This whole mess started about three years ago when a young lady from town went to visit a horse exhibit at her local county fair. She met a Friesian stallion there that touched her heartstrings and made her forever a Friesian addict. This young lady wasn't a horseperson, had never owned a horse, didn't ride and knew virtually nothing about horses. But this one encounter was to change her appreciation of the equine forever. She started looking for information about that horse breed, this strangely wonderful Friesian that she had met, and gathered lots of pictures and articles.
There weren't any breeders in the area, and she knew of no other Friesian horses either, so when another year had gone by all she could do was hope that stallion would be back at the fair again. The week of the fair came and responsibilities and family obligations prevented her from going to see if he was there, but on the last day she heard people talking about a beautiful big black horse at the draft barn. Well, a visit was going to happen, even if it was just to see that horse, so on the last day, with only hours till they would all pack up and go home, she and her husband got there to visit her Friesian stallion. He was just as majestic as she remembered him, and she thought, someday I'm going to have my very own Friesian, and it will be just like him. The stallion stayed late because there were people there to see him and talk to him, and you know there isn't anything a Friesian likes better than being scratched and hugged. She went home that evening and talked to her husband about that dream of hers, knowing full well it was just a dream. But he could hear in her voice the determination and longing.
Her husband of only a few years is a very deliberate man, who feels the sun rises and sets on his wife, was forming a "long range" plan. He knew it wouldn't be anytime soon, but his wife would someday have her very own Friesian horse. This young lady had a variety of responsibilities, wife, mother, business partner, bookeeper, with all the financial obligations that came with it. Over the next half year he noticed the pictures on the walls and the calendars and the bookmarked websites on the computer, all big black horses. The opportunity came to sell their house in town and buy a farm a distance away, and with two small children to raise, it seemed that a move to the 'country" was in the cards. In the back of her mind was the thought that they could someday have horses if they could get a barn or shed built. She thought that riding lessons were the next step, so after contacting neighbors to find a stable, she found one only 1 1/2 miles away, made an appointment to give it a try, and took the kids for a lesson.
When she got to the barn, a large indoor arena, and went looking for their instructor, she found to her surprise the young girl that was at the fair with her Friesian stallion. They recognized each other and the conversation immediately turned to the Friesian at the fair. When she asked if the girl stayed in touch with the stallions owner, the girl said "sort of, he's my father". They turned the corner in the barn aisleway and who should have his head out of the stall to greet them but her dream horse. The young lady wondered what were the odds they would move their family to a farm only 5 minutes from her dream horse. The next time they went for a riding lesson, her husband came along to watch the children and his wife enjoy their new interest, over the next weeks the conversation naturally turned to horse ownership, and the decision was made to surprise the children with two crossbred weanlings. They weren't daunted with the prospect of dealing with weanlings, after all horses were made to be petted, scratched and loved. The two they picked out were a thoroughbred cross and a walker cross, given the names Thunder and Teddy before they went to their new home. Now I have to tell you, those are probably two of the luckiest weanlings on the face of the earth, I know both of these wonderful people and these horses are fixed for life, there is not a more loving home out there.
As the summer turned to fall, the husband watched the way his wife attached herself to the stallion, bonding more each time they visited. He began to ask about purebred prices, availability and particulars about the breed. He also asked that I not let his wife know about his new interest in the breed, he was developing a plan for a birthday surprise.
The plan was to try to find an in-utero baby for sale and negotiate a price that was manageable. Late that fall we found a mare in foal that we wanted to purchase and we offered the foal to him in-utero and an alliance was made. The young lady knew nothing of this and just after Christmas we were going to tell her about her new baby. This was now almost two years after she had met her first Friesian, and her husband was only waiting until we closed the deal on the mare to be able to tell her. All seemed going well with the purchase and she got the news. She was excited about the new baby and started making plans. Then the unthinkable happened, the deal on the mare fell through. She tried to keep up a good front, but she was quite disappointed. It was about a month later as we were looking into other in-utero foals that the conversation turned to our own stallions foals. He had just been approved and that spring would be his first purebred breedings. She said that her ideal and dream was to have one of his get, but if her husband was going to find her another foal that was OK, but secretly she really wanted one of ours. Well we struck up a deal, the first foal he sired from one of our mares was to be her baby. She was ecstatic, now only 13 more months to wait, remember this was February, we weren't going to breed our first mare till April.
The mare was bred, ultrasounded and pronounced in foal, the contract signed and the next 11 months of payments started. Going into year 3, the months dragged by, each weeks lessons for the children became an agony of waiting for that mare to start looking in foal. The palpation at 4 months confirmed a healthy fetus, so we settled in for the winter to wait. She started checking into names, had a real long list of them, but none seemed to fit the magnificence that she was sure this foal would exhibit.
Then in the last month the "what ifs" came on strong. If its a colt will I keep it at stallion, if its a filly will we breed it. The thought that it might not be the most magnificent foal ever born just didn't even enter her mind, after all wasn't it sired by the most perfect stallion in the world! Now what were those old wives tales, if it's early it will be a filly and if its late it will be a colt right. And she wanted a colt, or was it a filly she wanted. Well, she finally settled on just wanting healthy, because the worry over colt or filly was driving her crazy.
The mare was checked every 8 hours during the last week of her term, still no signs. She was due to foal March 22nd, but finally on the evening of March 25th she waxed. We called and told them tonight's probably the night, do you want a wake-up call? Absolutely! All night the mare was restless, up and down, kicking the stall walls, then at 4:25 am on the 26th the mare began to groan and even drowned out the sound of the stallion snoring in the next stall. We called and said its on the way.
Ten minutes later, the front legs started out, then the head, we were in the stall to help if necessary, and then plop, the torso was delivered. We were all speechless, even after hundreds of births it is still spellbinding. My wife and I were watching the birth of the first foal sired by our pride and joy, the culmination of several years of work, and years of planning. We tore the bag open to reveal a glossy black filly, perfect in every detail. Then with a last push the mare delivered the hind legs, and we had a filly, we checked her over, made sure all the joints were OK, that she was breathing good, that the umbilical broke cleanly, worked our hands down each leg to make sure everything was in the right places. Everything was fine right down to the last hind leg, right down to that .....white sock!!! Oh...my...goodness. Somebody please tell me that foot isn't white! But no matter how many times we checked, it was still white.
We had a few minutes of reflection before the new owners husband showed up. His wife needed to get the children up and off to school in a couple of hours and couldn't leave them so she sent her husband to visit first. It was a quiet , strained, several minutes as the white foot sunk in with him too. Thank goodness his wife wasn't there yet, this was to be her perfect Friesian baby, sired by the perfect Friesian stallion, what now. This fine young lady had waited almost 4 years to get this foal, had scrimped and saved, had worked hard to get here and we were going to have to tell her that her filly was blemished. Not even a small blemish that you can hide, but a two inch high, in your face, brilliant white sock. Oh boy!
Her husband was supposed to go to work from the farm but he went back home to break the news to his wife. Later that morning she came to see the filly. The disappointment was obvious, she didn't make a move to touch the filly, the emotions on her face were intense. She kept up a good front though, and joked about the sock, and said she was still a good filly. After about an hour she went home, said she would talk to her husband, but she was sure he didn't have a problem with the filly either. Like I said, a good front. My wife and I spent the day imprinting and making sure the filly nursed. The mare seemed relieved that was over with and each time we went to the stall they were both asleep in the straw bedding, what a peaceful pair they were.
During the next several days we didn't see hide nor hair of the filly's family, so we knew there was something wrong. This young lady dotes on her horses, for her not to be there was a very red flag.
On Monday, three days later, she called. The stress in her voice was glaring, she tried to ask questions to find out our feelings about a filly with a white foot without being critical. Well, I had already thought all the terrible things that a breeder could think about a blemished foal, so I was over the denial part. I knew both these people and they were my friends, so I did the only thing a friend could do under the circumstances, I said "you decide what you want to do, if you feel that you can't take the foal we'll work it out to find you another" That seemed to let a weight off her shoulders, and I told her husband the same thing. We decided that we would start looking right away for another foal.
Later that evening, when they were talking about the filly, he tried to reassure her that they would find a perfect black foal for her and it dawned on her that getting another foal wasn't what she was agonizing about after all. What she was having trouble with was the fact that she was going to have her foal but it wasn't going to be the part of the stallion she was so taken with. And suddenly she knew, it wasn't the white foot she had a problem with, but the fact that she wasn't going to be able to keep her filly by her perfect stallion. She knew she didn't care about the white foot as much as she cared about getting a part of the stallion that stole her heart so many years ago. She knew what she had to do.
The next day she called and asked to come visit the filly. We said sure, we had accepted the fact that we were going to keep this filly. To us we saw a perfect example of Friesian horseflesh. This filly was gorgeous, the shoulder, the croup, the straight legs. Watching her play out at pasture, doing flying lead changes, two tempis, and sliding stops, running circles around mom. And when she saw you she came running up and wanted to be petted. She had her daddies eyes, looking into them you could see all the way to her soul. All you breeders out there, you can relate I'm sure, about the changes that occur during those first days and weeks, a good foal will seem to impress you each day as they grow into that first bony frame. She did this and more. I never offered an opinion about the filly to the new owner because I didn't want to make the decision to let her go any more difficult for her than it already was.
She came to visit and brought the children to meet the filly, and I wondered about the change of heart. We talked at length about the how she was dealing with the "white foot" and she told me that she realized that if I didn't have a problem with it as the sires owner, then the last stumbling block to acceptance was gone. She told me how what she wanted in her heart was a part of that stallion that started this fantasy years ago, not just what someone else viewed as the perfect black foal. She understood how the conception of imperfection had clouded her vision of "her" perfect foal. And she said that little filly was the part of her dream she had waited for, and now it was hers. She didn't care that it had a white foot, she didn't want any other filly except this one, sired by her dream stallion. That was when her filly, her little Whisper, came up to us and put its muzzle into her hands and told her as only eyes can "I knew you'd come for me".
When she came into this world, we were in awe, speechless, as every perfect part was delivered into our waiting arms, and when that last part of her, that white sock, showed us how unique she was, all we could do was whisper.......
"Whisper" is going home to a family that will love her and has waited for her for almost 4 years. She won't be hidden because that would make people think that we were ashamed of her, and she is perfect in every way. She will forever be known as Thors' little white footed filly. Ron and Rona Magruder, Whispers' new family, are very proud of her, she's a very lucky little filly.
A very proud Whisper at her FPZV weanling inspection.
To submit your own Friesian story, you can simply e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below and it should be up within a day or two. It can be about anything to do with Friesians, from seeing your first one, to having an amusing experience with your own. Make it as long, or as short as you like!