We’re taking a look at all our horses in turn to provide some insight into their characters and this time it’s the turn of Autumn.
This lovely mare is a Welsh Section C x Arab and was a surprise addition to our team. I bought Summer 16 years ago – and got another one for free! We didn’t know she had Autumn with her.
When I brought Summer home I asked our vet at the time to look her over and was advised she was a little overweight. Within a week we had a shock foal, discovered when we checked the horses at breakfast time. She was a beautiful little filly with four white socks and a white blaze. We contacted the previous owners and they said they had no stallion, so she could not possibly have been in foal. But we had the evidence! Then they admitted that they had had an 18-month-old British Arab colt running with their herd. And – surprise, surprise – he was chestnut with four white socks and a white blaze. Case proved!
Autumn was always quite a strong minded filly and was always brave and a little bit feisty. I started to train her at four and with all my patience and knowledge of natural horsemanship she still proved tricky. She always had her own opinions about everything! In the end the answer was to just get on her and ride her out. From the start she excelled and eventually became a push-button ride. We find that with young riders and teenagers ready for their first canters she is the ideal choice. With her Welsh x Arab breeding she has plenty of stamina and she is very hardy.
Autumn has a massive fan club from beginners to advanced riders, from kids to adults. She was a free gift who has turned out to be priceless.
We have been talking so much lately about our equestrian centre redevelopment that I decided it was time to get back to what we all love best – our fantastic team of horses. So I thought you might like to know a little more about each one of them and have a little insight into their backgrounds and characters. I think we’ll go about it alphabetically, so I will start with Atlantis;
This handsome jet black boy is a Welsh Section D x Irish. He was home bred from Sophie, an Irish Cob mare who was one of my original trekking centre horses, bought when she was a five-year-old.
Having had a couple of fantastic Welsh Section D’s from a local breeder I went back to look again and found Capulate as a youngster. I decided to keep him as an entire at first, so I mated him with Sophie.
Sophie had a very calm nature and was one of the most comfortable horses I have ever ridden, while Capulate’s nature is very forward going and invigorating. So I ended up with something calm and sensible but with a little bit of the X Factor about him. From day one Atlantis was a bold and very affectionate youngster, aspects of his character which have stayed with him and he is now a great all-rounder.
We use him as a lead horse and he is trained for horseback archery, yet he is so sensible and lovely to ride that he is very popular and a great favourite with our experienced riders. He is always enthusiastic and eager to please his rider.
The only downside to this gorgeous and eye-catching boy relates to his conformation – he has a dipped back. Because of that I gave him plenty of time to mature and he wasn’t broken in until he was four and a half.
My vet and I keep a close eye on him and after the two of us talked it over I decided to impose a weight limit on him. Only riders who are under 10 stone are now allowed to ride Atlantis, as I want to keep him sound and make sure of his longevity. Still, it’s a great incentive to keep the chocolate consumption under control over Christmas!
She’s a real beauty, I’m sure you all agree.
Of course I’m talking about our new arrival, little Montana, whose lovely looks and cheeky personality have already earned her a massive fan club.
I kept you all in touch with events on the night of her birth via our Facebook page and it attracted such huge interest that I thought I would share with you all my foal diary.
I always like to keep a diary when one of my mares is in foal so I can keep a record of all the changes as the weeks go by. Then I can be there to make sure that both mum and baby are absolutely safe throughout the labour and birth.
Larosa – Lola to all her friends – is our lovely bay Welsh Section D mare. She was in foal to our coloured stallion Zidane, a first pregnancy for her, and the baby was due on May 20th.
She was scanned in foal in July 2014 and continued to work up to December when she started her maternity leave. On March 10th she moved into her foaling box and we began camera monitoring on April 27th.
Here’s how the last few weeks progressed:
April 28th: For a maiden mare Lola has a huge baby bump and has already changed shape behind.
April 29th: Lola is quiet in the field during the day but has started to become restless in the stable at night.
May 3rd: Lola has started kicking out at her belly and rubbing her tail, but has not really developed an udder yet.
May 4th: Standing quietly but scratching her back legs together and flashing her tail frequently – I think the baby’s kicking!
May 5th: Shaking her head and biting her stomach tonight.
May 6th: She’s doing what I call mooching in her bed – making a nest.
May 9th: Rubbing her tail and pushing against the stable – I find mares do this when their foals are active. Lola’s udder is developing and she has a tiny bit of wax on her teats. She is becoming very restless and walking her stable and stamping a lot, signs that she is becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
May 10th: This morning Lola didn’t want to go out in the field – unlike her! But we turned her out as I find it relaxes the mare. She’s in the field next to Zidane which seems to settle both of them. We’ve seen her rolling more than normal in the paddock.
May 11th: I’ve spent the last couple of nights watching her closely as maiden mares can be sneaky and she’s showing me all the signs of labour! I’ve now plaited and bandaged her tail and left the stable light on.
May 12th: This morning Lola is still reluctant to go out to the field and her udder is very full.
May 12th – 5pm: She has now completely waxed up on her teats and is dripping milk. Foaling should happen tonight!
7.30pm: The baby is either kicking or very big – contractions are happening!
8.45pm: She’s digging her bed (nesting)! Her back end spasms underneath her four times.
8.52pm: Eating some hay.
8.53pm: Mooching her bed and digging again.
9.41pm: I can see on the monitor that the white bag is visible. This is now when I can go in to her, never before as you can interfere with the birth. I’ve learned that in the past! Once the bag is visible it’s the point of no return for the mare, the baby is coming.
10.03pm: I can see two legs and a little nose but she seems like a big foal so I give Lola a little help and our new baby is safely delivered.
10.30pm: She’s standing for the first time, a very strong little girl.
As we always expected, Lola is proving to be the ideal mother. Zidane has had a good look at his new daughter and is very proud.
Mare and foal are now out in the field in the daytime, enjoying the sunshine, and Montana is loving testing out her long legs.
Larosa’s Pregnancy – Welsh section D Mare First Foal
We had lots of suggestions for names, following our Chase Stud theme of American states. I eventually had a shortlist of five and finally went for Montana.
It seems to suit her perfectly and fits very well with her brothers and sisters, Dakota, Oregon, Indiana and Arizona.
I’m sure you all wish her a warm and loving welcome to the trekking centre.
23.20: She’s feeding from mom.
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.
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