Thursday, September 18, 2008

How It Began/Part IV

Another major acquisition has been made to complete our foundation herd for our Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve. A six year old mare from Oregon finished her long journey and arrived at Ravenseyrie yesterday afternoon.

A bit of history (as best as I can piece together from various sources) should be relayed here to help reader's understand the significance of Altamiro's latest harem member.

In 2000, a young woman, named Erin Grey, imported into the United States a purebred yearling Sorraia studcolt named Sovina. Sovina (the first Sorraia to land the continent since early colonization of the New World) was placed in Erin's hands by Hardy Oelke, who had high hopes that the young stallion would sire many offspring among mustangs of Sorraia type. At that time, Erin Grey seemed like the perfect candidate to facilitate the consolidation of the Sorraia type among select North American mustangs as she was thick into raising and showing mustangs from the Sulphur Springs wild horse herds in Utah. [I insert a correction here: Hardy relays to me that at the time when Sovina went to Erin's place, she was working with Kiger Mustangs, and only later on exchanged her interest in Kigers for Sulphur Springs mustangs.]

Somewhere along the way, however, Erin became disenchanted with the idea of there being a genetic connection between North American mustangs possessing Sorraia characteristics and the purebred Iberian Sorraia, so subsequently decided to refuse to breed Sovina to mustangs of any type.
Erin Grey and Sovina (photo found at the Portuguese Sorraia website)

Fortunately, prior to this decision, Sovina had sired three offspring out of mustang mares--two colts (now gelded) and one filly, named Sovina's Zorita.

Zorita was born to Sulphur's Tia, a very good Sorraia type mare which had been captured from the Sulphur Springs wild mustang herd management area in Utah.
Sulphur's Tia (photo found at Hardy Oelke's website)

When Zorita was four years of age, she became part of the horses of Echo Glen Farm owned by Bonnie Rider-Martin and her husband David. Echo Glen Farms specializes in Sport Horses and decided to breed Zorita to Holsteiner and Hanoverian warmblood stallions in hopes of producing a smaller elite riding horse for pony club youths. Via the technology of artificial insemination, Zorita gave birth to first a filly in 2007 and a colt in 2008.
Zorita with her 2007 Holsteiner filly (photo: Bonnie Rider-Martin)

Sovina's Zorita with her 2008 Hanoverian colt, who passed his inspection to become an official German Riding Pony (photo: Bonnie Rider-Martin)

Bonnie had been in contact with Hardy Oelke who referred her to us in the event she might want to breed Zorita to a purebred Sorraia. I received my first email from Bonnie in 2007. Unfortunately, since our plans for Altamiro do not include shipping him off for outside breedings or obtaining sperm for artificial insemination there wasn't much chance of Altamiro siring any offspring for Zorita. I did tell Bonnie that should she ever decide she wanted to sell Zorita, Kevin and I would be interested, and she and I kept in touch.

After Zorita delivered her 2008 foal, Bonnie wrote to say they would, indeed, be willing to sell us this special mare. With the desire to see Zorita among her own kind, Bonnie and David generously came way down in their price so that we could afford to purchase Zorita and still have enough funds to get her shipped from their farm in Oregon all the way to northern Ontario (no small investment these days to ship horses across the continent!).

Because Bonnie was willing to bring Zorita to southern Oregon to meet with J C Equine Transport, we were able to obtain a berth on one of the coast to coast hauls these folks do quite regularly. Zorita's journey was broken up with a week's layover in Manitoba before she completed her trip to Manitoulin Island. She arrived in fine form, albeit a bit lighter in weight than when she left her home in Oregon, which has the effect of accentuating her Sorraia heritage as you can see in these two photos taken shortly after her arrival yesterday.

Sovina's Zorita standing just outside her temporary shelter in our yard at Ravenseyrie

Zorita, already looking like she belongs to the island wilderness

Himself, young Altamiro, looking very interested in Zorita

Our routine here when we bring a newcomer to the herd is to keep her in the yard so that she can meet the herd members with the safety of a fence between them. In another day or two, we will open the gate and let Zorita join the group in the big wide open.

This short video clip shows Zorita running just after the herd has come in from the forest and realized there is a new horse in the yard!

We do not have separate paddocks to facilitate her introductions, but our yard suffices in a pinch and offers the newcomer excellent views of the place so that she can begin to assess the wealth of freedom that will soon be hers...once she gets through the hazing period, that is!

This next video clip shows Mistral already letting Zorita know he is the Supreme Ruler and will not be letting her join the herd easily.

These horses are really amazing (the Sorraia and the Sorraia Mustangs)...each of them, when they first arrived here had to spend several days in our yard--weaving their way around various obstacles that are not normally part of a horse's environment. I have been amazed at how curious and unafraid they are, how mentally settled and composed they have been to new sights and sounds. Even the slightest life change for Mistral always set him into anxious fits, so the quiet, calm demeanors of these "primitive" horses I find very inspiring.

Zorita, it should be noted, unlike the others, has always lived the life of a domestic horse, so her gentleness is not unexpected. However, as you see from the next two photos, her quick bonding with me and desire to follow me most everywhere caught me quite off guard!
After a morning grooming session, I was heading back into the house...Zorita wanted to come too!

Zorita, what a fun little mare!

We are so very thankful to have Zorita join the Sorraia Mustang Preserve! We are closing Altamiro's herd now. Bella and Belina have a heritage of carefully selected Spanish bloodlines, Ciente offers the excellent phenotype of the Sorraia which resurfaces even among the captive bred Kiger Mustangs and with Zorita, we have a mare who not only carries antiquated Iberian blood from her Sulphur Mustang mother, but is half-purebred Sorraia to boot!

Many of you have been asking how Altamiro's foals are doing, and my next journal entry will answer that question.


Kris McCormack said...

Congratulations, Lynne, Kevin, Zorita, Altamiro! (Mistral, Aunt Kris says you're just going to have to cope! ) :-)

The last photo of you and Zorita smiling for the camera is just priceless, Lynne. New best friends. I love it!

Here's wishing Zorita a long, happy life at Ravenseyrie.


eva said...

After reading Zorita's story, to me she is "the one who got away."

So now I'm thinking, maybe she'll be the messenger between the human world and the herd, and maybe a horse interested in pedestals and leglifts playing with humans.

Perhaps you could create a picadero with the kind of split rail fencing you have in your yard, and maybe she will follow you and want to do stuff, or companion walk, and then the others can watch. Or you could work in your yard, during the winter when things don't grow there.

I see lots of possibilities...

I'm so happy for you, Lynne.

Leslie said...

Wow, congrats Lynne!! That is hilarious, how Zorita is already your little pocket pony!! Can't wait to meet her...must plan a trip!

Lynne Gerard said...

Leslie wrote: "That is hilarious, how Zorita is already your little pocket pony!!"

It really was pretty funny. You might think to look at the first photo of her and I on the deck that we have placed her grain and water buckets there, perhaps as a lure--but this is not where we've been feeding her. The black bucket has Poplar chips soaking in it for a mushroom growing project Kev is working on. The white bucket is what we use to keep extra water in to flush the toilet. This time of year we have to haul water up from the lake to use around the house because otherwise our shallow well runs dry.

Any how, so Zorita has shown no interest in the buckets on the deck, or seemed interested in the deck at all--though I know she's noted that the dogs and us come and go through the door on this side of the house.

After yesterday's grooming session, Zorita followed me to the deck. I turned around and gave her some last neck scratches and told her I was going inside, but would visit with her some more later. I turned, stepped up onto the deck and walked to the door. With my hand on the door I suddenly hear, "Clump, clump", the sound of hooves on wood, and I turn around to see Zorita standing with her front feet on the deck, arching her neck out to me.

I went over to give her more itches, laughing at her pose there, half on/half off the deck. I had the camera hanging off my shoulder in its bag and called Kevin out of the house to take it from me and maybe get a picture of our porch pony. I was hoping she'd stay up there long enough for him to do this, which she did, thankfully, because though I can write about it, the photos tell the story so much better.

Eva, it is a plan of ours (one of SO many) to erect a small manege/picadero using the cedar rails so I have a definite schooling place to train and play games in. It is difficult to have quality one-on-one sessions while in the midst of the herd--especially because the youngsters are so keen to get attention for themselves.

Kris, I relayed your message to Mistral and we'll know later today how difficult he plans to make the introduction. Instead of following me back to the house after a morning grooming session, Zorita stood by the gate, gazing longingly off into the distance where the horses were heading off to the forest. She feeling ready to join them, I think...and when I get home from work later today, we will open the gate and let her go out in the big wide open if she wants to. Our plan is to do this while the herd is off in the far distance--there's much less trouble if they sort out their issues away from the fences and gates.

So stayed tuned!

And Leslie, you and your sisters are welcome to come anytime.

Spanish Sulphurs said...

Here is the link to a video I uploaded that Ron Roubidoux took back in the mid nineties (I think) of Sulphur's Chance and Sulphur's Tia (dam of Zorita). Sulphur's Chance is actually going to be the grandsire of my mare's 2011 foal! She was just confirmed in foal today! I am so excited!! This will add yet one more precious horse to this very rare Spanish California breed! I am expecting a really typey foal that has the combination of the Chance lined brio, boldness, and sensitivity with Victoria's sweet nature and straight legs (that will likely come in a grulla package as all of her foals have been!). The sire is named Mestene's Pueblo and is a gorgeous and amazing zebra dun stallion. Enjoy the video!