Outside of a Horse
Onasis das Faias comes of age
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Winston S. Churchill
After the darkness of the last few Substack articles (well, except for the Friday Funnies and Sunday Strip, and even those have been a bit dark lately), allow me to take a moment to celebrate how much progress our junior (4 year old) stallion “Onasis das Faias” has made.
Before the COVIDcrisis, during what now seems almost like a lucid dream, a separate reality,
Jill went to Portugal to select a weanling colt to import to the USA.
As some may know, we run a Lusitano horse breeding business called “Cielo Azure Lusitanos”. The horse breeding business is challenging. The saying goes that the best way to make a million dollars in the horse business is to start with ten million. Which is not an option for Jill and I. We have built our breeding operation up over decades of work, training, successes, failures, sweat, tears, broken bones (ours and theirs) and so much research. Every year there is the chronic intense discussion about which ones get sold and which ones are kept. We used to breed Percheron, but made the choice to move over to Lusitanos many years ago, before Lusitanos became so trendy. To not cull the herd (that is sell the foals that either are too related or not quite good enough or right for the breeding program), year after year, is the fastest way to go broke. In the case of the Stallion, the herd sire, there is always the risk of sudden death from colic or a fractured femur or a million other things. I once knew an equine veterinarian who would say “horses are always trying to kill themselves, and it is our job to prevent this for as long as possible”. The point being that horses are curious, inquisitive, and will get themselves into trouble at any opportunity. Fences have to be in good repair, nails need to be pounded in, and water tanks frequently checked, flushed, and filled.
A prudent and experienced breeding farm needs to have a stallion pipeline. To not “bet the farm” on only one stallion. Just good business. Risk management. So, even though our buckskin senior stallion “Jade da Sernandinha” is exceptional, and is now competing at Prix St George as an eight year old (fairly young for that level), Jill went off to Portugal to seek out a weanling colt to import and grow up. Regarding Jade, to the uninitiated, training a horse up to Grand Prix level (known in the business as a “finished” dressage horse) may seem like an extravagance. But it is essential if you want to fetch a premium on the offspring. Justifiably, buyers want the assurance that the foals come from a stallion that has both the necessary temperament and talent to go all the way. So it is not an ego thing, it is an essential business matter to get the stallion trained up and able to show at the top levels. This usually takes until age 10-12 for the stallion to reach that goal. We are proud of Jade. and his foals are in high demand. Like I said, we run a business, not a hobby farm.
So, off Jill goes to tour the best breeding farms of Portugal. She checks out at least 40 weanling colts. Most Portuguese breeding farms will not show foreigners their best, but we have slowly built relationships and a reputation for commitment to producing quality Lusitano horses, and she is allowed to consider importing the best of the best.
One colt stands out above all the others. “Onasis das Faias”. By Escorial, out of Diurna. Escorial is an interesting stallion, fairly light in build, closely related to Jade but not too close, and he has sired many of the top Lusitano horses of the current generation. Onasis’ breeder is Mr. Luis Bastos, who is a perfect Portuguese gentleman. Escorial is a bit “hotter” than Jade, who is heavier and has more bone, and sometimes needs a lot of encouragement to be as forward as necessary to score well at the top levels. Jade is amazingly easy to ride, and even tempered. As are his foals. But for the next generation, we wanted a bit more fire and a bit less bone. Fine tuning. Generation after generation after generation. And each generation takes at least five years. That is the way it goes in the horse business. Nothing can be rushed.
Onasis at eight months of age.
Jill makes her pick. Importing a horse from Portugal to the USA is a challenge. A bunch of veterinary tests and examinations have to be performed in Europe, then the colt gets shipped to an approved exporter (in this case, he had to be trucked to France, then to Belgium - a 20+ hour drive with a “lay-over” in France), then a flight to USA (in his case to New York, where there is a USDA quarantine station). Then quarantine and more tests for various infectious diseases. If the colt fails any of those tests he basically gets put down. No reasonable insurance is available to cover all of this risk. The importer basically has to just suck it up and hope for the best. Then release from USDA and shipment down to the final destination. Long story short, little weanling Onasis arrives on our farm, and his left rear knee joint (hock) is swollen. He has arrived with a blown hock. No one knows how or when it happened. No traceability. Just “suck it up snowflake”.
Off to the local surgeon. Fortunately we live in Virginia horse country, and there are good veterinary surgeons. A lateral collateral ligament has been torn, and the cartilage has been significantly damaged. His future as a potential Olympic/FEI level contender has just been shot. No recourse. The only question is whether he can become sound enough to be ridden and inspected, for if he cannot pass inspection by the very rigorous Portuguese judges, including being ridden under saddle, he cannot be used as a breeding stallion. So we say yes to everything the vet recommends. Surgery, injections, stem cells. I do not even want to share how much this costs. And then we wait, month after careful month. First stall rest. Then a small custom paddock. Onasis has no idea why he is cooped up, he is full of energy, and wants to be with the other horses. Then years of watchful waiting. The hock is still thick. Then, year by year, it gets better. Carefully scrutinized with wary eyes, but no signs of lameness. Then he reaches three years, the point at which a Lusitano is first introduced to the saddle.
We choose the same trainer that has been working so well with Jade, USDF Gold Medalist Adriane Alvord, because she is very good, up and coming, and very thin. But Onasis is a bit too hot, and first we have to send him to a specialist in starting hot young horses.
Step by step, month by month, Onasis progresses under Adriane’s careful tutoring. We take him to “Dressage at Devon” to show in hand, and he wins his class. Still sound, no lameness. The notoriously harsh and experienced judges at Devon do not notice anything wrong with the hock. They score him at 78.3.
Onasis at three years of age, Dressage at Devon
And now, finally, at four years old, the moment of truth is upon us. The Judge is flying out from Portugal. He arrives at Reagan National airport next Sunday. Onasis gets inspected for scoring and (hopefully) approval as a breeding stallion a week from today.
It has been a long and winding road. Full of risk, setbacks, and successes.
Like life. Living free is tough. I would not have it any other way. And neither would Onasis, I suspect.
But it is just a little bit better having horses in the world. Art and beauty matter. Something that cannot be factored into any utilitarian globalist spreadsheet.
I hope that this story and these videos bring a bit of joy into your life, as remembering and writing it has brought a small tear of joy to my eyes.
And yes, I can ride a horse. Thank you for asking. Have been doing it almost my whole life long.
After all is said and done, I wish to get one little idea into the minds of our growing army.
That is, don’t give the other side ammo to use against us. Don’t answer the pollsters knock. Ignore the online survey. Don’t answer that cell phone.
The Epoch Times had an article today on how it has been near impossible to conduct a poll because republicans, and I think that includes right-leaning independents, conservatives and constitutionalists as well as MAGA republications are no longer responding to polls.
“This led to ‘hidden voters’ that ‘most’ polling under counted, therefore Trump support in key battleground states exceeded expectations. Now [the] Biden administration has essentially classified ‘MAGA Republicans’ as a threat to democracy marshaling federal law enforcement to focus on them,” the pollster wrote. “This move has created a new type of voter that will be even harder to poll or even estimate.”
Keep strong my friends- let’s remain in our own virtual Galt’s Gulch. Main-stream media no longer has legitimacy, let’s help the rest of America understand this by ruining their predictions for the midterm elections.
That said, we all need to support whatever freedoms we have left by voting in 2022.
Be free. And, as my friend JP Sears says, stay awake my friends.
And watch Plandemic 3 when it comes out soon.
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