As many of you know, my 23 year-old wonderful (my opinion…) mare, Tess, has been suffering laminitis for a few weeks now.
I’ve been speaking about the protocol we are using to help her, here.
Anyway, I’m very proud of MamaTess. She is a ‘been there, done that’ kind of mare who trusts me so much – it makes me feel honored.
You see, Tess was my first show horse. I made a sudden decision to visit Kohler Farms (yes, the sink people) when I was on a business trip 20 years ago…
Long ago, one of the most famous Morgan horse sires was Noble Flaire. He was owned by the Kohlers.
Noble Flaire won everything – or just about everything – in the Park and In-Hand divisions.
He was like a God of horses in the Morgan world.
Now, the Kohlers were smart business people, obviously, so they decided to keep his breedings close to their chests… they only bred him to their mares.
The only way you could get a foal was to buy one of theirs.
Of course, this hard-to-get aspect kept all of us on the outside wanting a foal from him.
I was one of those who wanted a Kohler foal. I was so into genetics and trying to figure which crosses would be so great with Noble Flaire… but the only way to cross to him was to buy what they had paired with him already.
Hmmmm. How could I do this? How could I create babies with his superior skills (I hoped)?
I LANDED AT KOHLER FARMS
Well, as fate would have it…I had a layover in Chicago and decided to rent a car and drive up to Kohler, Wisconsin (where their farm was so large, they made a town of it…).
I called their trainer, Tom Caisse, and said I wanted to look over his stock and could I visit?
He actually picked up the phone and said, “Sure!”
I couldn’t believe he was going to open the doors to me… it was well known that the Kohlers didn’t need any buyers or any business; their farm was for their family to enjoy.
What I didn’t know at the time was that Tom Caisse had decided to get out of the breeding business.
I didn’t know this…
…when I got there, he was ready to deal.
First of all, I arrived in February, the absolute slowest time for any horse business, as we all know… So, I had that going for me…
But my total ‘awe and star struckness’ was big! I had never seen a private facility like this (understatement).
It was huge, clean, pristine, state-of-the-art and all the horses ALL OF THEM, were perfectly turned out. IN WINTER!!!
I don’t think I can adequately describe what it was like touring the personal training facility of the Kohler family.
Let me just say, it was a beautiful experience (understatement).
You should have seen the fixtures in their barn bathrooms!!!
And, what really made me laugh was that there were boxes of faucets and fixtures and tubs, etc, stored in the barns. I had to laugh. Even these people stashed stuff in their unused spaces…
Anyway, Tommy showed me all of Flaire’s yearling and weanling (which was amazing), but I didn’t find the one.
That’s when I saw her.
She was coming 2.
Her name was HVK (Herbert V Kohler) Picnic.
Hmmmmmm. I’d have to change the name…but she was definitely THE ONE. In her paddock, she was trotting over level and had such presence that I gasped.
She was out of the famous mare, Maywine.
I loved her immediately – and a deal was struck. A deal that I’m sure Tom Caisse wouldn’t have made if he thought he was going to continue breeding/training…
…which he did.
But on that day, I hit it right and she was sold to me.
I changed her name to HVK Noble Heiress with the barn name of Tess.
No one had ever seen a Kohler mare on the west coast. She was the first. And, as hot and talented horses suffer often – there were no trainers out here who could deal with her.
Illahee. Forest Nealon. He was young and willing to work really hard to understand her.
And they won together.
And won and won and won…
So we took her to Nationals, and she won again. SHE WON!
I told her that if she won at the World Championships, I would retire her.
She won … so I retired her.
I often think about what I would have done with the incredible purchase offers that were thrown my way after her victories in 1997.
But, I didn’t take them. I let her retire.
The flip side of not selling her was that I was able to experience babies – 6 of them! Babies are my favorite!
She became ‘Mama Tess’ because she loved being a mother.
Tess pampered and spoiled all of her get – which was a problem because she was lead mare…
So, her babies were not well behaved and could taunt all the other horses without impunity.
Again, not good.
But, gawd her babies were all beautiful and mostly talented. Tess fulfilled my secret geneticist dream of creating Kohler crossed babies.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I’m going to show you a few of her babies in tribute to her contribution to Damdom.
She has had 6 babies. One was sold before it was born and the other sold shortly thereafter. The photos above and below are the 4 babies that I raised (Gwen, Ava, Razzo and Wrigley) plus one grandfilly!
AND THE GRANDFILLY…
ALL THIS JOY MAMA TESS HAS BROUGHT TO ME…
Which is why I will do anything to make her better.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!!
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