Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And we're off!

Saturday is a big day, ultrasound for Miss Tres! Gotta see what that follicle is doing :) Maybe we'll get SUPER lucky and she'll be close, but with my luck, we'll have just missed it... haha.

On the plus side, the vetericyn is working WONDERS on Topaz's lip. The droopy/bell's palsy look she had going on is pretty much gone, and its filling in SO nicely. I am taking pictures every other day, to document the progress :) totally grossed out my boss, haha. Now I need to get suture scissors to take out the remaining stitches on Friday. Maybe we'll get lucky and the scarring will be minimal :)

Had a great conversation with Leigh Anne today (the trainer for Corona Real) today! Talked about breeding, training, showing, all kinds of awesome stuff. I really do wish we lived closer to her barn, so I could spend more time out there in lessons and having my horses trained. At any rate, she had some interesting propositions for me, and a lot of possibilities have opened up for me to occupy my time with while Tres is on hiatus from the show ring cooking a baby :) I will post when I know more, but in the meantime, send good cycle vibes to us on Saturday!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Very big update!

Sorry for the delay in this update- I tried to write it last night, but the site was down!

OK. Bad news first. I realize I've been a little vague about Topaz's lump on her lip, so here's the whole story! After our disappointing experience with Quail Valley, we had Equine Medical come out and biopsy. Less than a week later, we had our results- the lump was actually a mast cell tumor. VERY rare in horses (of course). When the vet broke the news to me, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief- if its some kind of weird medical thing, its gonna happen to me or my horses *sigh* The vet and I had a very long conversation- the usual protocol for these tumors is immediate surgical removal, but the size and location on her lip complicated things. The second best option was radiation, but it was prohibitively expensive ($2-6K). As much as we adore Topaz, she is not proven as a mount or a broodmare, and we couldn't justify spending that amount of money on a horse that hasn't proven itself yet (although we have no doubt that she will eventually!). The last option is one not generally tried in horses, but is popular in dogs (where mast cell tumors are VERY common). A regimen of corticosteroids to shrink the tumor, then surgical removal.

After much discussion between myself, my husband, and Lauren (who is training and riding Topaz), we decided our best option was the steroids and hopefully surgery in a few weeks. But lucky for us, we had an amazing vet who was determined to do better for us. He headed up to Mizzou (an excellent veterinary medicine program with a wonderful equine clinic) to speak with some colleagues there about their opinions on a course of treatment. Lucky for us, a case this rare with such interesting tumor placement sparked some interest, and one of Mizzou's best equine surgeons offered to do the surgery at an INCREDIBLY reasonable rate. We had her up to the clinic that week! Surgery was textbook, and it looked GREAT when she got home. Of course, she has since ripped out all of her stitches, but with lots of care, the surgeon is optimistic that it will heal with minimal scarring- and the most important part, she will be healthy and retain full use of her lip and mouth! It looks pretty rough in the last photos in the album below, because they were taken the day she ripped out all the stitches. It's looking much better now, and I will continue to update it with photos :)

Photos of the journey.

Now, on to the best news of the week!!! Thursday, I got a phone call confirming shipment of Fugitivo's frozen semen! It arrived at Equine Medical this morning :) so now I'm waiting for Dr. Ortis to set up an appointment to bring Tres in for an ultrasound. Apparently this year, when I was anxious for signs of heat, she's decided to go incognito :) so I think we may have to go the regumate route, but I don't even care at this point! We're so close!!! So cross your fingers, I will post when I've got more news!

We had been planning to hit a small fun show in Fulton this weekend, for some halter and English classes, but its been raining for about 24 hours, so I'm not sure how thats going to work out. Anyway, very excited!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Week full of ups and downs

Its been quite a week! Both at work and at home, lots of craziness. Got the contract sent off for Tres, so that was a relief! Now just waiting for our "shipment" to arrive, and Tres's cycles to cooperate :) but there is no rush. I wouldn't mind an early summer baby.

On the Topaz front, we're still working with the vet to resolve the issue, but its looking like she'll be slated for surgery sometime in the next month or so. The timing is actually good (well, as good as it could be), because she will have the surgery while Lauren is home for the summer, so by the time Lauren is back in the fall, they should be ready to get back to work and hit the ring!

Aside from that, I'm just trying to keep my head above water at work. We had a HUGE event today, 250+ people, including state legislators. It actually went off quite well, so hopefully now things will get back to my normal, manageable routine :)

Will update soon, just not much to talk about yet!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stalls are in and the contract is signed!

I really do need to get back in the habit of updating this regularly, sorry guys! Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. I spent 2 full days at WWU photographing their USDF dressage show, which was so fun! There were some BEAUTIFUL rides, and some lovely horse and rider combinations. I've sold a few pictures :) but am still deciding if its something I want to pursue in the future. If you're interested in seeing pictures, go here. While I was gone all day last Sunday, Myles was a busy bee at the house, putting up 2 of the three stalls! :) All that is left is the foaling stall for Tres. We're not using the stalls yet, waiting to get the stall mats in and a shavings bin built, but its nice to have them in the barn!
On the Topaz/melanoma front, the tests Quail Valley did were not conclusive. Despite my specifically making the appointment for them to biopsy the lip, all they did were compression slides, which showed a lot of infected cells (duh, it was oozing blood and pus, so clearly there was an infection). They wanted us to put her on antibiotics for a few weeks to see if we could shrink the lump at all. At this point, I was very disappointed with our last few visits- they came to microchip Topaz but didn't bring a scanner, I made an appointment for a breeding soundness exam for Tres and he was completely unprepared, the melanoma diagnosis off of just a physical examination.... so we decided to have a second vet out to see her and switch our horses over to a new clinic. Equine Medical in Columbia has a stellar reputation, as well as being one of the premier reproductive clinics in the nation, so we made an appointment with them. They biopsied the lump, and we should have results on Monday. Either way, its nice to have a vet that will do the requested tests and is just as anxious as we are for a course of action. I don't do the passive, wait and see approach very well, so its a relief to be on the same page with the new vet.

In other exciting news, I received both Tres's new registration papers and the contract for her breeding with Fugitivo XII!! I sent in the transfer of ownership nearly FIVE months ago, and IALHA finally sent it back. I can only imagine how long finishing Topaz's registration will take, but I will worry about that later this summer, after Tres is bred. I've got my paperwork for the breeding all filled out, except I'm still debating about which vet to use. I had been comfortable with the idea of using Quail Valley, but I'm still pretty disappointed in our experiences with them in the last month or so. So I am speaking to Equine Medical early next week to find out if they could fit us into their schedules :) I'm sure they are more expensive but I'd rather have it done right the first time!

Aside from that, the rain is really putting a damper on everything else. We've had horrible weather, including hail and tornado warnings, and it doesn't look like its going to let up any time soon. Today we had a brief break and a bit of sun, so I put the horses out front, even though the ground is still horribly wet. They are so focused on inhaling the grass they aren't being rambunctious, so thats good :) They can enjoy it for a few hours, then back to the barn lot and hay.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barn Work!

Sorry I've let this lapse a little bit, things have been rather crazy at work! Still waiting for our contract to get the FXII semen shipped out here, but hopeful that we'll get it in the mail this week!

Some good news and some bad news. The bad news first. Topaz was being aimed at her first dressage show last weekend. Unfortunately, the Wednesday before the show, the growth on her lip (which our vet had diagnosed as melanoma), had grown considerably, and was bleeding. The vet came out on Friday to take samples, as it isn't really behaving like melanoma. We're still waiting on the results, but we're planning to have it surgically removed in the next few weeks. While we're sad that this is now the second show she missed because of injury, she still has a bright future ahead of her with Lauren :) and we're looking forward to their adventures in the next year!

Next, the good news! The ground finally dried up enough to get our contractor out here to do the dirt work necessary on the barn to get our stalls in! I came home tonight to find the barn floor all leveled out (and as a plus, the contractor removed our HUGE manure pile for his garden, yay!). Next comes laying the stall mats and putting up the stalls! We are VERY excited! Hoping to have everything done before we leave for vacation in July, then the foal paddock will be a fall project.

We're very slowly making headway :) I've also started a small side business. Since I go to horse shows and take hundreds of pictures anyway, I've started selling photos and videos. I photographed my first horse show last Sunday, the CDCTA Spring Dressage show (the one Topaz was supposed to be in). It was exhausting, but a lot of fun! I'm hoping people like the pictures as much as I liked taking them :) The big challenge will be this weekend- the WWU USDF dressage show, encompassing about 27 hours of dressage crammed into 2 days. I'm going to be EXHAUSTED at the end, but hopefully its worth it :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

New stalls!

Sorry for the delay, its been a long week! Earlier in the week, a friend forwarded me a Craiglist ad about some horse stalls. I've been interested in pre-fabricated stalls for a while. The barn where I used to board had home-made stalls, and I noticed a lot of issues with them. The few barns I'd seen with pre-fab stalls seemed to hold up better- but that came with a price! I had looked into buying the metal pieces and the lumber separately, and it got pricey very fast! So while I kept an eye on Craigslist for used stalls, most of them were either too expensive, or not what I was looking for. But the ad my friend Michelle (shout-out Michelle!) sent me on Monday looked perfect! Even the price was perfect. But the catch? They were 3 hours away. And because the price was right, they guy had TONS of interest and wanted them out ASAP. First person there with cash took them.

Of course, I was at work, so I couldn't do anything about it. This is where my crazy amazing husband comes in :) I called him, and before I could even finish telling him about it, he was looking up truck rental places. He enlisted some help, and took off. HOURS and HOURS later, he returned victorious! The stalls had been bolted into the barn, so they had to saw them off. Then the stall pieces weighed a TON! It took 6 full grown men several hours to load all the pieces into the box truck. Luckily gravity helped my husband and his brother unload them alone, which was good, since it was at about 2 AM! Now I'm stuck trying to figure out how to get them from next to the house, to into the barn, since they weigh so much! The ground was too muddy to drive the truck over there, and it had to go back to the rental place. Anybody up for a stall-moving day? :)

But they're PERFECT!!! 12 x 12, sliding doors, beautiful cedar wood, name plate holders on the door, windows in the sliding door, nice SOLID bars, swing out feeder and waterer... I LOVE them!!! Now just to get the barn levelled so we can install them, and find some mats! Topaz and Tres will be styling this winter!!! We got 3 stalls, which will transition into one stall and one FOALING stall next spring! (we will probably have to enlist more help to remove the divider next spring, haha).

I didn't have much luck finding pictures of ones that look similar, and of course, I didn't save the pictures in the Craigslist ad. So you will have to wait until we get them into the barn, then the girls will be the subject of a barn photoshoot :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another step on our journey!

I spoke with Dr. Baisel at Valley Oak Ranch tonight! I called earlier in the week, but apparently California is experiencing some horrendous weather (not unlike Missouri!) and things had been a little crazy. We had a nice chat :) I should be getting the contract tomorrow, and then we'll go from there! We had a nice chat about our respective climates (haha) and about Quail Valley (who will be storing the semen for us, and handling the insemination). Just another small step on this long journey we're taking!!
Got the last of my 7 books in the mail today. So I'm going to be up to my ears in pictures and pages for weeks! Which is good, since it will stop me from incessantly checking Tres for ANY signs of heat. She is quite sick of me, I'm sure... haha.

Unfortunately the beautiful sunny 75 degree days we were enjoying have transitioned back to snow, sleet, rain, and general nastiness :( oh well. This weekend is the WWU spring dressage show. We had hoped to have Topaz attend, but the weather has made it impossible for any consistency in training. Oh well. She will make her debut later this spring or summer, there is plenty of time!

Sorry there isn't more interesting news to report. Wait, I forgot! :) We working on a website! My brother had originally been working on the outline with his Mac. We weren't concerned with anything too fancy, since we weren't planning on breeding for a while. However, obviously, plans have changed! Lucky for me, we just hired an amazing graphic designer at work, and he's offered to work with me on a simple, but nice, website :) yay! If you have any suggestions on what to do, what not to do, anything, as far as a website, send it my way! We're doing soooo many things we've never tried before!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Books are arriving!

Well, not a whole lot going on yet. Poor Tres, I've been obsessively checking her for any signs of heat.... where is Trigger when you need him?? Haha. When Tres got home from Corona Real last fall, she was in heat, and Trigger (our champagne trail QH) would NOT leave her alone. He would be helpful to have around now, but sadly my mom took him to St. Louis for the winter and won't return him... She loves him too much :)

I called Valley Oak Ranch tonight (the breeding farm where Fugitivo XII stands), and left a voicemail so we can iron out some details :) Unfortunately the time difference between here and the West Coast is hindering my efforts!
Tres and Myles at Discovery Horse Show

So in the meantime, I'm soaking up information from my books. So far, besides Blessed are the Broodmares, The Foaling Primer and the barn remodeling book have arrived. I'm giving the barn remodeling book to my hubby, since that will be his job :) Yesterday, he cut down 40 cedar posts from our woods, in preparation for some foal-safe fencing. I almost don't have the heart to tell him that I contacted a fencing company to get a quote for a small vinyl paddock, haha.

Tomorrow, Lauren and I are finally reuniting (she was back in Texas on spring break) and making some plans for Topaz's future. There is a dressage show this weekend, but with so much time off, Topaz probably won't be ready. But there are a few more in the next month, so we'll make it to one eventually!
OK, this isn't one of the horses, but my baby Indigo is precious!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Informative vet visit today!

We're getting anxious for summer to get here soon!

Well we had a very productive visit this morning with Dr. Martin Kautsch, of Quail Valley Veterinary Clinic. Martin has been seeing our horses for the past year, and we've been very pleased with all of our experiences. Luckily for us, he also their reproduction specialist! Although the market around here tends towards stock types, he is quite experienced using both frozen and fresh-cooled semen from his work breeding mares to various cutting and halter stallions around the country. This was a relief for us, as we are choosing to try the first time with frozen semen, and my research indicates that the success rate is very dependent on the vet.

After discussing Tres's breeding history and our various options, we settled on our game plan :) Myles and I will be watching for her transitional spring cycle, and then we'll attempt our first breeding on the next cycle. I'm glad that all my research at the Horse Grooming Supplies Breeding Forum is proving fairly accurate! Because using frozen semen gives us a smaller window of opportunity, when Tres comes into heat in April, we will be taking her up to Quail Valley. Hopefully having her on-site and available for the frequent ultrasounds she needs will help Martin get lucky on the first attempt! (well, I guess technically, Tres is the one getting lucky... haha).
KA Especial (Tres) in training at Corona Real last summer. Photo by Leigh Anne Romans.

The rest of our visit was productive as well - Topaz got her microchip implanted! One step closer to completing her registration! Now if IALHA would just send the DNA kit. The gray cloud in all of this was that as we suspected, the bump on Topaz's lip appears to be melanoma. Its not large, and appears to be benign, but we will be keeping a close eye on it.

The rest of my day was spent photographing friends at a local horse show, which was alot of fun! I'm a little sad to be missing out on some of the shows this season, but the gorgeous foal I will have next year will MORE than make up for it! And then when I got home, I discovered that my first book had arrived! So I'm curling up in my chair with my dachshunds, listening to the rain on the roof, and reading Blessed are the Broodmares :) Nice way to spend my Saturday night!
Gypsy's Masterpiece, 5-gaited ASB owned by Sara Walker, Rocky Brannon up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Missouri weather is insane... and reading material!

Well, I guess that old saying holds true- if you don't like the weather in Missouri, wait 5 minutes. Monday we had 8-9 inches of snow and whiteout conditions.... today (Wednesday), it is 70 degrees. Crazy? Yes. Poor horses! Haha. 8 inches of melted snow isn't helping the pasture dry out any faster, so they'll have to be patient!

As the week passes, I'm getting more anxious for Saturday's appointment! I have so many questions for poor Dr. Martin :) haha. To help educate myself and preserve his sanity, I just ordered a bunch of books off of Amazon - Blessed are the Broodmares, Blessed are the Foals, Understanding the Broodmare, The Foaling Primer - A Month-by-Month Guide to Raising a Healthy Foal, Modern Horse Breeding - A Guide for Owners, The Complete Book of Foaling: An Illustrated Guide for the Foaling Attendant, and Horse Housing: How to Plan, Build and Remodel Barns and Sheds.

And yes, I realize the last one is the odd man out, but we'll be transforming our barn from a run-in/hay storage to hopefully several stalls, including a foaling stall!

If you have any more book suggestions, post 'em! :) I'm going to be stuffing my head with knowledge!!!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Surprise snow... Boo!

Well, this week is off to a nasty start. Yesterday I had a relapse of whatever cold or virus is kicking my butt.... felt horrible the WHOLE day. And of course we were having belated birthday celebrations for my husband with his family in Columbia. I wasn't very good company, and we called it an early night and headed to bed. Of course, this morning when I got up, I still felt horrible, so the dachshunds and I spent the day on the couch. The good news is, after a long day of hydrating and rest, I am finally starting to feel like a human being again!

More bad news- 8 inches of snow. Thank goodness we got the horses out for a few hours on Saturday. The weather forecast then called for 10 days of sunshine and nice weather.... Now it looks like another week of rain and snow. Nasty.

Of course, being "couch-ridden" today let me read some brochures I picked up from the local vet clinic about breeding and foaling. One of my MANY concerns (yes, I am a worrywart!) is what we're going to do about our grass and hay. Most of our pasture is fescue, and we are going to have it tested for the toxic endocyte. Even if it tests clean, I still want to make sure we have a good hay supply that is is 100% free of fescue... which will be hard to find in our area.

My next question is fencing and foaling stalls. For any of my friends who have gone through this, what are your favorite materials for foal-safe fencing and foaling stalls? Feel free to link pictures!!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breeding exam scheduled!

This cold is still kicking my butt, so I haven't been terribly productive today. I DID however get a visit scheduled with our vet for next Saturday :) It will be a multi-purpose visit - Topaz needs to have her IALHA microchip implanted, and also has a bump on her lip that we're having checked out (its gotten larger). But the highlight of the visit will be Tres's breeding soundness exam :) This article was very helpful in teaching me what we will be looking at next week. Although I'm fairly sure we won't run into any roadblocks, its ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry!
Topaz, excited to be outside in the pasture
In other news, it is FINALLY drying out in Missouri. After morning feed, Myles and I walked the back pasture and decided the ground was dry enough to turn the horses out for a few hours. There are little baby grass sprouts, and the horses spent 90% of the time grazing (although the girls did find some time for "airs above ground"! Sadly, I had my long lens on the camera and most of the action was right in front of the gate, so I didn't get many pictures of their shenanigans. They spent about 6 hours out, then back to the barn lot and the hay feeders. We are anxious to get them back in the pasture full-time, but the grass just isn't ready yet. Oh well, a few hours is better than none!

Settled down and grazing

Friday, March 11, 2011

Things are slowly coming together....

I don't really have too much new to report, but I am really trying to keep up with this blog :) Didn't have time to try to make an appointment with my vet, so I'm calling tomorrow. If I'm lucky he'll be in Fulton and can just pop by, if not I will try to get him out next weekend. I need to have Topaz microchipped, and Tres will get her breeding exam :) and then we can talk AI options! (why yes, I am getting ridiculously excited about horse sperm, and I know I'm weird)

I called Cindy (the previous owner of the girls) and spoke with her tonight about her experience breeding/foaling Tres. We hadn't talked about it in depth before because breeding was one of those abstract things I planned for the "future." Well the future is here, I need to get moving!
Tres and I at our first horse show last October

Although Cindy's stallion lived on her farm (Silver Horse Farms), she bred using AI, and Tres took the first time. I guess the only unusual thing about her pregnancy was that in the beginning, Tres came back into heat a few weeks after the breeding, and Cindy assumed that she hadn't settled. When the vet ultrasounded her a second time, to figure out when the best time to breed again, imagine their surprise to see a little foal! :) Aside from that, she had a normal pregnancy, and was a great mom.

All of this was a HUGE relief to me :) since we're new at this, I'm glad Tres is not! She will have to "show us the ropes," so to speak. In the meantime, I'm reading up and watching as many videos as I can. And I have wonderful friends who have been sending me great tips, keep it up guys! I am so excited to explore this new side of horses that I hadn't been involved with before!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Horse Coupon Book- Season of Excellence Essay

So for those who missed my obsessive posting over the contest, here is my essay!

KA Especial

From the first time I saw pictures of the gorgeous Andalusian horse, I was hooked. The magnificent grays in varying shades of dappled silver and black, the long flowing manes, proudly arched necks, those regal profiles- I had to have one! But unfortunately, their price tag was out of reach for the daughter of two working-class parents, who couldn't even afford the riding lessons I begged for every year.

Fast forward to many years later, a newlywed, college grad with a small farm full of misfit rescued horses, still longing for that dappled gray Andalusian. I rescued, rehabbed and retrained several horses, including some abused and near-death. I loved them dearly, but I kept dreaming of a horse that wasn’t “broken,” that I didn’t have to “fix.” One that I could just train and ride and show, without having to overcome issues created by other people.

By sheer chance and amazing good fortune, I learned of a friend of a friend who was dispersing her Andalusian breeding farm. Hoping against hope, I contacted her, but as I expected, all the horses were more than my limited budget could manage. I apologized for wasting her time, and promised to pass on her information to anyone I knew who might be interested. But we kept talking, and the more I talked to her, the more I fell in love with one of her mares- a 6 year old unbroke pure Spanish broodmare. Her fiery personality, her phenomenal good looks, perfect dappled coat and black and silver mane- but the money wasn't there. The more the breeder and I talked, the closer friends we became. Eventually, she decided that I was the perfect home for this mare, asking price or not, and she sold her to me at a fraction of her value. I drove 13 hours and picked her up on my birthday, the best timing imaginable. I pinched myself for weeks after we got home, unable to believe that the lovely Spanish beauty looking over my fence was actually mine.
As weeks went by, I fell more and more in love with KA Especial, who we affectionately refer to as Tres. She is my equine soulmate. I reluctantly parted with her for 3 months, so she could get a solid under saddle foundation before I finished her training. Andalusian Nationals were taking place that fall, but with only a few weeks under saddle, I didn't expect my mare to attend. Not only did she attend, but she was unanimously named Reserve National Champion in Purebred Dressage Suitability on her TENTH ride. With only 15 rides, she came home to me and we attended a few more shows including her first dressage show before winter hit. The photo I submitted with this essay was our first show, winning a Hunt Seat Equitation class. I have never clicked with another horse as well as we did in that class.

I plan to continue with her dressage training, and hoped to eventually breed her to an Andalusian stallion who excelled at dressage, to have a dressage mount to take me to the next level. Imagine my surprise to stumble across this contest on the page of my dream stallion, Fugitivo XII. He was everything I wanted in a stud- tall, conformationally wonderful, three gorgeous floating gaits, proven as both a dressage competitor and a sire. He throws talented, athletic, amazing foals who appear to be very trainable. I can only imagine how wonderful this cross would be- my mare is lovely and willing, but realistically I know that she can never compete at the upper levels. Fugitivo would improve upon her and create a spectacular and talented baby, with dressage potential from nose to tail.

I doubt I can make this dream come true on my own, so I'm asking all you Facebook users out there to help me have the foal of my dreams :) A foal to prove to the dressage world that Andalusians DO belong, and can excel, even at the upper levels.

It was amazing to make it to the finals, and absolutely shocking to have the judges like my essay as much as my friends.
2nd Place - Score 82.66

I was hoping for my second blog entry to be about my talk with the vet, but unfortunately the lack of sleep and stress of the last week took its toll, and I came down with a nasty bug of some sort. Have been feverish and coughing for 48 hours, ick! At any rate, I'm hoping to get everything sorted out and my goal is to breed in April :) Lets see if I can do it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MyLeah Andalusians- the Beginning

OK, I promise I will do better about keeping up with this one.

Let's start with the basics- My name is Leah Strid. My husband and I own MyLeah Andalusians, and I was born with a love of horses in my blood. I attended William Woods University, which gave me the chance to observe and learn a lot, although I was NOT a student in their program. While at WWU, Gary Mullen, the EQS Chair at the time, asked me to write an article about Andalusians. His background was in training and showing Andalusians, and at the time, WWU had a very successful hispano-arabe, and was trying to draw attention to their program. I had a lot of fun researching and riding this article, and decided to look into the breed. Unfortunately, being a college student boarding 2 horses and preparing for my wedding, meant my budget was limited, with no room for an Andalusian. I shelved that dream, and moved on. My husband and I bought 17 beautiful (but empty!) acres, and starting slowly building our dream equestrian facility (very, VERY slowly!).
In the summer of 2010, by sheer accident, I purchased a dachshund from a woman who also had Andalusians. She mentioned to me that her dear friend, whom she had purchased her Andalusians from, was dispersing her herd. I contacted the woman, but as I expected, none of the horses fell within my budget. I apologized for wasting her time, and tried to move on. But I found I couldn't. I kept asking questions about the mares, and fell in love with one of them. The more we talked, the closer the breeder and I became, and eventually, she decided that I was the right home - asking price or not - and she sold me 2 mares at a fraction of their value. I drove 14 hours to pick them up on my birthday, and considered myself the luckiest girl in the world :)
The mares are polar opposites, but I love them both dearly. KA Especial (Tres, pictured below), is a 7 y/o PRE mare with military bloodlines (or so I've been told, I'm still working on researching and learning about Andalusian lines). She is drop-dead gorgeous- quite a few people have told me that she is the prettiest Andalusian mare they've ever seen. She is quite spirited, but sweet. In July of 2010, we took her to Corona Real Show Horses for 3 months of under saddle training with Leigh Anne Romans. To our surprise, by the end of September, she showedt AAALSHA Nationals in Lake St. Louis, and was unanimously awarded a Reserve Championship in Purebred Dressage Suitability on her TENTH ride. She came home and we showed at a few more small shows, including some mid-60's in her first dressage tests with about 25 rides. She enjoyed the winter off, due to ridiculously nasty mid-Missouri winter weather, but is slowly getting back into shape.

Topaz de Plata is a coming 4 y/o Iberian Warmblood. She is 3/4 Andalusian and 1/4 Foundation Quarter Horse... and she is a tank. There is no other way to put it! She is huge and brilliant, with incredible gaits and an even more incredible mind. She is being brought along slowly and correctly by Lauren Donahoo, an extremely talented WWU dressage student. She began her under saddle training this spring, and competed in a Jr. Horse class at her first schooling show - her 6th ride. In a large class full of "peanut-pushers" in front of a stock horse judge, she did not place, but she showed the kind of "can-do" attitude that will eventually make her a dressage superstar. Keep an eye out for her and Lauren in the upper levels of dressage in a few years - we have no doubt this pair will go all the way!

So what prompted me to start this blog? Don't laugh... Facebook! With such lovely mares, it was my intention to eventually breed each one once or twice, to carefully selected studs, for performance careers. Lauren and I viewed videos, photos and websites for many stallions, but our search ended with Fugitivo XII. He was everything we wanted in a dressage sire - tall, excellent confirmation, beautiful floating gaits, proven as both a competitor and a sire... he is the total package. While drooling over his page, we noticed that he was participating in the Season Of Excellence for Horse Coupon Book. This meant that we could enter an essay contest to try to win a free breeding to him! As a former English major currently employed in the communications field, this immediately appealed to me, and I got to work.
I wrote an essay, edited, rewrote, submitted it, and hoped for the best! Once the contest officially started, I got down to the difficult business of getting votes. In order to "vote" for my essay, my friends had to "like" Horse Coupon Book, and then find my photo and essay and "like" it... For 8 days, I patiently walked people through the steps. I also begged, cajoled, reposted, and generally worked my butt off to get votes. In the contest, there were five categories- sport, stock, baroque, saddle, and miscellaneous. To advance to the finals, I had to end the voting period in the top 5 of baroque group. There were a few anxious days, but in the end, my loyal friends pulled through - when voting ended on February 28, I finished a very respectable 3rd in the baroque category. Then the real nerve-wracking part started. A panel of judges was reviewing and scoring essays based on the criteria, and the highest score would receive a free breeding to their chosen stallion. Days went by with many anxious texts between myself and Lauren, and obsessive checking of their site. A winner was finally announced, and it wasn't me. Although I was a little disappointed, Terry (Fugitivo's lovely owner), had already approached me about the possibility of breeding when I could save up enough money. I knew I would have a Fugitivo baby eventually, it would just take some sacrifice and savings.

On March 7th, the day the winner was announced, Lauren and I headed out with my husband and her boyfriend Jonathan for some celebration - even though we hadn't won the contest, Lauren's birthday had been the previous week and it was my husband's birthday that night, so we celebrated anyway. HCB posted the Top 10, and I was absolutely stunned to see that my essay had been placed 2nd - a mere 1.56 points away from the winner. After seeing this, I put my phone away for the night, determined to have some fun and not obsess over the contest and how I could have made up those 1.56 points. Around midnight, after a stop for birthday pie in a local Waffle House, I finally checked my phone. I had several messages of congratulations, which I was confused by - 2nd place in the contest won nothing. I kept reading... and thats when I saw it. Terry had posted on her Facebook page that because of my hard work and coming in "Reserve," she was going to give me a free breeding anyway.

There really aren't words for me to express my feelings about this act of generosity. Needless to say there were joyful tears, screams, and quite a bit of jumping up and down. I hardly slept at all that night, as visions of darling little Fugitivo foals danced through my head. Terry and I had a lovely conversation the next day, which brings me to this blog. Having never bred a mare, much less such a lovely mare to such an accomplished stallion (with the breeding resulting in such an interesting way!), I've decided to document the experience from beginning to end.

So my first steps are to meet with my vet and discuss our options, and figure out when is the most optimal time for me to start this process! Stay tuned for updates on what happens are I research methods of AI and give myself a crash course in breeding!

Excitedly,

Leah