Today, Sando’s Alleluia got to meet his 2 year old son. Amadeus – AKA All of Me – was foaled here – out of my mare Allie, a Selle Francais/Belgian WB cross mare. Amadeus is very much a modern WB type – but it was amazing to see how much he looks like his father. It made me think once again about why Louie is still a stallion and about what makes me breed at all.
Currently, there are too many horses, and not enough homes. Horses are cast aside, turned into the animal shelter, turned loose in neighborhoods, or worse, starved, neglected and left to die, or shot and left dead in the desert. I Do rescue work. I currently have two rescues that are now recovered and ready to sell. I recently sold (placed) 2 others. In the past 4 years, I have taken in 11 horses that were in a bad way and being given away. They ranged from a severely starved mare and her untouched 14 month old colt, to a well fed 16 month old pony with severe club foot that would have crippled him. I have successfully placed or sold 6 of them. One I am keeping forever (he is my star lesson horse now), one is leased to a student, and 2 are for sale. But don’t kid yourself, I lose money on every single one I save. But at least I know I am a part of the solution. But in the past 4 years, I have also produced 3 colts by my stallion, Louie. Of those, 1 is sold into a perfect forever home. The other two are for sale. The oldest one we have JUST started under saddle (we have walked him around with a rider twice – it will be a slow gentle process) and then the long yearling is just growing up – he gets ponied on the trail from time to time and he is handled regularly. But I doubt I will do much more than break even on these colts if I really factor in the cost of feeding them, and caring for them with vet bills and farrier work. So, why breed at all?
I have been a cat’s whisker away from gelding Louie about a dozen times in the past 2 years. Not because he is difficult to handle – Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not because he lacks quality – he makes people stop and stare all the time. No, I think of gelding him just because in the current economy, it hardly makes sense to produce foals. And I can Not afford the 4th P of stallion ownership – Promotion.
The first 3 P’s are Pedigree, Performance and Prodigy. IF you are going to Promote a stallion, you need all 3 of these in place. A stallion without a notable background is never going to do much. Louie’s pedigree is OK – but does not stop anyone in their tracks. His sire was a super performer – with wins in open jumpers and FEI level dressage. And in truth, if I had been able to promote him better, we might have made Alissando a bigger household name. But I couldn’t. On Louie’s dams side, there are some super nice Paint horses –but that isn’t the market I am going for these days. (maybe I should)
Under Performance, Louie does have Year end championships in hunters and has started his dressage career. Again, finances block me from being able to do all that I should if I am going to have a stallion that is a household name – even if that is only in Warmblood breeding households!!! IF I can move up the levels in the next couple years, we might attract some attention. It is hard to say. We have had a few training break throughs that give me hope for the future. There is a chance that my husband is going to show him in the jumper classes – Louie Loves to jump (my back is less enthusiastic). But they are going to have to really work to be an A class team!
Prodigy – well, that answers why I bred any mares at all 3 years ago. At that point, Louie was 5 yrs old and I needed to know what he produced. If I had HATED his babies, then I would have gelding him right then. OR if he had turned into a jerk after covering a couple mares, I would have gelding him even before the babies were born. But No, he is a decent stallion in a live cover, AND he still has manners around mares. In fact, one of my assistants says that Louie is a “lightbulb” stallion – meaning that we must screw his balls in right before breeding and then unscrew them and put them in a box as soon as we finish – because the rest of the time he acts just like a gelding. Most people have No idea he is a stallion when we are at shows. I LOVE that. So, what did he produce? Well, his first son is 2 ½ yrs old and measures 16.3 hands! He is predicted to mature between 17.2 and 18H!!! That is significant. It is rare to get really balanced horses that are that tall! He is also super calm and easy to work around. He is a solid bay and really reminds me of his grandfather, Allisando. He is straight legged and a decent mover - but not spectacular. Louie’s 2nd son, got his father’s spots. He is nowhere near as tall as his other brother. He is a little less powerfully built, more refined. I would wish he stood a little better in the rear. But he is a fancier mover and very eye catching. He is however, very sensitive. Not a horse that just anyone could work with. But he has a forever home with an experienced horsewoman who spends a lot of time with him, and her daughter will be doing showmanship with him in 4H this next year. Finally, I have Louie’s yearling half Arabian son. He is exactly what the color half arab market is looking for – but I find him a little mentally difficult – a bit self centered and sensitive. He is a Pretty mover and very correct (as much as you can judge a long yearling!) But I think there are a lot of similar horses out there in horse rescues, and that terrifies me. So, basically, the results are still not in. I have decided to breed the Oldenberg mare one more time and I am sort of hoping for a spotted filly. Then I could just keep her to maintain my lineage without having to keep Louie as a stallion.
So back to the question, why breed at all? Well, today, when Amadeus came for a visit, I got that proud momma feeling – the feeling an artist gets when they see their painting displayed on a wall somewhere and other people admire it. Breeding is my art. I did it for years with American Eskimo dogs. I blended different bloodlines looking at temperament and head types and body structure, and a few times I got puppies that were living breathing ART. But you can get through generations much quicker with dogs and really weave a DNA tapestry. I am realizing that is a Lot harder with horses. But I have 3 nice babies by Louie and I don’t regret that they were born. I will take responsibility for them – make sure they are correctly trained and sold into good homes and have as positive a future as one can guarantee for any horse. I sure won’t produce many – because I can’t justify it. But every once in a while, I just might want to cook up a little living art, and Louie sure gives me a fantastic pallet to work from. And maybe I WILL have enough money to get all the promotion and performance going, who knows what the future holds. Meanwhile, Louie is fairly content with his stallion life. So, once again, Louie has dodged the silver knife. I suspect he is a little relieved.