I recently had a chance to observe the stallion running in the area where my mares shade. He was chasing off a particularly annoying gelding and his harem of approximately 40 mares, some with foals at foot, was looking on excitedly. He was a handsome bay pony, probably standing about 14.2 HH, with a glossy coat that shone over a taut muscular physique. He was obviously an experienced stallion, because he was able to keep himself between the herd and the errant gelding, as the pair galloped furiously around the heathland. No matter how hard the gelding tried to get back to the herd of mares this stallion anticipated his opponent and was able to block him. The stallion’s low head carriage and threatening demeanour was a clear sign to all who witnessed the altercation that he meant business. I did not stay to see the outcome, but I have no doubt that the bay stallion came out on top. I was very impressed by the look and manner of this New Forest pony stallion and even more delighted when, a day or two later, a commoning friend informed me that one of my mares was seen in his company. My friend’s description left me in no doubt that my mare was interested in the stallion’s attention, as she was actively flirting with him. However, they only seemed to have stayed together in the same area for a short while, because the stallion moved on to a new territory and left my mare behind. Did they or didn’t they? Fingers crossed. I hope so.
I was interested to discover more about the potential sire of a future foal born to my mare and looked up his pedigree. I was right about him being an experienced stallion because he was foaled in 2001, making him 16 years of age, (48 years old in human years). He has run on the Forest 11 times during the Stallion Season since 2003, and is obviously an established and popular sire. In fact, he has an impressive pedigree with bloodlines that stretch back to the 1690s, which was when William III (& II) and Mary II were on the British throne. Unless you know something about pony breeding it probably won’t mean anything to you when I tell you that this particular stallion has the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerley Turk in his breeding. These are the three most influential stallions in English sporting history. He even has Eclipse, one of the most famous thoroughbred racehorses of all time, on both sides of his pedigree. Eclipse (foaled: 1 April 1764 – died: 26 February 1789) was an undefeated champion who won 18 races, including 11 King’s Plates. I was certainly captivated when I first saw the bay stallion running free on the Forest but now, having learned about his impressive lineage, I am hoping that his liaison with my mare will have been fruitful. I should have an idea by December whether or not my mare is in foal, as by then her belly will be showing tell-tale signs. What an amazing Christmas present that would be!