Saturday 04 Nov 2017

Foals Fly For Europe

Our babies have left the nest.

They spent the first seven months of their lives at our Connecticut farm. Now Elliot, Dominic, and Pavie are off to Belgium to grow up in the heart of show jumping country. They’ll join the rest of our young warmbloods; until this past year, all our jumper breeding has been in Europe—because Europe’s just better set up to raise and develop the horses. They have way more young-jumper training venues, and the whole proposition costs a fraction of what it would in the US.

In Belgium our horses live at Gregory Wathelet’s farm, which is a one-stop shop: pastures for mares and youngsters; a colt-starter and young horse rider on staff; facilities to free-jump horses, breed mares, and collect stallions; arenas and stables worthy of Gregory’s string of international jumpers; and of course, Gregory himself, one of the best riders in the world.

So we said a sad goodbye to our three lovely boys and sent them on their way, in a shared box stall. It’s a good thing they have each other for herd-animal comfort on this long journey.

The morning they left, it was a balmy fall paradise in their hilltop meadow. I spent some time just enjoying them before they hit the road. They were so content up there, not knowing their world was about to change—a wave of sadness washed over me. All that lush grass and peaceful sun and birds singing and nobody misbehaving. The way they casually walked up to me and said hi, with only minimal shoe-chomping and some sweet cheek-nuzzling. Ah, babies!

Then there was their rambunctiousness on the way down to meet the trailer. They may be ultra-well-trained as babies go, but they’re not exactly broke; they can do some pretty impressive hopping around on the end of a lead rope. And a trio of adolescent warmblood stallions will only become more of a handful in the next couple pre-riding years. So it’s all for the best.

They got excellent-behavior reports from the shippers and, on arrival, from Gregory’s crew, who can’t believe how good the boys are to handle. (Between Sarah Dawson’s training and all the attention the boys got here at the farm, they’re way more used to being touched and led and groomed, etc., than most foals.) They’ll meet their new pasture mates soon. And we’ll be booking our own flights to Europe just as soon as we can.

Elliot, Pavie and Dominic on the morning of their trip

Best buds: sharing salt lick and hay

With Pavie

With little Dominic

Elliot playing with their jumbo soccer ball (which Dominic loves to carry around and climb on):

They notice the dogs are in there.

Brothers: Elliot and Dominic (Labelle x Cornet Obolensky and Labelle x Dominator Z)

Beginning a long journey

Shared box on the trailer

Just too sad for words!

Their new home in Belgium:

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