Dowager Club


Arabian Horse World Magazine Article

Kim and Dirk

September 1991 Issue Photo Caption: Dirk and Kim Johnston with, from left to right, Cedarlane Gay-Gi (Abu Baha x GiGi by age 26; Miss Nateza (Abu Farwa x Nateza by *Witez Il), age 28; and Mulaana (Jezaan x Muletta by Muhuli), age 25. "What a collection of memories they must share," says Kim. "They have taught us so much. We are truly blessed by their graceful, ageless beauty and serene presence. Their quiet wisdom and timelessness speaks volumes of the dignity and essence that is the Arabian horse."


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"It was 4:00 a.m. and I sat in the foaling stall reflecting on the miracle taking place before me," says Kim "It was a miracle in many Johnston. ways: first that a 27-year-old mare would be foaling naturally with no problems, and secondly that she was one of a very few that still passed on the lineage of the greats that had gone before her.

"Her name is Miss Nateza and she is sired by the great Abu Farwa and out of another great, the broodmatron Nateza, sired by *Witez Il. In stature and looks, Miss Nateza appears more like her *Witez Il lineage than the Abu Farwa blood. However, the colt that she had just proudly brought into the world was solid Abu Farwa in appearance.

Teza is a bay with only a star, snip and couple of coronets. However, her colt is a blazing chestnut with full blaze and complementing four stockings — a strong, vigorous colt who totally belies the old mare/weak foal syndrome. Teza looks at him and nickers, gets up and walks over to me. Pushing her head into my chest, she seems to be saying, 'I have presented you with a gift . son, to carry on your next generation. Please consider him wisely.'

"And a gift he is indeed. The culmination of 19 years of involvement with 210 • ARABIAN HORSE WORLD • SEPT 91 Arabian horses, he is the most like his sire, Belesemo Trad, of all his offspring ... the spitting image of my spring mental Abu Farwa' horse.

"Teza and I have a unique relationship. She was foaled when i was five years old and who would have thought that 28 years later we would impact one another's lives in this way. Teza reflects the wisdom of the ancients in her eyes and the eternal spirit of the Arabian horse is her very essence. Although she only entered my life in the spring of 1989, it seems as if we have known one another all of our lives.

"Teza herself was a gift, sent from Michael and Ann Bowling of The New Albion Stud in Davis, California. Knowing my love of and fascination for for the Abu Farwa horses, Michael felt that Teza should come live with and be appreciated by me. Michael had arranged for Teza and another of his mares, Naliza, to be transported to Idaho to be bred to our senior stallion, Belesemo Trad. My excitement knew no bounds when I understood that he was send- ing us a direct Abu Farwa daughter. However, when I received her signed, original registration papers in the mail shortly thereafter, a quick telephone call confirmed the Bowlings' generosity. Michael's comment that he 'knew she would be appreciated in our breeding program' was a high compliment indeed.

"Teza arrived in June 1989 in wonderful health, totally denying her age as she walked off the trailer — she looked 16, not 26. According to our veterinarian, only her teeth reveal that she is advancing in years. Quickly, she let me know her likes and dislikes, such as being confined in small pens or box stalls. But she loved her pasture and quickly picked out a couple of our more timid, older mares as her constant companions.

"Teza's queen-like qualities soon became apparent. She is a gentle mare who never makes a fuss except when confined, and even then it is a quiet, dignified, "I don't like this" pacing. We are happy to grant her request at not being stalled, although she did humor us at foaling time, as long as one of her companions was next to her.

"Upon her arrival, Teza settled in and within two weeks, showed a heat cycle. She was covered once, and to our great surprise, she settled immediately and then quietly undertook the long wait. We've had quite a bit of experience with older broodmares, as over half of our broodmare band of 15 mares are dowagers past the age of 20. Usually, we suture and administer progesterone to assist mares as advanced in age as Teza. However, she did not require this help, and didn't really show her approaching motherhood until the ninth month.

"Visitors to the ranch have inquired about our secrets for keeping our dowagers producing. First on our list of priorities is their mental health and well being. What keeps them the most contented? Do they prefer to spend days out in pasture and come in at night or do they prefer to spend both days and nights out during the summer months? Which other mares do they prefer as special companions? Which ones enjoy the antics and constant commotion of the foal pasture and which ones prefer solitude? We attempt to provide them with ideal conditions that will ensure their highest level of contentment and the least amount of fuss in their lives.

"Secondly, we believe very strongly in the natural vitamins and minerals provided in grass versus hay. We, of course, have to feed hay in the winter, but during the spring and summer months, we try to have our old ladies in knee deep grass as much as We often find that a mare that has stopped cycling in the winter and spring months will resume follicle formation in the later summer months of July through October, after she has been allowed access to the rich, early, mineral laden spring grass. We very rarely begin a teasing program on our dowagers before April, as past experience has shown us most dowagers are not producing follicles until June/July at the earliest, after they have received the maximum number of daylight hours and grass nutrients. We have also explored putting mares under lights earlier in the year, but have found With the dowagers that there IS an uncanny connection between I grass itself and the light that does for follicle maturity Since we are not after that early foal for the show ring, we do not particularly care when our dowagers conceive. We are most concerned with just getting a foal. We almost two complete different breeding seasons: March through June for our younger mares, and July through November for our dowagers.

"Third, we culture and do cytologies on each dowager every spring before we start breeding. We will do a uterine biopsy on a mare if she continues to cycle after three breeding cycles to tell us if we are dealing with a scarred uterus and the extent thereof versus a mare that cannot produce enough progesterone to maintain the fetus once she has conceived. Each mare is treated on an individual basis, as the problems can be varied. We also like to keep the actual rectal or vaginal palpations to a minimum we prefer to find out her breeding status the old-fashioned way, with mare and stallion.

"Also, if a mare has a sunken anus, we caslick suture her, once we are fairly sure of the pregnancy. We also pull progesterone level tests on the suspected mares at various times through the first four months of pregnancy. If needed, we administer 10 cc of oral regumate daily. We do not use fancy, sophisticated techniques to get our dowagers in foal, nor do we consider ourselves experts in dealing with old mares. We just use good common observation techniques and time spent with them. We also float our dowagers teeth every spring and fall and they receive their routine shots and worming. However, we worm them only if a fecal sample indicates the need, as we truly feel that the old horses are more susceptible to possible colic's from upset stomachs due to wormers. We also feed straight alfalfa hay with rolled barley and corn in the winter months for extra nutrition.

"Most important of all: We let each mare tell us whether or not she is finished producing. Mental and physical health and the ability to maintain ideal weight and flesh throughout pregnancy and motherhood are the most telling factors, in addition to the difficulty or ease of her last delivery.

"In Teza's case, she foaled quite easily and nursed her colt through his fifth month in good flesh and health. We debated highly whether or not to breed her and decided that she herself would let us know if enough was enough. We even considered embryo transplant, but our vet assured us that Teza herself can quite easily carry another foal, and marvels at her apparent health and vigor.

"Teza has had 13 foals sired by such illustrious stallions as Na Ibn Fadjur, Courier, Mon-Bo, Ansata Shah Zam, *Ramses El Dar, First Class and Ben Rabba, to name a few. At 28, she is still the picture of youth, and we have currently rebred her and are awaiting the results. If she decides that she has had enough, so be it. She will live out her remaining years here at Belesemo Arabian Ranch.

"Teza's best friends and pasture partners are Mulaana Oedaan x Muletta by Muhuli) who at age 26 is currently checked back in foal to Trad and will also foal at age 27, Lord willing; and Cedarlane Gay-Gi (Abu Baha x Gigi by *(Serafix) also age 26. Both of these ladies also have special stories all their own to tell.

"In the soft summer Idaho evenings, as I stand at the fence and watch them grazing, I can just imagine their pasture conversations:
'Boy, Teza, that Belesemo Trad is quite the Romeo!'
'I know, Mulaana — why at 19, he's such a cute, young thing!'
'You know, Gay, he reminds me of... ' as they slowly walk out of hearing downfield."

Then and Now . . . Belesemo Arabians

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