Thunder Valley Friesians Newsletter
It has been a long time since we updated our newsletter. And a lot has happened.We begin two years ago, where our last newsletter left off. Of the 10 mares that escaped during the winter of 2009 into 2010, only one had an early foal. In 2010, we only had 4 foals and all were sold. The two Flurry x Thoroughbred cross mares, Millionaire and Harmony were sold. And I had even hoped to keep Harmony for myself, because she wasn't over 16 hands and I hadn't kept a Flurry baby for myself. Harmony found a new home as did Millionaire.
. We did not go ahead with the idea of boarding and building an indoor.
The economy tanked and so did the horse business. Horses were being dumped or abandoned because the owners could no longer afford them. Lucky for us, we had decided to down size years before the economy slowed. We are now down to 12 horses and three foals.
So with that news, we are also announcing that we are retiring from the breeding business.
We aren't getting out of horses, we just are not breeding anymore. The reasons are many. The economy is slow, and in August of 2010, I found Flurry dead in his pasture. He was only 18 years old. He was fine at the night time feeding, but at 6 am he was laying in his shelter. We didn't do a necropsy, because it was so hot. He is the only horse buried on our property We made a memorial plot for with flowers.. Danny will be the only other. It was a sad year and Flurry will be remember in our hearts and through his many foals.
With that news, we have retired Danny from the breeding shed.
He is 19 years right now and bred only one mare last year. He had a filly out of our registered Swedish WB mare, Nougat. We named her "Danny's Legacy" because she will be Danny's last. Stallions in their late teens do not 'ship' well, so with the economy and Danny's health, we decided to let him graze in a large pasture in retirement. He is showing signs of old age too. This summer was a close call for him. A big wind storm blew through the area in July. A tree fell into his pasture and we think it hit him. He was very lame on his right hind and struggled to walk. After days of treatment, Danny really improved so we let him out at night and brought him inside during the summer heat. Well, I walked past his door with some grain for other horses and he reached inside the door to check out a white pail by the water hydrant and got his halter caught on the handle. He broke the hydrant and re-injured his hip. Ugh, and I usually never leave a halter on a horse, but I did on Danny so it was easier to bring him inside. Let it be a lesson, that 'anything' can happen. Danny has recovered but we still will retire him from breeding. Not like he doesn't still like the ladies, but we are still going to retire him. And as for the water hydrant, it is going to cost a lot to fix it. If you have a farm, you know that it seems to be one disaster after another. We all 'live' through it and keep going.
Even though we had some disastrous events occur, we did have some exciting and wonderful things happen too. This happened
last May.It was one of the first really nice May evenings.
May had been exceptionally wet and cold May in 2010, and this night was our first really 'spring-like' evening. My husband drives truck and is usually gone for a week at a time. This was one of the many evenings that I'm alone. We live at the end of a long dead end road. At midnight I was awakened by Flurry's whinny. I 'know' that whinny. It means the 'mares are out'. Jumping out of bed, I looked out the window to see where the #@#& mares were, but was surprised to see Danny standing quietly in his paddock. Now if the mares were out he would be bellering too. It seemed odd..maybe I was dreaming! So I went back to bed only to be jolted by Flurry's beller again. Flying out of bed, putting on shoes, I left the house and locked the dogs inside so that they wouldn't chase the loose horses. Running to the barn, I suddenly saw a few mares in the pasture that was lite by our big outside lights. I stopped because it looked like the mares were indeed in their pasture. Staring at the two mares that I could see, I heard 'splash, splash'. My first though was, "Those @#&# horses were in the river and I'll never get them out! But then, one of the mares standing by the bank was 'looking across the river' and whinnied. Then Flurry answered her and I thought, Oh no! That mare is "Enya" and she is due this week. Down the pasture I ran to the river bank and there on the other side of the river, caught up in a downed tree branch, was a little foal. Our yard light barely made her out. I knew the river bank was at least 10 down, it was black and deep. There were downed trees in this area and I had never been in this area of our river because I knew it was deep and filled with stumps.. Decision time..run back to the house and call someone? who could I call? Who would answer their phone at this time of night? and how long would it take them to get here? I looked at the foal and thought, "If I go into the river and anything happens, no one would think to look in the river to find me". The torture of it all. I choose to get the foal. Sitting down, I slide from one rock to the next until I reached the river. Putting my foot into he water, my immediate thought was, "Wow, this is cold". And before I knew it, I was neck deep. I clung to the rocks on the bank until I could feel the river bottom. Once I felt the river bottom, I waded to the foal. The foal wasn't exactly excited to see a 'river monster' appear and grab her. She flew up into the air and dunked herself. But I got her headed down stream towards the south end of our property where the river bank wasn't 10 high, but more like 4 feet. Pushing and shoving a reluctant foal, we finally made our way 100 yards down stream and with a big shove the foal scamped up the bank and to her waiting mother. Now all the mares were excited and racing around. At the time I thought for sure that one of them would run me over. It was a good 100 yards and all uphill to the barn as I pushed the foal towards the it and the warmth of a stall.
We finally got to the yard light and only one big uphill ridge to conquer, when the mare, Enya, kept cutting me off. The
foal wanted to nurse and Enya wanted me to stop. Then our alpha mare, Zuzka, cut off all the other mares and would not let any of them come close to Enya and her foal.
I was exhausted, wet and cold and my thought was, "They're born wet. It is a warm night, the foal wants to nurse and Mother Nature will take care of her.". It was 3 am when I took off all my wet clothes and went to bed. Only I couldn't sleep because I was so cold. Finally I opened my eyes and the sun was up. I flew out of bed and found that the foal was just fine. She was a chestnut filly and we decided to name her "Enya's Watermark". I did thank the Lord and my Guardian Angel for watching over me and the foal that night. Alas, I thought of keeping Watermark, but the horse business is the horse business and we did sell her later that summer.
Later that summer, in August is when Flurry died.
Lucky for us, we had decided to breed a number of mares to him for our last foal crop. This year, 2011 was Flurry's last foal crop, while we bred our Swedish WB mare to Danny. Thus ends our 40 year breeding business. Nothing like getting old. We have decided that we want to spend our last 'good' years riding more and enjoy a smaller herd. We'll retire our mares too as most of them are well over 15 years
Years ago, my husband was diagnosed with CHF which has gotten worse over the years. In December of 2010, he dropped a big square bale on his head when he was unloading it and injured his neck. He decided he had to retire from trucking. So that also contributed to our decision to end our breeding business.
As things go, there is never a dull year. Last summer we
bred 6 Saddlebred mares for a friend and kept them over the winter in trade for a yearling and 2 foals. As winter go in Wisconsin, we had several big snow storms. One morning as I was going out to feed, I could see 4 legs sticking straight up in the air.One of the pregnant mares had rolled in a snow bank but got stuck on her back like a turtle. Grabbing a shovel, I dug out one side and tied a rope to a foot to pull her onto her side, but she didn't budge. I ran to the house to get help and upon returning, the mare, Bonnie, had gotten up. She seemed fine and normal and went back to her normal routine. You would think it would have ended there, but no! The next week she not only got stuck in the same snow bank but this time was completely melted into the bank all the way to the ground. There was blood and manure everywhere. The snow was so hard that it couldn't be shoveled. My husband got the tractor and dug out one side. Her owner came to help get her up. It took two hours to get her up. She was weak, but standing. It was a sunny day, so I let her stand in the sun with blankets on. When I went back to get her to bring her into the barn, she was down again and wouldn't try to get up. A different friend came, gave her a few pain killers and the mare got up. Once in the barn, she ate like nothing happened. We kept her inside during the night for weeks and everything seemed okay, until one day she laid down again and couldn't get up. A neighbor came and we flipped to her other side and she got up. I called her owner and he came and took her home so that she would be inside the rest of the winter. She did lay down two times and got stuck in the spring mud at home, but amazingly she had a chestnut colt with no problems in May. What a surprise!
We had seven foals by Flurry and one by Danny this spring. It was another cold, wet May and June. Then in July the furnace was turned on and it was hot the rest of the summer..
During 2010 and into 2011, we stood an imported Friesian stallion, "Redmer fan Unia-State" that is owned by a
We did breed five mares to him for 2011, but these were all going to be late foals. Of all the mares bred were bay and all had black foals! A great feat because the coat color, bay is supposed to be dominate over black.
Our last foal born made his entrance on Labor Day.
Zuzka, the alpha mare of the herd had a black colt. Everything went normal, weather was great, sun was shinning and foaled nursed. Only later that day, a mare was standing in the middle of the pasture and no other horses were close by.....NOT a good sign. So I went out into the pasture to see who was standing there. It was Zuzka by her placenta but NO foal. Panic! Where is the foal? A quick scan of the pasture and no foal was in sight. Zigzagging through the pasture, I couldn't locate the foal and then 'thought', "Don't tell me it's in the river". Sure enough, there, hiding under a tree, that was leaning into the river was the black colt. This part of the river is quite shallow, the bank rises about 5 feet above the river. With a 'One, two, three, I shoved the colt and he scampered up the bank and out of the river. His mom didn't recognize him at first. She was looking at me as I pushed him towards her. Suddenly she realized that 'this' was her foal and she came on the run. The colt, that we now call, "Rivers", went straight to nursing. Then mom and foal scampered off to be with the herd. Lucky for us, we are not going to have anymore foals.
We did have some fun during 2011 though. After all the years living next to the Little River, we discovered that
swimming in the river with the horses is fun. A certain section of the river, between where Rivers fell in and Watermark fell in is very deep. The river bends a corner and the outside corner is over my
During the heat of the summer we took the horses and went swimming with friends. Some horses sat down like a dog in the deep water and some swam like ships. It was fun. Trail riding was fun, even though it was hot. This fall should offer some great trail riding with great friends. We also took in several horses on R&R and several others to help other friends market them. We took them on several trail rides and swimming.
Over the past 40 years, there have been exciting times, good times, sad times and devastating times.
Everyone who is in the horse business lives through them. I guess that is why 95% of people who get into the horse business, quit in 5 years. Only us nit wits who live through these 'times' keep going. We aren't getting out of horses. We just aren't breeding our stallion anymore. Who knows what the future will bring.
See you on the trails...