2009 was an excellent one for us in many ways, but completely overshadowed by the loss of our two foundation horses, Hanson and Cally (Blue Bandaila), just a few weeks apart. He was 21 years old, she 23. We knew we would lose them one day, but were bracing ourselves for 2020 or shortly before.
Hanson a month before he died.
Hanson died very suddenly in July, having just been collected from for the assessment of his semen. He was attended to within a couple of minutes by three vets, but could not be saved. We were comforted a little by the obvious upset of the centre's chief vet as she broke the news. In the short time that he had been there he had already established a fond relationship with the staff who worked with him. It was quite clear when we got there that he had been very well looked after in the fortnight since we had last seen him, and that everything possible had been done to try to save him.
Two of the characteristics that left a striking impression on everyone at the Beaufort ET Centre were his consideration and his loyalty. He had travelled there with Silver Ingot, for an embryo transfer attempt in view of her age and the significance of a foal from them. As we unloaded them from the horsebox it was obvious that she had come into raging season, and that he was immediately interested in her, but he had stood patiently and calmly beside her for the journey from Cumbria to Gloucestershire. Later they found when they presented him with mares for his collection training that he was only interested in his Ingot, and we had a phone call asking for permission to use her as his collection mare. They had never before seen such attachment and loyalty in a stallion and remarked on it to us. Apparently the land owner also remarked on it, as they were kept at grass hundreds of yards apart and accross a lake but still chatted on and off all night, every night, even though they were among over a hundred other horses...
Hanson and Ingot on arrival
The stallion handler used a chifney as a wise precaution the first time they collected from him, but thereafter just his head collar. As we explained and demonstrated when we handed him over on arrival, Hanson just needed to know where you were to avoid hurting you.
We were devastated by his loss but pleased, if that is possible, that he was in an environment and regime where he was interested, content and appreciated.
One week before Hanson's death, his last foal was born. Cally foaled their colt in textbook fashion, completing her breeding career, and just had to raise him before beginning her full retirement. When he was nearly 7 weeks old she suddenly began to lose condition, and two and a half weeks later she was put to sleep, a result of advanced lymphoma. We had just enough time to train him to take mare's milk replacer. We named him then for the first time: Seren Perdaius - Perdu, the lost boy.
Cally (Blue Bandaila) a week before she died.
Since then, Perdu has been raised by Silihah (Daisy) with her colt foal, though she would not suckle him. As a result he has not become a "pet foal" with all of the attendant problems, but is destined to be a properly raised ridden horse who will follow his parents into the mountains and become part of the endurance circuit.
At over 15:2hh Hanson was a powerful, well conformed ridden horse. Flea-bitten grey with the bloody shoulder of a classic desert bred arabian, he was as imposing as he was pleasant. He was eager to please, easy to manage, had a sweet and kind temperament and was a pleasure to be with. Living a contented herd life with mares, youngstock and geldings, he rode out with our mares in or out of season without problems. At 21 years old, he had retired from endurance. Though never shown since leaving Imperial Arabians, he attracted favourable attention from those who know their ridden arabs.
He was pure Crabbet, and stood to a limited number of mares. He had a 100% conception rate in mares covered, and so far all of his foals have finished larger than their dams. As one of the last stallions at stud to be born of two parents who were bred at the Crabbet Stud, we realised in his latter years that we must breed Crabbet foals by him, as well as the Crabbet / Polish lines we had concentrated on. Fortunately we found a number of quality mares for him of the type we admire, some 100% and some GSB / high % Crabbet. We have four of his straight Crabbet youngstock to take forward his heritage here.
Cally was Jan's first horse, and as we built the stud over the years was the dominant matriarch. Fiercely competitive, tremendously brave and surefooted when on rough ground or the high fells of the Lake District, the perfect gentle first ride for children and novices, and always loving towards us, she was the complete all-rounder. In the herd she would waggle her ears, and a lieutenant would be off to carry out her wishes.
Cally and Hanson asleep on the summit of Helvellyn, England's third highest mountain, November 1995.
In the backgrounds: Clough Head and the Skiddaw range; and Swirral Edge and Catstycam respectively, Jan is looking down Striding Edge.
Together, Hanson and Cally produced four foals: Seren Arcturus (1988) went to a ridden home, before becoming a broodmare following a riding accident; Seren Vega (2000) is a magnificent gelding, strikingly similar in colour to Cally with a blaze that is almost a mirror image of hers, towering over her at 16hh, and will never leave us; Seren Rigel (2006) is a gelding now in London, beginning his endurance ridden career in 2011; and Perdu whom we will find it increasingly hard to part with. Hanson sired a further 11 foals, 10 being GSB of which 8 are 100% Crabbet. The 11th is Cally's grand daughter Seren Capella (2000) who has already had a superb start to her endurance career. Cally had two earlier foals: Bandiaus (1994), a successful endurance gelding by Altius; and Seren Sirius Blue Lightning (1996) by Al Hashmood. Sirius still lives and is ridden out a few miles from us.
Cally with the children, summer 1996.
Hamatan and Hanson, 1994
Cally and Hanson with their first yearling Arcturus,1999
Sirius, Arcturus, Ibn Hamatan, and Hanson, 1999
Hanson, Winter Queen, Shadowed Gold, 2007
Cally and Hanson, March 2009
Many of these photos are not particularly "good", but they show things more important to us than style, things they deserve to have shown.
It was an absolute privilege and pleasure to share my life with Hanson. He was ‘the one’ from the moment I saw him. He exuded both strength and gentleness, and showed affection above and beyond what you would expect from a mare. He always came to my whistle, usually at the canter, and at the head of the herd. He for sure believed in life long bonds with his mares, and they with him too.
My only fear while riding him out was the anticipation of meeting a wild herd of fell ponies and their stallion, but it only actually happened once. Cally (Blue Bandaila) made very sure that day that no one was going to seduce or fight HER stallion! So she was the pain, literarily, in the backside of those ponies and stallion we met!
He was an ambassador for the Crabbet Arabian, whether riding at endurance events, training or simply hacking out. He could be trusted to lead rein the small child’s pony, with small child on board, in traffic and amongst horses.
Walkers would look in awe and wonder when they met this large grey stallion in the company of a mare on the most precipitous of Lakeland paths and peaks. They summitted Raise, Whiteside, Hellvellyn, Latrigg, Sale Fell, Whinfell, traversed the Skiddaw range, Kentmere and Longsleddle, crossed the high mountain passes of Sticks, Sadgill and Garburn, and other explorations further afield. 25 miles and 3000ft in a day were routine to them. We would frequently arrive home in full moonlight, well after sunset, 5 or 6 hours after we left, accompanied by my white Search Dog collie and dark black labrador.
We miss his whinny as we enter the barn or the field, his replies to the mares’ and foals’ calls, and his high pitched playful squeals when the foals would chew at his face.
We have some of his mane and tail hairs which are tied to the juniper bushes on the crag where he would often be seen grazing. They intertwine with those of his mare companion of 16 years, Cally, lost just two months after him. It gives a grand view over his herd and the mountainous passes, peaks and fells that we so often rode over together. Hanson will blow in the wind, glow in the sunlight, shine in the snow, and glint in the starry night sky. He will never leave us, and through his young stock, Hanson will live on.
Jan, September 2009, with love.
Cally was my first horse, the first significant purchase on my first permanent
job in the Lake District. It took a number of visits before deciding to buy
her. I found her by accident, when I went to the wrong farm, Birkrigg Park:
“I believe you have a chestnut mare for sale?”
“Well, yes, I probably do. She’s out in the field.” I was taken to see the chestnut mare. Not as described I thought, but how lovely. She paid me no attention at all! I was redirected to my original destination farm to see the green, but ridden, 4yr old thoroughbred mare. Cally was a 3 year old, and definitely not broken. I doubt whether I could ever describe her as broken. In fact, I doubt whether I could ever describe her as mine. I was actually hers.
She took to anything, usually with enthusiasm. She jumped a 5 bar gate into a barn of liveries to chat with her entire full brother. Upon on her discovery, she jumped straight out again over the gate. The owner of the livery yard said: “You should jump her, she’d compete with the best, even though she is an Arab.”
Cally loved jumping. She would jump cross country, and do show jump courses, especially against the clock. She also took to dressage and excelled at endurance. She just loved to be doing and had to be the first, even if she started last.
Cally would know how to open every gate, and close them on her competitors despite my signals. She would spot the marker tape in the bushes on endurance rides before I did. She would open any door that was not double locked and we once caught her part way into the house. In the battle of wills between us, it would be a close match. Some I lost, some she let me win. I rode her in a bendy stretchy rubber snaffle: she liked it, it was all she needed and I trusted her judgement. She was always brave, surefooted, fit. She was unperturbed by almost anything, apart from metal grids. Even then she would trust you, and ask for help to cross.
She, like Hanson, summitted many fell tops and passes and was completely unperturbed by the heaviest or fastest traffic. She would take care of the novice rider, and perform for anyone who knew their stuff. She most certainly had a sense of humour and could also be humble. If injured, she would submit totally and trust your every move.
As the herd leader, she was complete. She accompanied Hanson on many an exploit, day and night. As a horse, she taught me much. She changed my life. Without her, Seren Arabians would not be here today.
She raised her foals well, and they would learn manners, but also know they were bred from the elite. She twice refused to hold a pregnancy to stallions not of her choosing. Perdu should have been a coloured! She was scanned in foal, but as it was not to Hanson she replaced the foetus with his sometime later out in the herd, and surprised us at his birth. She would get her own way in the end.
Cally and Perdu, August 2009.
Her final full day was spent in the sunshine with her foal. She did not see the end of the next. The foal was now on a milk replacer from a bucket. We thought that when she died we would leave him with her for a while to decide that she was no more. He took his final milk as she lay dead, then curled up next to her, posturally echoing her. Eventually we had to move him on, and turned him out with Daisy and her foal. He was never put back with Cally, but joined Daisy in her box. Daisy took him on to protect him from others, to find him when he was lost, but she would never suckle him. Having her looking out for him was good enough for us, and Cally would be comfortable with that. Cally would rest in peace.
Jan, December 2009, with love.
Return to home page
This website and all content including images
© 1996 - 2011 Seren Arabians unless other copyright holder acknowledged.
All rights reserved.