Been along time since I blogged, been a very long winter as well and doesn’t even feel like its ended yet! Finally got all our mares turned out first week of June, unheard of but no point putting them out before there was enough grass to keep them on.
This breeding job is lovely in many ways but financially crippling. We have serious decisions to make regarding the mares this year. We have managed to cut down a few but realistically shouldn’t have any more than 10. It’s a constant battle between your head and your heart. Many of the mares we have now belonged to my Dad who died in 2007, he had bred foals for as long as I can remember. Originally we used to have TB stallions on cob mares, breeding a nice riding type, in fact several ended up jumping at Wembley so had some success in that field.
Then he bought King the black and white stallion that started off all the coloureds here. He always picked up mares along the way that he felt were suitable, he had a good eye for a horse as they say. Paperwork and registrations were never of any interest to him, he went by what his eye told him. We have in the past had some of the best bred horses pass through this yard and it never meant they were going to be suitable for any job. Not everyone wants to show at top level, a lot of people just want a nice cob that will suit their needs, compete locally for a bit of fun and I think thats where what we do fits in. Of course its nice to produce a foal that will win at high level but even the top breeders don't do that with every one!
The foals really were a hobby for Dad, he would keep them til around 2 or 3, then cut the colts. Oh the fun we have had doing up to 40 one day, was a conveyor belt of them going up and down with three vets here. Of course none had been touched either, made for a very exciting time I can tell you. Had around 4 others helping out as well so quite a social event. There were several people around the area that bought the youngsters from Dad as well, but they didn’t make any money after keeping them all that time. Dad loved them, never went on holidays, his pleasure was going up the fields just watching them, can get that it’s a great feeling.
So when Dad suddenly died we had to decide what to do, couldn’t continue the same way as he had as that would break us. With the powers of the internet I advertised the babies and had a lot of interest and sold them quite well. Decided to prefix then with the farm name ‘Worsenden’, register them with Chaps and I guess as they say the rest is history.
It’s a lovely feeling being able to see all the babies grow up and now the earlier ones being broken. We knew King was old couldn’t even remember when Dad bought him, he came from Appleby originally , and Dad bought him from the person later on. We knew we had to replace him as he wouldn’t go on much longer, so searched for homozygous colts and found Thomas and Shoey, one in Warwickshire and other in Wales, Thomas was just 10 months and Shoey around 18 months when we bought them. King carried on producing babies, 10 in 2011 but just one in 2012 (Mowgli) and sadly we had to decide to have him put to sleep last year.
So now we are using Thomas, Shoey and Prince who is a Son of King but only heterozygous, big boy but also can be a bit of a beast when first out with mares so having the dilemma now this year of deciding who to use, plus and minus with them all.
This current financial climate is a big decider in what we do, need to sell the foals all at £1000 each really to make it break even financially, last winters hay and straw bill alone comes to over £8000. There is only so long that we can go on losing money doing it. As everyone knows there are many horses and ponies out there being sold or given away, but we do believe ours have a little of that extra something about them that shines through (biased or not).
This year all mares bar one are in foal to Shoey, five born so far, two sold and some people interested in 2 others, we will see what happens.
I would miss them if we gave up, even the 5am emergencies of trying to pull huge boys that are stuck (Nuzzle), with a quick call to Richard to come and help as I’m just not strong enough on my own. That lovely feeling when I walk up the field early morning and see another new one arrived.
All our mares run as a herd with stallion all year, some of the mares have never as far as I know had headcollars on, which again can make for an interesting time. They keep their feet back naturally normally, although with being in yards so long this winter have a couple that need attention but can’t be touched until foaled as would need to somehow be sedated and then knocked out completely to get to do them. Some harder ground can help as far as this goes. Our foals get used to every kind of noise, with tractors and machinery around them, dogs, people and now even marquees and music when we have the weddings so not a lot freaks them out when they leave us which is good we feel.
So this gives a short insight into how this all began, being Fathers Day today I will dedicate this blog to my Dad, he was as they say a character, boy do I miss him. I know how much he would have loved to see all his babies growing up. Never know he may even have become a fan of computers if it meant being able to see them all. Sadly it all happened too late for him to enjoy L xx