The Mare Search Continues – Part 2

New Focus

Last time, on Lantern Farm, disappointed with my search for a mare thus far and inspired by the work of the Livestock Conservancy organization I have decided to align my goals of breeding, raising, and training horses with my goals of conserving at risk native and heirloom breeds and species by switching to a horse breed that doesn’t number in the millions worldwide and instead is at risk of going extinct. There were three such horse breeds under consideration: Akhal-tekes, Canadians, and Cleveland Bays.

Step one was to talk over the new plan with Nate and get his opinion, and yes, his opinion does matter. He was not a big fan of the Akhal-tekes and to be fair they have a very distinct and unique look which doesn’t appeal to everyone. He also pointed out that they were literally born and bred for life in the desert and Minnesota ≠ desert. And if we’re being totally honest, I’m vain enough to want to look good while riding a horse and words that I would use to describe Akhal-tekes include ones like “delicate” and “refined” and those two words have never, in my life, been used to describe me.

That got it narrowed down to Canadians and Cleveland Bays.

Step two was talking with an acquaintance of mine who has spent her entire life working in a wide variety of horse related fields and endeavors with a wide variety of breeds. She has a breadth and depth of knowledge regarding horses that few people have. She said the Cleveland Bays she’s worked with have been very athletic horses who were beautiful movers, but she never liked the personality of a single one and would never choose to work with them if given the choice. She has also had the opportunity to work with Canadian horses and had a friend who raised Canadian horses back in the day and they were also athletic horses and good movers, but had the extra bonus of being likeable. She said she liked every Canadian horse she ever worked with. Therefore, her recommendation was to search for a Canadian mare.

She and I also had a long talk about conformation and breeding. After all my research on horse conformation I have gotten pretty good at identifying faults and flaws with a horse but I don’t necessary know how to rank those faults in terms of importance. I liken it to grading. Students make all sorts of mistakes, but some mistakes are minor, and the student has clearly done A or B work, but other mistakes are worse and indicate C or D level work, then of course there are the “you have literally no clue what you are doing, here is your F” mistakes. I felt confident in my ability to distinguish “A” or “F” horses, but not as confident in my ability to distinguish between the vast majority that fall somewhere in the middle. The reality is that finding a horse with “perfect” conformation was always rare but has become even rarer now that society no longer literally runs on horse power and people have lost touch with what makes a horse not just good looking but also healthy and sound for the long haul. The “A” horses are now rarer than ever and the ones that are out there are totally out of my budget. This means I need to instead be focusing my efforts on identifying the “B’s” (which is still a really good grade) from the “C’s” and “D’s.” I’m optimistic that now, after having spent some time working with her, I can do that. Hopefully.

Thus my search for a mare worth breeding has begun again but with the new focus on finding a solid, but not perfect, Canadian mare. As of right I have found four possibilities and two of them have a great deal of potential. I’m just waiting on more pictures, videos, and information. Fingers crossed I find this mare soon!

Barn Building Update 5

All Trussed UP

Work continues on the barn, the first four posts can be found here – update 1, and here – update 2, and here – update 3, and here – update 4.

At the end of Update 4 they had gotten most of the framing done on the sides and the north end-wall and were getting ready for trusses. 

Watching the trusses go up was a little anxiety inducing. They are large, LARGE, and getting them from their stacked pile and up in place was not an easy feat, or so I imagine. All I did was sit and the house and watch from the upstairs windows, but that was stressful enough for me.

The trusses of course don’t just sit there on their own and need to have all sorts of other things including the purlins installed along the top and additional boards along the bottom of the trusses, which I can’t find the official name for.

Things were moving along smoothly but a large project wouldn’t be one of our large projects without some sort of hiccup. The worst storm we have had all summer blew threw with ridiculous straight line winds. Nate and I watched with mounting concern as the wind just whipped by until the power went out and we opted to hangout in the staircase. Once the storm had abated we checked everything out and all appeared to be well. Except for the port-a-potty. Unfortunately the barn wasn’t quite as untouched as it appeared. The next day when the crew inspected everything it turned out that the storm winds pushed the bracing posts on the north end out of position and everything had shifted about four inches out of square so the rest of the week was spent putting things to rights.

In the end they lost about a weeks worth of work having to reset everything but in the grand scheme of things it could have been much worse. The following week they got back on track and slowly finished out the trusses and the framing.

Once all the trusses were installed they put up the south end-wall up and poured the final concrete into the post holes on the post holes on the south end and finished up the ones near the north end that they had run out of concrete for the first time around.

The city inspector was out Monday to sign-off on the work done so far. Now on to the metal siding!

The Mare Search Continues – Part 1


The search for my next mare, the one that will be the cornerstone of my breeding efforts, has been ongoing and frustrating. I have “known” for as long as I can remember that there are a lot of problems within the horse industry, particularly with starting horses too hard, too fast, and too young and breeding horses for the wrong reasons, usually for fancy names on a piece of paper or for fancy color. Sure that stud has terrible conformation and went lame at four and is utterly unrideable, “but he’s a blue roan!” That is literally what one lady said to me when I expressed concern about her choice of stallion.

At first, I thought that this utter dearth of sound horses with good conformation could work in my favor. Purposely and intentionally seeking out healthy, sane, sound, horses with good conformation to breed would inherently improve my odds of having foals that were healthy, sane, sound horses themselves and that would help me stand out in a very crowded market; it would make my horses something special and worth having. The longer I searched though, the more I realized that a large proportion of riders and horse people don’t have a clue what good conformation is and why it matters. They have simply accepted the current reality where horses are lame by twelve and need corrective shoeing, yearly injections, and all sorts of other maintenance just to stay rideable. This has become the new normal and very few people seem to be questioning it.

I put that word “known” in quotes in the first paragraph because in today’s current world lots of people “know” things that are in fact total bullshit and when I first started this search my “knowing” was based on very hazy remembrance of 4-H horse judging practice sessions, various presentations attended at horse expos and clinics, and my own personal experiences. But that knowledge wasn’t based on any source I could point to and as mare after mare fell short of my expectations I started to wonder if my “knowing” was in fact bullshit and if maybe I was the one out of touch with reality. I have thus spent much of the summer seeking out verifiable references and knowledgeable people with true study and experience behind them to ground my knowing in reality. These sources did confirm my knowledge and I am far more confident and comfortable in declaring that I do actually know what good conformation looks like and that it is in fact important! They also confirmed that  yes, the horse world today is filled with crappy conformation; and yes, horses are in fact started way too hard, way too fast, and way too young; and that yes, the combination of these two things is behind many of the lameness issues horses and their people have to contend with. Below is a list of the references I have been consulting.

Horse Conformation References

Where does that leave me, other than being frustrated and still horseless?

Upon completion of The Modern Racehorse, I returned the book to the library by actually walking into the library and handing it to an actual librarian, as a book that age is due. Once in the library I couldn’t just leave without taking a turn through the stacks and while perusing I found The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery. Another truly amazing book which I will talk more about in a future post, but relevant here was a reference to The Livestock Conservancy, an organization dedicated to the conservation of endangered livestock breeds. While checking out their website I noticed there was a horse category, and within the horse category were a number of breeds I had heard of but several I had not and then it hit me. Why waste my time, effort, energy, and money on trying to fix a breed that numbers literally in the millions and that has drifted so far from the breed standard and good conformation that any good I did in my breeding efforts would be but a single drop of rain in the ocean when there are really nice horse breeds out there whose populations are genuinely in jeopardy and for whom my efforts would make a tangible and lasting difference? Most of the horse breeds listed are not suitable for my personal goals being either too small (there are many pony and small horse breeds on the list) or draft horses who are meant to pull things and are not well suited to riding. That left three breeds that are riding horses capable of doing a variety of disciplines and that naturally get up to at least 16 hands tall or taller:


I found this photo on Wikipedia –


I found this photo on the Breyer Horse website as this was the horse they used as their model for the Canadian Breyer horse – 

Cleveland Bay 

I found this photo on the Livestock Conservancy website – 

Next step – a new mare search with a new focus, but which breed should we pursue?