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Rosemarie Merle-Smith had imported dozens of PMU foals from Canada, where many of these farms are located, before she met RZ. As it turned out, her first PMU foal was acquired quite by chance. “My husband and I operate Virginia Field Hunters and have been foxhunting and producing hunting horses for over 25 years,” Rosemarie says. “I answered an ad for draft crosses that a Canadian, Roy Johnston, from Saskatchewan, had placed in the Draft Horse Journal back in the late 90’s. Several weeks later he sent me, ‘on the cuff,’ a five-year-old Percheron/ Thoroughbred he had shipped to Pennsylvania that didn’t suit the people. I kept the horse about six months, hunted him and sold him to one of our members at Bull Run. So this started my affection for these draft crosses that I discovered later were actually PMU, or Premarin, foals.” Rosemarie and her family continued to import PMU

foals from Canada as they found them to be sturdy and able hunting horses. “Over several years I imported about a dozen crossbreds from Roy,” she says. “They were for the most part half Thoroughbred and half Shire or Belgian or Percheron or Clydesdale. I bought three- and four-year- olds from him and some weanlings. They were all for the most part fairly wild and unhandled, which required at least six months of gentling along with flat and hound work to make them suitable for the amateur rider.” After a few years, Rosemarie decided to expand her

involvement in importing PMU foals. “I decided to get serious and see if I could get a trailer load of nice weanlings,” she explains. “I contacted Jim Pollock, who at the time was an extension agent in Saskatchewan. He is very involved with NAERIC, North American Equine Ranching, which is the umbrella organization of PMU ranchers.” As Rosemarie found out, one of her major hurdles

in importing the PMU foals would be simply getting to the ranches at which they were homed. “Eastern Saskatchewan is not an easy place to get to. I had to fly

to Minot, North Dakota, rent a car and drive many hours north across empty plains to the Canadian border and on to Moosimin, Saskatchewan where I met Jim. I spent a day visiting numerous operations and was there on the day that many of the ranchers were turning the stallions out with the broodmares.” Rosemarie returned to Virginia after her Canadian

excursion with a lot to think about. She anxiously waited to hear when that season’s foals were born, and later that summer, she received a much anticipated package in the mail from Jim. “I received videos from Jim and was able to pick a dozen weanlings to import. Royal Z was one of them. One of the ranchers, Keith Turpie, had invested in the Oldenburg stallion, Radjah Z, and had a number of colts available for sale. I picked two by him, Royal Z, who was out of an Arabian mare, and Tamerack Z, whose dam was a Paint. “My foals were delivered one October day,” Rosemarie

recalls. “They were a group of very small, scared babies between three and four months of age. The crossbred babies were a tough lot. The Radjah Zs were not and I ended up keeping them in my main hunter barn and giving them a bit more attention.”


For the first few years of his life, RZ led an easy life at Virginia Field Hunters and was allowed to develop and mature before he was backed at age four. By then all but one of the other PMU foals he arrived with had been backed, ridden, hunted, and sold to loving homes, mostly adult amateurs. RZ and M-S Reddy Fox, a Thoroughbred/Appaloosa

PMU foal, progressed in their training with the help of Rosemarie and her daughter Nicolette. “We really kept the two best for last: Foxy, the Thoroughbred/Appaloosa and RZ,” Rosemarie says. “Foxy went to Aiken as a four-year- old and started competing in the United States Eventing Association’s Young Event Horse Series and at Beginner Novice. RZ wasn’t ready to do the same until he was five.” The Merle-Smiths decided not to push RZ too fast

too soon, so they gave him the time he needed to blossom into an honest and talented event horse. “We began in 2008 competing him at Beginner Novice and the Five Year Old (Young Event Horse) class at the Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials,” Rosemarie explains. After we finished out the winter season in Aiken, he competed at Beginner Novice and Novice in Area II with Nicolette. While he did not always have the best dressage, he was a careful, safe jumper.” But RZ had yet to experience one of the things that

PMU foals in Canada.

Rosemarie and her husband, Grosvenor, are known nation- wide for: fox hunting. “In the fall of 2008, we hunted him with Thornton Hill and he thought that was serious fun!”

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