Monday, 24 June 2019

Great news!! Both Dream and Dove are in foal, both had twins and Bridget from Walnut Hill Vets has successfully squeezed them to make sure there is a good single in each. It took some doing as in both cases the embryos were very close together, so well done Bridge! The other wonderful news is that Popaway was covered by Elusive Pimpernel on Sunday, she will be scanned tomorrow morning to make sure she ovulated and be on the 2 pm ferry home. It will be lovely to have her and Popalong home safe and sound...
Dove and Dream both scanned with a live embryo - fingers crossed....

Saturday, 22 June 2019

We have just got back from a road trip to Ireland where we took Popaway and Jess (We Never Give Up) to the Irish National stud to visit a very nice stallion called Elusive Pimpernel. You might question our judgement taking Jess as she hasn't been the best point to pointer in the world but I happened to look at her pedigree before giving her away for a hunter and it is pretty impressive - She is very flat bred, so for her to win four point to points is good in itself and shows how much she tries. Her brothers and sisters have won 38 races between them and £446,147 in prize money but the great thing is how many times they have run  - Her half brother for instance, Mount Vesuvius has won five hurdle races and been placed 27 times and her other half brother, Catlike Move has won 16 races and placed 25 times. This consistency goes right through her pedigree. She herself has run 48 times with nine different novice jockeys on her back and has never had a lame day. Personally I think that these qualities - ability, soundness and genuineness are the most important in a brood mare and I am very excited about what she might produce. We took the overnight ferry on Tuesday and she was served on Wednesday. We were hoping that the trip would have brought Popaway on but she still hadn't started to ovulate so we left her grazing in the sunshine at the stud when hopefully she will be covered on the Sunday and where we know she will get the best of care.

Popaway and Popalong in Ireland

Invincible Spirit - Sadly slightly out of our price bracket at £120,000 for a service!
The Irish National stud were absolutely brilliant with us and fabulous with the horses. Their staff are second to none and they couldn't have been more helpful - even to the point when I mentioned that I was looking to buy some Wexford potatoes as I had heard they were the best, the stud groom promised he would find me a bag and send it back with Popaway - Result!
It was a great trip and not as difficult as we thought it would be. Doug will probably pick up Popaway later on in the week.
We had a lovely few days and the stud is stunning to look around with the most beautiful gardens.
Part of the gardens at the Irish stud

What really impressed me was the way they treat their stallions - They all have their own paddocks and they all go out every day. The mares are also teased much more than in the UK which brings them on naturally rather than trying to force the issue. It was wonderful to see some of the old heroes of racing spending their retirement in the fields with Hurricane Fly, Beef or Salmon and Moscow Flyer being lucky enough to spend their last years there.

Elusive Pimpernel - Hopefully he will be the sire of Popaway and Jess's foals.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

My lovely Dad on Fathers Day

Saturday, 15 June 2019

If only it had rained this much two months ago - It would have been a very different season if it had! It has poured almost every day for ten days. Good for the grass, crops and garden though so I'm not complaining. The downside has been that the mares aren't coming into season as we would have liked. We have managed to get both Dove and Dream covered by Falco, a stallion that was based in France and came to the UK in 2018. He has had grade one winners on the flat and over jumps. A lovely young couple in Boston are standing him and we wanted to give them a chance as most of the stallions are owned by big studs and the little people don't get a look in.
We had a little 'mishap' with Burrows Spring who came back into season really well after the sad loss of her foal and she was taken by Doug to see a stallion (Dartmouth) in one of the bigger studs in Shropshire. Neil, her owner had done a lot of research to find the right stallion and had decided that Dartmouth was the perfect match for her.  The mating went well and Burrows Spring was loaded back onto the lorry. The stallion owner asked Doug if he wanted to see the other stallions to decide whether we wanted to use one of them on Popaway. Doug agreed and the owner got a stallion out and said "This is Dartmouth"  - Doug said, "it's not as I've just seen Dartmouth as he served the mare"  at this point the owner (who shall remain nameless) went white as he realised his mistake - all the paperwork had been done and it was written on the board with the correct stallion but for whatever reason the wrong stallion came out - He was also bay, and there was no way Doug would have known that it wasn't the right one. Needless to say there was a bit of panic on as we tried to get hold of Neil to see if the wrong stallion (Scorpion) would do. Sadly they were too closely related and the pregnancy could not continue so Doug had to leave her at the stud to start again. At least it was discovered in time before it was too late.
Tik and Jess were supposed to be synchronised so that they could both go to Ireland together to see Elusive Pimpernel but with the weather turning so cold Jess stopped cycling altogether and Tik came on much more quickly than expected so she had to be whizzed off back to Shropshire to see Telescope, a nice young stallion that is supposed to be up and coming.. So now we are waiting for Popaway and Jess to come into season, and if we are lucky they will come on together to make the trip to Ireland worth while. The vet is coming on Monday and we will know then.
In the meantime the foals are giving us so much joy - They are just gorgeous and all have their own personalities. There is nothing I enjoy more than to stand and watch them playing in the evenings.
I will add some photos onto the blog tomorrow as supper is waiting!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Well - Two of my favourite men have been very poorly these last couple of days - Roy (Popaway's part owner) had a nasty fall during the night due to a kidney infection and spent 12 hours on the floor before his daughter, Carol, found him. He was rushed to hospital and we were all very worried about him as it looked as though his kidneys had packed up, but thankfully and in true fighting fashion he has made huge progress and was determined to get home in time to watch the Derby today, which he did, thank goodness. He is looking after Top Garry this summer as he normally has Popaway, so he hasn't got time to be poorly!  Doug has been very ill with a stomach bug (he is convinced I have tried to poison him) and he was too unwell to go to Stratford, so we missed it for the first time in years. It looked like good racing though and we watched most of it on TV.

Popalong - This amazing photo was taken by my good friend Niki who has been staying with us for the past few days with her husband Andrew
The foals are giving us huge enjoyment and are really growing -  This was Popalong at just a few days old. We are now trying to decide which mares should go to which stallions - We have got a nomination for a very nice horse at the Irish stud called Elusive Pimpernel so we may be taking a road trip across the water with Velvet Steel and We Never Give Up - I was in two minds what to do with her - She actually ran really well this season although her form doesn't reflect that because of a couple of tumbles but she certainly hadn't lost her zest for racing. She is surprisingly very well bred and she isn't getting any younger so now is the time for her to have babies....
Velvet Dream's foal - Stacey (by the 'bit of rough' stallion!) Only six days old but very grown up already...


Sunday, 26 May 2019

We had our final foal at 2.30 am this morning - Once again the foaling alarm saved the day as we were sound asleep having looked at her just two hours before and she hadn't shown any outward signs, no waxing and no restlessness. It was my lovely mare Velvet Dream whom I absolutely adore as she is the only foal out of my great little mare Supreme Dream, who managed to win four races despite having me on her back!  Velvet Dream wasn't the best racehorse as she was too big but she was an awesome hunter and gave me some fabulous days out . She is also a really lovely person and for whatever reason I just love her..
Two years ago we had the worst foaling experience with her as she very nearly lost her foal and we were looking at losing her too. The foal was coming backwards and was not coming through the birthing canal. . She was pushing for around four hours with no joy when the vet said that as the foal was almost certainly dead the only way we could save the mare was to cut the foal up and get it out in pieces so that she could survive. This has its own huge risk as the sharp edges of the bones of the foal could lacerate the inside of the mare and kill her anyway, but it looked as though that was going to be our only choice... The other option was a cesarean which has a very low survival rate. However it was decided to have one last pull - The foal was assumed dead anyway so two people grabbed a back leg each and hauled for all they were worth. Doug was hanging on to her head but even then she was dragged out into the yard from her stable with the force of us pulling. Somehow the foal was dragged out and it looked as though they were both dead. I was in bits.... Then Sam said looking at the foal "hang on, there's a heartbeat"  He then worked on the foal with pumping his heart and mouth to mouth resuscitation and to our amazement the foal took a breath and then made a whinnying sound - at this point Dream, who looked as though she had given up on life, lifted her head and whinnied back.  It was incredible. We called the foal 'Saved By Sam' and here he is today -  He isn't quite two and is huge, consequently he looks a bit ribby but will be a serious horse when he has filled out.

Sam - Very lucky to be alive

At the time I vowed that I would never put her through that again but here we are and I am so pleased I did as she as got a lovely filly foal which she absolutely loves and although it was also very big, and took a bit of pulling was a comparatively easy birth

Dream with her daughter - Only 9 hours old.  She looks worryingly' knowing'
Roy with Popaway and her daughter, Popalong.

We had a lovely evening with Roy and Carol and the rest of 'Team Harkin' celebrating the birth of Popaway's foal and the end of the season - It hasn't been the best of seasons but we still had lot of fun and everyone has finished in one piece. All the horses were turned out today for their summer break and it was lovely to get them all out unscathed.  We have decided not to go to Chaddesley as I have seen too many horses break on watered ground and it is just not worth it.
We had a very sad loss with Burrows Springs foal who was found to have a broken leg whilst with her Mum in the field, possibly she stood on her. Sadly she couldn't be saved. Heart breaking but there was nothing different we could have done. It has made us appreciate the healthy foals we have and really enjoy them. What with the gambolling foals and beautiful puppies who are growing fast it a fun time of year for us!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Well it certainly wasn't the lovely days racing we were hoping for...…  We had a tragedy with the loss of Pasta our lovely homebred mare. Would you believe it happened in the paddock?! She didn't even get on the track, which was just as well as it happened.
She was parading around the paddock looking fabulous. She won best turned out and got a lot of admiring comments. The jockeys got on and just as they were about to go down the chute onto the track the horse in front of Pasta started to kick out - Pasta stopped dead and Scott took his feet out of the irons to relax her. Suddenly she reared up and crashed over backwards - Thankfully Scott was able to jump clear but you could tell that she was dead as soon as she hit the ground. Originally we thought she had broken her neck on impact with the ground but a post-mortem since has shown that she suffered a stroke (a massive bleed) which is why she reared up. She has never reared up in her life before so I knew there was something very strange happening. She must have had a weakness which we were totally unaware of. Very sad but thank goodness it was very quick and she didn't suffer and it happened in the paddock and not on the track during the race where she could have caused injuries to others. She was one of the most genuine horses you could ever come across. I looked forward to my daily rides on her as she was so forward and would go anywhere without question. She didn't have a bad bone in her body....She may not have made the best racehorse, we were yet to find out but I had already earmarked her as my fun horse for the future. Rest in peace my lovely mare. You will always be remembered.
RIP Pasta (Babbiloora)
The rest of the day was only marginally better although both novice jockeys Lucy and Ben did really well and stayed on board. Jess hated the watered ground but ran very well considering and was in the lead most of the way before pulling up two from home. We had tried Craig in blinkers which gave Ben a great spin but as he ran very keen to begin with he ran out of puff at the end and pulled up just before Lucy. As the commentator said he lived up to his name and did 'Too much too soon' !
Scott and Cloud got on really well and they were flying and she was jumping like a bunny. Unfortunately she was a bit too brave four fences from home when still hard on the bridle, she stood off but just clipped the top of the fence and did a complete cartwheel. She was absolutely fine and thank goodness so was Scott, so things could have been so much worse.
I was too upset to sleep so spent the night looking at the very restless Tik on camera -  She was so overdue that I was convinced we were going to lose the foal (and probably her, with the way our luck was going) but at 4am she decided to push properly and although the foal was quite difficult to get out it was alive and she absolutely loves him, a lovely colt foal by Norse Dancer
Velvet Steel with her colt foal
4 hours old - Just the tonic we needed.