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Archives from 2009
Archives from 2010


December 2nd

Winter is settling in

Two weeks ago Savvy and Gabrina boarded the big transport truck and made their way down to Texas. They arrived in great shape and are settling in. We've heard that Gabrina has already descided to practice her jumping ability but Savvy is as sweet as can be!
Ender has also made the short trip to his new home and made fast friend with another weanling and they are now BFF.

Rex is now alone and coping well: he's adopted Nordica as his new play toy now that she is back and tries to play with the big mare every chance he gets. Nordica has to suffer his antics as mommy Raphiola is the boss mare and would frown on her baby boy being roughed up!!

The hay is in, Elfin has come back from 30 day refresher under saddle training where she did very well. We are settling in for the winter now as you will see from some updated pictures on some of the pages: the mares are fuzzy and in good shape. Bring on winter!!

October 23rd

Weaning is under way...

October is coming to an end and so our June foals (Ender and Savvy) are getting weaned in a short week. Gabrina has been separated from her mother already and is coping very well under the excellent care and attention of her "aunt" Raphiola.
Vendella and Shotsey were retired from the broodmare band this fall and while we are very sad to see them go we are happy to have found them loving homes where they will be appreciated.

On a happy note we just ultrasounded Welty today and confirmed that she is in fact now 70 days in foal to RedWine. We got to see the minature horse in there, its little head undeniable. Fingers crossed for a continued healthy pregnancy. Welty is fat and healthy heading into winter.

We still have our winter hay to bring in but with the weaning of the foals and their departure for their new home scheduled for mid-November we will be ready to head into the quiet season.

Sept 23rd

RPSI inspection

September is the month of inspections. The dutch warmblood inspection for which Gabrina was entered was mid-month and a week later was the RPSI inspection. Most of the time because of the travelling require to inspect animals all over north america the inspections are held during the week. In the case of the KWPN I was not able to find any help and so taking Nordica and Gabrina, 3.5 hours away to the inspection became impossible. Since inspection is not required for registration of KWPN foals we had to let that one go although the keuring are wonderfull opportunity to learn and I encourage anyone that can free up the time to go to one!
Ender however was to be registered RPSI and inspection of the foal at his mother's side is mandatory and I had lined up some help in the shape of Ender's owner so off we went to Bri-Mel's farm for the yearly inspection!

Inspection day is only one brief moment in the life of a foal and so it was nice to have Ender show his best in front of the inspector. Despite clearly being a part-bred, out of a Saddlebred mother, he got excellent comments as of his quality. "Well developed colt, good bone, very good trot, excellent use of the hind end, uphill and carrying, good canter, very uphill, again good use of the hind quarters- Silver Premium". Alas! The branding iron that would have stamped him on the hip with the distinctive Zweibrucker symbol was held up at the custom's office and so his owner will need to bring him back next year to get him branded.

He also got top scores in my book for his willingness to stand for braiding and for travelling very well. Elfin his dam was a trooper for putting up with much fussing and attention (she loved it!!) and she was calm and easy for the whole process. We took the opportunity to take some pictures of her all clean and shinny with her mane freshly pulled and cut. She looked very nice, and really stood out in a group of TB and warmblood mares!

Sept 16th

Summer is over, hello Fall!

The month of August and now September just flew by. The foals are growing well and are on their way to being the solid little citizens we want them to be when they leave. They all know their basic maners and so they are left alone to grow and play. We see them morning and night of course and they wear their halters and give us their feet regularly. Gabrina is being asked to do a bit more being the oldest and she nows leads away from ther mom and stands loosely tied with very little fuss. Rex the youngest is still discovering the "joys"of being led but he is progressing very well also. Here are some pics we took last weekend:

Breeding season was an absolute disaster this year and so we are sad to report that we do not have much of a foal crop coming up next spring. So far only one mare is in foal and we are not yet passed the 45 days so I'm not really celebrating yet! The mares are in great shape however and replenishing their reserve for the next round. The good thing is that we will get started early next spring-contact us if you have any desire to obtain a foal from one of our mares, we shall work with you to make it happend and hopefully we will have better luck. There is a full money back garantee anyway so not a lot of risk for the buyer.

August 7th

New pics and some video too

We took some picture of Raphiola's colt: Invictus Rex ("Rex" for friends and family) on his first few outings. Him and Gabrina are destined to be pasture mate but because of the difference in age (and size!!) we are taking our time and introducing them slowly. We also took some little clips of Gabrina, Ender and Savvy and posted them on their section of their mother's page.

I'm quite happy with the bunch, I'm totally in love with Gabrina and really wish she could stay. She is the total package and sweet to boot. She is more and more like her dam every day and I sure wouldn't mind having two Nordicas in my yard! Ender is turning out to be an awsome mix of the Dutch Warmblood and the Saddlebred, really couldn't think of a better blend. His knees are above his dam's now so for sure he will be a tall boy. He has awsome butt muscles, he moves beautifully and is very fleet of foot (as you can see in his video-hehehe!!) calm and relaxed about things. Very nice colt, I'm quite looking forward to seeing him grow up.

Savvy is the little one of the bunch, very compact and strong for her size, she is a little dynamo-running is like breathing to her: essential! Despite a bit of a rough begining with a lingering infection that required shots morning and night she is now extremely friendly and easy to handle. Her feet need regular trimming and she is just a pro, I don't even need a halter!

July 26th

Last foal of the year

Raphiola delivered a strong chesnut colt tonight. Not as bligny as his sire he never the less has three socks and a star. Good looking lad. Mom and baby are doing well. A very nice end to a streched out foaling season: Gabrina is 3 months old and a whopping 13.2 hh already!

July 6th

New pictures

Some new pics of Ender, Savoir Faire (Shotsey's filly now has a name!) and Gabrina are now up on their mother's respective pages.

June 25th, 2011

Another New Arrival!

At 3 am on the 24th, clocking in at 319 days of gestation, Shotsey's filly was born. Nothing premature about her, she was up like a shot and nursing in no time. Shotsey who had been on slow motion for the last few weeks bounced back quickly and both mother and daughter are doing well, Shotsey feeling particularly light now that this baby is born! This little filly was anxiously awaited. A custom foal: a Saddlebred X Arab; cross this one is destined for the endurance races. Her sire the Polish stallion Perdition VF, passed away suddenly only a few days after this filly's conception. We are very happy that she has now reached us safely. She is a very nice bay tobiano, with beautiful markings. She is very correct although a bit lax in the hind fetlocks but nothing alarming. Pictures, as always will be up shortly.

June 17th, 2011

New arrival

At 10pm last night, about one hour after I left her stall having groomed her, braided and bandaged her tail and left her to eat her evening supper Elfin dropped and delivered her lovely palomino colt by Consul.
Everything went well, for which we are always grateful. The colt was a bit slow but he was consistent: slow to get up, slow to find the milk bar, slow to pass his meconium and slow to learn to lie down to sleep. But slow and steady wins the race: he passed his vet check up with flying colours.  Elfin put out a huge effort but had recovered well by this morning and is as expected in full protective mode. She is a good mom, can't fault her for that. We shall give them the week to bond as we usually do. It's been quite wet here for a few days so we also have to wait for the ground to dry out before he ventures out. As soon as he does we shall share some pictures.

June 10th, 2011

Unfolding the foal.

Foals are very leggy. That is usually the first comment one hears upon sharing a picture of any foal: "look at those legs!" Well yes, you see, the foal is expected to follow the herd, at a full gallop if need be, within a few hours of its birth. It also need to be tall enough to reach the mare's udder which is tucked up there between her hind legs. As a result the foal in-utero is in an interesting situation: having grown to its full term size it must now navigate the narrow birth canal flawlessly with long spindly legs it barely controls (have you seen a new born trying to stand! not obvious) and a long neck it needs to rest on its knees (how does it knows that??). Not an easy feat and again a reason to hug your horse!

From conception to about 2/3 of the gestation the foetus is quite small and within the confine of the roomy uterus actually moves quite a bit. Although only about the size of a small kitten the 2 to 3 month old foetus is at its most active. Ultrasound studies show them literally bouncing from floor to ceiling and traveling from one horn to the other! Some do so many acrobatics that they unfortunately get the umbilical cord hopelessly tied up in tight knots leading to mid to late term abortion once the foetus has become well jammed in the uterus because of its growth.

Interestingly at about day 200 the foetus has outgrown the uterine horn it was originally attached to and the hind legs enter the other horn. From then on the hind legs are kept separate in their own "bag" so to speak and do  not get hopelessly entangled. The neck and front legs are trouble enough! Some sort of recognition of the gravity field usually have them organized with their head toward the rump of the mare and their back pointing down, but not always leading to breech birth that are usually fatal in horses as the umbilicus is compressed for too long in that type of birth and the foal is deprived of oxygen. If attended: start pulling!!!

For the remainder of the pregnancy the foal usually lies to one side of its dam belly: rump down, facing upward with its front legs folded like a jumper over a fence. As the delivery approach, and some leave it to the last minute, the healthy, active and aware foal starts to stretch its front legs like a diver entering the water. It rests its head on its knees and await the start of labour. The sick, contracted, weak foal might not and this spells trouble for the delivery.

As labour starts the uterus twist as it contracts: a bit like a helix, producing extremely powerful and efficient contraction that literally turn the foal as it is expelled. There is a limit on how much it can twist obviously as it it attached by two series of ligaments but it most efficiently turns the foal from its recumbent position to one where the foal is on its belly being born (called sternal as it rest on its sternum). Now in human babies the largest diameter is the head, in foals it is the rib cage/shoulders. In order to clear the large shoulders one leg must be offset from the other by a few inches. Think of sliding through a narrow opening yourself  (now that your head is the not the widest part of you!).

Any delay in the birth is, as we saw, problematic for the foal, so any deviation from this perfect scenario means a quick and decisive intervention from the birth attendant, or a very painful, probably tragic labour for the dam as she has no way of stoping the labour once started. A leg back, a shoulder lock are reasonably "easy" to fix although it requires great strength and a good grip. More complicated deviations such as a head bend backward or hind legs jammed beneath the rim of the pelvis or breeched birth are very difficult to solve. You can imagine trying to maneuver a slippery body through a narrow opening as the contraction of the mare (powerful enough to break your arm should you get it stuck agains the pelvic bone, by the way) is pushing against you!

Other the the giraffe who faces similar challenges compounded by an extra long neck, the way the foal is able to organize its legs in the very tight confine of it's dam's belly is nothing short of amazing, especially when the foal first stands and you are left shaking your head:"this came out of that!!" followed by the inevitable: " Look at those legs!!!"

May 18th, 2011

Sad update
Just got news that Vennie's colt passed away. Something was not quite right. Colt was born at the vet and so had the best and the most attentive of care from the start. Vennie knew before all the attendants but they had to try.
Breeding and foaling out mares is not for the faint of heart. You give it your all but then you have to let them go. Godspeed little one.

May 17th, 2011

Vendella delivers a colt!
We got news that our leased mare Vendella (dam of Red Vandal and Vivaldi) delivered a big chesnut colt. For now all we know if that he is big, looks healthy and that all went well. We have plans to go and see him this weekend. If he is sufficiently unfolded we shall share his pictures-no point embarassing the boy!!

May 15th, 2011

Update of a busy month
As usual the lack of new posts here is not an indication that nothing is happening but rather the opposite!
The last few weeks have been pretty busy with a) saying good bye to our driving pony, b) getting to know Nordica's filly, c) welcoming and pampering a new addition to the herd d) going to a training clinic, and e) preparing for breeding season. Our driving pony was fat and idle and despite some lofty goals we knew that the priority this year again would be the mares and their foals. He left for his new home in mid April leaving Nordica quite lonely as he and her were the best buddies, often sharing the same box stall: all 17.3hh of her and 12hh of him! Seeing them groom each other was just priceless-he will be missed.

Nordica did not stay lonely for very long as she delivered her filly shortly after her pony friend left. We are thrilled with Gabrina-she is a very nice, healthy filly. She is attractive, sensible and calm to boot. We've been spending quite a bit of time with her since she is the only foal born this far. She is getting (and relishing) all the attention. There is lots of picture of her on Nordica's page and also a little video. She is the first of the two Consul foals to be born here this year. Elfin is also in foal to him and if Gabrina is any indication I will have to buy another memory card for all the pictures I will be taking!

We were suppose to take Pony to a trick clinic but he left just before we could so Deesse had to step in. The horses (20 of them in all) were taught a bunch of tricks- I should say: the human handlers were taught how to teach horses some tricks. Part of the program was: stepping onto a pedestal, giving hugs, smiling, lifting legs, bowing and laying down. Deesse being quite dignified and surprisingly not that food motivated still managed to get the basics of the bow and the lie down with a bit of convincing. She also accepted to step unto a pedestal but thought it beneath her to try the others tricks. It was a lot of fun to learn how to do something completely different with the horses and I was happy with Deesse that ultimately showed a great willingness to try the most difficult and demanding tricks and a quiet trusting acceptance of my demands despite the strange surroundings and activity going on around her.

Finally but not least: Raphiola arrived from GreenGate Stables in Ontario! This lovely Oldenburg registered but Hanoverian bred mare, is beautifully built in the older jumper style. Short coupled, muscular, she is a powerful mover and jumper. She is sharp, regal and very proud. She comes to us already in foal to the jumping power house Incolor (Indoctro / Argentinus) and is due at the end of the summer. Not only is her pedigree full of proven performer but she has already produced some horses that are performing well on the show circuit. There some more information and pictures on her page.

Breeding season has started. May is here and the mares are cycling regularly now so off to the breeding center they go: Welty, Deesse and Nordica will all be bred before the end of the month. Fingers crossed that all goes well for them and for my pocket book!

May 4th, 2011

Dignified visitor to Formosus
This week we have a visitor: Destdemona: state premium mare by DeNiro is staying at our place for a week on her way from California to Quebec. This is a really gorgeous mare, a proven broodmare, registered Hanoverian, imported from Germany, mother to excellent offsprings and blessed with a lovely nature to go with her excellent conformation. To add to the package she is black (just a bit faded from the Californian sun)!!May I be a bit shallow for a second or two? One of my 10 favorite color is black! Alas I have no solid black mare in my herd and most of my mares carry the Agouti gene and that means they are not likely to produce a black filly for me either!I've been longing for a solid black broodmare for a while now and here she is! And she will leave in a few days.

So why is she just passing through?
Well you see just when Destemona got unto the market I had just bought another mare, a really nice mare, a mare I am thrilled to have join our broodmare band (more about Raphiola as soon as she arrives here in a few days!!!) so I simply could not take another mare at this point. Thankfully I knew just who would like to add her to HER broodmare band. So I facilitated, enabled, convinced and that is how Destdemona is here, on her way to my friend's Autumn's Stables in Quebec. Pay it forward they say.

April 23rd, 2011

New Filly born this morning!
Nordica, safely and expertly delivered her filly by Consul this morning at 2 AM. We are thrilled everything went well and are keeping a close eye on this new addition. Pictures will follow when this little princess has unfolded a little.

April 14th, 2011

Foals take a long time to "cook"
Horses have the longest gestation period of any of our domestic animals. On average 340 days from conception to delivery. Almost a year! Elephant carry their babies for longer but in the barn yard the mare takes the cake!

So let us look at why the horses do take that long to "bake" their young. First of all the placenta of the mare is quite unique in that it is not so much a discreet organ like it is in other mammals but rather a thin film that progressively coats the uterus holding on by the most tenuous of "villies": little finger like projections that ensures the transport of oxygen and nutrient across the membrane. It is not terribly efficient. The growing foal literally needs all the placenta it can get. The slightest reduction in surface area of the placenta severely challenges the survival of the foetus. That is also the reason why horses rarely carry twins to term and when they do; one or both are usually severely compromised. It's not the room in the belly of the mare that is the problem it is the area available for placental attachment that is the limiting factor. In twins; the surface area that is shared between the two foetus does not provide nourishment and one or both of the twin foetus eventually starve or run out of oxygen. Both pregnancies can carry on for many months if they are in each in one horn of the uterus but when the foetus are big enough that their placenta start to touch (usually from month 6 onward) that is when they run into trouble. When you hear of successful twins being born it is due in great part to an extremely efficient and healthy uterus that was able to provide enough for both foals despite the limited surface area available.

Because of the very weak bond between the uterus and the placenta-probably needed for quick and expedient delivery in prey animals- the slightest disruption can spell disaster for the pregnancy. A low grade infection, a fall or a kick, an imperfection in the growth of the placenta can render an area unable to carry out its function of exchange and transport and depending on the severity the foetus's growth or survival is compromised.
If that disruption occurs at the onset of labour you get what is called a "red bag" delivery; a situation where the placenta detaches from the uterus at the onset of labour and without quick intervention from the foaling attendant the foal usually runs out of oxygen before it has taken its first breath.

Finally there is the rate of growth of the foetus that is also quite interesting to consider. The first five to six month the rate of growth is incredibly slow. Kind of make sense as the mare is still feeding her foal from that year and then in nature the quality of the forage would greatly diminish as winter approaches and finally settles in. However when she enters her last three month of gestation an incredible growth spurt occurs in the foetus. In three months it goes from being the size of a beagle to a full size foal. This is when the slightest trouble with the placenta will have a huge impact on the survival of the foetus. Some foals require a bit more time to grow to term and others are ready sooner all depending on the efficiency of the placenta.

This leads us to the final interesting fact for today's blog: the fact that mares have NO due date. Healthy foals have been delivered at 315 days of gestation and some mare have gone well past the full 365 days. Foals that are carried well over the average 340 days are not born bigger or healthier then those born at term or earlier. Dismature foals can be born at any time after 320 days.

March 31st, 2011

Sad news to report
Little did I know when I wrote my last blog entry of March 28th, that 24 hours later I would be one of those seeking solace on the dicussion board, sharing the sad news of a lost foal.

I arrived from work on the 29th to find Deesse had just foaled, well aborted, as her 274 day old foetus was definitly not viable. It had just happened and I'm thankfull that I was there because Deesse is one of those mares that actually tries to eat the placenta (probably in an effort to keep the birth area as clean as possible to keep predators away). Horses not being equiped to eat meat, it can cause severe colics so I'm very gratefull to have been there in time.

I carefully examined the foal and the placenta that was thankfully passed intact. Everything was perfectly normal. The foal was well developed for its gestational age and showed no defect of any kind, the placenta was healthy and showed no abdormalities either. At this point the evidence points to premature placental separation. The cause is uncertain and we may never know what caused it. The question at this point is if the cause was maternal or foetal. We did send the whole foal to the teaching vet hospital in Calgary and they will do a full analysis to determine if there was a viral infection or any abnormality invisible to the naked eye that could have caused the premature death of the foetus. Two and half weeks prior the vet had ultrasounded Deesse and found no issues with her uterus and that the foal was alive and vigorous. So what happened in the intervening two weeks???
All the mares are vaccinated against Rhino, the most common virus that causes abortion in mares. No vaccine is 100% but still considering my mares are almost never exposed to other horses I find it doubtfull. The scary part is that if it is Rhino *and* the vaccine was not effective: all my other mares are at risk of loosing their foals to the same cause. We just don't know at this point. Fingers are crossed obviously that this was an unfortunate freak accident.

The result however is sadly the same; we've lost a promising foal. Almost 10 months of work, attention, carefull feeding, vaccination and care are for nothing. We are terribly sadened and of course disapointed.

March 28th, 2011

Marching toward foaling
As spring rolls forward more and more of the expected foals of the northern hemisphere's 2011 crop come into the world. For the most part foaling is a joyfull occasion but inevitably there is some sad stories that trickle unto the various discussion boards of the equine community as distressed and saddened breeders or mare owners come to the internet to unburden and share a bit of the sadness that come with loosing a foal or a mare.

For my own sanity this is the time where I stay away from the discussion forums, and boards. In the first few years I was reading all of those sad posts, horrifying myslef at what could go terribly wrong and convinced that the more I read the more I would "learn" and be prepared. Now I stay away and try not to read anthing but the most joyous of post. The fact is that as I get ready to witness (and assist if need be) the arrival of the 20th to 24th foal I have a pretty firm grasp on what can go wrong and what I can or cannot do about it.

Horses are increadible creatures. The more you learn about their physiology the more you marvel at the fact that they are still around! The more you learn about the complexity and difficulty they overcome simply by being born the more you want to grab the closest equine and hug it and call it "Miracle". Truly it boggles the mind that horses can be born with no issues more often then not. I still can't quite figure how some of those system "Nature" designed can be of ANY advantage to ANY creature!!

So as the weeks tick by, I will share with you some of those miracles of every birth and explain where they can go wrong and what one can or cannot do about it. It will serve as my yearly foaling primer and perhaps enlightened some of you as to the challenges of breeding horses so that you might appreciate your equine partner a little bit more perhaps?

March 5th, 2011

All our foals are handled, hugged, scratched, groomed and loved from day one. They learn to wear a halter in the first week of their lives and they learn to trust us over the next few months as they pick up the basics of good horse behavior. They come in from the fields every evenings for some handling or simply for some attention.
We pick up their feet regularly, trim them as needed and if not we still make them feel the rasp so their first trim is not such a ticklish experience! We make them walk up onto boxes, over tarps and through man doors. They learn to walk away from their mother and their peers and although never tied hard they are expected to stand still when we groom them, they also learn how to move away from pressure. We load them onto trailers, first with their mothers and eventually on their own.
When you get a foal from us you can be assured that it has been handled with calm, consideration and firmness. It is well on its way to being a solid equine citizen, the rest, is up to you!

January 24th, 2011

Happy New Year to all
We are getting ready for a terrific year in 2011. The arrival of the five foals is eagerly anticipated and not just by me! Most of those foals already have homes lined up and they are pretty anxious to see what each mare will deliver in terms of color, sex and personality. The foaling season will start in late April/early May and will stretch all the way to July. I think it will be easier on me having one foal per month rather then 4 all at once!

This year is also the year we are investing in frozen semen for possible use this year or later. It's cheaper to order all the doses at once and then store them here, only have to pay shipping on one trip! It will hurt the bank account but then we shall be set for a while with plenty of amazing stallions available for future breeding seasons.
We will be stocking up the nitrogen tank with frozen semen from:

Fabriano
Rotspon
Rascalino
Hofrat
Hotline
Goodtimes
Consul

and Soprano