Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer Update

Hey, everyone.  Thanks for bearing with through yet another LONG journal/blog hiatus. Lots to catch up on.

Young KWPN-NA Event

Kate Bruning and Michaela have planned an educational day at SSF this coming Saturday.  We're going to start the day with a conversation about breeding and the philosophy behind our breeding program, then a show and tell of all our horses.  I haven't heard the whole schedule, but I think we have a young horse trainer, an equine dentist, and a blacksmith doing demos and answering questions.  Plus...I'm making lunch and hosting a cocktail hour in the afternoon.  If you're interested in any or all of the event, you don't have to be young or KWPN-NA to attend.  Just shoot me an email or a text and I'll get details to you.

2017 Foals

All babies are safely on the ground (knock on wood).  For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know already we had a banner colt year.  Six colts and one filly.  This was supposed to be the year we kept a few fillies, and, as luck would have it, the one mare that had a filly is the mare we kept a filly from last year....oh, well--there's always next year.  Here are the babies and descriptions:

Magic Mike SSF (Governor x Contango x Elcaro)

Mikey is a big, solid, beautiful boy.  Solid bay except for one hind white foot.  He looks almost exactly like his full brother who was number one in NA two years ago.  Mikey may be a little heavier in type, but he's equally as good a mover.  He had a pre-sale option on him, but the buyer backed out. No reason.  I'm hoping to get some video footage of him this weekend during the Young KWPN-NA event that is being held here. 

Milestone SSF (Uno Don Diego x Totilas x Jazz)

Tall, black, and beautiful. This boy has the best walk we've ever seen on a foal.  His movement is very much like his famous mom's was at this age.  Miles is already sold, and I'm sure he'll be a phenomenal dressage partner in a few years.

Marcus Aurelius SSF (Roven xx x Jazz x Roemer)

Marcus is Orchis's last foal.  He's smart as a whip, beautiful, and the easiest to handle of any of the dozen Orchis babies we've had. I haven't decided just what to do with Mr. Marcus.  I really want a stallion from this mare.  We'll see.  

Mamet SSF (Vitalis x Donatelli x Jazz)

It looks as if Davey is moving to Holland to be raised as a stallion project.  I'll keep you posted.  We have a stunning collection of foals this year.  Davey is my favorite.

Mahatma SSF (Vitalis x Freestyle x Jazz)

Matty is all dressage horse.  He's got the perfect neck set; he lifts his body up and carries himself; he is super expressive with both the front and hind legs. He maybe a little small, but he's fancy as hell.  Carol and I are both excited about the Vitalis cross on your mares. Matty has a first option on him, but I haven't gotten off my ass to get any video footage of him for the buyer.  Hopefully, this weekend will give us that opportunity.

Mona Liscia SSF (Netto x UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx)

What a character Ms. Mona is.  She is so damn athletic.  I think I keep saying this, but I have no doubt Eliscia SSF will become one of our best producers.  This is another top filly from her.  Mona is already sold.

Moves Like Jagger SSF (Totilas x Sir Sinclair x Jazz)

You have no idea how disappointed I am this foal wasn't a filly.  Oh, my god. We have loved the UB-40 cross on BoWendy, but the Totilas cross is even better.  This boy has the killer Totilas walk and canter and his mother's trot mechanism.  He's a super colt. He's already sold.


2017 Breedings

We're running about 50/50 on  breeding success this year, which is a lot lower than I normally run. I've heard of a lot of people having a tough time getting mares in foal. Hopefully, the second half of July will bring us some good heat cycles and get us some pregnancies.

Gazania (Bon Bravour x Santano)

-ET from Vitalis
-pregnant to UB-40

Hyacintia (Charmeur x Santano)

-ET from Gaudi
-pregnant to Just Wimphof

Galearites SSF (Totilas x Jazz)

-bred to Vitalis to carry--no pg
-bred to Don Martillo for ET--no embryo
-bred to Veneziano for ET--no embryo

D'Orites SSF (Donatelli x Jazz)

-pregnant to Belantis

ZaVita SSF (Contango x Elcaro)

-bred to Democraat--no pg
-two funky cycles without breeding
-this mare didn't conceive the last time she was nursing a foal

Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz)

-bred to Veneziano--no pg

Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx)

-bred to Don Olymbrio--too early to check

Carpe Diem SSF (Farrington x Pass the Glass xx)

-bred to Governor--don't think she's pg--need to check again tomorrow

BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz)

-haven't bred yet

I am determined to spend no more money of frozen semen or breedings this year, so we'll use up what we have in our tank, then whoever is not pregnant by early August gets the year off.  We have Don Olymbrio, Wynton, Don Tango B, Democraat, Donatelli, Governor, Barroso, Roven xx, and some Nubian goat semen that I'm saving for when I get really desperate.

Sales

Knock on wood, people like our horses.  Thank you for that. Katmandu SSF (Governor x Samber), Felicites SSF (Rousseau x Jazz), J'Orites SSF (Florianus II x Donatelli), Liberto SSF (Sir Sinclair x Freestyle), Lamborghini SSF (Sir Sinclair x Donatelli), Milestone SSF (Uno Don Diego x Totilas), Mona Liscia SSF (Netto x UB-40), and Moves Like Jagger SSF (Totilas x Sir Sinclair) have all found great homes this spring and early summer. And, I'm pretty sure Mahatma SSF (Vitalis x Freestyle) will convince the woman who has an option on him how cool he is once I get off my butt and get her a video.  

That means we don't have a lot of horses for sale:

Magic Mike SSF (Governor x Contango)

-description above

Kublai Khan SSF (UB-40 x Vincent)

-we have held on to this special boy because we really wanted him as a stallion.  Unfortunately, he just isn't tall enough.  He's only 15.1 hands as a two year old.  I'm sure he'll grow and hit damn near or above 16 hands, but, as a two year old with his pedigree, the KWPN wants him taller. He's one of our best movers ever, and he's super sweet. He will make someone an exceptional dressage horse.  I just have to decide if we're going to geld him before we sell him or not.

and, maybe...

Marcus Aurelius SSF (Roven xx x Jazz)

I'm really hoping to keep this boy. But, I'm also committed to simplifying our lives, and having stallions on the property does anything but simplify a life. I just don't know what to do on this one.

As always with any sales, we're happiest with payment plans, so tell us what works for you. On most horses, we give an automatic 20% discount to return customers and FEI-level riders.



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Excited and Ready for Spring!


Don Olymbrio

(Jazz x Ferro x Sultan x Doruto)

I'm so excited that the KWPN has given erkend status to both Vitalis and Don Olymbrio. We're expecting two Vitalis babies this year and purchased two more doses, and we purchased three doses of Don Olymbrio last year for use this year. As much as I love the flexibility of using the Register A option, I hate the logistics necessary to complete the studbook status of the offspring. 

We're headed toward foaling season at SSF!  ZaVita SSF is first up, but Orchis is threatening to foal early again this year.  She's due about three weeks after ZaVita, but my guess is she will foal first.  Knock on wood she holds out until at least 310 days.  Orchis is at 294 days today.  Keep your fingers crossed. This will be Orchis's last foal. At her age, her body deserves a break. She's been an amazing producer for us. We wouldn't be where we are as a program without her.

2017 Foals

We still have some options open on upcoming foals.  Our plan is to keep at least two fillies, but it will depend which mare produces what.  I've instructed each of them in both our desired color and sex, but who knows if they've listened to me.

Governor x ZaVita SSF (Contanto x Elcaro)                    

 colt option taken, filly option not available


Uno Don Diego x Galearites SSF   (Totilas x Jazz)

 colt option may be available, filly option not available


Roven xx x Orchis (Jazz x Roemer)                              

possible colt option, filly option not available


Vitalis x D'Orites SSF  (Donatelli x Jazz)                         

colt option taken, not sure if filly option is also taken


Netto x Eliscia SSF (UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx)                             

colt option taken, filly option open


Vitalis x Werites SSF (Freestyle x Jazz)                         

 colt option open, Michaela has first choice if it's a filly


Governor x Carpe Diem SSF (Farrington x Pass the Glass xx)

both options open


Totilas x BoWendy (Sir Sinclair x Jazz)

colt option possibly open, filly option not available


Even if an option is taken and you're interested in one of the potential babies, give me a shout. Last year, we had an option on our Governor x UB-40 filly.  The woman came to look at her and thought she was too tall. This filly went on to be the number one foal in North America and a permanent member of the SSF herd.  Our base price is 15K, 12K to repeat customers and current FEI level riders. The prices will be higher on both the Uno x Totilas and the Totilas x Sir Sinclair if they're colts we decide to sell.  Generous payment plans available on all of our babies.


2017 Breeding Plans

It's the first week of April, and I'm just about committed to my breeding picks on all our mares...at least, I'm committed to my frozen semen purchases--it's still possible I'll change my mind about which straws to thaw for which mare.  Here's where I'm at right now:

Governor x Elcaro x Belisar
Governor x Sir Sinclair x Jazz
Don Olymbrio x UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx
Don Olymbrio x Farrington x Pass the Glass xx
Vitalis x Donatelli x Jazz
Vitalis x Freestyle x Jazz (Michaela could switch this one)
Experiment x Bon Bravour x Santano
Experiment x Totilas x Jazz
Desperado x Charmeur x Santano

Sorry, Carol gets mad at me when I give away absolutely everything I'm thinking.  Both the experiment breedings are intended for us to keep, colt or filly.

Back up semen in the tank:  Roven xx, Donatelli, and Democraat. And, as always, I will rely on the kindness and solid genetics of Iron Spring Farm stallions if my frozen exploits aren't working out.




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

KWPN Stallion Show 2017

I had decided not to do a Stallion Show recap this year, but my thoughts are so jumbled and undecided about what I saw, the state of dressage breeding within both the KWPN and KWPN-NA breeding populations, and how both of these things affect our breeding program that now I'm thinking it could be a helpful process to write about it.

Qualifier  

As I say every year, these thoughts are just my opinions.  I'm not intentionally trying to bash anyone's horse. Because of conversations I've had with a number of people over the last few days, I know there are number of people who disagree with me; so, take this for what it is, one person's opinion.

Overall Focus of Stallion Selection Committee and Direction of Dressage Breeding

A strong mareline has always been a consideration when selecting stallions, but, over the last few years, we've seen the SSC put a markedly stronger focus on sport results in the mareline.  In theory this makes complete sense. A young stallion from a mother line that has produced successful sport horses should himself have a higher probability of being a sport horse and be more likely to produce sport horses.  Not rocket science. Yet, this has led to the selection of a number of stallions that are just not breeding horses.  Having a strong mareline with sport results isn't enough to make a top stallion. The horse himself has to have that something special or extra that makes him a stallion type. From watching the newly selected stallions and the four, five, and six year old stallions under saddle, I think we've approved a number of nice geldings. During the first years of specialization, the KWPN's focus was all about type--they wanted uphill, modern horses in a rectangular dressage model. As can be documented in other breeds, cattle and dog breeding, etc., selecting for a specific type for too long hurts the overall soundness and functionality of the population. We saw this in the overall balance and temperament of some of our horses.  There was a rash of horses with such extreme movement that they could barely take a corner, and we've seen some horses with questionable rideability. What we've seen the last few years is a necessary correction--the jury has been looking for lines proven in sport, so they know the horses have stayed sane and sound, and taken type off the table. Additionally, we've had to look for non Jazz, Flemmingh, and Ferro blood, so the jury has accepted some horses that may have been worth the try, but haven't consistently worked on our population.  What this says to me is that it's more important than ever for us as breeders to have our own plans.  We need to be clear and strong in our vision for what we want our programs to produce. It is through the work of strong breeders that we can bring more focus and consistency to the direction of KWPN dressage breeding.

This Year's Selected Stallions

The stallions presented for the second ring this year were a manifestation of what I've written above.  They're mixed in type and quality. There were a lot of good dressage horses--I'm just not sure how many breeding stallions. 

Ampere

The Amperes were not special this year.  The Ampere x Jazz x May Sherif made it through.  He's nice, but by far not the nicest Ampere I've seen.  I will feel more comfortable breeding to Ampere or an Ampere son when I see some upper level sport horses being produced.  I still worry about the stifles and the temperament. I know it's not completely Ampere's fault he didn't make it in sport, but neither did Rousseau, so that's two stallions in a row in a pedigree that didn't have what it takes to stay sound and sane enough to become competition horses. Gives me pause.

Apache

Well.  I've been seriously bummed that neither our two attempts with Apache frozen nor our multiple attempts with Indian Rock (Apache x Cabochon) worked, but now I'm thinking fate may have been being kind to us.  It was not a good stallion show for Mr. Apache.  His newly presented sons were nice but not as nice as in previous years.  The SSC took the Apache x Hitchock x Onyx, and he was selected for the Championship Ring, but he didn't show well.  His sons under saddle were the real story, though--they were difficult as hell. Grand Galaxy Win was the only one who appeared truly rideable.  Combine this with the fact Apache himself is so hot and has such difficulty traveling for competition and I'm putting the brakes on my Apache fandom. Fantastic movers and fairly consistent types, but he needs to be bred to a mare with a stellar work ethic and temperament.

Aqiedo x Jazz x Juriaan

Aqiedo is one of Adelinde Cornelissen's top horses.  I'm sure the jury took this colt because of this. He has a lot of power, but not enough front.  The mareline is uninteresting.  Even if he eventually gets approved, no one will breed to this horse.

Blue Horse Zack

With Zack recently becoming erkend, the jury clearly wanted one of his sons. Well, not only did they take one, they made him Champion of the whole shebang.  Zack x Negro x Krack C x Contango.  Good pedigree.  Weakish mareline, though his mother is producing well. The horse is definitely uphill and has good use of the hind leg, but he doesn't use his body well at all.  He's short coupled and stiff in the back.  Not a breeding stallion in my opinion.  He's also really tall for a horse who won't be three until May 1st--1.71.  The jury has seen him more times than I and they have more information about the mareline, so I'm assuming I'm wrong about this horse.  Which is fine.  I liked him, and he was the best of the ones presented, but he wouldn't have been my pick for the Championship Ring, let alone the Champion. I spoke with a number of people who really liked this horse, so, again, I'm probably just being grouchy or something.

     Speaking of the Championship Ring

The KWPN charged the owners of any horse selected for the Championship Ring 7000 Euro for the extra promotion and time in front of the audience. 7000 Euro.  Evidently, they get at least some of it back if they put the horse through the testing and all of it back if they put the horse in the Select Sale, but that would certainly put a damper on my stallion being selected for the Championship Ring if I knew it was going to cost me 7000 Euro.

Bon Bravour

Regular readers of my journal know I'm a huge Bon Bravour fan.  Well, unfortunately, my disappointment in his sons is growing. The one son they accepted this weekend should not have been accepted.  He had no canter.  Bon Bravour x Flemmingh x Jazz x Chronos, so double Chronos.  He's a beautiful type and showed a lovely trot in hand, but, overall, a really disappointing horse.  The Bon Bravour son, Iconic B ( x Jazz),  was Champion of the testing this year.  Under saddle this weekend, he, too, was disappointing. He seems to be a nice horse, good character, decent trot, but I really didn't like his canter either. It had power, but almost no articulation in the joints.  I don't think anyone has found the right niche for Bon Bravour.  Now, given that he's been chemically gelded, we'll see if anyone gets that chance.

Bordeaux

Here's another stallion we've bred to repeatedly without success, and maybe that's not a bad thing. I was super disappointed in the Bordeauxs this year.  The SSC took two of them, the Bordeaux x Apache and the Bordeaux x Painted Black.  All of them are wide behind and long in the hind leg.  Just not impressed.

Capri Sonne Jr. x Hexagon's Louisville x Rubiquil

They must have wanted a Capri Sonne son badly to take this horse. He's really old fashioned, completely uninteresting pedigree (although he does have some sport horses in his pedigree), and he became less and less impressive each time we saw him. He might turn into a good dressage horse, but he is not a breeding stallion.  I will be surprised if he breeds half a dozen mares.

Charmeur

We've seen enough Charmeurs now to know what to expect.  They tend to be a little heavy, old fashioned, powerful, and hot.  Some of them are really special, but even the special ones tend to push rather than lift in their movement. I loved the Charmeur x Rubin Royal horse. He was my third favorite horse of the whole show, but I would like to see him lift more in his movement and sit a little better.  The jury also selected the Charmeur x Hotline--another good horse who had more lift, but was a little stiff in the topline.  He looked better in hand. I think it's time to break from Charmeur and see what his offspring do in sport.

Danciano x Diamond Hit x Belissimo M x Sandro Hit

I quite liked this horse.  Short front leg, good use of his body, good in hand, a little slow in the hind leg.  He's not an ideal type, but he uses his body well, has a good depth of muscling, and has an interesting outcross pedigree. No information on the mareline.

DeNiro

We all know DeNiro is currently the top producer of dressage horses across all studbooks.  It's just no contest. You may also know we bought a DeNiro colt this summer as a stallion prospect, so I'm obviously a fan.  That being said, he's a really inconsistent producer type wise. Some are small, some huge.  Some really strong movers, some seriously lacking power and articulation. I know the jury was disappointed in the selection of DeNiros presented to them.  They are giving three of them a chance at the testing, the DeNiro x Santano (full brother to ours, half brother to both our UTV mares, Gazania and Hyacintia), the DeNiro x Riccione, and the DeNiro x Florencio (out of the Wendy line)--all three of these boys are completely different types and different kinds of movers.  I think we're going to have to see them under saddle, and, maybe, wait a few years to know just how successful DeNiro is going to be on the Dutch mare population.

Good news and bad news for us:  Having the full brother of ours accepted is great for our mareline and reassures me that our colt has the pedigree and mareline to be interesting to the KWPN, but it's doubtful a full brother will get approved in Holland, so we'll most likely bring him to North America for approval.

Desperado (Vivaldi)

The Desperados were really consistent.  Nice strong types, good bodies, but all of them are a little to heavy on the forehand.  The jury took the Desperado x Wynton and the Desperado x Fidertanz.  Both are good horses, but both could come off the forehand a little more.

Easy Game x Summertime x Sixtus

All Trakehner breeding.  Lovely horse. Flat in the movement and needs more power, but nice breeding to cross on the KWPN population.  We'll have to see what he produces.

El Capone

I loved the El Capones. Super dressage horses.  A little inconsistent in their power, but super articulation--all of them were better in hand, showing really good bending of the joints.  The type is consistent, maybe could be a little longer lined and slightly more modern.  I was surprised the jury didn't put the one they selected in the Championship Ring.  El Capone x Krack C x Roemer.

Enzo Ferrari x Jazz x Burggraaf

This was a nice horse.  Super supple, powerful, really expressive with the knees and hocks.  In hand he looked weak in the loin connection, but I didn't see this in his free movement.

Ferdeaux

A number of people were quite enthusiastic about the Ferdeauxs.  I am, too, but with reservations.  I can't get over their hocks--sickled and pointy, consistently.  They're uphill, large framed, a little old fashioned and good movers.  They accepted the Ferdeaux x Jazz and the Ferdeaux x Metall, who was invited to the Championship Ring.

Ferdinand x Santano x Hemmingway

This was my second favorite horse of the show. Loved him.  Big frame but still modern, powerful, very good mover, balanced, maybe a little straight in the shoulder.  I knew he was going to be invited into the Championship Ring--I would have made him the Champion.

Five Star x San Remo x Gribaldi

Another super horse.  I thought he was going to be invited into the Championship Ring.  Fantastic mover.  Powerful and supple.  Great type.  Maybe a little short in the croup. Especially good bending of the joints.

For Romance x Don Crusador x Wolkenstein II

Nice horse.  Really nice in hand.  I think he's an interesting outcross. Supple.  A little heavy.

Gandhi x Don Vino x Weltmeyer

Beautiful horse.  Uphill, great type, slow in the hind leg.

Johnson

The Johnsons were really consistent in type and movement.  They tend to have really pretty fronts, a lot of depth in the muscling, maybe a little short in the croup and slow in the hind leg, but nice dressage horses.  The jury only selected one of the Johnsons, the Johnson x Fidertanz x Rubin Royal.  Interestingly enough, he was the one that least looked like a Johnson. He was a really good mover, really supple and through his body.  In hand, he began to look tired and sunken in the back.

Lord Leatherdale

The KWPN has jumped on the Lord Leatherdale x Negro cross hardcore over the last few years.  It's produced some good horses, but we've yet to see those horses produce especially well.  They only took one this year, the Lord Leatherdale x Negro x Ulster.  There was nothing special about this horse; however, his dam is the famous mare, Dolly.  She has to be the reason he was accepted.

Negro

Understandably, the SSC has taken a chance on any halfway decent horse with Negro in the first three generations over the last few years. I've become a Negro appreciator, but not a huge Negro fan--still, there is no denying he produces FEI horses, and lots of them, and all of them with a strong ability for collection. The type is often a little too short and thick for my tastes. Of course, if you think of the Andalusians and Lipizzaners that are so well-suited for the extreme collection necessary for exhibition dressage, it's no wonder the the Negros also excel at the collection--many of them are built like the Iberian horses. There were a bunch of Negros in Den Bosch, but the SSC only took one of them, the Negro x Johnson x Vincent. He's a big, oddly built, heavy horse with a weak loin and back, and a short croup.  Imagine my surprise when the jury put him in the Championship Round.  I was stunned.  He has a good use of the hindleg.  He has a great mareline.  But...not a breeding horse in my estimation. Again, I've only seen the horse once.  The jury has seen him a couple of times.  There's obviously something I don't see they really like about him, so I'm probably off about this one, too.

Ravel x Krack C x Wolkentanz II

Here's a horse I thought should have been in the Championship Ring. Lovely, long-lined horse.  Super mover.  Great articulation of the joints.  Interesting pedigree and mareline. He's a little long in the hindleg, but he uses it super well. He's the best Ravel offspring I've seen. I'll bet he gets some mares.

Rousseau x Apache x Jazz

This was an interesting horse.  Really nicely balanced.  Modern type.  Pretty front.  He could have a little more power, but he improved in hand.  I was surprised he didn't go for a higher price in the Select Sale.  Could be that his pedigree is so infused with KWPN stalwarts he won't attract that many mares. Could also be that some Rousseaus are known to be sensitive and we had just witnessed a number of Apaches being difficult. Put that on top of Jazz, and you could have a handful.

Sezuan

The jury wanted a Sezuan.  They took two. I liked both of them a lot. You couldn't have found two half brothers who looked and moved much more differently.  The Sezuan x Jazz is HUGE. 1.77.  Great horse. Got a little tired as the day went on and seemed slower in the hindleg, but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt because of his size.  In contrast, the Sezuan x DeNiro is 1.63.  Short legged, supple, weaker in the back, but super expressive.

United x Uphill x Metall

This was a really nice horse. I thought he had a chance of being invited for the Championship Ring. Great mover, nice type, good use of the body, supple.  Maybe he could have a little more power, but he was fantastic in hand, and he looked better and better every time we saw him.

Uthopia x UB-40 x Flemmingh

Such a pretty horse. Beautiful front.  Lovely mover.  Could use more power.

Vivaldi

We have a lot of Vivaldi sons now, so it takes a really special one to get approved.  The Vivaldi x Ferro is special.  For the record, this was Keagan's favorite horse of the show. Great mover. Lots of power.  I don't understand why he wasn't in the Championship Ring.  He was the high seller of the Select Sale.  Went for 160,000 Euro.  Super nice horse.

While I'm talking about Vivaldi, I need to state again how wrong I was about him as a sire.  I still see his offspring sink down their backs and throw out their front legs, but under saddle they work.  They have such good temperaments and attitudes that they work hard and get strong enough to compensate for the weakness in their topline.  I'm way behind on using him in our program.  I wish his frozen were better--I'd use him on a few mares this year.

Zhivago

Zhivago wasn't used much in Holland, but he's been used extensively in Sweden and parts of Germany.  Two sons were presented this year. They're remarkably similar in type, but one significantly stronger and more correct than the other.  He produces a beautiful front, really good movement, but the offspring drop off behind the wither and can have a weakish back.  He's another horse out of the Wendy line, so you can be guaranteed there's a strong capacity for movement in the gene pool.  The Zhivago x Licato x Caretino was one of my favorites of the show.  I think he would have been invited to the Championship Ring if he had been bred in Holland.

Quasar de Charry x Londonderry x Bogenschuetze

I can't tell you anything about this pedigree, other than the Dutch typically don't like Quaterback or his sons. Obviously, he was chosen as an outcross for KWPN lines.  He's a nice horse in type, but so clearly not Dutch that I'm afraid he won't cross consistently on our mares.  He's really slow in the hindleg, needs more power, but a nice type and clearly a stallion type.

Young Horses Under Saddle of Particular Note

As you have probably surmised if you've read the rest of this entry, there weren't that many young stallions under saddle that wowed me. I'll just write about the ones I did like and a couple a number of you are probably interested in hearing about.

Dettori (Desperado (Vivaldi) x De Niro)

This is a nice stallion. He showed good use of his body, good movement, good depth of muscling, and the right blend of hot and workable.  I liked him a lot.

Four Legends (Wynton x Ferro)

When I saw Four Legends as a two and a half year old, I liked him, but I thought he was small and needed more power.  As most everyone  knows, he's gone on to develop beautifully under saddle, selling for 600,000 Euro at the Excellent Dressage Sale last summer.  He looks fantastic. He's still a little small, but he's a top dressage horse. It will be interesting to see what he produces.  My guess is he's going to need to be crossed on large-framed, long-legged mares.

In Style (Eye Catcher x Lorentin I)

I wasn't crazy about this horse last year, but under saddle he's a really nice stallion.  He got a little tired toward the end of the presentation and lost some of his strength and pizzaz, but he's a nice horse. Much better under saddle than he was in hand and free moving last year.

Incognito (Davino VOD x Vivaldi)

North American breeders should pay attention to this horse. He's owned by Nijhof, so there's a good chance we'll have access to his frozen.  He's a lovely horse.  Supple, powerful, and really rideable from what I could see.  I liked him a lot.

Indian Rock (Apache x Vivaldi)

Mr. Indian Rock was better behaved than his half brother, but he was still a handful. I like him under saddle, but he may just need to get stronger to have the same impressive presence as he did last year at the selection. I was less disappointed about not having a foal coming from him after seeing him than I was before. Given what a handful the Apache offspring seem to be, I think I'm good waiting a bit.

The Everdales

There were two, Inspire (Everdale x Don Romantic) and Inverness (Everdale x Johnson).  I can't remember which one I liked, but I liked one of them a lot and one not at all.  I know that's not helpful.

Henkie (Alexandro P x Upperville)

Henkie is equally as impressive under saddle as he was a couple of years ago in free movement and in hand.  He's really a top horse.  And, for the first time ever, the Oldenburg Association has made an exception and licensed a Gelders stallion.  He deserves it.  From the first few foals of his I've seen, I don't think breeders have found the right mares for him, however.  The foals are small, lacking power, and development.  We'll see what they look like as three year olds.

The Totilas Boys

Here we go! I'm not normally a vindictive person, nor am I one who is wont to rub people's noses in their own verbal feces, but from the beginning Totilas has struck an emotional nerve in me, and I have nearly deified him. Every negative post about him hurt me personally. "He's completely manufactured. None of that movement is real." "He will never produce offspring that move like him." "He's been bred to the best mares in the world, so if he does produce something good, it's probably the mare and not him." Bullshit.  Bullshit.  And more bullshit. Totilas is a stallion who produces balance, a great walk, a great canter, and a developable trot. Consistently. He's not consistent in type.  Some of them can be small.  Some of them can be hot as hell.  But, without fail, he produces an athletic horse, and from a wide range of pedigrees. His sons were hands down the best young riding horses we saw in Den Bosch.

     Governor (Totilas x Jazz)

I don't know if Governor is my favorite of the Totilas sons under saddle, but he certainly appears to cross well on my marelines.  Under saddle, he looks a little odd.  His neck is developing muscling underneath rather than along the crest, he looks small and short coupled, and his tail is often held off to the side.  That being said, he's super adjustable and really supple.  His hind leg is always under him, and he shows great suspension and softness in his movement.  He's also developing a lot more power. Additionally, he has a superior temperament and good rideability.

     Glock's Toto Jr. (Totilas x Desperados)

I stood next to this horse last summer at the PAVO Cup. He's not very big.  In the ring, however, he looks huge.  He has so much presence. And, he's HOT.  His front leg use is expressive and commanding. His hind leg is not as good as Governor's.  A bigger concern for me is how quickly he falls onto the forehand when his rider releases the reins. In the test we watched, the riders are supposed to bring the hands forward three times while on the circle to demonstrate the horse in self carriage.  There were three horses in the ring during Toto Jr.'s test.  The other two clearly put their hands forward, way up the neck, for a solid two count. Toto Jr.'s rider moved her hands forward about four inches in a half count.  When she did release the reins completely, the horse clearly went onto his forehand. I don't think he's in true self carriage. I think a big part of that is he has a weakish hind leg.  This being said, he certainly looks impressive, and he's bred a lot of mares.  The foals I've seen are quite small, but they're good movers.  We'll see.

     Trafalgar (Totilas x Lord Loxley)

Such a cool horse.  He's gorgeous, really well put together, a super mover, super rideable.  I was completely impressed by him.  I don't know enough about his pedigree to make any commentary, but I'm going to be watching to see what he produces

     Total US (Totilas x Sir Donnerhall)

When Michaela and I saw Total US this summer at the PAVO Cup, he was so hot that I kind of wrote him off. At the Stallion Show, he was still really hot, but much more rideable. He is a fantastic mover and the best type of all the Totilas sons. I thought about breeding to him last year, but upon learning he is a cribber, I decided against it. Come to find out, there are a number of Totilas offspring that crib.  I hate that.  We've had two direct offspring and three grandchildren so far, and none of them show any indication that they're cribbers.  For the positives he brings to the equation, I think it's worth the risk.

The Valegro Show

I didn't take any notes during the tribute to Valegro, but there are a number of breeding observations that can be made from the horses that took part in it.

Valegro Himself (Negro x Gershwin)

He is undoubtedly a cool horse. Such talent and physical ability. I don't know whether it's all of the muscling from years of dressage training and competing or if it's his genetics, but he's built much more like the horses bred and raised for exhibition dressage.  His legs are short, his body is wide, he's fairly short coupled, and he's pretty heavy in type.  On the pedigree databases, he's listed at 172 cm.  I don't believe it.  I haven't stood right next to him, so I could be wrong, but he seems much shorter than that. His dam is listed at 170 cm. In one of the loveliest moments of his tribute, his breeders led his dam through the arena to very appreciative applause.  That mare is not 170 cm.  She looks like a fuzzy pony. She's cute as can be, and she deserves as many accolades as the KWPN and the public can afford her, but she's tiny. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just trying to put all the pieces together in processing what we look for when we're breeding dressage horses.  I'm not sure size matters.

The Negro Sons and Grandsons

I don't have specific notes on many of them. As I mentioned earlier in this post, Negro consistently produces horses with a capacity for the movements and rigor of upper level dressage. There were a ton of Negro offspring in the ring at one time.  All of them were demonstrating a strong ability for collection. I'm just going to talk about a couple stallions to whom we North American breeders have access

     Everdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro)

I've always thought Everdale moves and looks more like a cart horse than a dressage horse, but I was so blown away by his offspring inspection that I had to breed to him. Now that he's a few years older, he's looking better and better. He wasn't terribly expressive, but he actually looks more modern in type and more correct in his movement than he did as a young horse.  I was impressed by him.  I'd like to see him have more power and be a little more electric, but he's developing really nicely.

     Glamourdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro)

I've seen this horse a number of times now.  He always looks the same to me.  Black. Powerful. Not much bending in the body. Consistent. He's beautiful and clearly talented, but I just don't see him progressing and developing as much as I would like. He looks the same now under saddle as he did a couple years ago in the PAVO Cup.

A Few Other Horses of Note

I'm going to wrap this up soon.  We have a snow day today, and I had all kinds of plans, but I've spent most of the day watching the Patriots' Victory Parade on TV and writing this journal post. Carol is outside working on the barn, so I should probably get my lazy butt outside and help her.  Before I close, I want to mention a couple other stallions, however.

Eyecatcher (Vivaldi x TCN Partout)

I have loved this horse from the first time I saw him under saddle in the warm up ring. There are very few horses that have his ability to articulate the joints in movement the way he does.  I could watch him all day.  He had surgery a bit ago and had to go through a recovery period, so he's a little behind in his training, but he looked amazing in Den Bosch.  He was my favorite of the entire show again this year.

Expression (Vivaldi x Vincent)

Here's another impressive Vivaldi son.  Expression is much longer lined than Eyecatcher, but he clearly lives up to his name.  I love to watch him under saddle.  When he was a bit younger, I thought he looked kind of big and clunky, but he's developing beautifully.  

Jack Sparrow (Expression x Vivaldi x Negro x Rohdiamant)

If I could have taken home one horse from this year's show, this is the horse I would have picked. Given his pedigree, he was the center of some confusion and controversy.  He's the product of two half siblings.  His breeder ordered Uphill for his mare, but, without knowing it, received Expression. I don't think they figured it out until the DNA test. At any rate, he was the best young stallion presented this year.  Of course, the jury couldn't accept him because of the inbreeding, but he sold to Andreas Helgstrand and is now licensed Oldenburg.  If his frozen semen becomes available, I will breed to him.

Jurist (Don Tango B x Krack C x Aram x Pion)

This colt was not selected for the testing. He's one of four I put an asterisk next to immediately.  He's one of two for which I wrote, "Wow!" Within 30 seconds of his being in the ring, I was sure he would be Champion or Reserve of the whole show. He was also Michaela's favorite. Someone had just asked me if I had seen any horses that blew me away, and I had had to reply, "No." This horse blew me away. Super balanced, super bending of the joints, supple.  And, he got even better in hand. The jury said he didn't have enough power, so they didn't accept him.  There were a hell of a lot of horses with significantly less power than this horse they did accept, so I was suspicious and did a little investigative work.  It seems that Don Tango B has been turned out and taken out of training because he is so difficult. Interesting.  He was approved, even with OCD, because his full brother was a successful Grand Prix horse being groomed for the Dutch team, but died unexpectedly. Hard to have better sport in the mareline than that. Again, the jury has a lot more information at its disposal than do I--they probably know something I don't know, but the Tolman family loved this horse. 

In Conclusion

I hope this is helpful information.  Again, take it for what it's worth.  For all you know, I'm Trump's 600 pound kid sitting in a bedroom in New Jersey trying to hack the KWPN. Advice is always worth what you pay for it. Nonetheless, writing this has helped me articulate my thoughts, so I appreciate the forum. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

It's 2017 Already?

I didn't realize until I logged into my blog that it's been since the beginning of October that I've done a post.  Unbelievable.  November was "write 1700 words/day on my novel." December was "still obsessed with  my novel," holidays, family, etc. January has been "holy shit, I'm a teacher and I've been ignoring a shitload of work for the last two months" kind of thing...so, that's my excuse. Now, we're five days away from leaving for the Stallion Show, and I need to play catch up.

All kinds of horse activity has been going on at SSF. There's nothing particularly noteworthy to talk about, however.  We have a bunch of hormonal mares who are either not pregnant and having screwy heats or pregnant with future stallion prospects in a year when I want to keep fillies.

Sad news:  Gazania, our Bon Bravour mare, lost her Governor foal at 7+ months.  Perfectly formed colt.  She has an infection.  Always something.

Carol and I visited our two boys at Phil and Emilie Shipman's Lockehaven Farm.  Katmandu (Governor x Samber) and Kublai Khan (UB-40 x Vincent) are both looking really good. They've been in manners training for a few months now, and, according to Phil, Kublai needs to go for his MD or EMT rather than KWPN approval.  We'll see.

There are no particular stallion or stallions' offspring I'm excited to see this year at the Stallion Show, but I am excited to spend the weekend with Keagan and Michaela and catching up with friends.  It's always one of my favorite weekends of the year.  Next year, knock on wood, we'll have one or two of our homebred boys headed to the Brabanthallen...maybe we'll convince Carol to spend a weekend surrounded by horse people for that occasion!

It looks as if we dressage breeders are going to have a few more options for fresh cooled semen in 2017.

Olivi has a rock star pedigree.  He can produce small and he can produce hot, but he produces movement and strong dressage ability.  He's definitely worth considering.

Ampere has certainly proven himself to produce some super moving horses.  I'm not always crazy about the type; they can be heavier than I like. I'm also really suspect of some of the stifles.  Our table at the Stallion Show is front row, exactly in the spot horses head to when they're coming across the diagonal in the free movement.  Many Amperes have really loose stifles.  That doesn't mean I wouldn't consider him, but it does mean I would be careful to whom I bred him.

I'm pretty sure we're going to have a couple more option, too, but I can't talk about those just yet...

I would talk about my breeding picks for this year, but Carol gets mad at me when I give away my stallion choices too early.  She doesn't mind when the breeding season is over, but she likes us to be at least a year ahead! So far, I've only purchased five doses of frozen, so there's not that much to tell.  of course, we're in a transition period and have fewer mares to breed. Hopefully, Orchis is having her final foal, though she, with her very pregnant-looking belly, was teasing to the teaser stallion tonight; Nemels won't keep a pregnancy; so that leaves us with only eight mares to breed this year. Although, we are having thoughts of trying ET with both Galearites and Nemels.  No more offsite mares, however.  We'd have to find a couple of recipient mares I could follow and time with our girls.  I'm only interested in doing direct transfer, not transported and leasing mares.

Anyone going to the Annual Meeting for the KWPN-NA? Michaela and Keagan have been devoting so much energy to developing and promoting the Young KWPN-NA, I 'd love to go for their sake--their both going to be there, but the life of a teacher doesn't allow me as much flexibility as I would like. I am donating a painting to the silent auction.  Oh, yes. You could own a Scot Tolman, original, floral painting.  It could adorn your wall for years to come, be passed down to generations of a family members, accrue pennies worth of value over the next 50 years...what an investment!  In other words, bid on my painting so it sells for more than $5.00. It will probably cost you more to ship it home than you'll have to pay for it.

Oh, and, really big news:  We are now Platinum Level Breeders in the KWPN-NA.  That puts us among the top five breeders in North America!  So excited!

Again, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written in my journal.  I miss the correspondence and commentary it used to generate. That being said, there's been a lot going on over the last few years that have pushed me over the proverbial edge--just haven't had the time or energy to devote to keeping up this this blog.  2017 promises to be a fantastic year.  Michaela and Cho are getting married, we have an exciting foal crop on the way, all five of us have lots of travel plans that are taking us al over the globe, and we're surrounded by love and laughter.  Could a guy ask for any more?







Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 9, 2016

Whenever I start getting emails and texts from people asking if I'm OK or prompting me to get my ass in gear and write a new journal entry, I know it's been way too long.  Sorry about that.  I have no excuses other than the life itself.

As many of you know, my dad died this summer.  He was almost 98.  He lived alone in his own home until about two months before he died. He lived a long and full life. Although I don't have any unresolved issues or unspoken conversations with him, his death has left me diving into some unexplored, and unexpected, existential depths. It's not really an angst in the traditional sense of the word, but I'm unsettled.  My mom died three years ago, and my only full brother died in 1989.  I'm all that's left of my nuclear birth family.  Of course, life has been kind to me and I am surrounded by boatloads of love and a strong, capable family who buoys me even on my worst of days--so please don't infer any self pity in this statement. I'm just in unchartered territory, as it were; hence, you haven't seen a lot of writing from me as of late.

In the horse world, we've hit some milestones this year.  One, we achieved our Platinum Status with the KWPN-NA.  I haven't filled out or submitted the paperwork yet, but we have the points. Two, we bred the number one foal in North America for the second year in a row--out of different marelines and both out of SSF-bred mares, I might add.  Three, this number one foal, LeLiscia SSF (Govenor x Eliscia SSF x UB-40) is the closest is type and movement to the ideal of what we've been breeding for for almost three decades.  Is she had a little more expression in her trot, I would say we had hit perfection and needed to stop breeding.  Four, as it is, after 25 foal crops, I think we're just hitting our stride with our breeding program.  The next two generations are going to blow people away.

Not including poor Last Child SSF (LaVita's colt who was struck by lightning), out of six foals, we're keeping the Governor filly and have sold four others.  We only have one boy left for sale, Liberto SSF (Sir Sinclair x Werites SSF x Freestyle).  We owe many thanks to our friends, repeat customers, and SSF fans out there who believe enough in our program to snatch up these babies before they're even weaned, year after year.  Thank you.

Next year could be a record year for us (hopefully, Carol isn't reading this post...); I can see us keeping half a dozen babies from the 2017 crop.  Colt or filly, we most likely won't sell the Uno Don Diego out of Galearites SSF, the Totilas out of BoWendy, the Governor out of Gazania, or the Roven xx out of Orchis.  Add to these four a Governor filly from ZaVita SSF and a Vitalis filly from either D'Orites SSF or Werites SSF, and we're up to enough horses to need an addition on the barn next year.  Then, if by some miracle, Nemels is pregnant to Donatelli and gives us a pinto filly, we're completely screwed.

Next year's sales are already looking good. We have three people interested the Governor x Contango if it's a colt, one person interested in the Netto x UB-40, and one person interested in the Vitalis x Donatelli--plus, a number of people asking about foals we don't intend to sell.

As you can imagine, I'm already scheming and planning about my 2017 breeding picks.  I've actually already purchased three doses of a new stallion!  All I'm going to tell you is we're going to have to use him on my non-Jazz mares.  I'm going to hold off buying anymore frozen until after the Stallion Show in February.  I'm resigned to the fact that we have almost no option but to go with all frozen semen again next year.  Knock on wood we have a similar success rate to this year.

Again, sorry for the long dry spell.  Don't hesitate to give me a shout via email, FB messenger, or text if you're getting desperate for a journal entry or have something in particular you want me to write about. I appreciate how many of you have followed my thoughts over the years.




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Breeding 2016: Updated 9/18/16

It's been a busy breeding spring, and I have the manure-stained t-shirts to prove it! Here's a list of who's pregnant and who's still to be bred and to whom:

Confirmed:

1. Uno Don Diego x Totilas x Jazz (1st cycle Dream Boy, 2nd and 3rd Franklin w/1 lost embryo)

2. Governor x Contango x Elcaro (filly option already sold)

3. Governor x Bon Bravour x Santano

4. Roven xx x Jazz x Roemer

5. Vitalis x Donatelli x Jazz

6. Netto x UB-40 x Pass the Glass xx (1st cycle to Chagall, 2nd cycle to Governor--on 3rd cycle)

7. Vitalis x Freestyle x Jazz

8. Governor x Farrington x Pass the Glass xx

9. Totilas x Sir Sinclair x Jazz

10. Devon Heir x Samber x Lector (pg to Chagall, gone at 30 days; 2nd cycle to Florianus II; can't remember if there was a Governor attempt, also...; finally, pregnant to DH.)

11. Indian Rock x Charmeur x Santano  (bred five cycles.  PG on the fifth try, but lost it by the 2nd check)


Summary:  We have a lot of babies coming next year, knock on wood.





Uno Don Diego x Galearites SSF


Meet Whiskers.  This lovely, large girl is carrying a special embryo.  Uno Don Diego x Totilas x Jazz!  Thanks to KC Dunn for her never-ending support and friendship, thanks to Dr. Deme Erickson from TNT Equine in North Berwick, ME, for the successful flush, thanks to Meghan DeGaray and Iron Spring Farm for all they do for North American breeders, thanks to Dr. Foss and his team at Equine Medical Services for a successful transfer, thanks to Jane Hannigan for her support and willingness to give Mazey a bit of a break, and, most importantly, thanks to Carol Tolman for believing we should give it one more try.  Fingers crossed for a happy ending to this story.