Where a Horse Can Be a Horse: Part 2

In breeding, sometimes Mother Nature knows best.

This is the second of a three-part series. Need to review Part 1? The Lapke operation starts foaling the first of April, so the mares and stallions are turned out in the pasture around the middle of April. The stallions are pulled from the pastures around the Fourth of July. Babies are weaned on sale day, the first of August, so as not to stress them before the sale.

When Lena Gallo was purchased as a yearling from Polo Ranch, he was intended to be used solely as a breeding stallion. The family had Robbies Rooster in training to be shown, and “Lena” was turned out with mares. But when Robbies Rooster contracted EPM, Lena Gallo was placed into reining training after breeding eight mares as a 2-year-old.

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“He was the only 3-year-old at the Futurity with foals on the ground,” Kari says with a chuckle. Lena has continued a successful show career along with his breeding business. Injury to the stallion can be a concern with pasture breeding, and with a champion stallion like Lena Gallo, the temptation might be to protect him. “He’s very good,” Kari says. “He never messes with the mares; he only breeds them when they’re ready. He has never been injured. He’s athletic and can get out of the way of a mare kick easily. Even as a young horse when we first turned him out, I watched him spin away from a mare, and I just don’t worry about him now.” The Lapkes think their pasture breeding program with their show stallions has actually made them better competitors. “Living outside with the mares and foals makes them better horses,” Kari says. “They get back to training with a better relaxed attitude. They get to be a horse, and we think that’s important. It’s the best thing for their minds and it really works for our horses.” The stallions live out with the mares, 24/7, unless lightning storms come up, then they are brought to stalls for safety.

While the plan is always to get the stallions qualified for the AQHA World Championship Show before breeding season, it doesn’t always work that way. “Last year, Fuel N Shine needed a few points to qualify for the working cow horse. Jay (McLaughlin) got him just 10 days before taking him to a show where he got the points he needed,” Kari says. Fuel N Shine is a junior stallion whose first breeding season wasn’t easy on him. “He was dumb about it,” Kari says. “He came back (in from the pasture) with bite marks and kick marks. But he was much smarter this year and it was easier on him.” Fuel N Shine came from the pasture into a set of shoes and to a show in July 2009 to qualify for the World Show in reining in November 2009. The Lapkes’ Genuine Doc O Lena also showed some during his breeding season.

“Steve Orth would come up from Oklahoma to the Memorial Day shows in Denison, Iowa. We’d pull him (Genuine Doc O Lena) from the pasture, put shoes on him and Steve would show him for three days, and then the stallion would come back home and go back to the mares.” “It has never been a challenge for us,” Kari says of their pasture breeding program. “We’ve been lucky, I guess. That’s the only way to explain it.” Stay tuned next week for the last of this three-part series.

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