Friday, 12 January 2007

Robbie the studmuffin!

The results of Robbie's photo shoot from today.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

I rode Robbie!

I know it is not massive news but he hasn't had anyone on him for about a year I think now. Just a case of being apathetic about it.

Nick and I had been working with Meg (gave her her second hoof trim and a leading lesson) and as we were leaving the paddock decided we may as well give Rob's feet a rasp too. After Nick had done that I decided to get a leg up and just hang over him so, up I went. Gawd it is berluddy uncomfortable leaning over 16.2HH of Clydesdale so I swung my leg over and sat there and Nick started leading me around. I put some pressure on his sides with my legs and he responded and before I knew it we were trotting around. He is so cute, bless him. I think we are going to spend some time this summer getting him used to being ridden. I will try and sort a bridle out for him and work him bareback initially and then with a saddle. I think he is going to be easy peasy - he has such a good nature.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Amy and Maxi

Amy had another ride today. Her pony is Aranui Saracen or Maxi to his friends. We have him on lease from the van Tuyl's in Woodville. He is only 2 and not broken in but he and Amy are great mates. They sure look pretty cute together. Maxi is a purebred section A Welshie and is quite a fresh young pony and probably not ideal as a first riding pony for Amy and we would quite like to find her a bombproof little pony that she can gain experience and confidence on although Maxi really is doing a good job. She is trotting happily with Nick holding her around the waist. She cannot get enough really, bless her.

Photos in the mist

This morning was one of those spider webby misty mornings so I popped out with the camera and took some photos. Here are a sample of this morning's equine images:
Above - Maude

TF Finn

TF Finn

Rockdon Bollee (Bo)

TF Finn and Roxy (Ramirez filly)

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Another foal for Robbie!!

Good things take time! Lady Assure produced a beautiful bay colt with a perfect blaze and three stockings for her owner at 11.15pm last night. We intend to go and meet him in the next couple of weeks. Mike is thrilled with the foal and, so are we!!!
Lady is another mare who has produced her foal after a particularly long gestation. She was 340 days from LDOS on December the 18th, making this foal 362 days from LDOS.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Extraordinary Horses for Ordinary Riders ...

When we initially got into this breeding lark it was because Nick wanted a Clydesdale and we could not afford to buy him one so we bred a TB mare to a clydesdale stallion to achieve the next best thing. It had been a life long dream of mine to breed a foal and having the land, well it just seemed like the right thing to do. Then people started to suggest we use Hamish to cover mares, so we did. Two mares initially, one a TB belonging to friends and the other an Irish Sport Horse mare that I had on lease and had tried unsuccessfully to breed to Doug Isaacson's Show Jumping stallion, 'It's About Time'. Yes, I had been bitten by the breeding bug.
Good horses are hard to find! Good horses that are clean slates or blank canvases waiting to be shaped and moulded into the superstars they are all capable of being. I should know, I have tried to find horses like this over the years and they all come with baggage or astronomical price tags (and even those high $ neds have baggage!).

I had a vision to breed sane and sensible horses from sound, sane and sensible breeding stock. No Olympic aspirations (there are plenty of others out there jumping on the high end band wagon, I will leave the associated challenges of big dollar breeding to others) but hopefully you are getting the picture?

So, this is what we are trying to do, breed extraordinary horses for ORDINARY riders like me (and maybe you?). Realistically NZ is a small place with a small pool of top level riders and a much bigger pool of average Joe's who just want to have a crack at the local sports days, riding clubs, CTR's and hacking. People for whom the horse is a release from the daily grind and these people don't want to muck around with highly strung, temperamental horses, they want a best mate to take care of them and have fun with. This is where our horses step up to the mark.

I firmly believe that temperament is everything in a horse and a willing horse that is trying to please his rider is a pleasure to own. I swell with pride everytime I hear from someone with one of my homebred horses telling me how much they love them and what kind, willing and intelligent animals they are - talented too it would seem - perhaps we will breed an Olympian? No matter what, it is a thrilling roller coaster ride and I am loving every minute of it!!

TF Reilly - Two years on

It is so nice to step back and look at a horse and think, 'yeah, we did OK. This is a good one!'

I did that with Reilly this weekend when I was out with my camera. After everything he has been through and we have been through with him and with his mother, it is just so nice to see him growing up healthy and strong, if a little short!

Now the big question. Do I take him to the A&P next month? I am kinda nervous about it. I have nothing to wear, no bridle that fits and I have never taken a youngster out before, especially one that still has all his 'equipment' and then there is the fact that I have no cover for him (although thanks to NRM I think that is all about to change!) and no idea how to turn a show horse out oh and NO money! Minor details?
I guess it is going to be a case of watch this space...

I didn't win but I got second!

Today I got home from collecting Amy from daycare to find an email in my inbox telling me I had won second prize in the NRM 'Top of the Class' competition. Awesome! The prizes are valued at over $1200 and include a $500 voucher for NRM feeds (I feed NRM feeds so this is wonderful!). I have also won the following:
  • A year's sub to NZ Horse and Pony Magazine
  • A printed T shirt
  • A printed Hoodie
  • A show rug with printing
  • A summer rug and
  • A saddle blanket.

So, yay me!!!

No foals for us but an orphan to raise

After the previous season and due to our personal financial situation, we decided not to breed any mares to foal in the 2005/06 season and we leased Bridie and Bijou's dam out to a local woman who wanted to breed a foal. At this point I would like to mention that if your senses are screaming out 'no!' to you about someone, you should listen to them!

Genna was supposed to be bred to Hamish so I was very surprised to find out that she had in fact been bred to Bridie's sire whilst I was away on holiday with a friend. No worry I thought, Michelle has promised to keep in touch and I will be able to help her through the process as much as she needs me to ... Genna was supposed to come to us to foal but as the time drew closer for her to come here I heard nothing, emails were not replied to and I started to worry. Eventually I offered to collect her and bring her back to our place and foal her, at no charge for my time or grazing, I just wanted her safe and monitored.

On the day I had planned to visit Genna in her lease home I received a frantic call from my neighbour. Michelle who was leasing Genna had called her in a panic to say that the farrier had been out to trim the horses and found Genna, dead in the padoock, with a foal at her side.

I didn't know if the foal was alive or dead! We dropped everything and rushed to the paddock to find my darling mare stone dead and a poor lost foal desperately trying to suckle from her. I went into overdrive and took over. Something in me kicked in and I set about organising everything that needed to be organised for the baby. I pushed Genna's loss to the back of my mind.

To cut what is a very long story, short. Roxy came home with us to be hand raised. I spent three months dedicating my life to this precious foal. There were considerable downs that went alongside the many ups but the experience was amazing.

I had a four part article published in The Organic Equine which details Roxy's story and here is the story as I wrote for the magazine:

The phone cut off and the words swirled around in my head … ‘Mare’, ‘foaled’, ‘dead’. I didn’t know any more than the fact that the farrier had gone to the paddock to trim Genna and had found her dead. But, what about the foal? Was it dead too? In something of a panic (unfortunately I am one for histrionics in high stress situations), I loaded my daughter into the car and, with my husband driving we set off into the unknown. But before we travel any further, I would at this point like to provide you with a little history:

In early 1999 my husband and I moved from Wellington’s suburban sprawl to the rural idyll that is Wairarapa. We were lucky enough to discover a 25 acre slice of paradise ten minutes outside of Masterton in the farming district of Rangitumau. At the time we moved we had three horses. A year after our move, now well settled, I decided that I wanted to realise a life long dream and that was to breed a foal. After looking at a few mares, I eventually purchased a 14-year-old TB mare that had produced 7 TB foals and was being sacked from the racehorse breeding game. She was beautiful and her name was ‘So Gentle’.

Genna went on to produce two beautiful fillies for me over the following years until in her 19th year I came to the decision that I was not going to breed another foal from her myself. It seemed a waste to retire her completely when she was so healthy and produced such lovely foals so I found a local lady who wanted to breed a foal and we came to an arrangement and Genna went to a new home. Sixteen months passed and Genna who had visited a Clydesdale stallion a few months after leaving us, was due to foal in approximately two weeks. I was arranging to collect her from her current home to bring her back to our farm to foal her for the lady who had her when the phone rang ….

During the drive into town it felt as if time stood still. I was numb which I guess was from the shock and frantic thoughts were racing around in my head concerning what I was about to be confronted with. When we arrived at the paddock I saw the shape of my darling Genna lying deathly still on the ground. Lying next to her was the much smaller shape of a foal but, my very worst fears were not realised - SHE was alive and she really needed us! This dear little brown filly with a wonky blaze and hind stocking was fast to her feet when we approached and was trying frantically to suckle from her dam. In my desperation to get to the paddock as soon as I possibly could, I had not even brought a rope let alone a halter or lead (or wallet or mobile phone or shoes for my daughter!!!) but I realised that we needed to get busy and organise for this foal to get colostrum and fast! So, leaving the filly with her owner, we shot off to the vet where we secured three magic litres of frozen colostrum. We also arranged for the vet to come out and attend to the foal and we borrowed a rope from the surgery.

Back at the paddock I was able to fashion a halter from the rope and lead baby from her mother so that she could be buried. We were able to syringe a few hundred millilitres of colostrum into her and the vet stomach tubed her with a further 750ml. It was desperately hot and we were all very worried about dehydration so this was the first hurdle over but it was only the beginning what was going to be a very long and gruelling journey.

The decision was quickly made to bring the precious foal back to our place. We had yards, a stall, and a nice safe paddock and we would be able to provide her with the two hourly feeds necessary for the first few weeks of her life. The vet had given us contact details for a goat farmer in town who would probably be able to supply milk and so we began to get things organised and we brought baby home. It was not until that night that I sat down and realised that I had just gone into autopilot earlier in the day. Genna’s death upset me greatly but it wasn’t until a few days later that it would really hit me and I would grieve deeply for her.

It is at this point that I feel compelled to emphasise to all breeders (and especially would-be breeders) just how imperative it is that you have a contingency plan in place for your worst-case scenario. This whole exercise has taught me many things but most of all, how important it is that you are able to cope when you are left with an orphan foal. It is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination and there are many nights of broken sleep and stress that come with the rather enormous responsibility of raising a motherless foal.

However it is here that I must leave you as I have run out of room. But please check back next month as I will share with you the many highs, lows and challenges of our first few weeks with Roxy the orphan foal.

Roxy and I travelled home in the float together. As soon as we got her home we set about making somewhere safe for her to live so, for her first few nights, our cattle yards would become her home. We erected shade cloth over one corner to provide her with shade from the hot summer sun, made her a lovely deep bed of hay in which she could snuggle down and I dug out a cover for her so she would be kept toasty warm at night. Once I felt happy that she was settled in, I set about doing as much research as I could on orphan foals. This involved hours of pouring through my equine library and, of course, the vast resource of the Internet. With the World Wide Web at my fingertips, I was able to make contact with people all around the world who had raised orphan foals and they were to become an invaluable support network.

My research soon taught me that one of the most important things to do when faced with raising an orphan is to establish firm boundaries from day 1. Cuddles should be kept to a minimum (and yes, that is very hard). As you are effectively taking over the role of mother, you need to be prepared to act towards the foal as her mother would and unfortunately this means growling at her as well as nurturing her! Life for the breeder and the foal is phenomenally difficult without a mare and I for one will never ever take any of my mares for granted ever again! With this in mind, it was within 24 hours of Roxy’s birth that we were on the look out for a foster mare - It became very clear to me after doing the research that, if we could match her up with a foster mum successfully, we would not only be saved hours and hours of work but be giving her the next best thing to her real mother.

On day 7 a potential foster mare was located at a Stud up north of Wanganui. As none of the commercial transporters were able to bring her to us immediately (and time was of the essence), I placed a notice on the NZHorses Internet site notice board asking if anyone could help us. Within minutes I was contacted by a lady that I had known only via emails and notice board posts who offered to hire a float and drive up to the stud to collect the mare for us. She did not ask for any payment, just that any costs incurred be covered. I am still touched that someone who was for all intents and purposes, a complete stranger (but whom I now consider a good friend), would do this. But, just like us, she wanted the very best for Roxy and was only happy to help.

I dearly wish I could end the story here by telling you that Roxy and the foster mare bonded and lived happily together every after but, sadly things did not go so well. The mare (a big rangey TB) arrived minus the skin of her dead foal and unfortunately also about 4/5 days after she had lost the foal. We did everything we were told regarding scenting and introductions (including twitching which I dislike as well as tying up a leg - we have no hobbles here) but she was still determined to try to lash out (amazing what they can do on three legs!). We milked her off a bit and eventually she seemed to kind of settle so we brought the foal around but she managed to kick her with her stifle and the foal was instantly gun shy. Introductions over the fence were also not promising as the mare was pinning her ears back and striking out. It was so upsetting as she was really a lovely kind mare but she was not happy about the foal AT ALL. We tried every hour for about 8 hours but things just went from bad to worse and it became apparent that we were putting ourselves in a not inconsiderable amount of danger, not to mention the stress that we were putting the mare through. In a last ditch attempt, we then tried sedation but this had no effect at all and so upon veterinary advice, we made the tough decision to stop trying. Admitting defeat was hard and I felt like I had failed Roxy but unfortunately there was no more that we could do.

Feeding Roxy was hard work! Foals feed often, especially when they are very small and they drink large volumes and Roxy was no exception. We were incredibly fortunate (thanks to my wonderful vet) to secure the services of a local goat farmer (and horse lover) who was more than happy to provide us with milk for Roxy and we were feeding her every two hours for the first few weeks of her life. By day 3, for my sanity as much as anything else, we stretched the nights out with a three-hour break between midnight and 3am and a further three-hour break between 3am and 6am. The term zombie springs to mind when I think how I felt during those first three weeks! Roxy’s feed volumes were slowly increased but it was not long before we had the first hint of trouble.

Late on day 9 (Friday) Roxy began to lose interest in her feeds. I took her temperature and it was within normal range so rather than call the vet at this early stage I made the decision to start offering less volume but more frequently. This seemed to go OK but by her 10am feed on day 10 (Saturday) she was off her milk again. She fed each time milk was offered but her intake was seriously down and it was horribly hot weather and I began to really worry about dehydration. However, as she was still taking some milk and up on her feet and showing no major signs of illness, only some lethargy (common for foals in the midsummer heat), I decided just to keep monitoring her. I continued to offer her feeds two hourly.

Her temperature went up to 38.5 on the Saturday night but had dropped back to 37.3 on the Sunday morning but now she was scouring. Scours can kill foals and fast so we started her on an electrolyte immediately and I was hugely relieved when she drank a good 600ml of this at 1.30pm on Sunday. I had to leave a message with my vet (who I had called multiple times in the hours before, bless him for all his help) as he was not home but I managed to get hold of the stud groom at one of the local studs and was assured that I was doing everything right. I just felt like I was feeling my way blind! By 4pm on Sunday she had perked up and appeared to be re-hydrating nicely but I was starting to feel physically ill about feeding her, worrying every time that she would not feed or that she would have taken a turn for the worse. For now though, she seemed to be ok.

Roxy’s training had begun in earnest from day one and she had learnt how to lead and have all her feet picked up by the end of her first week. In between feed times I would take her out for walks around the farm and to meet the other horses and we both really enjoyed this time. I even accidentally (on purpose) let her come into the house to watch a little telly with a photograph taken for posterity winning us a couple of 1st prizes in amateur photo competitions. This was great! With the foster mare failure behind us we decided that Roxy should have a paddock companion and my 5-year-old chocolate donkey Portia was to be Roxy’s first friend. Unfortunately when it became apparent that Portia was gaining a little too much weight sharing a paddock with Roxy we moved my 25-year-old retired eventer in to take over babysitting duties. Bados took these duties very seriously and was to be a very tender and protective father to Roxy whilst they were together.

After Roxy’s initial health worries we were to have a largely uninterrupted period of good health until day 16 when things were to again take a turn for the worse. Roxy began to go off her feed in the morning, drinking half of her usual 8am feed. I decided not to worry too much as I had already spent enough time worrying, perhaps if I tried not to let things get to me it would all be ok? But, I got home at 1pm to discover that she had not drunk a drop since her 8am feed. So I promptly did what I do best which was to go into stress overdrive. When I went to check her she was acting strangely and I watched her for a few minutes before catching her. She was on edge, standing in a way that a horse being harassed by a fly would stand. Head up, ears back, tail swishing, nose flicking, feet stamping and then she would suddenly bolt, almost blindly. When I caught her she went ballistic. I then decided to take her temperature. 38.90 (high) and her heart rate was 120 bpm (also high). Both elevated enough to have me making a hurried phone call to my vet.

The first thing I did was to take her somewhere cool and sponge her down as the vet suggested that she could just be suffering from the heat (it was a stifling windless 30 degree plus day). Her heart rate came down at this point and she drank a little milk, nibbled at some hay and drank a little water from her bucket. I was still not happy about her though. Another call to the vet and he suggested waiting another twenty minutes which I did. In the following twenty minutes she urinated no less than five times and then I began to think perhaps a urinary tract infection. I ran this theory past my vet also telling him that she was also looking around at her tail in a very agitated manner. By now he decided it was definitely time to come out for a visit so I went back up to her stall to wait for him worrying desperately that something awful was wrong with her. The vet arrived and set about examining Roxy who was treated for colic and the suspected beginnings of pneumonia! Buscopan and some antibiotics were administered and I was under instructions to watch her carefully so, it was another sleepless night for me! Fortunately come the following day she was much improved however, with her upset tummy followed the inevitable scouring so she was back on the Dexolyte and watered down milk rations as well as antibiotics to beat back those nasty greeblies making her breathing a bit rattly. Was I ever going to be able to relax and stop worrying about this little girl?

On Roxy’s one-month birthday she was looking an absolute picture. She had really started to fill out beautifully but it would turn out that she was not finished testing me. On 4 December she came down with a very high temperature so I was again calling my poor long suffering vet for advice. What now? Again she was lethargic and depressed and it looked like yet another infection had taken hold. Fortunately as I always have antibiotics on hand, I was able to give her a shot that evening and the vet visited her the following day and prescribed a short course of antibiotics. Poor wee Roxy was turning into a pincushion and I was beginning to wonder how much longer this could possibly go on. Fortunately for us all she bounced back quickly and this was to be the last bout of ill health that she would have whilst in our care.

With Roxy’s health being so up and down we had delayed teaching her to bucket feed so she was on the bottle for quite a long time. Finally by about week eight we were able to put her on to the bucket and this meant that feeding times were much simpler and quicker for us all. Roxy was eating really well and growing fast. She was down to 5 feeds a day consisting of the goat’s milk and her orphan foal mix which we gradually substituted with a recognised brand broodmare mix. Finally we felt like we were over the biggest hurdle and on the home straight. Roxy was just about ready to leave us and I had to face the fact that the time that I had been supposed to be mentally preparing for, for 8 weeks was fast approaching.

It was coming up to 10 weeks after the fateful day of Roxy’s birth and it was now hard to believe that the helpless, wobbly little orphan that we had trailered home supported in my arms was the very same horse as the feisty filly that was now very much a part of our family. Roxy had certainly tested us and whilst the lows saw me pretty close to despair, the highs more than made up for it. She was now a healthy, happy and extremely well adjusted and getting larger than life by the day little horse!

With Roxy’s health worries behind us we were able to get her drinking from the bucket, which freed up a lot of time to spend doing other things. She was already very good at picking up her feet and so she had her first hoof trim, which she accepted like a well-seasoned and very grown up horse. Her walks were extended and she would be walked around the paddocks most days to chat with the other horses and generally familiarise herself with life outside her small paddock. It was very important to constant remind Roxy of boundaries as she considered me her mum and thus would occasionally throw her weight around and, well, act like a young horse! This is ok when your mum is 600kg but not so when your mum is a human! Roxy learned fast and apart from the odd minor hiccup, we seemed to have her education well under control.

Finally the day that I had been dreading dawned and I got up with a real sense of emptiness in my heart. I knew all along that Roxy was not mine but she was the last tangible piece that I had of my darling mare Genna and had become such a huge part of my life over the previous weeks that I was not sure how I was going to manage without her. Deep down I knew I would be fine and I had told myself over and over that she would be fine and that I must not cry or show her that I was upset as I didn’t want to upset her too.

I spent some extra time with her that morning allowing myself to take the time to cuddle her, something that I had carefully avoided doing in the previous months so as not to spoil her. She was so naughty, it was as if she knew something was up and was trying to convince me that I hadn’t done a good enough job and would need to keep her a little longer to iron out the wrinkles. I took lots of photographs although for some unknown reason the camera lense was awfully blurry …

With the float hooked up and Roxy’s ‘family’ walking up the driveway towards us, I did what I had hoped and prayed that I would not do, I cried. Bawled like a baby in fact. Most embarrassing! I didn’t want to delay, I needed to get this over with so as not to upset Rox or prolong the agony any longer. I have never been good at goodbyes and am sure I have horrified a number of people who have bought horses off me over the years as I have sobbed all over them. I’m not really sure what to do about this but as I guess it is just an integral part of what makes me, me, there is probably nothing that can be done. Most people seem pretty good about it and I have certainly had my fair share of hugs from near strangers for this very reason over the years.

We hadn’t taught Roxy to load on a float however she did know about pressure and release and, with a little assistance from the helpers on hand, Roxy was gently encouraged to load into the float which she did with very little fuss or bother. Suddenly she looked so small again and the composure that I had managed to regain whilst concentrating on getting her happily loaded into the float, disappeared! I had a few final moments alone where I fed her some carrots and had a mother daughter chat about staying away from wire fences and bad boys and always being a good and respectful girl. I told her I hoped that she would keep in touch but would understand if she had adventures that made this impossible but that I would always remember and love her with all of my heart. And with that, I stepped out of the float and watched her leave me … probably forever.

At this point I want to thank all those people who were there for me whilst I was caring for Roxy. My wonderful vet John McLaren from Animal Hospital in Masterton who was only ever a phone call away and who really made me feel like I had everything under control even when I am not so sure I did! My darling husband who was with me every step of the way and who took some of the 3am feeds for me when I was just too exhausted to drag myself out of bed. My two Swiss houseguests who were fantastic support workers and who took over a number of Roxy’s feeds when I was at work and who love Roxy every bit as much as I do. All the people who emailed me and phoned me with advice and support, you are too many to name but I thank you all for putting up with me and my stressful moments. And finally to my darling and beautiful Genna for producing a gorgeous strong filly foal before crossing the rainbow bridge. I am sure Roxy would never have made it if she hadn’t been endowed with a good dose of Genna’s incredible fighting spirit. RIP 'So Gentle' my beloved old girl, till we meet again.

At three months Michelle took Roxy back. Without a word of thanks. I was stunned! Soon after she put her on the market without even giving me the option to purchase her. I could not afford to anyway but could not understand why she was not offered to me.


PS I am delighted to let you all know that after I contacted a friend of mine about Roxy's plight (she really needed a new home!), she is now living very happily with some wonderful people up north and is very much loved and cared for. She has learned to break into the feed shed and help herself to items and can frequently be seen gambolling about her paddock with random 'toys' in her mouth. Quite the character by all accounts.

Lark's Story - The beautiful mare who broke my heart

I purchased 'What a Lark' (Light Spirits/Rocky Mountain) in foal with Reilly. I purchased her sight unseen off photos taken in previous months and because I am friends with the daughter of her breeder who was able to tell me the history of the mare and her family. She has fancy bloodlines, being closely related to a number of very good NZ performance horses both in eventing, SJ and dressage! Plus, she had the most beautiful head and I am an absolute sucker for a pretty face!
This is a photo of Lark the day after I collected her from the stud. She is seven months in foal in this pic. What you cannot see is the state of her feet ...

That is her off fore after three months in hoof boots and regular farrier treatment. Eventually we had her xrayed: This poor girl had suffered through at least three pregnancies with sub clinical laminitis that was untreated. Her feet oozed pus from the constant suppurating abscesses and she could barely walk.

At first we tried to save her but as time went on, we realised we had no real choice but to settle for palliative care. She had osteomyelits and the bones in her feet were literally crumbling to pieces.

In the meantime, by the time Reilly was born Lark looked like this:

Reilly was born healthy and strong but small. When he was four weeks old I went out to the paddock to find the one thing that no horse owner ever wants to find. My precious little colt was dragging a hind leg and in considerable pain. Immediately I called the vet out who advised that he had not broken his pelvis but he strongly suspected it was fractured. What this meant was box rest for a number of weeks leading to yarding and restricted turnout for yet more weeks.
Reilly is a trooper and coped well and healed well however the restriction did his mother no good at all. I couldn't risk taking her out to hand walk her in case Reilly got upset and the restricted movement meant that the blood flow to her feet was restricted quite badly and her feet flared up and she started to lose condition. We could only manage her pain in a restricted sense because she was feeding her foal. It was a heartbreaking and stressful time for us all.
Eventually Reilly was able to return to a small paddock and to this day has remained sound however Lark never bounced back like he did and we made the very difficult decision to have her euthanised when Reilly was 5 months old. She was only 14 years old.
RIP My Beautiful Noble Mare

The 2004/5 Season - Joy and Heartbreak

Ever since I had seen him as a young horse at Puhunui, I had adored Mighty Heights. The opportunity to purchase a mare in foal to him came up in 2004 and I grabbed it with both hands. 'What a Lark' produced a gorgeous colt foal for us in October 2004. Reilly was everything I had ordered. Lark however broke my heart and I will dedicate a page of this blog to her.

In 2004 (November) Rafferty was born. A full brother to Malteser and a better looking foal than Malty was. Rafferty has recently been sold to a Wellington woman who intends on bringing him in for dressage and some Show Jumping. She loves him to pieces.

TF Holden - At last Debi has a baby!

After a rather disasterous attempt to breed Debi to Bridie's sire, we elected to put Hamish over her. The cross promised to be an interesting and saleable one and it was much easier for us to supervise her breeding than leave her with an outside studmaster. Debi obliged and in November 2003 over Bathhurst weekend, Holden was born. Cute, chunky and full of character! Holden was sold as a yearling to a local rider who is looking forward to competing in CTR with him. He is due back from Gavin Morison later this month and I have been asked to ride him when he comes back - Wahooooooo!

TF Bijou - TWINS!!!

Bijou's birth was both a blessing and an ordeal. After producing Bridie we gave Genna a year off and then bred her to Hamish for our first Hamish foal from a TB mare. BJ was born on a very stormy night unattended (due to my idiocy in putting the foaling alarm batteries in the pouch upside down - I will never EVER do THAT again!!!). I awoke early and looked out the bedroom window to see Genna and a tiny little foal on wobbly legs. I rushed outside and as I was walking up the paddock I could see a large white mass up by the shed. My heart was in my mouth. At first (and this is ridiculous now) I panicked and thought that Genna had pushed her innards out and left them in the paddock but of course, as I got closer, I realised I was looking at a complete birth sac with a perfectly formed foal inside. The foal was a colt and we named him Beau. Nick buried him alongside my beautiful old Pony Hazel so that they may graze the emerald fields of heaven together for all eternity. This was a loss I took very hard. Everyone told me it was for the best, mares do not cope well with twins, especially not old TB mares, I would've had to supplementary feed, Bijou's health would've been compromised and so on and so forth. But, all I ever think of is how miraculous it would've been to raise twin foals and how he might have survived had I been there to take care of him when he was born ...
I sold BJ as a weanling to a lovely lady in the Waikato. She is in a wonderful home and is much loved. She begins her education under saddle this summer.

TF Azale - My Arabian Princess

The last foal for our second breeding season was Azale. Azale was one of E'Arlia Jarim's (Ralvon Pilgrim) last foals and her dam, 'Anopia' was a gorgeous little TB mare that was bred in Ireland and imported into NZ as a 2yo. Azale is an absolute beauty and I just wish I could find some photos that do her more justice! Nearly two weeks early she surprised me by arriving the day that her dam was due to be put in the foaling paddock by herself. Azale was only sold because we hit our straps financially and something had to go. All the babies were advertised and she was the first to sell. She has gone to an experienced family where she is destined for a career in tent pegging. I get regular updates and expect to see her represent NZ one day.

Some Videos

I recently discovered YouTube and have uploaded a few videos on to the site. Getting video footage of all the horses is something that I really wanted to do this summer but time seems to be getting away on me. Anyway, here are a couple of clips of this year's foals Meg and Finn - I hope this works!

Sunday, 7 January 2007

TF Malteser - The luck of the Irish

We welcomed our first Irish colt into the world only a short few days after Hippy's arrival. Malty was textbook and his new mum took her job very seriously (so seriously that I was hesitant to approach her for a number of days after his birth!). But WHAT an ugly foal he was, bless him. But the ugly duckling did grow into a swan and was sold when he was two to a young Wellington rider who has big plans for him.

TF Hipster - A close call!

Foal No. 2 born at Talisman Farm was not nearly as straight forward as Foal No. 1! Hippy was what is known as a 'Dogsitter' and was well and truly wedged inside her mother. Fortunately my sixth sense kicked in as soon as the mare went into labour and the vet was called. Hippy was so named because she hung by her hips from her mother for 45 minutes until she finally came into the world (with a crash). Her birth required ropes, fenceposts, two very strong men and it was one of the scariest equine experiences of my life but oh what a precious darling she is. The photo below shows her as a three year old. Beautiful! She is my dear 'little' (she's around 16.2HH) treasure and I don't think I could ever bring myself to sell her. We have a bond that I find hard to describe but it is like we understand each other completely and I just love my gentle sweet girl.

TF Hipster's photo album

TF Bridie - Our first foal

TF Bridie - The foal that started it all! Bridie is by an unregistered clydesdale stallion out of a NZTB mare 'So Gentle' by So Bold. Bridie was sold as a R3yo to a farmer who also does a lot of trail riding and SJ. She is in a very good home and her owner rates her highly.

The Broodmares

Maude is by the legendary RID stallion Kingsway Diamond and has produced two lovely foals for us by Hamish. Maude has an excellent performance record (SJ and Saddle Hunter) and her owner currently lives in the UK and has leased her to us for an indefinite period. We are really lucky to have such a nice mare in our paddocks. Maude is in foal to Hamish again and due later this month.
Kennybrook Maude (Debi) is a purebred Clydesdale mare and has produced two beautiful foals for us. The first a crossbred by TF Hamish and the most recent a purebred Clydesdale by Kintyre Lodge Robbie. At one time Debi was part of the team of horses that made up the DB Breweries team.

Bo (Rockdon Bollee) is a relatively new addition to the family and is by ISH sire, Willie John (Laughton's Legend) out of a St James bred mare. Bo is in foal to our young Colt, TF Reilly (Mighty Heights ex What a Lark/Light Spirits/Rocky Mountain), and is due to foal November 2007.

Abba Jean by Abbas Lad (by super sire Aberlou) is a lease mare. She was bred to TF Hamish and has prouduced a stunning colt foal (TF Finn).

2006/07 season foals

This year we have a well spread out foaling season. Two of the three expected foals have arrived and they are TF Megan by Kintyre Lodge Robbie ex Kennybrooke Maude and TF Finn by TF Hamish ex Abba Jean (Abbas Lad/Aberlou). We are thrilled with these two foals and now eagerly await number three foal for the season - due at the end of this month!

Please select the clickable links above to view each foal's photo album - Enjoy!

San Barbados - Don't tell him he's a geriatric!!

This horse is a superstar. Foaled on January the 1st 1981, Bados has just celebrated his 26th birthday and boy does he look and feel good! A fabulous performance horse in his day, Bados has Show Jumped and Evented to a high level and is still completely sound. He is slowing down a bit these days but I have every confidence that he will be around for many years to come, bless him.

Wynard Laganbay - I'm a lucky gal to have a horse like this!

Lagan is by lovely ISH riding horse. An absolute darling, so long suffering and kind natured and the kind of horse that really is a one in a million and I will never sell. He's such a nice allrounder, very talented and completely wasted on me but I don't care coz I LOVE him to pieces! He is by the now deceased RID stallion Laughton's Legend out of a NZTB mare. Foaled in 1990, Lagan will be 17 this year!

Kintyre Lodge Robbie

Kintyre Lodge Robbie (above) is a young (2002) Registered Clydesdale Stallion. He is a great big daft goofball. A gregarious and playful horse, he has always been a lot of fun to have around. His first foal was born this season, a purebred clydesdale foal out of our Registered Clydesdale mare Debi (Kennybrook Maude). We are currently awaiting news of his second foal, due to an outside breeder. It is an anxious wait this year as two outside mares this season have lost foals (in foal to Hamish) and this is Robbie's second foal and first to a TB mare.

TF Hamish - He started it all!

Here at Talisman Farm we are striving to breed Extraordinary Horses for Ordinary Riders (just like me!). We currently stand two stallions who have been chosen for their type and their temperament.

TF Hamish (top) is an East Coast Stationbred with a considerable dash of Arab in his breeding. He is a nuggety strong stallion with a gentle and calm temperament. He moves with grace and lightness and I just love any excuse to work with this boy. He was foaled in 1999 and will be 8 years old this year (2007). He has a few foals on the ground now and I hope to introduce most of them to you during the course of this blog. Very exciting for me is to see some of his babies coming out under saddle and this is finally happening.