…but I’d like to give you back now please!
Well, what a start to the 2020 breeding season!
At Christmas, when Huw and I were sorting out our breeding programme for the spring and summer, it didn’t even occur to us that by the time we came to March and thinking about breeding the first mares of the season, that we’d be in the middle of a global pandemic and “locked down”.
We barely even registered news about Covid-19 in China in December, other than to sympathise with families who were losing loved ones and we certainly didn’t think we’d be in a position where the UK had ground to a standstill with everyone staying at home, schools closed until September with children learning from home, and a run on toilet paper, hand soap and flour in the supermarkets. After the wettest winter on record and the house flooding at the beginning of March, we were looking forward to a mud free, dry spring where we could finally get out and ride. Read on…
Like many people who were horse mad teenagers in the 80’s, I grew up on a diet of superheroes with names like Harvey Smith, Ginny Leng, Lucinda Green, John Whitaker and Nick Skelton. (Yes, I admit it dates me outrageously!). BSJA Show jumping and Eventing was the route I took at a fairly respectable amateur level, I then moved into classical dressage and I then slowly become thoroughly disillusioned with riding horses and the horse competition world to the point I barely even hacked my horse any more, let alone competed. If you were to ask me how I rode Western, I would answer “very badly”. (Incidentally, that’s still my answer!).
It’s also fair to say, I fell into breeding American Quarter Horses by accident. It’s a well known story (and a running joke between us) that Huw forgot our anniversary one year and so bought me a pregnant AQHA mare (Acorn) to make up for it because he couldn’t find a decent enough Lusitano for our stud without going to Portugal.
It’s come to that time of year again, when we’re actively marketing the horses we have for sale.
Many breeders sell their foals at birth, to go at weaning, and take deposits as they are born to then have them go in the autumn. We take a slightly different approach to many other breeders, partly because we don’t want to tempt fate (yes, we’re a bit superstitious), partly because we wean at 7 months, then get our foals professionally handled and started properly, and partly because a number of years ago we took a deposit on a 3 month old colt who the day after he was sold decided to jump barbed wire instead of go through the open gate next to it and I had to explain to his devastated new owner why she wouldn’t be getting her horse. Not something I want to repeat. (Yes, Jimmy, we’re looking at you!). This means that by the time our horses are ready to go, it’s usually the New Year and they are around 9 months old. They’re ready to go and do things straight away and they’re happy, steady, sane horses who understand what their new owners are asking them to do and so don’t get themselves into trouble.
(Photo Credit: Rhona Barnett.)
” Nadolig Llawen!”
We love getting updates from our foals in their new homes, and this fabulous gem of a photograph arrived in my inbox this morning from Elvis and his new mum, Rhona.
So, given that Elvis is in the festive spirit (and is looking AMAZING in his new home), everyone at Doghill would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!
Our festive preparations are rapidly gathering pace, Charlotte is beside herself with excitement at the prospect of Father Christmas arriving, she has watched the film “Frozen” too many times to count, and we’re already stuffed full on too many mince pies!
In the spirit of Christmas, and too many Christmas films, here is a useful little Welsh phrase for those of you with children which is going to be used a LOT in our house with Charlotte this Christmas!
“Oes rhaid i ni wylio Frozen eto?!!” (Do we have to watch “Frozen” AGAIN??!)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year folks!
We’re currently in the process of getting our Christmas cards sorted. Whilst going through our huge file of pictures to find the perfect one that represents everything we think a Doghill Christmas is about, I came across a snap I took of my Lusitano mare Sophia in heavy snow about 10 years ago. Sophia was a “quirky” girl who was given to me by a friend with the immortal words; “if you can catch her, you can have her”. Well, never one to resist a challenge (especially where horses are concerned) I promptly caught her and I “had” her.
In the interests of full disclosure, it’s probably pertinent to mention at this point that Sophia was semi-wild, hated to be touched and it took 4 days and a lot of bribery and fast thinking to get anywhere near her in a 10 acre field, let alone catch her. But I digress. My point is that Sophia had, at the age of 10, never, ever worn a rug.
Rugging a horse is a very emotive issue. There are the “a horse wouldn’t have a rug in the wild” brigade and so their horses never wear a rug, even when the horse is soaking wet and shivering with cold in a field in a howling storm, and then at the other end of the spectrum, there are the “my horse has a full coat, but it is never ever not rugged because I like it warm and cosy” people and you’ll find their horse sweating in a heavy rug, in hot sun, because it was cold 3 days ago and it might be cold next week.
However, the great majority of horse owners fall somewhere in between and are pretty sensible in their approach. When they are deciding whether their horse should wear a rug they have to take into account considerations like whether the horse is clipped, unclipped, stabled or living out and this impacts their decision.