’ve come to really adore Nemels, and I love the strength of her mare line for producing sport horses. We’re also thrilled with her Governor colt from this year. Unfortunately, she lost this pregnancy.

Orchis keur preferent and almost prestatie!!! (Jazz x Roemer) In foal to an experimental stallion.

This foal is not for sale…unless our stallion-prospect-out-of-Orchis luck holds and we get another cryptorchid!

Werites SSF sport (Freestyle x Orchis x Jazz) In foal to Sir Sinclair (Lord Sinclair x Flemmingh)

Werites has now produced three exceptional UB-40 babies for us. She consistently produces athletic, talented, and very pretty foals. Her oldest son was started under saddle this year, and all reports are that he’s incredibly smart, super trainable, and super talented. This year’s foal was reserved and purchased by Connie and Jackie Cartesio.

We haven’t bred much to Sir Sinclair. Given the facts that he is one of the leading producer of FEI horses in North America, he has a number of FEI horses beginning to compete in Europe, our best moving mare is by him, and our one Sir Sinclair breeding resulted in a horse who went on to win the Reserve Champion title at Dressage at Devon and is now about to come out at PSG, I decided it was time to make up for lost time and breed a couple mares to Sir.

BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz x Ulft) In foal to UB-40

It’s hard to top the kind of movement BoWendy produces. We’ve had four full brothers out of this cross, and each one has blown us away–the most famous of which is Godot SSF, the high score mover in North America last year. This year’s foal was reserved and purchased by Grand Prix rider Eiren Crawford.

There is a potential first option already placed on this breeding. If someone else is also interested, contact me, and I’ll confirm. We will most likely keep this foal if it is a filly.

Carpe Diem SSF keur eligible (Farrington x LaLiscia xx x Pass the Glass xx)
In foal to Connaisseur (Con Amore x Donnerhall)

We’re delighted to have Carpe back at SSF to begin her breeding career. Thanks so much to Sue Wildman for the opportunity. Carpe suffered a neck injury and can no longer be ridden, so let the babies begin!

We get a number of requests for Donnerhall blood from our clients. As much as I love Donnerhall blood and would love to use his sons and grandsons in our program, it’s difficult to access via fresh cooled semen from a KWPN-approved stallion. Connaisseur offers us this chance. I think he needs a bigger, more powerful mare, so matching him with Carpe is perfect. She’s 17 hands and a power house. This should be a really top sport or breeding prospect.

This foal is already spoken for.

D’Orites SSF keur (Donatelli x Orchis x Jazz) In foal to Sir Sinclair (Lord Sinclair x Flemmingh)

Dior has quite a fan base. Her first foal was a designer foal for Clark and Richard Moss. Her second foal sold in 15 minutes on Facebook. Her third foal was reserved and purchased by Rhodes Farm as an addition to their breeding program. We would really like to keep a Donatelli grandfilly for our program, but, since Dior is young and we have some older mares from whom we need to keep fillies, at this time, this breeding is available for 2016.

Eliscia SSF keur eligible (UB-40 x LaLiscia xx x Pass the Glass xx)
In foal to Governor (Totilas x Jazz)

Lily is one of my favorite mares in our program. She has the size, power, and elegance, combined with a strong dose of the best TB blood available, to produce top horses. Her first foal was a first premium, super elegant, black colt by Florianus II. From the Governor cross, I’m expecting a leggy, modern, super-moving foal.

First option taken on this foal.

Gazania keur (Bon Bravour x Santano) In foal to Florianus II (Florestan I x Damenstolz)

Gazania lost her pregnancy to Florianus…

Honorites SSF ster (Totilas x Orchis x Jazz) In foal to Florianus II (Florestan I x Damenstolz)

If you’ve been reading our blog, you know how devastated we are at the loss of Nora. She can’t be replaced.


Crazy Summer Recap!

I don’t even know where to start…

I’ve spent the summer either with my arm up a mare’s rectum or cooking for a happy multitude of visitors. And, yes, I washed well in between!

Breeding Update, oldest to youngest:

  • LaVita (Elcaro x Belisar) is in foal to Florianus II. She will be 23 when she foals. Amazing.
  • Mistral (Vincent x El Corona) has had two cycles to UB-40 with no luck yet. Will breed her this weekend with our experiment stallion.
  • Nemels (Samber x Lector) is back in foal to Governor.
  • Orchis (Jazz x Roemer), after a failed attempt to Apache, is in foal to our experiment stallion!!! Fingers crossed, knocking on wood, praying to the breeding gods.
  • Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz) is in foal to Sir Sinclair.
  • ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro) is not in foal. Tried once with Apache, but no pregnancy. She hasn’t been cycling well.
  • BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz) is back in foal to UB-40 for the fifth time. This one better be a filly!
  • Carpe Diem SSF (Farrington x Pass the Glass xx) is in foal to Connaisseur.
  • D’Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz) is in foal to Sir Sinclair, after a couple of failed attempts to Fairytale.
  • Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx) is in foal to Governor.
  • Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Jazz) was bred to Florianus II, checked at the trainer’s not in foal, but she’s never come back into heat. I don’t know what’s going on with her.
  • Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano) didn’t take with two perfect breedings to Bordeaux, so she’s in foal to Florianus II.
  • Honorites SSF (Totilas x Jazz) is in foal to Florianus II. This foal already has a first option reserved.
  • Hyacintia (Charmeur x Santano) is in foal to Chagall D and R.

We should have a busy foaling season in 2016! Anyone want to sign up for foal watch now? Happy to have you.

We had to abandon our Family Competition. Out of the four planned breedings, mine is the only one that worked. Carol’s choice of UB for Nora ran into a bad collection day, so we ended up with Flori; Michaela’s choice of Bordeaux for Gazania was a couple of thousand dollar bust; Keagan’s pick of Apache for Orchis, then a switch to ZaVita, didn’t work out for him, and was another couple of thousand dollar bust for us… HATE buying frozen without a LFG. Didn’t I swear last year that I wouldn’t buy frozen without a LFG this year? Stupid. Just stupid. When it works, it’s great–like the Governor. We’ve used four doses and gotten four pregnancies. When it doesn’t, all you have to show for it is an expanded credit card balance or a cashed check. Really pisses me off. At least I’m doing my own breeding work, so I don’t have thousands of wasted vet bills on top of the lost money spent on the frozen. I know, “bitch, bitch–moan, moan.” What are you going to do?

The issue remains that we just don’t have enough options for KWPN dressage stallions standing in North America. Thank goodness there are a few that cross well on my mares. Not everyone is so lucky.

KWPN National Championships in Ermelo:

I had an absolute blast attending the KWPN Paardendagen in Holland last week. Of course, it was extra special because our mare Hyacintia was invited to the National Mare Show. There were over 40 mares invited, out of about 1200 mares entered into keurings throughout the summer. These 40+ mares showed in four groups; Hyacintia was in the third. In her preliminary round, she placed FIRST and was invited into the top 12 to show again in the final class later in the afternoon!!! It was a magic moment. I had goosebumps everywhere. I’m not sure exactly what happened between the preliminary round, and I’m certainly not complaining–it was super exciting–but two of the mares she beat, the Davino VOD and the Quando-Quando granddaughter, placed first and third in the finals. Oh, well. At the end of the day, Hyacintia is the mare I wanted to take home…so it’s a really good thing that she’s already ours! She’s a really lovely mare. We’re going to leave her in Holland to produce the start of a breeding program for us there. Eventually, she’ll make her way stateside.

I have tons of observations about the foals, the mares, the riding, the PAVO Cup, etc., etc., but haven’t had the time to put any of my thoughts into writing. Will try to get to that. If you have questions about specific horses, give me a shout. I watched all of the babies and babies–and almost all of the riding tests.

Open House and Keuring:

As you can imagine, we’re in the final stages of getting everything ready for August 29th. It will be a busy week, but we’re excited for everyone to see our horses. The day starts at 8:00 sharp at Taramore Farm, in Keene. We move to SSF for lunch at around 12:30. We end the day by showing babies, starting at 1:15. The jury has to be in the rental car and headed to the airport by 2:45. If you’d like a full schedule or directions, just shoot me an email. Everyone’s welcome.

MONDAY, JULY 6, 2015

Foaling Season is Complete!

The equine gods have been good to us this year (knock on wood). We have eight healthy babies on the ground, and the biggest issue we had with foaling was a retained placenta. Of course, rebreeding is going quite as smoothly, but I’ll get to that later in the post. Overall, this may be our best foal crop to date.

Before I get going, if you haven’t friended me on Facebook, please do. I post pictures and videos of the babies and the farm frequently. My journal posts are longer and more detailed, but the visuals end up on Facebook.

This year’s foals:

Knockout SSF (Eye Catcher x Gazania x Bon Bravour)

Champ was born in early April, so, compared to the rest of the babies, he looks more like a yearling. He’s a dressage horse through and through. He’s supple, adjustable, and powerful. Type-wise, I’m not convinced the jury is going to like him as much as I do, but we haven’t offered him for sale because his pedigree is so interesting. If he can develop into the kind of dressage horse I expect, then he deserves a shot at keeping his testicles. We’ll see.

Kiarites SSF (Fairytale x D’Orites SSF x Donatelli)

Dior is producing super well for us. This filly is a miniature, black version of her mother. Jenn Tousignant is lucky to have had a filly option on this cross. We would have been perfectly happy to keep this filly for our program. As it is, Dior has been bred back to Fairytale, but it’s a little early to check for the pregnancy.

Kanadian SSF (UB-40 x BoWendy x Sir Sinclair)

Sammy, Jr., is this year’s cheekiest foal. He is absolutely the spitting image of his full brother, Godot SSF–same star, same type, same movement. He is much more independent at this age than his brother ever was, however. Mr. Kanadian is more than happy to stand in the aisle supervising the movement of horses instead of following his mother. He also thinks it’s his job to chew off the halters of his friends. He’s a real character. He’s the perfect personality for his person, Eiren Crawford.

Karmites SSF (UB-40 x Werites SSF x Freestyle)

I’m in love with this filly. She reminds me so much of her grandmother, Orchis. Not only does she look like her, she’s hot, typey, and loaded with powerful movement. Again, this is a filly I’d prefer to be keeping for our program, but Jackie Cartesio has dibbs on her. She’s going to make a hell of a dressage horse.

Keno SSF (Governor x ZaVita SSF x Contango)

I loved the Totilas son, Governor, the moment I saw him, and we’re certainly not disappointed that we took a chance on him during his first breeding year. Keno is a GORGEOUS baby. He’s absolutely regal looking. On top of that, he has the loveliest personality and movement. We’re waiting to hear if the person who had first option on this breeding has decided to take him or not. As special as he is, I can’t believe she won’t, but you never know how circumstances can dictate people’s decisions. If he’s available, I’ll let you know.

Kalliope SSF (Heir to the Throne x Sweetwaters Little Sea Me x NFC Egyptian Kings Impulse)

Imagine my surprise when I found an adorable little pinto filly with our Mini mare, a full three weeks before she was due. Did I know that Minis have a shorter gestation than regular horses? That would be no. At any rate, this filly is about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. I call her Spawn of Hell. She is a holy terror! She is completely unconcerned about her mother, she loves racing around so fast you can barely see her legs move, and she regularly jumps in and out of her paddock and teases Jules, the old Morgan mare who is her mother’s neighbor. Needless to say, Carol is in love with this little girl.

Kublai Khan SSF (UB-40 x Mistral x Vincent)

Once again, UB-40 blows us away. When this colt was about a week old, Carol turned to me and said,

“This is your stallion. We’re not selling him.”

I can’t remember another time that she has verbalized either sentiment, stallion prospect or not selling a baby. We love this boy. Actually, depending on how things play out, this is a colt we’d be willing to send to Holland to go through the selection process. It probably makes sense to keep him here until he’s a two-year-old and can pass the radiographic requirements, but we’ll see. Kublia is a fancy boy.

Katmandu SSF (Governor x Nemels x Samber)

And…drum roll, please…our last foal of the year is a freaking fancy pinto Totilas grandson! As I said on Facebook, I don’t think there’s a better bred pinto colt on the planet. Even without being pinto, it would be hard to beat his pedigree. On top of that, he’s our leggiest foal of the year and the most flamboyant mover. He’s a big boy and not that old, so he’s still unfolding and straightening out, but every time I look at him, I think that we might have just hit the equine lottery. Who knows? To quote John Sanzo for the umpteenth time, “Horses are born, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to kill themselves.” We’ll just keep crossing our fingers and toes, knocking on wood, and hoping that he continues to develop as nicely as he has in the first ten days.

So, breeding back. I’m a little bitter. For one thing, we have three mares being bred that aren’t on the farm, so I have significantly more vet bills than I’m used to during breeding season. On top of that, on the four cycles that these three mares have been followed, we have only one pregnancy. For the second thing, we’ve had three frozen breedings not work to date–that’s over $3,000 down the reproductive drain. I did those breedings, so I can’t blame anyone but me, the semen, and the mares; nonetheless, it pisses me off. Two doses of Bordeaux frozen, perfect timing both times, 6-hour post insemination flushes, young mare on her 30-day and subsequent heat. Nothing. I’m pretty sure we had an Apache embryo in Orchis, but she came back into heat, so she didn’t think she was pregnant. Here’s an update on the breeding status of our mares–if you’re interested in any of the 2016 crosses, get your option in early:

  • Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass) in foal to Governor for Scot’s competition entry
  • Honorites SSF (Totilas x Jazz) in foal to Florianus II for Carol’s competition entry
  • Hyacintia (Charmeur x Santano) in foal to Chagall D and R
  • Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Jazz) bred to Florianus II, not in foal, not back in heat
  • Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano) bred to Florianus II, not checked yet, for Michaela’s competiton entry
  • LaVita (Elcaro x Belisar) bred to Florianus II, not checked yet
  • D’Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz) rebred to Fairytale, not checked yet
  • BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz) bred to Fairytale, not checked yet
  • Orchis (Jazz x Roemer) experimental breeding, not checked yet
  • ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro) will be bred to Apache for Keagan’s competition entry
  • Carpe Diem SSF (Farrington x Pass the Glass xx) will be bred to Connaisseur
  • Mistral (Vincent x El Corona) will be bred back to UB-40
  • Nemels (Samber x Lector) will be bred back to Governor

Summary: three pregnant, five to check, one uncertain, and four still to start breeding.


Breeding and Foaling Updates

We now have four foals on the ground and the fifth is imminent!

Knockout SSF (Eye Catcher x Bon Bravour) is a chestnut colt with an outrageous propensity for passage already. I’m not convinced he’s as modern a type as the KWPN selects, but we he’s pretty close to Scot’s ideal type: muscular, supple, balanced, and charismatic. He’s a keeper.

Kiarites SSF (Fairytale x Donatelli) is a fancy black filly. She’s the first of two fillies born so far that we would have been happy to keep for our program, but, alas, that’s not how it has played out. This fancy little girl was prepurchased, so keeping her isn’t an option. Our longtime friend, Jenn Tousignant is excited to add this filly to her program. We will, however, breed her mom right back to Fairytale.

Kanadian SSF (UB-40 x Sir Sinclair). It’s a tall order to be the fourth full brother in a line of super fancy colts, including Godot SSF, high score adult dressage horse in North America last year, but this colt more than holds his own. Color and marking-wise, he looks just like Godot, light chestnut with a big white star–type and movement-wise, he’s even fancier. If this colt hadn’t been prepurchased, I would have put a price tag of $25,000 or $30,000 on him. He’s that nice. As it is, I’m equally as happy that he’s going to Grand Prix rider, Eiren Crawford.

Karmites (UB-40 x Freestyle) makes three chestnuts out of four foals born so far. Karma is a super pretty filly who looks so much like her grandmother, Orchis. I was really excited because the prepurchase on this breeding was for a colt, so I thought this little Orchis clone was going to be added to our broodmare band…not the case. Connie Cartesio is buying this filly as a future dressage partner for Jackie Cartesio. She’s going to be a super star.

All and all, we’re amassing an impressive foal collection so far this year (knock on wood)–four more to go! The next two foals are also pre sold if I decide to sell them. There’s a colt option on the Governor x ZaVita foal, and a pinto option on the Governor x Samber. It’s possible that we only have one more foal to sell this year, our UB-40 x Vincent. If that one is a filly, however, she’s probably not going anywhere!

On the breeding front, we have two pregnancies to report and some more breedings. In foal for 2016:

Eliscia SSF to Governor
Honorites SSF to Florianus II

Bred in the last few days:

Felicites SSF to Florianus II
Hyacintia to Chagall D and R

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if Gazania is pregnant from the first dose of Bordeaux. Expensive bummer. I love it when frozen semen works well; when it doesn’t, it hurts. It looks as if we’ll be breeding Gazania with our second dose of Bordeaux this weekend, as well as LaVita to someone. LaVita is an old girl now, and she’s not cycling the way she used to. I’m not sure if she’ll get pregnant or not. We’ll just have to play it by ear and see if I have time to order semen, or if I need to dig into the tank.

Below is a picture of Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Jazz x Roemer) after her daily workout. She’s developed really nicely, but was having some training issues. Thanks to Phil Shipman, it looks as if those are well on the way to being resolved, and we’re gearing up for re-presenting her at this year’s keuring.

FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2015

And the Breeding Begins…

So, this is what a just-under-40 follicle looks like on my ultrasound screen:

Good edema, strong structure to the follicle–I gave the shot of Sucramate this morning, so, hopefully, knock on wood, the breeding gods are with me and I’ll be doing my first frozen semen breeding of the year tomorrow afternoon. This lovely follicle contains the egg which is the planned recipient of the fastest/in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time Governor sperm cell. Governor x UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx.

You never know for sure, but, since I’ve already paid for my frozen semen and received the first three shipments (my experimental stallion is not getting used this year due to the family competition), my breeding picks are fairly settled at this point in time:

  • LaVita x Gaspard
  • Mistral x Gaspard
  • Nemels x Governor
  • *Orchis x Apache
  • Werites SSF x Gaspard
  • ZaVita SSF x Apache or Governor
  • BoWendy x UB-40
  • D’Orites SSF x Fairytale
  • *Eliscia SSF x Governor
  • Felicites SSF x undecided fresh cooled
  • *Gazania x Bordeaux
  • *Honorites SSF x UB-40 (preg check next week)
  • Hyacintia x Chagall D+R

*family competition entry

Did you just count 13 breedings? So did I. If we decide to import Hyacintia and all the mares get in foal, then one of the older mares is for sale after I get her back in foal. We only have 12 stalls.


I’m an idiot. Forgot to post this. So, update: Bred Eliscia SSF at 9:30 last night, within a couple hours of ovulation–lavaged her this morning at 5:30 and gave her a shot of Oxytocin. Keep your fingers crossed for a black dot in about two weeks. Perfect breeding.


Godot SSF For Sale

I’m really bummed about having to post this, and have been procrastinating. We sold Sammy two times as a young horse, and both times I backed out of the sale. As those of you who follow our horses know, he went to become the high scoring adult dressage horse in North America this year.

He was started last year by Phil Shipman and Joe Forrest, brought along by Lilly Josephs, and then spent the winter in Florida with Eiren Crawford. He just attended his first show in the craziness of Wellington, winning the four-year-old qualifier, with super high scores for gaits, despite some really bad luck and some first-show jitters. He’s a sensible, super talent who loves to work. Everyone who has spent any time with him has fallen in love with him.

He’s truly a young horse with international potential. I can’t justify keeping him for myself. His price is in the six figures. I will post pictures, video, and complete contact information for Eiren Crawford on my sales page in the near future.

Godot SSF “Sammy”
(UB-40 x Sir Sinclair x Jazz x Ulft)


Update: A Little Family Competition or “Creating a Monster”

I have to take complete responsibility for the events, both immediate and long-term, that have and will have transpired because of an idea I proposed to my family:

(much of this conversation started via our family text message group)

Scot: I would like to propose a little family competition. We each make an SSF breeding decision,
choice of mares to be negotiated or by lottery, and the winner is determined by Bart and Lana
via the ringing order at next year’s keuring. Any takers?

Carol: What do I get if I win?

Scot: An orange ribbon! Isn’t winning enough?

Michaela: Not a fair fight, but I’m in. What are the terms?

Scot: How not fair? I will obviously win; I know.

Michaela: An opportunity to beat you is better than no opportunity to beat you. Name the terms.

Scot: Option one–we each pick a stallion we really want to use in the program, which you and
Keagan have already done, then we negotiate who gets which mare. Maybe no one else wants
to use the mare you want to use, so your choice is available with no negotiation. Option two–
We pick four mares out of the program, put their names in a hat, and the we draw names. Each
person then has to pick the stallion he or she thinks will produce the top foal of next year.

(more conversation about possible terms for the selection of mares and how to measure the success of our decisions–at this point in time, Keagan has not weighed in. Next conversation happened between Carol and me one night last week)

Scot: So, what do you think of my breeding competition idea?

Carol: Hmm?

Scot: The family text message I sent. What do you think?

Carol: Oh. You want me to be part of that?

Scot: Yes! Absolutely. I want it to be a family competition.

Carol: But I don’t know as much about the bloodlines as you guys do. I’d have to start researching

Scot: Seriously? I thought you’d already made your pick.

Carol: No.

Scot: Really?

Carol: Who would I have picked?

Scot: BoWendy bred to UB-40.

Carol: And why would I have picked that combination?

Scot: Because you’re practical, you hate wasting money on frozen semen, and you’ve seen three
babies out of this cross that are probably the best movers we’ve bred.

Carol: Hmmm.

(This next conversation took place in the car on the way to NYC on Saturday morning. Keagan, Carol, and I drove together; Michaela took the bus from Boston and met us there, so her parts of the conversation were via text)

Scot: So what do you guys think about the competition? Are you up for it?

Keagan: This is the breeding competition?

Scot: Yeah.

Keagan: How would it work?

(I explain again)

Keagan: So it’s a competition?

Scot: Yeah.

Keagan: Orchis.

Scot: What?

Keagan: I call Orchis.

Carol: (starts laughing)

Scot: Really?

Keagan: Yup. It’s a competition. I want to win. Apache on Orchis gives me the best chance of

(Carol is smiling. My heart has sunk to the depth of my bisected colon–I’m thinking this kid could actually beat me)

Scot: OK. We’ll have to see who everyone else wants, but thanks for putting that out there. Who’s
your pick, Carol?

Carol: I don’t know. I think Dior is going to be a great producer. I love Nora.

Scot: (to Keagan) I told your mother I thought she’d already made her pick, but she says no.

Keagan: Who did you say she picked?

Scot: UB-40 on BoWendy. (to Carol) OK, who’s your pick?

Carol: UB-40 on BoWendy.

(We laugh. Lots of joking about me losing and having to be handicapped. Now, we involve Michaela via text message)

Scot: Keagan picks Orchis. Mommy wants Bo. Who is your pick?

Michaela: Whoa!!! Not sure I like these mares being tied up…

Keagan: You snooze you lose 😉 We told dad he hows so much he gets Jules (our 24-year-old
Morgan mare).

Scot: It’s all negotiable. Make your pick.

Michaela: Gazania.

Keagan: Big moves! This is certainly not a birthday present for dad 😉 😉

Carol: Wait a minute! I want Gazania! I forgot she was available.

Michaela: Hahaha! It’s negotiable…Lilly is still available.

(more conversation in the car–then Keagan texts Michaela again)

Keagan: I’m good and dad wants Lilly, so that’s set. Stallions?

Scot: I need to think a bit.

Keagan: I’m set with Apache.

Michaela: Thinking.

Keagan: Mom is going with UB.

(and more back and forth)

So, it looks as if the Tolman Family 2016 Best Foal Competition is under way. Interestingly enough, we all picked a different mare we think can produce the best baby. I think our decisions on mares are set, though Carol, while doing chores on Sunday night muttered something under her breath about switching to Nora, but not sure if she wants to take the risk since Nora is a maiden mare.

Those of you who agonize over your breeding picks the way I do can imagine the mixed emotions coursing through me over this competition: I have to give up making the pick on three of my mares, but the people I love the most are completely engaged in making breeding picks this year–I could lose and have to live with that reality for a LONG time, yet, again, what’s more fun than talking breeding picks with people you love?

As the competition winds up, here’s where we currently stand:

Keagan: Orchis to Apache

Carol: BoWendy to UB-40, or maybe take a chance on Honorites SSF

Michaela: Gazania x undecided. We had a made a decision to keep her crosses pretty much Jazz free so we can use her offspring in our program, but this is a competition, so Michaela is considering all options.

Scot: Eliscia SSF to Charmeur or Jazz himself.

Anyone want to make a wager who wins this competition? I’d love to have some comments on this thread about your predictions!


And we an adjustment to the initial line up! Carol announced this morning she’s going with Honorites SSF (Totilas x Jazz) as her mare for the competition. I don’t think she’s definitely settled on her stallion pick, but it’s looking like UB-40. (I know, Meghan; you’re heart just skipped a few beats!)


Interesting Mare Available: Elite w/Sport Predicate and Confirmed 3rd Level

One of my contacts in Holland is focusing on other aspects of her horse business and, therefore, disbanding her breeding program. She contacted me to help find the right home for this mare. The mare is priced really reasonably, has an extremely desirable, contemporary pedigree, already Elite and has her sport predicate at 3rd level. The biggest concern is that this mare is in the right home. She’s a super sweet mare with an exceptional character. Plus, you could breed her to any European stallion before importing!


Question from a Reader: Breeding a Morgan Mare

“I reached out to you a while back about crossing my Morgan mare with a warm blood. I was wondering what your experience has been with this and what I should look for in a stallion. I am looking for something with better movement and a bit more size than what my girl has. I primarily ride dressage. I got my mare from a rescue, she is 6 with the most wonderful personality, unfortunately she has some trouble with movement and most likely will just be my trail buddy as she loves it. As someone who will not be able to ever afford to be able to purchase something a bit nicer for dressage I have considered breeding her. I would appreciate any recommendations as I am flying blind here.”

We love our Morgans, and over the years we’ve had a number of them. In the early 1990s I was even leaning toward our primary focus being a Warmblood Morgan cross. As fate would have it, our breeding program took off, and, although we’ve done a few Morgan crosses, the success of our Dutch horses has taken precedence over any other breeding. That being said, I can tell you what I’ve learned and observed over the years of looking at this cross.

Although the Morgans bring a soundness, hardiness, trainability, and versatility to the table, they also come with a few drawbacks for dressage–all tied into the top line of the horse. One, they’re bred to have a lot of hock and knee action, but that action is primarily up and down, not up and out. Two, and connected to number one, they generally have weaker loin connections than warmbloods, so they don’t transfer weight onto the hind quarters as easily and naturally as most warmbloods. And, three, and also tied into one and two, Morgans don’t usually have the best canters. Of course, there are exceptions to theses traits; I’ve seen a few Morgans over the years that are true sport horses in a smaller package, but the majority of the Morgans bred for the contemporary show ring don’t have the top line of a sport horse. So, in breeding a Morgan for dressage, if you’re lucky enough to start with a mare that has desirable sport horse traits, then you’ll have a chance of producing a decent baby. If not, then your chances of breeding a new sport horse for yourself are really slim. If you’re going to try it, you want to make sure you pick a stallion who consistently produces a good canter and true lift in the withers. Our most successful dressage baby out of the Morgan cross was from the stallion Polansky on Sunbolt Linda Gail, who was a blend of old school park horse and Government breeding.

What I’m going to say next is going to sound both like an act of shameless self promotion and a little harsh. Here’s the harsh part: If you already know this mare herself doesn’t have the movement to be more than a trail horse, than you’re probably making a mistake trying to breed her in an attempt to produce a future dressage horse for yourself. If you calculate the cost of the stud fee, semen shipping costs, collection fees, vet fees, maintaing the mare through the pregnancy and lactation, etc, etc, it’s going to be pretty easy to spend $5,000 or more. And, after you’ve spent that, you’re probably not going to have the horse you wanted. Here’s the shameless self-promotion part: Our business plan is to sell our babies on terms that people can afford. You can buy a baby, that’s already on the ground and observable, out of arguably the best collection of KWPN dressage mares in North America on monthly payments you can afford. The total is going to cost you more than it would cost you to produce your own baby out of your Morgan mare, but, in the end, you’re going to end up with a horse that is bred to have the ability and conformation to do the job you want.

If you really love your mare and can be happy if she produces something just like her, then breed her. We have certainly made some breeding decisions based on our emotional attachment to our mares. Just make sure to pick a stallion who reliably produces uphill movement with a great canter. But, if you really want a future dressage partner, talk to me or another dressage breeder about the possibilities of payments and working with you to get a baby that’s really going to allow you to pursue your dreams.


Breedings for 2016 Foals

I know! I just wrote that I wasn’t going to post our breeding picks this year. Well, as it turns out, I’ve had two more inquiries on 2016 babies, so that’s three of next year’s foals that are potentially already spoken for, in addition to three from this year already spoken for. If people are planning that far in advance, and we’re in the business of selling babies, then it makes sense that I talk about our breeding picks. As always, we happily accept terms on our foal sales, so if there’s a potential cross you’re interested in from this year’s crop or next, give me a shout. Unless it’s a “designer baby”, I do reserve the right to keep a foal that I just can’t part with–that’s why I don’t take deposits. You can see all of our mares on our mares’ page: https://shootingstarfarm.com/mares.html

2015 Crosses on the Way:

  • UB-40 x Vincent x El Corona
  • Governor x Samber x Lector (first option taken)
  • UB-40 x Freestyle x Jazz
  • Governor x Contango x Elcaro
  • UB-40 x Sir Sinclair x Jazz (first option taken)
  • Fairytale x Donatelli x Jazz (first option taken)
  • Eye Catcher x Bon Bravour x Santano (not for sale)

2016 Plans:

  • UB-40 x Elcaro x Belisar
  • Alexandro P x Vincent x El Corona
  • Governor x Samber x Lector
  • Fairytale x Jazz x Roemer
  • ******** x Freestyle x Jazz (first option potentially taken/”Designer” baby)
  • Apache x Contango x Elcaro
  • UB-40 x Sir Sinclair x Jazz
  • Fairytale x Donatelli x Jazz (first option taken)
  • Chagall x UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx (first option taken)
  • Grey Flanell x Bon Bravour x Santano
  • “Tolman Experiment” x Totilas x Jazz
  • Chagall x Charmeur x Santano

In the frozen semen situations, I only try once or twice, depending on how late in the year it is, then I switch to fresh cooled. UB-40 and Gaspard De La Nuit DG are my choices for fresh cooled stallions this year.

Question from a Reader: Thinking in Generations

One of the most gratifying aspects of writing this journal over the years is the number of people I’ve met and friendships I’ve made through conversations that have been generated by what I’ve written. I am always willing to talk horses and to share my experiences and base of knowledge. The better educated all of us are in North America, the stronger our breeding programs will become and the more respect we’ll garner from the international horse-breeding and horse-buying communities. If I can be a part of generating conversations and sharing knowledge, I want to be. So, always feel free to send me a question or give me a shout to have a conversation.

The following is part of an email I received recently–I’m using it with permission:

“I was reading your short text on your blog (in regards to the Stallion Show)… thanks for that. I would have a question for you if you don’t mind pushing your thoughts a bit more for me… The “thinking in generations”.

I remember us having a conversation about the KWPN and the generations thing in 2010. I am still trying to wrap my head around the concept and apply it to my program and general breeding thinking. In general I think I’m much more performance oriented and that you are probably perfectly in the middle. I agreed with your vision and you thought the KWPN was doing it also in 2010. But do you think they are doing it now? In 2010 they pushed the power and temperament from Van Norel’s blood but you don’t see that very much now from what I can find.

It is especially important for me as I am trying to build something for the future around *********. I want to produce 2 or 3 mares out of her that will be the mothers of all or most of my future foals. And I question myself. Will the best choice to produce a very good broodmare is the same as the one to produce a nice marketable foal?…

Anyway it’s probably a big question… but as always your thoughts would be welcome.”

This are a big questions, but important ones. Let me break them down into pieces and try to answer fully.

Thinking in Generations:

There are a couple of ways to generalize this concept so that it’s a little easier to grasp. First consideration, think about an extended pedigree–say, one you might see on horsetelex.com. We all look at a pedigree and ooh and aah over the names we see if we like them, and tilt our heads and make some negative utterance if there’s a name or two we don’t. Sometimes, we’ll even completely dismiss a horse just because the pedigree isn’t “good enough”. Making breeding decisions is just creating the future extended pedigree. Which directly ties to our second consideration, if I’m creating a line of mares in my breeding program that I hope my grandchildren will be using to breed their dressage horses, what base do I want to give them? Of course, then you have to start assessing a number of things. First and foremost, is my mareline good enough? All of the planning and money and time we invest in breeding horses is absolutely pointless if we’re not working with the best mareline we can afford/find. This mareline doesn’t have to be the highest ranked in a particular studbook, or, even, famous for producing top horses at breed shows–it has to produce the qualities that you find most important in a horse. For our program, I want a balanced, athletic horse, with a strong ability to sit, that’s a little hot, but with a good brain and physical appeal. Secondly, breeding in generations requires that you understand which stallions blend best with your mareline and which stallions belong in the bottom of the line vs. the top. For instance, from my perspective, Jazz works on top or on the bottom; Ferro and Ulft are better on the bottom; Krack C or Sandro Hit have to be WAY back in a pedigree; and, I want a good dose of Thoroughbred or Trakehner blood up close. By making sure you have the right stallions in the right places in the pedigrees of the horses you produce, you increase your odds of producing a horse that will contribute to the next generation of your program. Also, while on this area of the topic, it’s important to consider the motherline of the stallions you’re using. I always want to make sure that the damlines of the stallions we use have produced really well–I think this makes a huge difference in the fillies you decide to keep for your program. Thirdly, you have to be really aware of what’s going on in the general KWPN breeding and sport population, and how your program can both contribute and take advantage of the trends. Right now, the KWPN is so heavy on Jazz blood in its breeding program that it’s really important for breeders to be cultivating non-Jazz lines that cross well with Jazz lines. The good news about this is that if your program is also Jazz heavy, the KWPN is doing a lot of work for you trying to find outcrosses–and, there are so many people trying different outcrosses, it doesn’t take too much research to see what’s working and what’s not working.

Current Direction of the KWPN:

One of the primary reasons I stay with KWPN horses is that they are constantly evaluating their population of horses and adjusting their selection criteria to produce better horses. A few years ago, we needed more substance and more power in our dressage breeding. The Van Norel horses were a great answer to that, and it was a good move on the part of the KWPN to approve more of them. As it happened, these horses didn’t have as positive of an effect on the population as was predicted. Part of it could be that the wrong mares were taken to these stallions; part of it could be that the Van Norel’s didn’t put the money into the best trainers, so their stallions didn’t achieve the successes in the young horse classes and stallion competitions necessary to attract breeders. Also, at the same time the KWPN was approving more of the Van Norel horses, Totilas and Valegro hit the big time, so we saw the influx of the Negro x Lord Leatherdale niche and the expanding influence of Gribaldi. And, of course, there is the Donnerhall effect. Interestingly enough, the Van Norel horse that keeps showing up successfully in pedigrees is not one of their younger stallions, but one of their much older stallions, Olympic Vincent, the sire of Cabochon. As I just mentioned above, at this point in time, the KWPN has to be seeking out non-Jazz stallions. Fortunately, he crosses well with a huge number of other lines. Personally, I don’t think anyone is doing just the right cross for Jazz generationally speaking…but I’m going to work on that! More interesting is how the KWPN is going to react to having a growing number of successful Grand Prix dressage horses from the Harness Horse cross with and on Dressage lines. I wonder if these will be seen as outliers, or if we’re going to see more young stallions selected with Harness blood in their pedigrees.

Breeding for Your Breeding Program vs. Breeding a Marketable Foal:

The ideal situation here is to educate enough of the buying population about what makes a good sport horse for the long haul, then your question is moot; the best horse for your breeding program would be the most marketable foal. Unfortunately, that’s no the way of the world here or in Europe. Black babies, with flashy movement and a pretty face, sired by a “name of the moment” are the typically the quick and more expensive sellers. Personally, I can’t go there. Other than the times when one of our mares won’t conceive to the stallion of my choice, I always breed for a horse that could potentially add to our program. In my mind, what could be more important to a buyer than the fact that I would be perfectly happy to keep the horse they want to buy? Because, in actuality, the horses I keep for my breeding program should all have the attributes for which I’m selecting: balance, athleticism, sit, brain, and physical attractiveness. They can’t produce what’s not inherent in the genetics. So, my advice here is always the same–breed for yourself and build your own market.

I hope that answered most of your question(s). Again, especially those of you who send me emails or call to ask why I’m not writing in my journal, send me a question or discussion prompt–it’s a guarantee of a journal entry!


KWPN Stallion Vivaldi

I wrote the following paragraph a few months ago, but never finished the post:

“If you’ve followed my journal for years, you probably know that I’ve never been that big of a Vivaldi fan. However, after seeing the success of his sons under saddle and the type and movement of his grandchildren, I have to give credit where credit is due. He’s turned out to be a much better producer than I thought he was going to be after seeing his first couple crops of sons at the Stallion Show.
That being said, there are still plenty of Vivaldi offspring that crank up their necks, hollow out their backs, and throw their front legs around with almost no connection between the back of the horse and the front; however, there are also some super sons under saddle and some top daughters at keurings.”

Having just returned from the Stallion Show and having seen multiple Vivaldi sons and grandsons again, I thought I’d continue my post.

There are some really good Vivaldis, but there are just as many, if not more, weak Vivaldis. He is not a stallion for every mare, not that any stallion is, but he brings some significant weaknesses to the table. I continue to see a general lack of power, strength, and balance in a number of his offspring. They are all beautiful, with really expressive, easy movement, but even on the best of them, there is a slight disconnect in the loin and a lack of overall power from hind end to front. When I look at some stallions’ offspring, I can imagine the future Grand Prix horse. It’s hard to describe exactly, but it has to do with the strength and balance, the overall ability of the horse to carry itself and adjust between shortening and lengthening easily and naturally. If Vivaldi himself had competed at Grand Prix and demonstrated the kind of strength and connection it takes for attaining and maintaining an upper level career, I’d be willing to ignore the weakness in the top line of his offspring, but he hasn’t.

Of course, there are going to be Vivaldi offspring at Grand Prix. He’s bred a lot of mares, and a lot of talented riders have purchased Vivaldi children–by the law of averages alone, some of them are going to be upper level horses. My humble opinion is that we’re going to see many more of them successful at lower levels and in young horse classes than we are successful at Grand Prix, however.

All of this being said, I think there’s still a place for him in the pedigree. He brings a beautiful type and expressive movement. If you’re lucky enough to cross him on a mare who consistently produces a great loin connection, then it could work out for you. My guess is that even then, the pattern is going to follow the Punnett square, with 25% of the offspring being exceptional, 50% of the offspring being OK, and 25% of the offspring being terrible.

There’s a Totilas thread on the Chronicle Dressage Forums right now labeling him as a “non-stamper”–that he doesn’t consistently reproduce himself, so he’s not worth the stud fee. In Totilas’s case, he consistently produces balance, strength, a good walk, a great canter, and a “normal” trot. Type wise, he’s all over the place. Vivaldi is just the opposite: He produces a really consistent type and a flashy trot, but you don’t know what you’re going to get for balance and strength. For my money in breeding dressage horses, in the long run, the balance and strength are much more important than the pretty face and flashy trot. Of course, the pretty face and flashy trot will sell much more quickly to an uneducated buyer, so I recognize the attraction for breeders. Nonetheless, as someone who’s constantly trying to breed horses that are one generation better suited for their future jobs as upper level dressage horses, a horse like Totilas is a much better bet.

Again, I think Vivaldi can have a place in a pedigree; as a matter of fact, I’m super excited to have a Vivaldi grandson coming from our Bon Bravour mare this April. But, I only bred to a Vivaldi son, Eye Catcher, after I saw him in person AND saw his offspring inspection in person. He has, and is producing, the kind of balance and adjustability I want, combined with the incredible expression in his gaits from Vivaldi.

So, I guess I’m a cautious Vivaldi fan now. He’s kind of like frosting: the right combination of ingredients really top off the cake–the wrong combination of ingredients create a sicky sweet mess you have to scrape off to get to the good stuff.


Stallion Show 2015

Don’t get too excited! I’m not doing my usual 10 or 15 page Stallion Show Report this year, but I want to at least give some overall thoughts and comments. If you have specific questions about crosses or horses that we would have seen, then I’m happy to answer them. Either post a comment below or drop me an email.

Let me start by saying this was one of my favorite Stallion Show’s because it was a family affair. Michaela and Keagan went with me. I can’t tell you how special it is to me to share the second greatest passion of my life with the first greatest passion. Next year promises to be better yet, because I think Carol’s going, too! So, both kids are in on the stallion picks for our program this year, and I’ve given them each the go ahead to pick one stallion that they really want to see used in our program, and I’ll buy either a breeding or a dose or two of frozen. Keagan’s already made his pick. I think Michaela is vacillating between two, but both are ones I want to use anyways, so we’re all good! And, no, I’m not going to tell you which stallions! You’ll have to wait until we have mares pregnant and 2016 foals safely on the way. It’s my new motto: Keep my breeding picks to myself until later in the season. I wouldn’t worry too much, though–we all know I’ll never be able to do that. My next post will probably divulge all my plans…

As usual, I’m not really qualified to give much of an opinion on the jumpers. Because of my school schedule, we missed the first day; because of buying cheaper flights since three of us were traveling, we didn’t arrive on Thursday until midday. Although, from what I understand, the first day of jumpers was pretty much a bust, and the second day not much better until the last few groups of stallions, we saw most of the boys selected for the Championship round go through both the second and third viewings. The Arezzo VDL’s were my favorites. He is a top performing and producing sire.

My overall thoughts about the dressage horses is that the average quality of the stallions was pretty solid. There were a number of good horses. The Apaches were the best and most consistent group. The Johnson x Rousseau deserved to be Champion–he is a fantastic horse. The Charmeurs were hit or miss, with the Vervoorn product, His Royal Badness (Charmeur x Havidoff x TCN Partout), being a huge hit. It’s amazing to me that 25-year-old Jazz is still producing such top horses. Two of his sons presented are quite special. And, of course, in the Championship Round, every horse had Jazz in the pedigree. The Apache x Ferro has him the furthest back, in the fifth generation. The Vivaldi x Donnerhall has him in the fourth generation. The Chagall, Wynton, Johnson, Westpoint, and the DeNiro sons all have him in the third generation. Then, of course, there is the Jazz x Flemmingh. As much as I am a Jazz devotee, can you say, “Scot’s happy to have six mares with no Jazz in the pedigree?” The KWPN is going to need some stallion sons out of my mares!

North American breeders should be excited that VDL has a top new dressage prospect. The DeNiro x Jazz x Ulft is a super horse. I’ll be excited to have his frozen available to us.

North American breeders may also get a chance to breed to a Negro son. Willy Arts’s Negro x Welt Hit II x Urban was selected.

Rumor is that the super fancy Alexandro P x Upperville x Zep has sold overseas for a huge amount of money. If North America is what is meant by “overseas”, it could be really interesting for us. Henke is an outrageous stallion. His canter could be a little stronger, but his trot and his overall use of his body are outstanding.

So, that’s my Stallion Show Report for 2015. It was a good time.


Dressage Stallions Available to North American Breeders and Research

I’ve just spent the last two hours dutifully re-researching every KWPN-approved stallion available to North American breeders via fresh cooled or frozen semen. If you don’t have a membership to the KWPN or haven’t paid for access to the KWPN Stallion Data Base, it’s worth it. There isn’t a stallion available that I haven’t either researched before, seen in person, and/or attended his foal inspection, but my OCD won’t allow me to make my breeding picks until I’ve reloaded the available data into my somewhat addled brain.

The good news is that there are more stallions available to us than ever. The bad news is that the fresh-cooled options are still woefully lacking. The issues remain the same: Good KWPN-approved stallions are expensive; expenses to import, campaign, market, and maintain a stallion are prohibitive; and, the breeding base is still to small to warrant this kind of investment for all but the uber wealthy. There are some short-term and long-term approaches we could take to rectify this.

Our jury has already taken one of these steps by licensing a new dressage stallion for us, Gaspard de la Nuit DG. Although I’m not crazy about the mareline on this horse, at least the pedigree is interesting and we have another fresh-cooled option. From what I can tell, he should bring suppleness and a super canter to his foals.

Carol just asked me what I’m writing about. Her response, “Ooh, don’t diss people with stallions!” I’m not. I swear. We Americans are so over-sensitive about our horses. I’ve just spent two hours reading honest, published descriptions of approved stallions, their plusses and minuses during testing, the strengths and weaknesses of their mothers, and the positive and negative effects they initially presented through their foal collections. Unless we adopt a similar pragmatic, honest approach to the evaluation of our breeding stock, North American breeders will always be behind our Dutch counterparts. There is no one more critical of my horses than me. Of course, there’s also no one more enthusiastic about my horses than me. It’s this kind of dichotomy that allows me to keep our program growing and improving.

Another step our organization could take to help this situation is by doing something that, at first, may seem counter-intuitive to providing more fresh-cooled options. At the end of each keuring season, our jury could identify one or two traits that need improvement in our breeding population, then the organization could facilitate the bulk purchase of frozen semen from a stallion that reliably contributes what we’re lacking. By making one or two stallions available to North American breeders at a reduced rate, we would systematically improve our breeding population and, in the long term, have a better chance of producing more approvable stallions. In Holland, the theory is that the KWPN responds to the needs and wishes of the breeders. As I’ve quoted before, Wiepke Van de Lageweg says it the breeders’ job to set the direction for the KWPN, not the other way around. We’re not in the same position as breeders in Holland, however. We don’t have the broad knowledge base, access to venues where we see horses competing every weekend, nor options for genetic diversity. We need our organization to lead more in this area. I’m not advocating that the KWPN-NA become a frozen semen broker, but there are ways our office could facilitate more options for us. Why couldn’t our Stallion Owner Committee partner with its Dutch counterpart and help provide this?

We could also have our own “Erkend” system in North America. If our jury and directors were to work with the KWPN to evaluate all Grand Prix competitors approved in other studbooks in North America, and already available via fresh-cooled semen, with the purpose of finding two or three that could contribute to our breeding population specifically, we could end up with two or three more fresh-cooled options.

Of course, my favorite option is still a co-operative venture similar to DBNA or WBNA through which breeders with a vested interest in improving not only their own programs but the strength of the breeding population as whole get together and invest in leasing, buying, and investing in stallions and stallion prospects. Now that the Euro is plunging, the timing is better than ever for this kind of venture.


January Thoughts and Happenings

2015. When did that happen? And, thus, I begin my 17th year writing this journal.

I have high hopes for this year–not only this year, but the future in general. The older I get, the more optimistic I get about life, purpose, horses, and the connections among people. Perhaps, it’s the counterpoint to such atrocities as ISIS, school shootings, and Ted Cruz’s appointment as chair of the Senate subcommittee in charge of NASA. Seriously, though, I believe in people more than I have at any other time in my life. There is peace in Existentialism–it’s just taken me half a century to start to actualize it.

On the horse front, we have a super exciting year ahead of us:

Gazania, our Bon Bravour mare, arrived safely in the USA this weekend. I can’t wait to get her home and get to know her better. All reports are that she is as sweet as can be. She’s our first mare to foal this year, and I’m like a little-kid-on-Christmas-morning excited about this foal. I’ve already picked out his name! And, if the equine forces of the universe present us with a filly instead, her name is also all set.

While on the subject of foals, all eight are our breedings are exciting. Knock on wood all goes well, we’ll have the first Eye Catcher, Governor, and Fairytale foals in North America, plus three more of our beloved UB-40s, and our first Mini foal!

And, of course, this year’s breedings…you all know how obsessed I’ve been with these picks since the end of last breeding season, so there’s probably no reason to recount all of the waffling, video viewing, and pedigree analysis I’ve put myself through over the last four or five months–but, let me just say, I’m exhausted! Stallion picks for 12 mares! Who has the time, energy, or will for that kind of obsessive compulsive commitment? Yeah, you’re right. I do. Let me repeat my mantra: Think multiple generations, not just the next one. What is it I want to accomplish over the long haul of our breeding program? That’s way more important than breeding to a popular stallion in order to sell a foal. UB-40 is still my guy. I’m going old school on a couple choices just to make sure I keep the balance and substance I want in a dressage horse. I’m going super modern on a couple choices to bring the type and suppleness I want consistent in our program. And, I’m planning one, if not two, really out-of-the-box breedings. So, those are the four prongs of my approach this year: consistency, balance, suppleness and type, and thinking a couple generations ahead in a way that no one else probably will. My biggest conundrum? They’re almost all chestnut stallions on mostly chestnut mares. Hopefully, other people like chestnuts as much as I do.

Speaking of chestnut mares, we’re really hoping that our Charmeur x Santano mare, Hyacintia, has the same kind of success her big sister had last year. If we have another mare make the National Finals, I’m going to be in Ermelo for it!

While I’m on the subject of keurings (I realize my transitions are becoming a little redundant), Zaz Putnam and I have applied to host a two-site keuring this year, which will probably be partially closed to outside horses just due to stabling issues. Before anyone gets the wrong idea or his or her feelings hurt, this is not meant as a slight to other New England breeders. I love our keurings and get togethers, but attending someone else’s keuring costs us thousands of dollars and puts extra stress on our horses. This year, potentially, we have seven babies to present, four or five IBOPs to be ridden, and a couple of horses to present for studbook/ster/keur eligible. That’s a total of 20 horses to prep, transport, and pay for. We just can’t physically move and manage that many horses safely and effectively. The plan is to use Zaz’s great facility for the adult classes and riding tests. She has an indoor, a dressage ring, and a jumping ring, all with fantastic footing–but she has very limited stabling in addition to her own horses, with no place to put temporary stalls. We’ll do all festivities and foals at our farm, which is 20 minutes away. People could certainly work out of their trailers, as everyone does in Holland at a keuring, but we’re just not going to have additional stabling. We do have some options for off-site, overnight stabling, but that would still mean people have to work out of their trailers at the keuring itself. Of course, the KWPN-NA has not made its decisions yet about who’s hosting what, so this may be a moot post, and I may be only taking a couple horses to someone else’s keuring–but, if we do get it, I wanted other New England breeders to know my thought process.

Now, really speaking of keurings, the STALLION SHOW!!!! It’s only two weeks away. Two weeks from tomorrow night, Michaela, Keagan, Jackie Cartesio, and I will be getting onto a plane at Logan and about to pop a sleeping pill. We’ll be joining three tables full of friends and fellow KWPN breeders for my favorite weekend of the year! I haven’t decided if I’m writing a full report this year or not. Now that there’s live streaming and so much information available online, it seems unnecessary. Nonetheless, I’m excited.

On the good news front and continuing the positive slant of this post, on Thursday, I successfully (knock on wood–we won’t know for sure for three months) went through heart surgery to correct an arrhythmia caused (we think) by the chemo I had to go through a few years ago. The doctors tried to control it with drugs, but they didn’t work, so surgery was the next step. In preparation, to give myself the best chance possible of its working, I’ve lost 40 pounds, upped my exercise frequency and intensity, and given up alcohol. My 96-year-old father remarked the other day that I had really lost some weight. He asked me how much, so I told him. He then replied,

“Really? You don’t look as if you’ve lost that much.”

Always something to keep you humble!