Sunday, May 8, 2011

Top Five Signs Your Mare Is About To Foal

You decided to breed your favorite mare.  You spent months picking out the perfect stallion to complement your mare so that you can have the foal of your dreams.  You got excited when you first saw that black “blob” on the ultrasound monitor screen and got even more excited when there was a heart beat.  Then, you got to wait and wait and wait.

All of your waiting and planning over the last eleven months is about to be over. 

Important things to remember:
1)      There is NO such thing as a due date.  Gestation ranges from 320 to 370 days (on average), with many mares foaling at approximately 340 days. 
2)      Your mare has NOT read the book.  While foaling signs are helpful to predict birth, not every mare is going to exhibit every sign (or even any of the signs).
3)      If you have your heart set on a black colt, there is a chestnut filly in your future ;)
4)      Horses have been delivering foals for countless generations……but it’s always a good idea to have your veterinarian’s phone number on speed dial.

Five signs that your mare is about to foal.
1)      The mare’s udder is full – even the nipples.  The udder will look shiny.  Frequently, blobs of “wax” form on the end of the nipples.
2)      The mare looks “slab-sided”.  Since the foal has moved into the position for delivery, the mare doesn’t look quite so round and fat.
3)      The mare’s tail head becomes extremely soft and relaxed.  The vulva also becomes elongated and relaxed.
4)      The mare exhibits agitated behavior.  Pawing, biting at her sides and pacing around the stall – or pushing her hind end against the wall is not uncommon behavior.
5)      The mare is off her feed.  Even the most voracious eaters will ignore their meals when delivery is imminent.

Aids for making sure you are there for the birth
1)      Foaling monitors – these are alarms that can either be attached to the mare’s halter or sewn into the vulva that monitor either laying down or the beginning of birth
2)      Foaling cameras – watch your mare’s every move from the comfort of your home.  “Mare Stare” is a popular service that permits people all over the world to foal watch with you.
3)      Milk tests – measuring the calcium and/or pH levels in the mare’s milk can give you a window of time where birth should occur. 

I am not a veterinarian and urge that you seek the advice of a veterinarian regarding all aspects of your horse’s care and health.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Growing the business

In the last blog, I talked a bit about the formation of Rising Star Farm.  In this blog, I'm going to talk a little bit about the growth and expansion of the farm.  Over the past few years, I've worked to develop a broodmare band that reflected our breeding goals - upper level horses in the Olympic disciplines, as well as hunters.  To that end, I've been lucky enough to find some wonderful performance mares who were ready for a career change!   So now I turned my attention to finding new stallions to grow the program and provide desirable bloodlines that are  not so readily available in the US.

So, we went to Belgium to go shopping!  On March 3rd, my husband Steve and I flew to Brussels with two goals - the first was to visit our dear friends in Paris and the second, was to find at least one stallion prospect to bring home to the farm.  We managed to achieve both goals (and then some).  After a great long weekend with our friends in Paris, Steve and I took the train from Paris to Brussels and prepared for several intensive days of horse shopping, accompanied by our trainer - Jennifer Ramsey.  We could not have done any of this without the support and guidance of the Studbook sBs (the Belgian Sporthorse registery).  I had a plan to find a son of Nabab de Reve to bring home, so we looked at several young offspring of this stallion.  I didn't want to limit my options, so we asked the breeders we visited, to show us any young colt who had the bloodlines and abilities for International level performance in the jumpers.  

As you might expect, looking for talented jumpers in Belgium was easy!  We found three perfect stallion prospects and unexpectedly also found a broodmare.  The first colt that we picked is a son of the great stallion Chin Chin.  He is out of a Carthago mother and Major de la Cour is the third stallion of note in his pedigree.  Diabolo d'Esquelmes is a beautiful bay colt with great movement too.  The second colt that we picked is a direct son of Cassini I out of an Acorado daughter.  Corleone is also in the pedigree.  This Holsteiner is also very attractive and looks to be quite a nice hunter type.  Lastly, we chose a playful chestnut son of Quaprice/Quincy (Quidam de Revel) who's mother is by Dollar de la Pierre (also Quidam de Revel) who is the sire of Rodrigo Pessoa's WEG horse HH Rebozo.  Cumano rounds out this pedigree.  We didn't see the colt (Jus d'O) jump until we received video on our return to the US, but once we saw that video, the decision was easy to make. 

Cachinka (Radco d'Houtveld/Chin Chin/Carthago) was an unexpected bonus.  One of the breeders that we worked with convinced us to include this uber talented mare.  And, since I had gone to Belgium looking to add Nabab de Reve bloodlines to my program, we decided to breed the mare to Nabab before she comes to the US - fingers crossed for a successful pregnancy!

I feel like my breeding program has grown significantly with the addition of these wondeful  bloodlines and the next few years will be spent getting the young stallions approved with breeding registries and testing out their talent in the performance arena.  Both Jennifer and  I have our work cut out for us!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rising Star Farm Breeding Program

Fast forward to 2011.  Rising Star Farm currently stands four stallions - Deja Blue B, Figaro B, Kinnaras and Valentino Z.  Sadly, we lost our first stallion, Cielo B at the end of 2010.  Our mare band has grown to eleven mares and includes Warmblood bloodlines such as Sandro Hit, Quinar, Contucci, Rio Grande, Come Back II, Best of Luck, Contender, Landgraf, Pikadero as well as great Thoroughbreds such as Darn that Alarm.  Our breeding program focuses on producing outstanding horses suitable for Jumpers, Hunters or Dressage. 

January is a slow time at a breeding farm.  It's too early for foals to arrive and too early for mare owners to contact us for semen, so most of our time is spent planning and dreaming!  We are expecting only two foals this spring - 2010 was a tough year and many of the mares would not get pregnant and a couple of pregnancies were lost.  In March, Portia (Pikadero/Prinz Gaylord) is due with a Valentino Z foal.  This foal should be an extraordinary jumper!  Portia competed up through Level 6 jumpers.  At the end of May, Machtelt (Glennridge/Makelaar) is also expecting a Valentino Z foal.  We are hopeful this foal will combine the best of both parents and be a promising hunter.  We shall see!

Our breeding plans are pretty extensive for Spring 2011.  Because we lost Cielo B, the plan is to try to breed a stallion prospect using frozen semen and a mare with an outstanding jumper pedigree.  To this end, Rapunzehl (Contender/Landgraf/Ronald), Ouiselle M (Quinar/Lantann/Caletto II) and Rio's Best Kept Secret (Rio Grande/Arrak/Habicht) will all be bred to Cielo B. 

The remaining breeding plans will be discussed in our next blog, as well as some exciting travel plans - stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to the Rising Star Farm blog

I thought I would take the opportunity to chronicle life on a warmblood breeding farm/stallion station.  Over the next few blogs, I am going to share the history of Rising Star Farm and then continue with current news.

Rising Star Farm, a small breeding farm in Central Texas, is home to several warmblood stallions, sport horse mares and young stock.  Our mission is to produce exceptional jumpers, hunters and dressage horses. 

Sounds simple - but in reality breeding horses is overwhelming at times. 

Rising Star Farm was born in 2002.  My husband bought me two horses when we got married in 2001.  He generously believed that he was satifying a childhood dream.  He NEVER realized that he had basically started an uncontrollable action that would take over our lives.

Once I was boarding two horses, the urge to have "horse property" took over.  Little did I know that the agricultural tax laws in Central Texas required breeding stock on my little horse farm.  Enter Dream Chaser - a wonderful 1991 TB mare by Darn that Alarm.  I assured my husband that Dream was "his" horse - and an important feature of our new breeding program on our little horse farm.  Enter Pam Norton - owner of the wonderful Trakehner stallion Onassis (and previous owner of Dream Chaser).  Things started to snowball - since I couldn't have just one broodmare.  Enter Wilbur's Boogie, another TB broodmare that we bred to the Florida based stallion Lotus T.  Do you see a pattern here?

Of course, my husband and I reasoned that it made more sense to own our own stallion, so shortly after Rising Star Farm came to life, Cielo B arrived.  A  long yearling - 18 months old when he arrived on the farm on a very cold day in January 2004.  Our stallion prospect would go on to make so many of our dreams come true.

Why have one stallion when you can have two?  Deja Blue B - by Olympic Ferro arrived one year after Cielo.  By now, the broodmare band had grown and I started to trade my TB mares out for Warmblood mares.  Bala, a Trakehner mare arrived as did Cinnamon B.

In the meantime, we bred to outside stallions and waited for our boys to grow up.  In 2005, Cielo B was approved for breeding with the BWP and our program took off.