Second in a series. View the first article here.
As Shilhouette prepares for Dressage at Devon, the Oldenburg Horse Breeders Society wants to make sure she fits its breeding goal. They will evaluate her on on July 29, when she’s at the shy age of two months, for her breeding, movement, build, and the overall impression she makes. Then she’s off on her first road trip to the Bucks County Horse Park Dressage Sport Horse Breed Show on July 31, followed by the Maplewood Warmbloods Dressage Sport Horse Breed Show on August 5.
Despite her rigorous schedule, like most babies she’s spending a lot of time with her mother, Fhlora. She’s also hanging out with people, learning to trust them even though they do things that might seem odd to her. For example, in the second week of July she got a new hairdo. She was smartened up with a body clip that cut through the mottled appearance of her half-in, half-out foal coat. This requires barn employees to buzz all over her body with horse clippers. Maurine Swanson, who bred Shilhouette, says, “she might be a little skittish to start with, but then she’ll probably settle down like most foals. And she’ll be happy once it’s done because it’s going to be hot.”
Shilhouette learns a lot by imitating Fhlora. It didn’t take long for her to figure out how to supplement her diet of mother’s milk with grain. Like most foals at Rolling Stone Farm, she poked her nose into her mother’s grain bucket and demanded that they share the meal, as soon as she was tall enough. In July, Shilhouette will start learning to be led at a trot with her mother, something she needs to do at the upcoming shows so that judges can see how she moves.
While some breeders braid their foals” manes for inspection, Rolling Stone Farm doesn’t plan to do much preparation on Shilhouette. She’s one of 24 foals at the farm all lined up for inspection on the same day. So practicality wins over vanity. When representatives from the breeding society inspect her, they’ll check her lineage by taking a sample of hair from her tail and doing a DNA analysis. Then they register her, noting any specific markings; look to see how she’s built; and watch her run in the field with Flora to determine if she moves in a rhythmic, balanced, and elastic way. Finally the judges decide if she’s a ‘premium” foal.
“It’s nice to have the ‘premium’ recognition, because it means you’ve got a quality foal,” says Swanson, “but you can’t get all caught up in it. Foals go through awkward stages and the ‘premium” status just says that a foal looked good on a particular day. What really matters is how Shilhouette looks and rides once she is trained.”
In preparation for both shows, the mare and filly will be braided, bathed, and have their feet trimmed. When she arrives at the show, Shilhouette is not expected to venture out alone. She’ll be in the show ring with her mother, whether it’s foal class, where she’s evaluated, or a mare class where Fhlora is judged. Once again, judges evaluate both of them on movement, build, and overall impression.
Swanson is not sure if there will be a third show before Dressage at Devon in September, where Shilhouette will face stiff competition from across North America.
Reserved seating to see Shilhouette and the Breed and Performance Show at Dressage at Devon is available at http://dressageatdevon.org/shop/
General admission tickets will be available at the show grounds from September 25 to October 2. For additional information, call Ginny Simon at 610.889.2036