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Trinity: The little foal that tried against all odds

Surviving twin, Halo (left), with her 10-day younger brother

By Ed Balcewich
Photography: Private collection

Editor’s note: In our June 2021 issue, we featured a heartwarming story under the headline ‘Miracle blue-blooded SF twins born in rural Manitoba’ – they were healthily born full term to Canadian Warmblood Zena QV – a granddaughter of Quidam de Revel and Burggraaf. The story that follows is an update by co-owner Ed Balcewich, at whose farm they were based.

Our little twins were very playful and could always be seen running and jumping. We’re not sure how it happened, but it was the start of fly season on a hot day and the little twin was either kicked or stepped on by one of the moms while trying to shoo the flies. We found the little foal struggling to walk and quickly noticed she could not bear weight on her leg. She laid down and we were fortunate to have our vet, a board certified equine surgeon attend the scene. As the broken bone had not punctured the skin, the vet thought he could save her and we gave the go ahead to do anything he could.
Through the entire ordeal, she was the happiest foal, with a magnetic personality, welcoming all visitors stoically, never complaining about her pain or circumstances. She came through the initial surgery successfully and was on the way to a full recovery, but six weeks later a minor infection set in. She returned to the vet clinic where the plates were removed as the infection was affecting the bone. At just four months of age, and after one month of trying to recover from the post-surgical infection, we had to take the heartbreaking decision to euthanaze. It was the only humane option as her leg just wasn’t going to heal.
Jeff (my partner in the horses) and I spared no expense and were willing to do anything we could to save our foal. I’d said to Jeff that putting her down broke my heart – and he said he felt the same, but added (from his experience and a lifetime of being around horses), “as long as we are involved with horses, this won’t be the last time they break our hearts”
Halo, the surviving twin is healthy and growing quickly in her herd with her brother, sisters, and aunts. She is everything we had hoped for and more as she has beautiful conformation, is big, athletic, and shares her happy-go-lucky, almost dog-like, outgoing personality of her twin sister (and her dad). Despite losing our little twin, we take great pride and tremendous joy in raising and caring for our herd which comprises 100% genetically rich showjumpers.
For that reason, we will continue with our breeding program, and we are excited to announce that the twin’s mother, Zena QV (Quite Easy x Burggraaf) is in foal to Montender (Contender x Burggraaf). Montender, who died in 2018, was successful in major national and international championships with German rider Marco Kutscher, as well as winning double Olympic medals in Athens 2004.
While Montender is a good story, as breeders of show-jumpers we’re generally not interested in the first three generations of a bloodline, but their whole ancestry and the DNA a stallion can add to our herd. Pedigree must be accompanied by power, gender balance, and critical mass, or the inheritance of powerful ancestors in order to put all the DNA back into the first three generations. The match of Montender and Zena QV seems perfect to create a unique, ‘tightly bred typesetter’.
How tightly bred is this horse? It’s akin to breeding full siblings as the engine rooms (fourth, fifth, and sixth generations), which are genetically almost identical, even though the horses are not related. We wanted to introduce more Corde into our herd and when reviewing this breeding with Kathleen Kirsan, (author of numerous sport horse breeding books including Be Your Own Tesio) she stated; “tremendous potency for jump… whether mare or stallion… good for both… this will be a typesetter, and because it is so tightly bred you can use it as an outcross on unrelated stock as well.”
With this mating, we have gender balance and potency with Landgraf I (3x4), Ramiro Z (3x4), Cor de la Bryère (4x4), Ladykiller (4x4), and Furioso (5x6) which is a list of names that is well recognized by high-level jump breeders. As with anything in horse breeding, we can never be assured of any result, however, it’s a labor of love and when we are dealing with this type of quality in jump genetics, we must give these horses the best life possible and keep trying various breedings so as to not waste these valuable resources. n