My mother once told me that the first object in a book that I ever showed interest in was a horse. And for all of my life after, I cannot think of one time either in my imagination, or for real, that I have not had a horse in my life. I rode from the time I was five, got my first horse, thanks to my loving, generous Aunt Flo, when I was 15, and moved on from there to showing, teaching, training, breeding and selling all manner of horse.
Until 1988, I ran a very successful Thoroughbred breeding operation based in Lexington, KY, but with breeding interest in Ireland, England and France, and sold Thoroughbred horses around the world.
Then, I retired to marry and start a new life.
For ten years I did not own a horse. Though I was happy doing many exciting things, something was missing. It was as if my heart was full, but my spirit was wanting. And, I knew what my spirit wanted was a horse.
So, in 1998, I set out to find my new equine soul mate.
I was a lot older, less fit and feeling a little vulnerable to seeking out anything too energetic, and I had no interest in breeding racehorses. For the first time in my life, I was simply looking to have fun with my equine friend.
I came across a picture of an Andalusian horse in a magazine. I found that the Andalusian, named for a region of Spain called Andalusia, is one of the oldest breeds of horses, as documented by ancient cave drawings. The Andalusian has for centuries been respected and sought after by great horsemen the world over for its uncanny agility, courage, presence, tractability and beauty. It has excelled as a warhorse, in the bullring, in the dressage arena, and wherever equine excellence was required. After doing my homework, I decided owning an Andalusian was my destiny.
My destiny turned out to be a 2 month old filly. As I drove down the lane towards the barn she was at, I could see her romping with her dam (mother) in a pen. Even from halfway down that lane, my horseman's eye told me she was an excellent foal, and then she was mine.
I named her Valentia, Spanish for valiant, because on her dam's side, she came from famous bullfighting blood.
My horseman's eye did not fail me. Valentia became Florida State Champion, and 7th Region Champion as a yearling, and Reserve National Champion 2-and-under Filly as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old, she was National Champion Show Pleasure Driving Junior Horse, National Top Five in Western Pleasure and Hunt Seat, and won her first dressage class ever (never having shown in one before). At four, she was again a National Champion.
Valentia is not just my equine soul mate; she is my soul. A beautiful, kind, intelligent, talented, magical being that transforms you when you are astride her from a pauper to a queen. She touches every heart she meets, and all who know her love her.
I have four other Andalusians, my beautiful bay mare, Especial BA, and her two wonderful fillies, 2-year-old, Santa Valentina, and weanling, S'Amouracher, and Valentia's own awesome weanling filly, Ariel de la Mar.
They say, "This horse will change your life forever."
Nothing could be truer.
We hope you have enjoyed viewing Wicklow Stud's Andalusian horses and Dragonwyck Stud's Thoroughbreds pictured on these pages. As is our tradition, Wicklow Stud always offers a few of our best horses for sale.
If we can interest you in "Changing YOUR life forever", please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and set your sights on owning The Horse of Kings.
picture credits: Suave Dancer by Bernard Gourier : Valentia by Rick Osteen