Dreaming of Gold by Shelley Dodd

September 11, 2008

Written by Shelley Dodd from Foundation Morgan Blog


It’s two days
before the BIG day and I’ve been waiting a long time. Two days from now
my dream horse arrives! I know you’re probably thinking “dream horse, wow
that’s a tall order to fill!” You are right about that. I do have a lot
of high hopes for this horse!

My story began about three years
ago when I first took at look at Wendy LeGate’s website at www.OGOMorganHorses.com.
Her farm is Old Growth Oak Morgans in Hollister, California. If you’ve never
looked at her website, you’ll find a wealth of information on Foundation
Morgan Horse bloodlines. And wow, such passion and an obvious love for the
Morgan breed.  I called her because I was interested in a yet to be
born foal IF she turned out to be a filly. Wendy and I had a nice long chat
talking about Higuera Bandido (see her website), bloodlines and all that
fun stuff. The foal was born but unfortunately, it was a colt…so that was
that for the time being.

Wendy and I did keep in touch here and there. In the course of conversations
she would mention her stallion OGO Windswept Soleil who was up in Canada
at the time. I looked at his photos and pedigree analysis so I could learn
a bit more about him. What a pedigree treasure he is with all that old California
Working Western. His dam Woodrose Katrina was all old California Working
Western. She was a working reining cow horse bred and trained for ranch work. Not only was
she talented at work but she had a sweet personality to boot. Katrina’s
lines were working ranch horses that had to prove themselves on the job.
The closer lines were of Sid Spencer’s breeding program in California whose
lines then go back to all Sellman breeding.

Soleil’s sire CanDon Joshua Danny was bred in Canada and was shown in trail,
English and western. He was sold to Jo Johnson of Jaquima a Freno Morgans
in Tivy Vallen, California who uses him to work cattle, ride in the high
country, practice dressage and sire some outstanding offspring. The whole
line is very people oriented with excellent dispositions. Shatona Karzan,
Soleil’s grandsire was winning shows even when there was a huge color bias.
Then there is Red Vermont several times throughout Soleil’s sire line, him
being the son of the great Jubilee King. The sire side of Soleil’s pedigree
is mostly Working Western also of Sellman breeding. The forethought that
went into breeding these horses is impressive with the same theme repeated

Soleil was Wendy’s first Foundation Morgan foal and I could tell he meant
the world to her. Later, I heard he was at Nora Boman-Knight’s place (Vintage
Morgans) in Coeur d’Alene, ID and was going to be transported back to Wendy’s.
Then eventually Soleil ended up standing for Lennie Randall’s Questor Morgans
in California where he stayed for about a year. 

In the meantime, I had started looking
for a broke Morgan to be my riding horse. I have a beautiful Foundation
Morgan Working Western mare named TK Mandolay (Vining Lamar x Miss Chatelaine)
that I bought from Terry Jensen of T-K Morgans in Southern Idaho. I’ll stop
here and talk a little about Terry Jensen and her Working Western breeding
program. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Terry’s place a few times now
and gotten to see some fine examples of Foundation Morgans including the
stallions Vining Lamar and Looking Good along with some wonderful mares
and foals. If you’ve ever met Terry, you know that she is a tough cowgirl
(I mean that with respect) who has worked very hard for the breed. She’s
extremely knowledgeable and willing to share what she knows…which is a lot.

So back to my story…I did take my
mare to be started but of course she was still very green. Also, she was
in foal, then not in foal, then back to Terry’s for breeding so I decided
she would be a broodmare for a while and I would look for a Morgan who is
already broke.

Trouble is, I’m very picky. I know what I want and didn’t want to settle
for less. My wish list included…Foundation Morgan, 5-10 years old, 14.3
plus hands, must be pretty with a nice head, good mover and good conformation,
must be broke, must like to be fussed over, have trail experience, good
manners and above all…good temperament…a safe horse for my 5 year old to
be around too. Well, now you know why it took 3 years to find such a horse.
There is definitely a shortage of broke Morgans for sale out there. No one
wants to sell their good riding Morgan horse!

Anyway, whenever Wendy and I talked,
I’d ask if she had heard of any horses for sale that fit what I’m looking
for. The answer was always nope, not yet.

In the meantime, Wendy sent me some photos of
Soleil that Lennie Randall had taken. He was so beautiful that I nearly
fell out of my chair. First of all, to give credit where credit is due…Lennie
takes wonderful horse photos, but shoot, Soleil was drop dead gorgeous.
The last time I saw him in a photo was when he was about 2 years old and
in these photos he was 5 years old. He had matured into a deep gold with
a silver/white mane and tail with super nice conformation too and nice soft
eyes. Wow and wow. I thought if I had a horse that looked like that…well
I don’t know what I’d do because I’d be beside myself with joy to look at
such a specimen!   But dream on…right?

But then around the spring of 2007
I got a call from Wendy that started it all. In the course of the conversation,
she said “what would you think about buying Soleil?” My heart skipped a
beat and I was sorta shocked because Wendy knew I wasn’t really in the market
for a stallion. So I asked her what she’s thinking.  Basically she
said she planned on collecting him and was thinking of gelding him. She
thought he’d be perfect for me knowing what I was looking for.

Well shoot needless to say I was
very shocked but then the wheels started turning…imagining riding him and
all the things I could do with him. We had a few more conversations about
him and I felt hopeful but decided I would not get too excited yet.
Then as luck would have it, it looked like it wasn’t going to work out.
There were some breeders that wanted foals from him and Wendy wanted to
make that happen. I don’t blame her at all as gelding him would be a very
big decision to have to make. I knew it was kind of a long shot anyway.

So, I kept looking at horse for
sale sites and breeder websites. Nora Boman-Knight of Vintage Morgans in
Coeur D’Alene, Idaho had a real nice mare (since sold). Nora and I went
trail riding so I could test her out. I had met Nora about a year or two
earlier when I went to her place to meet her and her Morgans. Nora’s breeding
program is primarily Foundation Working Western with a focus on breeding
sport horses. She has some really nice mares and for her it’s a priority
to train and ride them as a test of disposition and athletic ability.

Her place is only about 30 minutes from my husbands’ parent’s farm so it
was neat that I could have the opportunity to go and visit. Nora is always
so warm and welcoming and it’s always fun to see her fine Morgans (some
of which are related to my mare) and meet the new foals. I was lucky enough
to see the stallion Sir Danes Sire Storm (aka Stormy) before he passed away
in early 2008. I had heard a lot about Stormy so it was neat to see him
in person and let me tell you he was definitely all that! When Stormy passed
on, it was such a loss to the breed but I was thankful that I was fortunate
to have seen such a magnificent tribute in person.

Anyway, back to the trail ride. This mare was a super nice broke trail horse
with a good travelin’ walk like I like and nice to look at too but I felt
like I just didn’t click with her. So…I kept looking.

I have been keeping my eye on some other breeders’ horses also. There were
two in particular that I was watching…one in Washington and another in California.
There were many other possibilities back east and the Midwest but I didn’t
want to travel that far since I’m in Washington.

A few months later I found what might possibly be the one. He was a bay
Foundation Morgan gelding that was for sale through a dispersal sale. He
sounded perfect. I set up an appointment so my mother-in-law could go look
at him in two days. The gelding was 6 hours from me and about 45 minutes
from my mother-in-law so she graciously agreed to look at him for me. Well,
you guessed it. Evidently a lot of other people had their eye on him too.
I got a call the next day and was told there had been a flood of calls and
he had sold sight unseen. To say I was disappointed was an understatement.
But what can you do except tell yourself it was meant to be?

So I plugged away again back to the drawing board except I was really questioning
if the horse really had to be a Morgan. After all, if I were to look for
a Quarter Horse, my search would be drastically easier. I started looking
at Quarter Horse ads and even printed some out to call on. But I never did
make any calls. While there were certainly some real nice Quarter Horses
available, they just weren’t Morgans. And so I kept looking.

Then in winter 2008, Wendy and I
were talking about my mare Mandy who was pregnant with one of her stallion’s
OGO Higuera Rio Bravo and she let fly that she might think about selling
Soleil to me and what would I think about purchasing him as a gelding? Oh
boy not again. I can’t get my hopes up again! So I kept my cool and said
why the heck would you want him gelded? She felt like this might be Soleil’s
opportunity to have a forever home and he would make a wonderful ambassador
for the breed. She talked about his temperament and how fantastic it is…how
everyone loves him and how good he is as a stallion and imagine how good
he would be as a gelding. She planned on collecting him too so his fantastic
bloodlines could be preserved.  Ok well my heart starts beating faster
and I said of course I’d want him. And so there were several more conversations
over the course of a few months since he needed to be available to breed
a few more mares. Finally it looked like it was really going to happen!!!!
Wendy agreed to sell him to me. Ok can we say unbelievable? I can’t believe
this is really going to happen. He is going to be mine?  I told Wendy
that I’ll really believe it when he steps off that trailer and comes home
to me. Rick my husband was all for the purchase. In fact, we started “arguing”
over whose horse he was going to be. Ha ha that’s certainly not a problem
to me…I’ll share. I showed my daughter Jalyn her palomino Barbie horse and
told her a real live one is coming to our house!

So I set about doing all the right
things to make sure he’d be the right horse (even though we both knew he
would be). We had a vet check which came out wonderful. The vet said he
could not find one questionable item on his list. It’s rare for a vet to
say that.

Then I made arrangements to go see him in person. He was standing at Sharleen
Shields’s Acorn Morgans, in horse capitol Norco, CA. Sharleen was nice enough
to pick me up at the airport and take me to her place where I spent a couple
of hours. When we got to her place, she took me around back to where her
horses are. It was so fun to meet another Foundation Morgan breeder and
learn about her Lambert/Old Vermont/Brunk program. Sharleen was really a
pleasure to meet. She spent a lot of time answering my questions and showing
me around which I so appreciate.
But back to Soleil…we walked out back and I was greeted with several pens
of obviously healthy and happy Morgan horses. I took a peak around to see
if I could see Soleil. I did see one nice Palomino but too tall to be Soleil.
Sharleen took me down a bit further and said I know you’ll want to see him.
Holy moly! There stood Soleil. My very first thought was that he had such
a presence! His mane was about 2 feet long (you gotta be impressed by that!),
good conformation, beautiful color, nice head and soft eyes, and…what a
joy to look at! We took him to the arena so Sharleen could free lunge him.
He was very calm…just did what he was asked to do despite the fact there
were several mares in season around. Then she rode him and then I got on.
He was very nice to ride to say the least. Light mouth, easy transitions,
nice smooth trot, nice stop, doesn’t know neck reining yet, a little stiff
but all in all has the basics down really well. I knew going in that he
needs finishing but that will be fun to bring him along. You know when you
get on a horse, either you like how they feel or you don’t? There’s certain
horses that just don’t feel comfortable. They’re not good or bad, just different
conformation so a different way of moving. I felt immediately at home on
Soleil. He was very comfortable. And I’ll say again…such a nice temperament! 

After we were finished with Soleil
(how can you be finished with Soleil?), I wanted to look around and learn
more about Sharleen’s program so she took me on a tour. I got to meet the
grand old gentleman Canyon of Quietude, a real nice filly named A One Sophia
by Soleil, a mustang mare in foal by Soleil and a three day old colt by
Soleil named AFO Awesams Mavrick out of T Tyme Sunday’s Delight. I was impressed
by Soleil’s offspring and can’t wait to see them as they mature. I got to
see Two C Sissy Herod, OGO Caven-glo BlueMoon, Higuera Tinkerbelle, AFO
Summer Jubilee and AFO Autumn Jubilee and more…all super nice Morgans. It’s
so fun to see these horses in person. Sharleen and her son took me back
to the airport and we said our goodbyes. It was a wonderful way to spend
the day!

Ok still a resounding YES for Soleil. So the next step was to get him collected.
Wendy and I decided to go into partnership on this so we set about finding
someone to collect him. We did the collections at Dr. Jim Kubiak’s in California.
Unfortunately, we didn’t secure as much frozen semen as we would have liked
but at least we have it for the future.

Next step…gelding. Oh boy everyone was sad on this day. I shed a tear from
two states away, Sharleen was sad, Sam who trained Soleil and Wendy of course
too. But we all felt it was going to be the right thing in the long run
and we do have that frozen semen still available.

Fast forward to today when I just
got word from Sharleen that Soleil left last night at 9:40 pm two days earlier
than planned!

Fast forward two days later and the shipper called
to say he would be at our place around 7:30 am. Whooooeeeeee! It’s Christmas
in July! So the next morning, the shipper drove up and I went running out
to peek in the trailer. There he is! The shipper had to unload a mule and
a Thoroughbred to get to Soleil so I was waiting…then he backs him out of
the trailer and hands him to me. My hand closed around that lead rope and
I gave him a pet on the neck and whispered “welcome home.”

To be continued…

Shelley Dodd