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Pulling a bit of rank, I explained to Jean that I had sur- vived 25 years of carrier-borne operations with big air- craft off small flight decks, on pitch black nights and in the pitching and tossing seas of the North Atlantic. “Now that was pretty bloody frightening and out- standingly dangerous and quite life threatening! But that pales into insignificance compared with what I am doing right now!” So we regrouped, captured the mare and headed back to the barn as I reflected on why the mare owner was not there herself holding her dear sweet animal?

Certainly during the course of the next few days I had plenty of motivation to dig the hole and concrete in the base of the breeding “Phantom,” which is how we have done our insemination ever since that moment when my past naval career flashed through my mind!

Now at collection time I can go out and watch the girls doing the preparation in accordance with their well-established routine and some- times I may be asked to hold a mare as both she and I watch either of our two stallions aboard the Phantom. (This of course was also the name of a significant and sophisticated U.S. navy fighter aircraft in the Vietnam era, some later models of which were subsequently acquired by us in the British Navy). I still say that the finest beer and the sweetest cigar that a man can ever enjoy are those taken in silent reflection on the quarterdeck after one of those inky black night deck landings in the middle of the Indian Ocean. And I still think that our stallions are equally ready to savor a cigar as they stand fulfilled atop the Phantom such that if I still smoked I would be willing to offer them one for fatherhood. Now that would be a fine sight – ultimate contentment – a stallion with a cigar! (Could make an award-winning picture?)

dressage, and driving; the latter two being our forté here at Equivale.

So let’s put the cart before the horse and look at driv- ing. Our current in-house breeding program is targeted at producing a team of large identical palomino Warmblood geldings for combined driving. You can paint up a squadron of aircraft overnight with identical markings for recognition, whereas in the case of a team of matching Warmbloods you have to breed to produce babies with dark golden coats, with no socks, stockings or other excessive chrome markings – now go figure that out!

“Two careers. Two vastly different mounts. Both roller coaster rides of emotion.”

So here’s the layman’s answer to producing something that doesn’t exist except in a lady’s mind to drive such a team. You race around Europe and have a look at all the eight cremello stallions that were available or standing at that time and fly in the most suitable one as quickly as possible (but this time in a Boeing 747) to meet the first breeding season. Then you select your nice mares of the correct conforma- tion and movement for dressage mak- ing sure of course that they are chest- nuts of the correct shade of red (which is not measurable as yet) and with no chrome! “Piece of cake old boy!” was the expression used by many WW II Spitfire pilots about their missions.

The 11 month period of gestation is not far off the average carrier deployment prior to recent conflicts and both are filled with periods of boredom and inactivity. ‘Foal watch’ is just like standing fighter alert 5 (strapped in and on the catapult ready for launch.) In both cases, you are likely to be stood down with no result when dawn breaks and normal operations are resumed.

So from one extreme to the other, there is no doubt that Warmblood breeding has its ups and downs (just like any other breeding really), but I like the versatility of the Warmblood as much as I liked the incredible versatility of the Sea Harrier which allowed us to win the Falklands War with odds against us of 140 Argentine combat aircraft to 22 only recently acquired Sea Harriers and some 8,000 miles distance from base. The aircraft was designated for three roles: fleet defense fighter, reconnaissance and attack just as the Warmbloods have three main disciplines: jumping,

Breeding has its emotional ups and downs just like well-flown missions. The satisfaction of a successful birthing culminates when the foal makes its first suck- ling and you can hear that vital colostrum slurping down that throat and the nickering thanks to the ET recipient mare that you never thought would let you near her or the baby. Baby’s first steps following Mom into her new pasture and the tumultuous roar of approval from all the farm horses in sight are all so much a part of why breeders enjoy this life.

Then you have the months of work with the foals and weanlings in preparation for the ‘Inspection.’ In our

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