Excited?…. not really, expectant?…. well maybe, accomplishedhappysatisfied covers the feeling but can’t think of just one word that describes how Dale and I will meet 2017, maybe enlightened….
But before we go forward, let us go back a bit….
Deacons Gate Shires has a new web site, this site where you are reading now.. thanks to a chance meeting one December morning 2015, in a car dealership customer waiting lounge, (I will assume that everyone chats to others waiting.. it’s not really weird.. is it?) anyway.. I was chatting to an interesting fellow that tells me he “creates web sites” more as a side interest, he confides, whilst he and his wife work on their ultimate business destination. We had been umming and ahhing about upgrading our site, but other things were a priority and at the time, life for us was rather mundane, Dale & I were working full time to supplement our real love, breeding Shire horses, which when thinking about it in context to this little conversation, our ultimate destination was already our reality and life was grand. As with all chance meetings, after discussion, details and affirmations shared, we drove our respective cars away and immersed ourselves back to our individual worlds.
In rolling back the diary to complete our first blog for the new site, I noted the last actual entry, in my head it only seemed a year, was February 2015. All those great intentions, what started out as monthly entries went biannually, to annually and then nothing.. I say, the rigours of planning and preparations within our Shire lives consumed us to complete distraction… there you go… explanation sorted! All quips aside, much has happened and our reality that was so grand, nearly ended by the end of 2016.
Recap … 2015
Mobility restrictions continued to bug me following ligament surgery in November 2014, pain with every step, sleeping, sitting – it didn’t matter. In order to manage the pain I just took more and more pain killers, ate them like mints so that I could just keep walking… until interstate competitions ended I reasoned whilst crunching through another pill. Initially I was advised all sorts of issues and bought inserts/did physio/new shoes/creams and herbs/diet, but nothing removed the pain and I became frustrated. I was astounded with the variety of diagnosis as the months progressed, none of them did anything to alleviate the foot pain, just drained the wallet.
Meanwhile, Dale’s little Mazda 121 finally ran out of puff faithfully achieving 500,000 kilometers since Dale bought it new 19 years before, we gave the little red car a farewell salute for all the memories and service whilst sitting in the new Mitsubishi Outlander, aircon on, electronic everything, leather seats, satnav…. a limousine compared to the 121. Dale and I, plus our rider, Louise Cooper, trooped off to NSW just a few weeks after buying it to compete in NSW. Attending two interstate events was challenging with never having done it before, but Salazar & Louise did Deacons Gate Shires proud. Sydney Royal they were pipped at the post for first in led but came fifth in the ridden line up of twelve, at the National Shire Horse Show they took out Champion Shire Stallion and Supreme Shire Champion.
On returning home we were all exhausted, elated at our achievements in NSW but we decided not to compete at our local Heavy Horse show in May opting to focus on our QLD Royal competition in August. Unfortunately our horse trainer, Jess Carpenter, broke her ankle a week before the event and we had to withdraw, ending our 2015 competition schedule.
As a consequence of winding up the competition training schedule for 2015, it became evident the mint chewing habit was presenting other problems, I returned to the surgeon who finally confirmed plantar fasciitis in both feet and referred me for Lithotripsy shock wave treatments. Whilst aiming to be able to walk pain free, I was warned this may not be achieved. We decided to just stop all horse competitions until further notice and got on with running our stud. Our only pregnant mare was due September so we busied ourselves preparing for the birth. Devastatingly Duchess’s foal was still born and we were knocked sideways with this sad loss.
We grieved alongside Duchess and paced our return to routine the best way we could. In due course we presented Duchess for cover by Salazar, she didn’t take and cycled. Before covering again we took Salazar in to be checked and discovered he was shooting blanks. Another blow and we were back to decisions again. We organised a dose of Luscombe What’s Wanted semen and inseminated Duchess, she was confirmed in foal 7 days later and we booked Salazar in for gelding February 2016.
One of the mundane tasks completed in December was to have a new key electronically coded to the van, it was the reason I was at the customer service centre that morning and met Albert, the ‘web designer on the side’ fellow. We exchanged cards and I sent an initial email but didn’t follow up, it just wasn’t a priority. Christmas rolled through as it always does and 2016 was soon in play, my feet were progressing well with the Lithotripsy treatments and whilst Deacons Gate Shires was fielding a number of setbacks, we felt we would bounce back in no time.
So Salazar was gelded in February 2016 but instead of a textbook recovery he had multiple complications and spent many weeks away whilst he recovered. Costs to breed horses without a resident stallion were calculated and we decided to purchase Shandell Park Lucius. Lucius arrived 30/03/2016 having won Supreme Shire at Sydney Royal the week before. Salazar eventually arrived home and has settled well into life with the mares, he is for sale but only to the best of forever homes south of here due to suffering QLD itch.
May arrived and on receipt of an invitation to show off our new stallion, we attended our local event, Gatton Heavy Horses. We enlisted Louise’s help to strap for us and we proudly introduced Lu, whilst the competition outcomes were disappointing our weekend was fantastic. We manned the Shire Horse Breeders Australia society stand over the weekend and introduced our Luscious Lucius to a whole swath of new Shire converts. May was a busy month, the truck and trailer headed off to Drum Horse breeders in NSW, we said sayonara to the Kia Carnival as we bought the Mazda BT so that we could tow the newly commissioned Otto Tuza float that arrived in June. We thought we were through the worst of bad outcomes and looking forward with excitement with Cerefin confirmed in foal to Lucius.
July 10th and our happy world crashed and crumbled around our ears, our beautiful courageous and determined Cerefin died of a sudden heart attack. We miss this girl; she lived through such pain, survived two rare and usually fatal conditions but you would never know looking at her, she loved a scratch and cuddle, towered at 17.1 hands despite warnings she would never flourish and she was at least a year free of any concerns, we even had the University equine specialists clear our plans to cover her, it was inconceivable she was gone along with her little foal inside her. Our Cerefin was revered and although she never presented at show in her four short years, she was a giant in our world, taught us many things, her existence was precious to us and will always be loved.
We realised with now only one brood mare Deacons Gate Shires was not sustainable, searches for Shire mares for sale were unsuccessful and we determined our fate to the sex of the foal due in October 2016, a filly and we battle on, a colt and we just sell up and move on. Well October delivered a vivacious and feisty filly into our world so our decision was done, battle on we go. Sadly the delight of a new foal born, a pregnancy confirmation for Duchess, new vehicles, a float and plans in place to find a new brood mare were all set aside as our beloved foundation mare, Southern Cross Celestial Pearl presented with uterine infection that was not responding to treatment. Her health was determined to be strong enough to cope with surgery to remove the uterus, without removal Pearl would die an agonising painful death, we scheduled the surgery 16th November with expectations Pearl would be home in no time.
We were not prepared when the surgeon called in tears to say our Pearl had had a fatal reaction to the pre-med drugs given prior to anaesthesia and died on the spot. The Scenic Rim Veterinary team were deeply shocked with Pearl’s passing, they managed all expenses and buried our Pearl in a beautiful area on their property where the wind swishes soothingly through the trees and the birds sing their greetings every day. We thought it was hard to keep going after Cerefin’s passing, it was agony just to breathe, Pearl was our very first Shire mare and her passing was unexpected and painful.
We were constantly discussing how we were going to manage, where will we find a mare to step into our breeding program and can she be covered by our stallion. The lady that sold us her Shire Stallion contacted out of the blue and offered two mares, not full Shire mares but proven breeding mares, a B grade Shire and Clydesdale, that will produce quality sport horses for sale until the full Shire fillies come of age for breeding. Our first mare, Mingara Charlotte arrived 14th December and Murroka Lucile will arrive once her latest foal at foot is weaned. Charlotte is a delight, black, four white socks, a cheeky personality that presents far younger than her 11 years and confirmed in foal to Shandell Park Lionheart.
Deacons Gate Shires has accomplished a lot in the Eight years we’ve been breeding Shires and whilst our hearts are heavy to have lost three Shires in the past two years, we also gain three new horses that keep our stud viable and we look forward to the arrival of three foals in late 2017. My feet have healed with a final treatment on the stubborn inflamed cells finally shocking them out of existence, after years of razor blade agony walking without pain is such bliss. I am so happy to relinquish the Disability parking permit that has aided me this past year to manage getting about, down side is I return to parking fees of $5 per day at work. First world problems aside, we feel satisfaction to have worked through our losses, happiness to still be Shire Breeders, we welcome you to our new site and wish all a happy and prosperous 2017.