Horse Of The Month – Zidane, April 2015

As we started our new horse of the month feature last month with our gorgeous mum-to-be Larosa, it makes perfect sense to follow with Zidane, the father of her baby.

Zidane is my 16.2hh KWPN Tobiano stallion, and is the sire of four youngsters so far here at the Trekking Centre – Dakota, Oregon, Arizona and Indiana. Our fifth will be Larosa’s little one, due on May 20th.

I bought Zidane in 2011 as a special birthday present to myself – he was the first horse I have ever bought just for myself rather than for the Centre. Some people mark a certain birthday with a fast sportscar – well Zidane is my Ferrari.

In my eyes he is the most stunning horse I have ever seen, not just conformation-wise. He has the most fantastic temperament of any stallion I have ever come across.

I found him when I had a mare that I wanted to put in foal. He was advertised at stud after coming over from Holland.

But when I rang up to inquire about him I discovered that his owners were about to put him up for sale. I got talking to them and said that one of the dreams I had always had was to breed my own horses.

They told me he was like no other stallion they had ever known. They felt he could have a very natural life here at the Centre where he could enjoy daily turn-out and being ridden regularly. I talked to them for ages about him.

And then I broke all my own rules about buying horses – I bought him unseen over the phone!

I just went with my gut and my heart – I felt it was something that was meant to be.

But then I went into panic mode – I was thinking “What on earth have I done?”

That panic disappeared the moment he arrived. As he came down the ramp I just wanted to cry – he was so beautiful. I was, quite simply, gob-smacked!

Buying him without seeing him could have been a gamble that backfired completely. But it has proved to be exactly the opposite.

From the day he arrived there has never been a single problem. He fits in fantastically well with the herd and with the treks. When ridden he is always under control and in the stable is a complete gentleman. He has the most perfect manners.

He has swum in the sea on the Wales holidays, led treks on the Chase, and set the pace on the Sheriff of Lichfield’s ride, where he is surrounded by up to 80 other horses. There is never a problem.

And he is very definitely my horse. We have a very special relationship and he is very affectionate.

We have found, too, that his foals inherit his nature. While they all have the colour of their mothers, it is his lovely temperament that Zidane passes on.

Everybody adores him – especially me. He is my horse of a lifetime.

Horse Of The Month – Larosa, March 2015

Welcome to horse of the month – our new regular feature here on the centre’s website.

Every month we’re going to feature one of the horses you all love so much – and who better to start with than our beautiful Larosa.

All the centre’s regulars will know that the excitement is growing because Larosa is expecting a new addition to our herd.

Larosa, a gorgeous bay Welsh Section D, is in foal to Zidane, our coloured Dutch Warmblood stallion. Everyone is talking about what the new arrival might be. The due date is May 20 – but breeding horses is always a case of wait and see.

We have had Larosa – Lola for short – for three years. She arrived as an unbroken five-year-old and proved a quick learner, always bold and confident. It wasn’t too long before our clients were enjoying riding her on the Chase.

That was one of the reasons we decided to breed from her, even though she is quite young. She is very popular here at the centre. We haven’t got enough Lolas to go around, so we decided we needed a baby one coming along behind.

Another reason for putting her in foal is that she is the ‘Nanny McPhee’ of our herd. She loves the youngsters and becomes surrogate mum to all our weanlings.

Our stud vet has loved her from the moment she first met her, and recommended it was time she had a baby of her very own.

We are counting down the days now. It is the first time we have covered a bay with Zidane and we are so excited to see what colour the little one will be.

Zidane’s offspring here at the centre start with Dakota, who was born coloured, a flashy black and white just like his dad. Now he is a spotted Appaloosa – the same as Nicoh, his mum.

Then there is Whispa’s son Oregon, who is dun with black points and a dorsal stripe. Last year’s foals are Indiana – Nicoh’s second baby – who was born a chocolate bay but is now steel grey, and Arizona, who was born a skewbald like mum Tia and has retained her original markings.

All their colourings seem to take after their mothers, and I have seen pictures of some of Zidane’s earlier babies, born before he came to us. One was coloured and another was bay.

In my mind Larosa is having a boy and he is bay. But one of the exciting things about breeding is that you simply don’t know, so we will be having a sweepstake for a bit of fun. Keep a lookout when you come to the centre and have a go. There’ll be a prize for the winner.

Larosa is thriving in pregnancy. She looks great after wintering out, but she’s now coming in at night to the comfort of her foaling box. For a maiden mare she has a really big baby bump so we’re keeping a close watch on her.

The cameras in the box are linked to a monitor in my house and I am studying her night time routine carefully so that as the due date gets closer I will spot any tiny changes in her behaviour. From now on we will also be looking for signs of the formation of her udder. I will take pictures so we can identify the changes.

When the birth is imminent I will go into the stable with her to make sure everything goes smoothly and she has no difficulties. Once the foal is standing and drinking I will leave the pair of them alone to enjoy some quiet bonding time together.

I have no doubt at all that Larosa will be a wonderful mum. She has wanted a baby of her own for so long that it is just great her time is nearly here.

We know how interested all Larosa’s friends are so we are looking into the technology of showing the foaling box feed on our website. We would love you all to share in this beautiful experience so keep an eye on our Facebook page for news.