"I'd like to start this month's blog by offering our sincere condolences to Jen Freeman in Devon, whose stunning two-year-old gelding Elton Hfd (Oliver Hfd x Drossan) had to be put down following a field accident which resulted in a broken hip. We all have to face tragedies from time to time, but it hurts just as bad each time it happens.
A long season
Finally the breeding season nears an end. The mare that joined us for her first insemination in August finally scanned in foal - a much appreciated result so late in the season!
Another heart-stopping moment was when a stunning mare that we ourselves bid for at the Brightwells Auction sold in foal to the stallion Ampere, then went home to her triumphant new owner only to scan not in foal. Fortunately all was not lost. Holden Fold Stud is the agents for Ampere, whose semen is of super quality, so were able to send the new owners a new batch of semen and the mare us back in foal safe and sound.
The 2011 breeding season has to be the longest to date, but ended with great success rates. The Autumn heatwave kept the grass growing so yearlings and foals were out in the fields for a little longer which was a welcome respite. As October neared, in they came for the winter and we got on with vaccinations/passport application pics/vet drawings and chipping of the weanlings. Sounds straightforward but it's an intensive procedure requiring patience and tact.
Broodmares are a hardier bunch, braving the changes in temperature and allowing us to leave them out for a little while longer. There'sa misconception regarding a broodmare's workload and how long they need to be out of work - and many owners start 'maternity leave' earlier than necessary. In the wild they would continue to forage and travel the same distances every day until reaching lush foaling grounds in the spring. As long as the mare appears healthy and attention is paid to her wellbeing, we keep the sporting broodmares in work and competition as normal.
This season we have one mare in foal still in work, called Barinka Hfd. After competing at the BD preliminary regionals in February, she was put in foal to Mooiman Hfd and has competed throughout the summer season, moving up to Novice level and notching up wins with scores above 70%. More recently, her first attempt at Elementary level notched up win to add to her and her unborn foal's CV!
No show at Christmas
We'd hoped the organisers of Olympia might extend an invitation to the Irish Federation so that we could compete there this December, but sadly it wasn't to be. Glamour models are allowed to perform dressage displays but Irish International riders are to be turned away! We have many international Grand Prix placings to our name and have previously accepted invitations from the world's leading studbook, KWPN, to perform demonstrations at their prestigious stallion show in the Netherlands. To all our Irish friends and supporters - we tried!"
"The breeding season hasn't yet come to an end, with stallions still on the waiting list for semen freezing and mares still trickling in for late season covering. Rarely do we see first coverings in August, but this year there have been more than a few. By this time of year we are usually quite safe to compete the stallions internationally, leaving basic responsibilities for the staff at home. But while we were away competing at a CDI in Luxembourg we received calls for several walk-in collections, mares still scanning and a stallion arrived for freezing. It just shows the seasonal breeding calendar is not as reliable as we might think. Fortunately our grooms are highly skilled and we train them to cope with routine breeding procedures, so with a few phone calls and mentoring from Brian, they did not let us down.
A good CV
More and more, breeding stallions, mares and their offspring need to achieve a competition CV to convince breeders of their worth. For me the most important thing is that the stallion is producing sport horses. The recent CDI was an eye opener, with more improvement in the stallions' performance, yet we and many other competitors were left aghast at the marks. The new scoring system appears to be pushing what I call the 'A listers' scores through the roof while the 'B listers' are lower than they have ever reached before. With the qualifying scores for major events increasing, many combinations - especially those from fledgling federations - are going to soon be pushed out. Interestingly, if you turn to online sources such as YouTube, you can see discrepancies in the scoring - some horses make serious mistakes yet score above 70%, while others can be seen with minor errors barely breaking 60%. Perhaps sources such as YouTube open the door to a fairer system?
A week after Luxembourg and we were off to Brightwells Auction at Addington Manor. We've sponsored this for many years and it is arguably the only dressage/show jumping auction in the UK giving UK breeders and producers the chance to market their horses nationally and internationally. To our delight, the auction was a huge success - with some high returns for sellers and some absolute bargains to be had for buyers. We brought home a very talented jumping mare who we sold on to an eventer. A very worthwhile venture, with a small profit to be had plus all the excitement of the chase.
Farewell to Jack
Sadly, my friend and protector Jack (pictured) passed away at the grand old age of 11. When you live life surrounded by animals, you know their life span is shorter than ours. Rest in peace, Jack Crane, you will always have a special place in my heart."
"July marks the autumn of the breeding season as far as inseminations go. The last group of semen freezing stallions have started now and a few last minute walk in collections are taking place, with other jobs like haymaking and breaking horses about to start. We're also developing, assessing and training the young horses currently under saddle and we'll maybe squeeze a few more summer shows in.
Right on track
This year we are right on track. In the late AI group, just one, Dior, a stunning Royal Dance mare, reabsorbed the first pregnancy to the international Grand Prix KWPN approved stallion Mooiman Hfd (ranked one of the Netherlands' top ten dressage breeding sires) so she is in this late group of mares. Two stunning Arab stallions have been in for freezing before export to Sweden and the Connemaras kept us busy with walk ins, plus a few other last minute coverings from the jumping and dressage studs.
Selling like hot cakes
With the very attractive dark bay mare Channel No5 in foal to Mooiman Hfd sold, all the young horses sold but two from the higher price band which means we have two very good young horse prospects for the grooms to put in a competition CV in 2012 following a winter's training. The lovely three-year-old Oldenburger San Tropez Hfd (Santana Hfd x Rough Lad) and four-year-old KWPN Coolman Hfd (Wellington Keur/sport/dressage/prest x Mooiman Hfd) stay to mature as planned. Enjoy the video of San Tropez Hfd and Coolman Hfd and snippets of the young horses training at HFD at the bottom of this blog.
We like to have the breaking horses started before the winter makes the coats thick and while we have stable space. The last two of this year's three-year-olds were started the begining of the July - they will be the last until the January intake.
Excited breeders send us their experiences and stories of the year's foal and youngstock shows. It all adds to the feeling that the summer work schedule will soon be changing. One breeder captured their outing on video which I thought I would share with you along with the criteria that would attach to such an inspection.
Jumping criteria for the KWPN
This video kindly sent to us by Kara and Darren Hardy of their three-year-old colt Denver Hfd (Oliver Hfd x Drossan) shows him being assessed. Below is the jumping criteria followed by ourselves and the KWPN stud book which is ranked the best in the world for jumping horses. Have some fun - see if you can inspect him referencing the bullet points below. You may like to try evaluating your own youngsters useing the check list too.
A small word of advice: Remember the first thing that strikes you about the horse when you first set eyes on him/her and work from that first impression. A little tip I picked up from senior KWPN inspector Ine Van Deurzen.
Stands in a rectangular model
Is long lined with a proportional build
Has an horizontal build.
Has along neck that is slightly raised and arched with muscling in the top line
Has a strongly built and strongly muscled back/loin formation
He is attractive.
The walk is an active four time gait that has suppleness and impulsion
The trot is an active two time gait that has suppleness and impulsion and self carraige
The canter is pure three time gait that is active, light with suppleness, impulsion, balance and self carraige
Can lengthen and shorten easily in the canter, without losing rythm, tact or self carriage
The canter is light and balanced without making much front
Remains more horizontal in the body.
Is able to collect strongly before the last canter stride before the jump ands is able to place the hind leg far forward under the body in order to get a powerful take off
Leaves the ground quickly with power
Jumps with an upward wither with the highest point over the middle of the jump
Brings the under arm above the horizontal and folds the cannon bone under the under arm
Bascules; brings the neck down during the jump causing the rump to follow the direction of the neck; opens the hindquarter
Athletic ability: supple and develop forward motion over the jump lands lightly and canters of easily; is careful, efficient and has much scope.
Has a willing,hard working and honest character
Is intelligent, looks and evaluates the jump
Has the will to perform
Is easy to handle
Each section is awarded a mark. These are then multiplied so the breeder/owner can understand how the over all score was achieved
Weakness can be supported by strengths as long as they are not the majority in all athletes. We have yet to produce the perfect model but the overall score must be close. As breeders we have to educate ourselves to evaluate our own offspring with an honest informed experienced eye.
Jumping evaluation video
Apologies for not being unable to upload the video, but please click on this link to watch the video:
“Apologies for the late blog - our KWPN approved breeding stallion Mooiman Hfd had an international Grand Prix to compete in at the beginning of the month, which delayed my administration duties! Feel free to experience snippets of our outing – there’s a video at the bottom of my blog for you to watch. After qualifying for the Kur, we were lucky enough to pip into the prize giving ceremony too. When I watch the video back, I think the piaffe and transition from piaffe to passage could be much more fluent, but sexual tension are one of the complications we stallion riders have to take in our stride.
RIP Amazing Grace
I have sad news about Amazing Grace. Despite surviving enteritis at just 12-hours-old, shortly after her return home she suffered a kick from the dam which resulted in an inpatient admission to have a huge haematoma drained on her neck. It was during this period of treatment that she suffered a serious bout of colic and perforated her bowel, losing her fight for life to a force greater than us. I will never forget this little angel - she has left a hoofprint in my memory forever.
The month of June closed with a flurry of brood mare requests from frantic breeders who had been unsuccessful at getting their current mares in foal, but had set their minds on having a foal to look forward to in 2012. Brian will make a selection from our breeders that fit the buyer’s criteria and take the hopeful customers to various studs and yards where they might find a mare in foal that they are looking for.
For us, we would never breed from a mare who has only been given stud book status. I am now referring to the terminology and grading of KWPN mares as this is our forte. The majority of our mares are KWPN. Dutch sport horse breeders have been united for more than 100 years. King William 11 recognised the first Dutch Stud Book organisation in 1887 and so laid the basis for regulated warmblood horse breeding in the Netherlands, the resulting horses are a sport horse which HFD appreciates and believes in.
When a KWPN foal is born they are registered into the Veulen Book - VB on the passport. The animal then is taken to the gradings. If there are any basic conformational or gait problems, then they stay VB. If the gaits and conformation are correct with normal development, then they are accepted into the stud book and their passports will be stamped with STB. This is the most basic inspection but a respectable one; mares not presented as foals are eligible for inspection at any age. It is unusual for foals in the Netherlands not to be presented for stud book grading as it is considered part of the normal breeding process.
Any animals presenting with genetic abnormalities, such as parrot mouth, sickle hocks and so on, would not achieve stud book status, no matter how much sporting promise the animal showed in the gait assessment. I could elaborate more on the complexities of the KWPN stud book grading system if enough of you request it - I do not want drone on with a very intense subject such as this if there is no interest!
From here on in, you in set your own standards. The KWPN stud book records the competition results of all approved stallion offspring and they form a breeding index on the result of these records. At HFD we always put the broodmares under saddle to ensure the mare has a good work ethic, we would not use a mare which presented an unacceptable level of willingness.
Should Queenie foal again?
In the same vein, once a mare entered a breeding programme should she present with above average complications resulting in the loss of her foals, we would remove her from breeding status. I note with interest the sad loss of the foal born to the National Trust MyFarm project and see that for them her success rate of a normal healthy foal is enough to continue to breed from her. For us, she would be too high a risk and we would remove her from the programme.
That aside, after a birth resulting in the death of a foal we would not cover on the foaling heat if the birth was complicated. She would be given time for any sore areas and inflammation to stabilise for fear of abortion, reabsorption or infection further hindering future breeding projects, but I am not abreast of all the facts and do not know if the birth was complicated or not. I’m sure they’re doing what they think is right and no doubt took veterinary advice which is perhaps the most important thing to consider.
Movers and shakers
June saw a changeover of staff with apprenticeships coming to an end and new employees to induct. It’s always time consuming and tiring - the staff have to work really hard to meet the standards set by a DEFRA Approved international breeding station and an international Grand Prix rider, but so far all seems to running smoothly
Although June horse sales were slow, Rolex Hfd was sold, as was Nico and Channel No5. I am currently in discussions with a very well informed pony international rider’s mother about my lovely Coolman Hfd. I think he has international potential. Although Mooiman Hfd is on the Dutch KWPN stallion rankings as one of the top 10 dressage sires in the Netherlands, I am keen to develop his breeding CV in Ireland and the UK further. I would like another Mooiman Hfd offspring to join Titanisch on the international path way in the UK, so his CV versus me, me, me is my current quandary. Decisions, decisions.
Great results for HFD offspring
This time of year much of the foaling is done and dusted and the covering season complete with the majority of brood mares in foal and just a few stallions now to get through semen freezing. Our thoughts turn to the county shows, foal shows, mare gradings, summer regionals and National Championships. We are delighted to congratulate Faye Hesketh and Mooiman Hfd son Amoo on qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show. Susan Haliday, elite sports pony breeder, has won just about everything including the sport horse class at the Great Eccleston Show, then going on to take the championship with her two-year-old Mooiman Hfd colt Esprit Mooiman. Laura Morely, a first time breeder, gained a high first premium at Writtle with her Oliver Hfd foal.
We have always enjoyed impressive results in the dressage arena and Mooiman son Tarzan comes to mind when he won the BD Eastern Open Elementary Regional Championships so these results in the show ring are a bonus for us, proving the stallion Mooiman Hfd is also meeting the standards of the very important British show producers, who themselves can boast worldwide recognition and respect. These are just a few results we have enjoyed through our breeders so a good year to date. Congratulations to you all and thank you.
Thank you for once again sharing our small corner of the universe - speak to you all in August.”
"May started with a bank holiday for most, but not for us as usual. Channel Hfd(Valdez X Krack C x Jazz) foaled a super little dark bay colt (Ampere x Valdez X Krack C) two days late on the 6 May. We scanned for insemination on her foaling heat to bring her dates back for 2012 and she is back in foal on the first attempt to Mooiman Hfd.
Breeding and selling
Breeding horses is also about selling them and the 2011 three-year-olds training progress is underway. We like very much to have done some work with them before actively offering them for sale. By doing this, we have a knowledge of their attitude to work and play a part in preparing them for their future lives. With Mooiman Hfd ranked one of the top 10 dressage sires for producing dressage horses by the most difficult stud book in the world, we get a big tick in the performance/trainability boxes for his offspring. With the youngsters working with enough confidence and balance to present them for sale, we spent a full day on the 8 May videoing them in work mode. To see what we have for sale and see our coloured stallion Spyder under saddle, go to http://www.holdenfolddressage.co.uk/forsale.html.
We were already up at 3am on 17 May foaling a client's 22-year-old PSG mare when we received an call from distressed breeder, Mary Haworth, deep in a complicated foaling emergency. Perrie was all but finished so Brian left me to do the observations while he went to help, but all too late - both mare and foal died. This is the very sad side of our work which we do relentlessly 356 days a year. Calls come to us for help, calls come in to us of stories of success.
Red bag syndrome
Edge O' Leet Stud owners Gary and Carol Bond averted catastrophe when their Wolfgang Keur mare presented her Mooiman Hfd foal with red bag syndrome. The situation was immediately recognised, the vet was called and CPR maintained until help arrived. Their stunning bay filly survived. Three-years-ago we witnessed and were called to four red bag syndrome presentations, being at the birth and speedy diagnosis of the condition is the only sure fire way of saving the foal.
Our work brings many, many highs but sometimes we are thrown some very deep, deep lows. The dark cloud that visited us that night failed to clear and our own battle with the grim reaper was on the horizon.
Our battle with the grim reaper
30 hours post foaling at midday on Wednesday 18 May, Perrie's filly foal Grace (Mooiman Hfd x T/B) became ill. Noticing Perrie's udder full and Grace's signs of loose bowel movement and dehydration, we called the vet as this was quite obviously something serious.
Grace had enteritis, a very serious condition from which few foals survive - especially if they're so young and so the battle to save this little mite began. IV canular fitted and an initial dose of fluids/antibiotics given to her were her only hope of survival. We were to continue IV therapy day and night so for the next five days and nights, Brian and I set about putting up four drips every 24 hours each bag of fluid with either glucose/calcium or plasma added and taking two to three hours to run through. Antibiotics were also given via the drip inlet valve, and we became quite expert at connecting the drip bag to the IV canular, stopping the flow to inject antibiotics and disconnecting the drip when the dose was complete, maintaining aseptic technique while applying the canular bung, and so on.
Beat the bowel torsion
When you think the enteritis is beaten, the worry of bowel torsion raised its ugly head. 12 hours with no BO and a little colicky, knowing full well she was not strong enough to survive a bout of colic due to impaction and definitely all would be lost if she had suffered a torsion due to possible damage caused by the infection and dehydration, we decided to perform a PR,convinced she had a full rectum 20mls of fleet helped our little princess part with the equivalent of six to eight foal motions. Never ever have we been so pleased to see horse manure in abundance! This was the first time we really felt our little wonder girl had beaten the grim reaper.
Following Grace's journey
We followed Amazing Grace's journey and her relieved owner Lesley Davidson be keeping this brave little girlie, who on day 11 (aged 13 days) post diagnosis took her first lap of honour around her father's arena. We posted Grace's journey on our Facebook Mooiman Holden Fold page and as it unfolded this frail little life had hundreds of concerned supporter willing her to pull through.
As the silent fight continued, behind the screen surrounding baby Grace's stable in between drugs/drips input and output monitoring, it was business as usual. Daily walk-in stallion collections, mares arriving for scanning, or being collected. Their owners very aware of her plight, each enquiring after her progress. The young horses' daily work programmes continue, Grace's father Mooiman Hfd's international training continues, vet visits for teeth rasps and non urgent procedures plus a full day photo shoot to update the web site and get footage for our June Horse Deals website promotion. A dedicated stud in the North West of England going about its daily routine taking it all in their stride. Just another day at the office. Thank you all for taking the time to take a peek into our world. That's a wrap, baby Grace!"
April is now all behind us. It was an unusual month starting with just one foal on the ground. We had some surprises with foals not going in date order - Samantha hfd (Ulster (Nimmerdor) x Farn) was due to foal on 15 of April, but there was still no foal on the 25! She's been running milk now for 24 hours, so round the clock observation is now a priority. Although it is not unusual for a mare to go 12 months this mare is 21-years-old and showing signs of her age, so it's an anxious time here at the stud. This will be her last foal and we wait anxiously!
Great news for Mooiman
The IDS Magazine dropped through the post this month with great news for our KWPN Approved international Dressage stallion Mooiman hfd (Flemmigh x Roemer). For those who do not know, it is the most popular horse sport/breeding news magazine in the Netherlands. It reports just about all there is to know about stallions/progeny, international achievements of horses as well as the international and national ranking lists, breeding index and so on.
Ranking of successful sires
The stallions' offsprings' sport record is calculated to give a ranking list for the most successful sires and Mooiman hfd is one of the top 10 breeding sires in the Netherlands. This is quite an achievement - he stands head and shoulders with world champion breeding stallions such as Jazz and Contango. Of course, the more offspring you have, the better the odds of a stallion to be up there in the sire rankings. But believe me, Mooiman certainly has not got as many children as the others on the list and he is in the UK. We think this is pretty good. It is great for breeders to have official records on how successful the stallions' offspring actually do in the sport - a very different, more reliable calculation from the results of offspring in young stock/foal shows for breeders to consider when choosing sport sires.
Dressuur:Kinderan in de sport 10 jaar en ouder
Another new foal
Ilana hfd Keur/Sport/Dress/Prest (Wellington x Zaire) foaled a very big chestnut colt Gucci hfd (Oliver x Wellington) three days early on the 19 April. It was a super straight forward birth, only needing a little TLC from Brian so I was able to once again get some great footage for you to enjoy or for the first time breeder, to give a picture of what to expect. See the video of the birthing below. Editor's note: This video shows graphic scenes of a mare foaling down, and may not be suitable for those of a sensitive disposition.
Foaling is now well and truly underway and Mooiman hfd is working well, so there maybe a few shows in France for him later when we have all the babies safe and sound in the mare and foal paddocks.
“For the first time at Holden Fold we entered March without a foal on the ground. When the covering doesn’t go to plan the previous year and the foals are later than you anticipate, it has real affect on the year ahead. The first mare to foal, Alifra hfd PROK (Obelisk x Jazz) owned by SVG Sport Horses, was due to foal on 6 March. She eventually graced us with her new born ten days late foaling, on 16 March, but well worth the wait. A stunning dark bay colt by Mooiman hfd. She had a text book birth; she came in from the field waxed up, restless and foaled down at 11pm. The foal was perfectly presented and with a little TLC from Brian, little Giorgio Armani Hfd (Mooiman hfd x Obeisk) was enjoying a humongous intake of milk and the ever important colostrums within 30 minutes, The whole procedure was so smooth I was able to get quite a bit of filming done. We were both back in bed for 3am when we were happy he was getting up and down easily for a drink, ensuring we saw the muconium passed and of course a little piddle from the newborn, I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoy being part of this little miracle every year.
Giorgio to stay
This foal so impressed us that we bought him to run on with our own 2011 foals at weaning. As an investment for the future, we feel it is good business to purchase our future sale horses from our own British breeders if we can, especially when we see animals of this quality being bred. So welcome little Giorgio Armani Hfd, you will stay here for the first few years of your life!
Open day cancelled
Although there are six more mares to foal, the next isn’t due until 15 April and taking into consideration the real possibility that foaling can be up to four weeks late, we took the decision to cancel the 2011 Open Day, an event we have hosted for the past four years. Other factors influenced this backtrack, including an unusually busy stallion season with a waiting list for stallion phantom training up the end of May, every stable being full and yearlings out in the field, we have had to turn away bookings for foaling mares and training horses so for one year we’ve decided to cancel and deal with the work in hand.
Promoting other stallions
In Europe it is commonplace to have studs promote stallions owned by rival breeding stations. The competition is healthy and honourable and we Holden Fold have long admired this trend, so when we were approached by fellow DEFRA approved Hunciecroft Farm Stud Ltd to discuss a business plan along these lines we were extremely interested. Following healthy discussion, we can confirm Hunciecroft Stud Ltd DEFRA approved AI breeding station in Nottinghamshire will be agents for Mooiman hfd (Flemmingh x Roemer) - the only fully approved KWPN international dressage stallion in the UK, Oliver hfd (Voltaire x Graf Grand) - fully approved dressage and jumping stallion and Spyder GB Hfd ( Sanyo x Sambuco B) - AES graded as licensed coloured German warmblood dressage and jumping stallion, Hunciecroft have currently finished a massive revamp of their beautiful facility set in the grounds of a fabulous country estate. To celebrate this they will hold an open day in May and Holden Fold will take all three stallions to do a display and join in the fun. I will confirm the exact details in my May blog.
Completing semen freezing
Coming to the end of March the last stallion completing semen freezing for EU use meant the stables were quickly filled with stallions for phantom training and of course the baby horses’ work programmes continue. I really like the little Mooiman hfd x Wellington Keur/Sport/Dress/Prest gelding; he has great suppleness and a willing use of his body - two very important qualities needed for a top class sport horse. The dressage/event youngster San Tropez (Santana hfd x Rough Lad) is off the lunge and getting on with the baby horse programme is the stunning little coloured warmblood Rolex Hfd (Royal Dance x Samber). Quick on their heels, we are able to start work with the next youngster in the queue Don Diego H (Metal x Riverman) to the delight of his owner, who is so excited at the thought of riding her youngster since buying him from Hfd before Christmas.
Leaves are on the trees, daffodils are everywhere but there’s not enough grass on the ground yet for turning out. The mares get a leg stretch, a nibble in an ever reliable back field which never gets muddy and always has a nibble for the mothers to be. We wish you all safe, successful foaling this season.”
"Most would envisage stud work lying dormant throughout the Winter months with a frenzy of activity during the summer. Truth is, it all depends on the services and facilities each particular stud encompasses.
At Holden Fold we have a busy calendar with work carefully spread throughout the year. Stud work is not just about keeping stallions and/or mares with a flurry of little ones come spring.
As a DEFRA approved international semen collection centre, we have to fit in the clients who require semen freezing for international use as well as the many less time consuming UK only freezing clients. These stallions require stables, time and cycling mares so we try to make provisions for these customers in advance of the breeding season. We give priority to these stallions over foaling mares and stud mares, as it is easy for us to ship semen to where the mare is - be it at stud or at home - or even inseminate her, let her go home and return the next day for the ovulation confirmation. If this is okay, she can stay home until the 14 day scan, but the international semen freezing stallions must be on site and really it works better for the UK only stallions for semen freezing to have a resident place too.
Lights, cameras, action!
This year is no different than any other year. We have seven mares on site to foal and we're watching cameras from 320 days. The first foal is due March 6, so in February the monitors went on throughout the house and during the night. We dusted down the foaling alarms too. Alifra hfd was the first to have the alarm for 2011, so although still in the deep midwinter, we are working round the clock already. With the first stallions due to arrive at the end of March, we have had to turn away several mares for foaling.
Hfd also breaks, trains and competes the horses we have bred so in the training yard are this years three-year-olds on their young horse programmes. If we sell all the foals, which is often the case, we will carefully select youngstock from fellow breeders so we always have a few horses to develop during this time. In February we started to work with four-year-old KWPN Coolman hfd (Mooiman hfd x Wellington) to prepare him for some young horse classes. We also started three-year-old Oldenburger San Tropez hfd (Santana hfd x Rough Lad T/B) who is just backed this week, along with three-year-old KWPN Rolex hfd (Royal Dance x Samber) and of course three-year-old Westaphalian Spyder GB hfd the studs new AES approved stallion. All three are now doing trot work on the lunge with the riders on top so a smooth journey for these young men.
Although the weather can be against you, it is better for the horses to start early and have all year to develop the young horse skills as three-year-olds should and for us it is better that we spend time with them now before we start daily collections, scanning, inseminations, walk in collections, semen freezing and all the other work that has to dispersed throughout the year.
Spyder's stallion parade
In February's blog you will remember we announced we would be presenting Spyder GB hfd, Oliver hfd and Mooiman hfd at the stallion parade at Myerscough International Arena. Watch the video below to see how the boys did us proud.
Mooiman progeny at BD seminar
All studs like to hear how their offspring are progressing as it helps inform your knowledge of what your horses can produce.
A delight for us was to see was Titanisch by Mooiman hfd ridden by Matt Frost featured in the January Dressage Magazine performing at the British Dressage National Seminar. On the other hand great disappointment when the five-year-old Barinka hfd ridden by 16-year-old hfd apprentice Scott Wellsby went to the BD regionals at Myerscough,scoring 63% from one judge and just short of 71% from another - almost an 8% difference of opinion - so we add to the conundrum of obstacles the horses we breed face that much luck is involved when building a competition CV. The judges can vary their opinions on what a performance is worth greatly in the UK, even at this level where only walk, trot and canter is required. I understand how an opinion can differ depending at what place you're positioned in the arena at my level of Grand Prix. You have many complicated movements to judge, but I really struggle with such a difference at this early stage . Perhaps I should present myself for judge training then I can experience their job understand more and why it is always easy to critique from the side lines. Anyway, watch the video below and you can judge the test yourselves.
The Big Debate
A very real lesson was learned in 2010 from what many now refer to as "The Big Debate". I am all for healthy vibrant debate issues being addressed and relevant points made, but abuse and rudeness from one who refuses to stand up and be counted and instead hides behind forum names brings concern to me. I am sure others who find themselves victim to a faceless attack upon themselves/their horses or their business and indeed livelihood would feel the same.
A point worth mentioning here: The big debate ended in 2010 and that is where it stays. Julia Hodkin of Future Sport Horses and Brian Crane of Holden Fold Stud Ltd were both victims of anonymous forum abuse and have joined together to support British breeding, British breeders and a brighter future where we all can live and work within the industry of our beloved horses.
Congrats to Julia
I would like congratulate Julia Hodgin, breeder and owner of Future Illusion and Future Sporthorses, who following a mistake interpreting the results of her stallion after attending a Zfdp grading, can now celebrate him being successfully inspected by the AES studbook. Future Illusion will be presented for the 2011 season as graded as licensed.
The breeding season is round the corner and Hfd wish all of you successful breeding, healthy foals and good business. Next month, hopefully Alifra hfd will have some news! Congratulations to Darren and Kara on the first foal for 2011 by Oliver hfd. Hopefully I'll have cutie pics of him for you in my next blog."
The year is off to a busy start at Holden Fold Stud
"December to February is the evaluation and forward planning part of the year. I can safely say that we have never had so many calls for us to advertise; at one point Brian was taking up to six calls a day from various papers and magazines. It's hard but the stud business in the UK is difficult and it's easy to spend more than your income on the tempting packages on offer, but we stuck to our strategy set in December and went for a full page ad in Horse Deals. Also H&C's Stud Break is an amazing opportunity for stallion owners to advertise and I hope people will sit up and take note!
Our budget has to stretch to also cover our continued support of the one and only prestigious sport horse auction we have in the UK, the Brightwells auction. It has been hard cutting back and resisting the tempting offers posed. It's the side of stud work that no one thinks about.
What's wrong with this picture?
Even the vet tried to entice us to spend money before it has been earned; a cleverly worded letter arrived advising us of new "recommendations" to stallion owners introducing even more swabs for the AI-only stallions at a cost of over £450 per horse. Now here's a scenario for you to consider: In the UK stallions who cover naturally (and are therefore more at risk from spreading and contracting diseases such as CEM or EVA) do not have to be swabbed or vaccinated at all. There is no policing or legislation for infection control in these cases, but stallions who only cover using AI (and never come into contact with host mares or any animal involved in the breeding process providing the stud uses a phantom and not the old way of using a barren mare of course!) and in a position where it is nigh on impossible for them to contract or spread any of these diseases have to be either swabbed clean or EVA vaccinated. Now there's a thought-provoking upside down situation!
Anyway, we do have a ram jam full diary for 2011 with a four month waiting list for places in the training stables and foaling boxes. Stallions for phantom training are now queuing for places at the end of March, so busy times for the forseeable future. With that in mind we decided to take on an extra pair of hands in the form of a yard person. We had 50 applicants over two days and it was hard to keep up with - a nice job for Sue the stud administrator. I finally opted for a young man who seems like the perfect candidate, he's at night school and enjoys being around animals and working outdoors.
We had a proud moment when Mooiman's son Titanisch - ridden by Matt Frost - was at the British Dressage National Convention and pictured in the January 2011 British Dressage magazine. It gives you a great feeling when you see one of your stallions' offspring gaining appreciation at such a prestigious event.
February brings one month away from the first foaling. Alifra HFD is in foal to Mooiman and due on the 9 March, so we spent the end of January power washing every building inside and out, catching up with repairs and tidying up the woolley youngsters ready for breaking. We fond a new home for the lovely Ferdie who was sold just after the new year celebrations. I will miss riding him, he's a lovely Florestan son who I am sure we will hear more of in the future.
Myerscough stallion parade
On 18 February we are taking three stallions to Myerscough for the stallion show. It will be Spyder's first public demonstration we have a stand there so it's a great chance to catch up with everyone coming out of winter hibernation. Back at home, our haylage stock is getting smaller by the day. A huge amount of our income is spent on forage, but empty bellies spells all sorts of digestive disorders, so it's off to market we shall go..."
Ilana HFD with her Mooiman foal. She is now in foal to Oliver HFD.
"Happy New Year, everyone! It hardly seems like a year since I started blogging for H&C, an experience that took me and many of my readers into unfamiliar territory, but hopefully bringing thought provoking information to you.
At this time of year while the breeding mares get ever rounder with the foals for 2011, and the stallions prepare for the competitions and stallion shows, we as a stud look back on the previous business status deciding how the economy is going to work for us during the coming year. These are unpredictable times with so many changes implemented by the new government affecting small business, we have to ensure our out goings don't exceed our incomings. As always, the advertising budget is set first so we decided on a one off full page in the Horse Deals' January Stallion issue. We figure most breeders will buy this edition for referance further on into the 2011 season
Will there be an International bidding market in the UK?
For us, life goes on we embrace and deal with the challenges. The equestrian breeding industry in the UK has a lot of growth potential and there is still work in the international market to do, as we found with Santana hfd. In 2010 we did not believe he would make his maximum retail value if he was sold from a UK yard so he was sent to the Equine Elite Auction in Holland where he made the highest price with showcase status on EuroDressage. Ironically, he was sold to an English buyer. We hope one day that these horses have an International bidding audience in the UK of this standard. This ambition starts with the breeders having access to correct information and education with affordable services and semen from world class stallions able to improve the gene pool.
An influx of enquiries
As the New Year begins, as always we have an influx of enquiries ranging from stallion owners who wanting semen freezing and phantom training, breeders with pregnant mares trying to book foaling places and youngstock owners who have their rising three-year-olds to break. With every stable full and still some youngstock in the field, we have a long waiting list way into the summer months for stallions, mares and youngstock. Despite the daunting cutbacks forecast for 2011, our breeders seem to be doing well and getting on with future plans.
A stallion parade for Mooiman and Oliver HFD
January brought an invitation to take Mooiman hfd, Oliver hfd and our new coloured warmblood stallion Spyder hfd to the stallion parade at Myerscough College in February. This has proved a highly successful, affordable event and with studs invited to put display stands up, it adds to the atmosphere. It provides a stage for breeders to access owners and field questions on the day to stallion owners. The parade is only open to approved stallions. Stud books use many differant terms when refering to a stallion that has been successful at his stud book inspection: Licensed, graded,accepted are some of those used. These terms refer to particular sections of a stud book acceptance but they all mean the stallion has been successful at his grading for breeding status. I take it that in doing this, the organisers confirm their support of stallion inspections as a yard stick for quality assurance at their stallion parade.
Holden Fold experts
Holden Fold Stud is unusual in that it houses experts in several fields. We have the breeding station; DEFRA approved international collection centre (which attracts the stallion owners who not only want to have semen frozen but they also want the semen eligible for international shipping); we have the lab and technical equipment for phantom training; walk in collections; semen analysis and shipping; there's the large foaling bays with CCTV for the mares in foal; the training barn where we break/train and compete ours and clients horses; then of course there is myself as an International grand prix dressage rider/trainer. I not only currently train and compete my International grand prix stallion Mooiman hfd, but I spend time supporting the apprentices and liveries working with the young horses' training programmes and competition schedules.
This wide range of skills complements each other. For example, when you have not only ridden but also trained a stallion from novice to International grand prix winning status, much intelligence can be used when developing breeding goals, youngstock assessments, advising clients on stallion behaviour and sporting potential. Likewise, the years foaling hundreds of mares encountering many complications and handling stallions creates a multi-skilled unit with a wide range of support services for our clients.
Keep warm - spring is on its way. Health and happiness to you all for the coming year."