Friday, June 27, 2008

I Made a Mistake

By Laura Crum

Yes, I made a mistake. And I’m sorry. I caused a mare to be bred to a stud this past spring. Its not something I normally do; I don’t raise horses. I have been the cause of only one horse coming into the world so far, and that is the mare in question. And yes, in hindsight I should not have bred her. But before you revile me (I’m reviling myself plenty, believe me), listen to my story and let me know what you would have done in my shoes.

I have rarely owned mares--only three, in a lifetime of owning horses. I prefer geldings. And then, with geldings you don’t get tempted to breed them. And I know that I don’t need to be raising horses. So, how did this happen?

Well, many years ago, when I was very actively involved in competing at team roping, my team roping partner had a great mare. She was talented, athletic, a well bred registered Quarter Horse, gentle, good confirmation, stayed sound…etc. When she got to the end of her working life he bred her to a local stallion and raised a nice filly. He then asked me if I’d like to raise a colt out of her. I should have said no. But I happened to have another friend who had a great stud. He had all the virtues a horse could have. He was well bred, pretty, gentle (she let little kids show him, she ponied mares off of him, she treated him just like a gelding and he behaved like one), she’d won on him in everything from western pleasure through cutting to team roping, and his get were successful reiners and team roping horses. To top it off, he was a beautiful color—dark gold palomino—bright white mane and tail. To make a long story short, I bred my team roping partner’s mare to this stud and got a baby.

My first piece of bad luck was that the foal was a filly. A nice filly. We broke her as a three-year-old and she was easy, athletic and very, very cowy. She would have made a great cutting horse, but since I was team roping at the time we heeled on her some as a four and five year old (she was fourteen-two and too small for a head horse). We never got further than the practice pen on her—partly because she was too young to push hard (in my opinion), but also because she was almost too cowy for a heel horse—she wanted to stop too abruptly; she wanted to blow off the cow too hard—as I said, she should have been a cutter. Heel horse was not her best job description. I wasn’t sure quite what to do with her when yet another friend of mine with a young stud asked to lease her. This friend was retiring, moving, and planned to start a new life raising reined cowhorses. She had watched my mare work a cow and really liked her. She thought she could raise some excellent cowhorses out of her. This woman’s stud horse was nice looking, had done well in training, and seemed like he would be a good cross on my mare. I told my friend she could have the mare, but I didn’t want any of the resulting foals.

This friend was a responsible, ethical horse owner. I visited the ranch where she kept my mare. It was beautiful. The mare was turned out every day in a lush pasture. I saw the babies. They looked great. She raised five, kept two for herself and sold the remaining three for $2500, $5000, and $7500 (this last one as a stud prospect) respectively. I call that success.

Well, we all know about the price of hay, the poor horse market…etc. This spring my friend called and said she needed to give the mare back. She was getting out of the horse raising business (smart decision). I had no earthly use for the mare, but, of course, I’m going to take her back. My friend asked if I wanted her bred. I said no. And not but a week after this conversation, a woman who owns my mare’s half sister (the one my team roping partner raised by the local stud) asked me about my mare. This lady, too, is raising Quarter Horses and my mare’s half sister is her best broodmare. Perhaps you can guess the rest. She offered to lease my mare; I said yes, and mentioned that my other friend had offered to send the mare back bred. Emailed photos of the previous babies went back and forth, along with much info on them. Oh yes, said my mare’s prospective home; I love those bloodlines; the colts look great. Please have her breed the mare.

So now the mare is bred. The mare has a new home. We are all happy. The mare was supposed to arrive at her new home this week, and last week a wildfire swept through our area. The mare’s new home was threatened; they saved their horses, but their pasture burned. All the previously pastured horses are now in the barn, in the arena, in any pen they can find. For the moment they have nowhere to put one more horse.

I understood their dilemma; it isn’t every day a wildfire comes through. My friend who currently has the mare also understood. She offered to keep the mare a couple more months. I agreed that if things didn’t work out, I would bring the mare home to my place. But now the mare is bred!!! I never, ever would have had her bred if I had thought that she was coming back to me. I know I don’t need another horse. I don’t want to raise horses. Even horses as nice as the ones my mare has produced. But bred she is.

So that’s my sad story—feel free to heap scorn on my head for being an idiot. I will continue to take responsible care of this mare (and her foal, if that’s how it works out), and I sincerely hope that her new home is willing/able to take her after they regroup from their trauma with the fire. I guess hindsight is twenty/twenty, but I sure wish I had just said no to that breeding(!)

Laura Crum


Mrs. Mom said...

Quit kicking yourself Laura. Things happen.... right now plan for the best with a nice quality foal. Who knows- maybe you will get a nice colt to geld and use in the future in the show ring.. .;)

But please, quit kicking yourself over this! It is not like the mare was a conformational mess, and so was the sire....

Just my 2 cents here.

Laura Crum said...

Thanks,Mrs Mom--Actually its a personal problem, rather than a global sort of mistake. My mare will probably have a very nice foal. Its just that I really, really don't want to raise any more horses. I have eleven now, and if I take on another, which I might, it will be a sweet gentle older gelding who needs a home. The last thing I want to do is train another baby (not to mention all the headaches involved in just having young horses around). In all probability, my mare's new home will be able to take her in a few months--they definitely still want her. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

tierra said...

I don't think breeding a nice horse to a nice horse is a problem. And it sounds like from your other posts that you actually know how to train horses (unlike me--I like them to come to me perfectly trained, although I have had to work with a few babies and hire knowledgeable people to train them). So foal her out, wean the baby (whenever), and put 6 months of training into the it and sell it as a nice yearling. Or, perhaps even better if you have the room and time, keep the foal a few years and put a nice start on it and then sell it. If that were me, I'd fall hopelessly and completely in love and end up keeping the baby, anyway.

By the way--I am loving this blog from all of you writers. I have started many a book on horses, but haven't had the guts or stamina to finish any of them. Maybe someday... in the meantime, it's really fun to read about your experiences writing and what inspires you.

Laura Crum said...

tierra--I'm glad that you've enjoyed our blog. And though I've started many young horses in my youth, I kind of think I'm past that period in my life. I'm still hoping my mare can go to her new home--where they will be very happy to have her foal. But we'll just see how it all pans out. Thanks for the nice comment.

ZTIG said...

She is a nice mare? She has a market for her babies? You plan on taking care of the mare? There are three GOOD options for a home for the mare if one fails? Sorry, hun not a brow beating! You are doing fine and the right thing... Who knows maybe this will be the colt of your dreams! You didn't breed fugly, YOU didn't choose to have the mare breed and YOU are doing the right thing. Relax not a mistake just life happens to be unpredictable and you have a network of people helping. As long as momma and baby are healthy and loved for life relax...

Laura Crum said...

Thanks ZTIG --I do feel that the world doesn't need more baby horses right now, and I certainly don't want one at this moment. But I will do my best to continue to provide a responsible home for the mare (and her foal, too, if I end up with the little critter.)

Danse Macabre said...

I don't know why you're beating yourself up so much! How could you have known there was going to be a fire?? You did everything were responsible and said no when originally given the offer to breed your mare. You also thought you were going to have a home for the baby, which you did until it fell through, through no fault of your own. I see it as a problem you now have to deal with, but certainly one which you did NOT knowingly create. And like the first poster said, it's not like you're poppin out frankenhorses here! Stop beating yourself up! :)

mugwump said...

I would look at this as an "Oh damn" moment, and move on. The trick is to have the mare in her new home before the baby is born.
If you see it you will own it.

Shirley in Texas said...

This is one of those "it seemed like a good idea at the time" moments, I guess.
But it's hard to understand why you didn't send the mare to cutting training, see if she could do it and sell her as a performance horse instead of sending her away to be a brood mare. But that's just me.
I think there are sufficient unregistered horses in the world without adding more, just because they've got talent. Talent and athleticism should be rewarded by giving the horse a job, not turning it into a foal factory.
Now, the mare is bred and she's your responsibility. Give her good care, maybe the burned pasture will catch some rain and you can move the mare and foal to their intended new home in the spring.
All that said, somebody wiser than me said something like we cannot see the future, cannot change the past and what we do in the present is the only thing we have control over.
All the best ....

Laura Crum said...

Shirley-- She's a registered mare, with excellent bloodlines and all her foals are registered--the three that have sold have fetched pretty good money for reining bred Quarter Horses. I would never have allowed her to be bred if she were an unregistered mare.
And mugwump, you are so right. If that baby is born with me I will darn sure own it. You have a great way with words. (Which I already knew from your blog.)