Royal Toumalet SPF
Owner: Joanna Gray-Randle, New York
Standing at: Performance Sporthorses and Select Breeders Service
Royal Tourmalet SPF at one day old.
Joanna Gray-Randle bought her stallion because of War Horse
, a play that she and her husband saw at Lincoln Center in New York.
She’d first met Royal Tourmalet when he was just a twinkle in his mother’s eye. Joanna taught a clinic at Sandpiper Farm, LLC, in New York, home of breeder Gina Leslie. Gina invited Joanna to meet her broodmares, and one of them was in foal to Royal Prince. Joanna was intrigued, but “I wasn’t in the market for a foal at all.”
Later that year, “my husband and I attended the play War Horse
at Lincoln Center. When they brought the Joey foal puppet on stage, I was overcome with emotion, as I had recently lost my horse. As my husband and I were driving home from the play, I mused out loud ‘I wonder if those foals are still at the farm, and if they are for sale.’ My husband said, ‘call and find out.’ So I made an appointment to go see the colt the following week and bought him on the spot. I named him Royal Tourmalet SPF, and his initials R.T. became the barn name ‘Artie.’”
It was the beginning of a treasured friendship. “Besides the breeder, I am his only owner… now and forever.
“As a foal, Artie was easy-going and enjoyed learning. He has always been ruled by his stomach, so a small handful of something yummy would entertain him while you tried new things.”
As Royal Tourmalet progressed, Joanna decided to keep him a stallion. “Artie’s temperament and conformation were wonderful, so I decided to pursue the stallion route. He was special from the very beginning and I believe he reminded me, in many ways, of the lovely horses I’ve had over the years; he seemed to be the best of all of them. Without a doubt, his unimpeachable temperament was and is the main reason I acquired him and pursued the stallion route.
“I spent every day with Artie from the moment I acquired him. I was deeply saddened when I had to send him away to live with boys. He couldn’t stay at the breeder’s farm with all the mares. I was joyous to bring him back to my home when he was two and a half years old. Whenever we went to breed shows, I was with him, hanging out in his stall, loving all over him. I began all the ground work with him and he took to every bit of education like a superstar. He wanted to learn, loved to work and never showed a difficult side. Artie always wanted to please. The winter of his two-year-old year, we had lots of ice and I could not get him out of his stall for over two weeks. I used that time to introduce a bit and a surcingle, then added long lines. I stood in the middle of his 14 x 14 stall and long lined him around the perimeter. As always, he was a superstar.
“I competed Artie all over New England as a four-year old, and rode at Dressage at Devon; he never put a foot wrong. To ride him into the Dixon Oval at Devon, under the lights, and be presented with a trophy was a deeply moving experience. My then-four-year old stallion stood like a statue, with my reins at the buckle, and loved on all the presenters—truly magical.”
One class went a little differently. “We had completed the Four-Year-Old class, and I had just ridden down to face the judging panel at C. They began their analysis of my ride, and I was standing there, on the buckle, listening to the critique. It was a very hot, muggy and buggy day, and I had put an ear bonnet on Artie to keep the annoying gnats out of his ears. He had been sweating due to the humidity, and the sweat was rolling down the sides of his face. He gave an almighty shake, and the bonnet slipped off over his soft ears, taking the bridle with it. My amazing four-year old stallion didn’t move a muscle, just stood bridleless, with the ear bonnet akimbo. I slid off, snugged the reins around his neck, picked his bridle up off the ground and began to tack him back up. Clearly a true testament to his incredible calm nature and wonderful temperament.”
At home, Artie loves dogs, especially Joanna’s Labradors, and kids. “His best buddy is a pony named Cupcake; they absolutely adore each other, and Artie has been known to pass his hay through the bars to Cupcake.”
This is a particularly eloquent testimonial to their friendship, because Artie’s very favorite thing in life is food. “Artie’s favorite thing to do, in a word, is eat. Period. I have never known a horse consume as much hay as Artie can. He does enjoy his turn-out time and watching the ‘goings on’ at the farm, but truthfully, he’d rather be in his stall with a bunch of hay."
Joanna’s favorite show memory is “the very first dressage test I did with him as a 3-year old. We were in front of an Olympic level judge who absolutely loved him. I am smiling in every picture taken of that ride, and Artie was just wonderful.” Royal Tourmalet is always good when he’s taken off the property—“Of course, I just have to take lots and lots of hay…
“He truly is a very sweet and willing stallion. He has balance, both mentally and physically. He has mastered the art of talking to me in soft nickers, which inevitably lead to treats. He can be trusted with everyone, from child to amateur, he has that generous of a spirit.”