How It All Began

by Laura Humphreys

Giggles

On the 1st of April 2008, I picked up the telephone and inquired about a Warmblood broodmare I had seen advertised on the web. This in itself was something almost unheard of, as I am a self-confessed phone-phobic! The mare was called Galaxie, was 10 years old and lived 175 miles away in rural Wales. This was going to be our first foray into breeding, and after chatting to her owner, Mum and I decided that there was nothing to lose, so we clambered into the lorry with a friend, and set off.

I was so excited I could barely sit still - no mean feat on a five hour journey! After squeezing our way down some of the narrowest lanes I have ever seen, we arrived at our destination. Mum and I were smitten with Galaxie straight away, from her soft brown eyes, to her gentle whicker, she was everything we had hoped for. She was due to foal in three months to a young stallion Pik Polo, the perfect amount of time for us to get ourselves prepared for the new arrival.

Her owner then mentioned that she had another in-foal mare that she was thinking of selling. The breeding didn’t mean that much to me- not that I was by any means an expert - but we agreed to look at her too. Leaving Galaxie snoozing in the barn, we went to a small paddock across the yard. Mum and I leant over the gate as the two grazing mares lifted their heads at the sound of their owner’s voice. The mare we were looking at was called Whorly, a nine year old Hanoverian with a chequered past. Seeing that she had visitors, Whorly spun round and trotted over to us. Well, almost simultaneously, mine, Mum’s and our friend’s mouths dropped open. Despite her nine month pregnant belly, the mare floated across the grass, as light as air.

Well, no prizes for guessing what happened next... we set off home with a total of four horses in the lorry: two mares and two babies-to-be. Once again I couldn’t sit still on the ride home, but this time it was because I was bobbing up and down to check on our new acquisitions.

Two months later, Whorly gave birth to the most beautiful coloured filly, Ridgeway First Light. From the day she was born to the day she went to her new home, ‘Giggles’ was pretty much perfect. She never misbehaved, never put a tiny hoof out of line, and seemed to spend most of her time looking after her sensitive mother!

A month later, Giggles was joined by Bertie, ‘Ridgeway Pathfinder’. Galaxie soon proved to be a devoted mother, with a very different style in parenting from Whorly. Her son ran rings rounds her, nipping, kicking and generally being a naughty little colt. To our relief, Auntie Whorly soon put him in his place, and Giggles showed that she didn’t want to play with horrible, smelly boys! Bertie soon grew out of his hooligan phase, and became a strong, confident young man.

It’s been over eighteen months since that windy day in Wales, but so much has happened as a result of that one journey. Both Whorly and Bertie have returned to Wales; the owner of Pik Polo was so pleased with him that she bought Bertie from us, and Whorly is currently expecting a Pik Polo foal next May. Galaxie is living at Touchwood Stud with our other broodmares, and expecting a Showmaker foal a few weeks after Whorly. Giggles is living a life of luxury in Cumbria, and already has many CHAPS wins under her belt. She has also recently been joined by her sire, so, just like Bertie, she can grow up under her father’s watchful eye.

We now have five broodmares, four of whom are in foal for 2010, Galaxie’s nineteen year old dam and her four year old sister, Whorly’s two year old filly, two six month old fillies, and of course our beloved riding horses, who have watched this madness unfold without a murmur.
 
Without the horses, I almost certainly wouldn’t have my dream job as a working pupil at Touchwood Stud, or have finished my BSc in Equine Science. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that people say I’m crazy, but when I look out across the fields at the fluffy mares munching contentedly, or at the foals, playing in the puddles, I know that I wouldn’t change anything, not for one second.

Laura Humphreys
Briarwood Stud

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