Breeding News and Announcements

Cabardino 2017 USEF Hunter Sire

We'd like to offer special congratulations to Augustin and Christine Walch and W. Charlot Farms (Stratford, Ontario) on their impressive accomplishments recognized by USEF this year! Their stallion Cabardino (Carpaccio x Gaspari I) was named USEF Hunter Sire for 2017, and Augustin and W. Charlot Farms were USEF Hunter Breeder of the Year as well. Cabardino is shown above playing in the snow at home. ...read more

WSNA News

"Marketing is Enthusiasm Transferred ..."

I LOVE this! "Marketing is enthusiasm transferred to the customer." -Gregory Ciotti. Because in my world, it's true. Marketing within the sport horse breeding community is most of what I do. I help stallion owners market their stallions; I design websites, ads, and other marketing pieces; and of course I market my own services. And this is a really great definition of what I do, what stallion owners do, and why we do it. ...read more

Article

Old Data and New Research On Gestation Length

A recent article in the Kentucky Equine Research Equinews library of articles points out new research on what the "normal" length of gestation is for mares - but mares are not known for reading the same book you did. The point of the article is that our expectation of normal - 340 days - was determined over 50 years ago - and only with Thoroughbreds in northern European countries. But pregnancy lengths are different all the time, even for the same mare bred to the same stallion with other obvious factors the same. ...read more

Stallion Stories

ES Donavan

Owner: Wendy Costello
Farm: Kent Island Sporthorses
Maryland

Wendy Costello has owned ES Donavan for fifteen years, and treasures so many memories of him. When she thinks of her stallion, now 29, she pictures "his eye, soulful look, and his big head wrapped around me." After a career as a Grand Prix dressage horse, "he came to retire here with me on my farm in Maryland. We are together several times a day. He comes when I call, he enjoys my touch, and I love his hugs." Wendy's other favorite mental image is of Donavan, ridden by JJ Tate, "doing a lovely extended trot." It still fills her with a sense of wonder that she was also able to ride him herself. "He was a Grand Prix stallion and I am an amateur with limited dressage experience - yet I took lessons on him and was able to experience a flying change, piaffe and of course walk/trot/canter on him. He was very tolerant!"

Donavan's life story reads like a novel. Imported from Germany with a group of other Hanoverians by a mysterious syndicate, he was moved from trainer to trainer during his first few years, always moving on because of financial pressures. Eventually, he came to rest in a barn in Wisconsin, where he was found by a woman looking for a dressage stallion. She bought Donavan and placed him in training with George Williams, but the situation - which seemed at first like a fairytale rescue - only lasted a few years.

Wendy and her husband Marty, who lived in Wisconsin at the time, entered the picture to become Donavan's final rescuers. Although owning a stallion had never been in their plans, the Costellos slid sideways into stallion ownership, acquiring him when the previous owner defaulted on a contract, spiraled into financial ruin, and then fled with the horse to North Carolina.

"His owner fell on hard times, largely created by her own doing, and Donavan was in danger of being sold at auction by a bank. It was 1999.

"We never planned to buy a stallion, but I had gotten to know him, and I realized he needed saving. We had to go through a very long and unpleasant period of time in legal battle to get Donavan safe in our custody with his papers intact."

It was during this time that Wendy pieced together Donavan's past, finding that, "many kind people along the way helped keep him safe: George Williams, Hilda Gurney, Dieter Felgendreher, James Koford, Betsy Steiner, Michelle Gibson and others - all giants in dressage.

"I could not have found a better stallion. Once he was ours, I had to keep him. He has changed my life for the better."

Wendy placed Donavan in training with JJ Tate, also then in Wisconsin, and she became "his Lady." They competed in dresssage at I-1 to Grand Prix, and also performed at many special events. "He loved the spotlight, literally, and especially venues like Midwest Horse Fair, and Horse Expo, and Equine Affair. He was fine with music, spotlights, crowds cheering, flags, big signs, horses wearing feathers, and armor and donkeys going by. He was a showman. He and JJ drew crowds and have fans to this day that came out each year hoping to see him, to come by and pat him."

After his storybook life and competition career, Donavan enjoys retirement, hanging out with the other animals on the farm, talking to the mares and foals, standing in front of his fan, and getting attention and treats. But his legacy lives on. "Donavan deserved to be rediscovered and appreciated and to live a good life. I wanted to do that for him. And it is still happening!

"His best qualities are his kind temperament, soft eye, good work ethic, wonderful conformation, and talent for sport - and now his proven longevity. He is a superior sire of wonderful offspring."

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