Lito’s story needed more than 1 installment…Get your coffee and dive on in!
This is Lito’s story. From the very beginning. Which, really, is a lot of Cheetah’s story.
It has always been a life long dream of mine to breed a mare of mine and then raise and train the foal. I never knew when it was to be, I just knew that it was going to be. I am one of those ‘mare people.’ I will always have at least one. I have been blessed with some great ones. While in college, I found THE MARE. We clicked almost right away. I knew I would have this horse for life and I would one day breed her. My secret planning commenced just a couple short months after she was officially ‘mine.’
I did not tell my family for I thought they would think me crazy. I did however tell my close horse friends, naturally. The dream would have to wait till after I graduated and, ideally, I had a stable job. You know, to be responsible. I also had been chunking any and all money that I could into savings. Next came the fun part. Choosing a stallion. This surprisingly, did not take too terribly long and all came about in a wonderful way. I knew I wanted PRE (Pura Raza Espanola/Pure Spanish Horse/Andalusian) and narrowed it down to two reputable and well known ranches within the Iberian horse community here in Texas that have more than one successful stallion, both in the show ring and the breeding shed.
One definitely stood out from the other in that I thought I recognized the owners. I dug a little deeper and came to find out that my grandmother (the one where I get most of my horse gene from) bought her last horse from them! I met them when my grandparents bought the horse, but I can not remember what year that was. That is another story for another day. Anyway, when my grandmother was no longer able to ride anymore due to her health, they bought that horse back from her at the same price she paid. They are lovely people and treated my grandmother with such kindness and respect. Couple that with the quality of their two top stallions at the time and their outstanding reputation, I knew my choice. It was really at this point, when the decision was so easy, that I knew breeding Cheetah was the right thing to do.
Are you tired of waiting to hear about the stallion I chose? OK. I chose Rancho del Lago‘s Magico VIII. This hunky 1997, bay stallion has quite the resume. He was successful in the show ring. Check. He has w truly wonderful temperament. Check. He has an established foal crop. Check. His get are of good temperament/mind, trainable, brave, and successful in the show ring. CHECK. I also met him those several years ago with my grandmother. These lovely photos of Magico are from Rancho del Lago’s website.
Fast forward to after graduation and half way into my year ‘off.’ I call it my ‘lost year,’ but that is yet another story for another day. Now was the time, I thought to myself. I had seriously saved every possible penny. I had already decided I was going back to school to get my graduate degree. I had time to tend to what it would take to get Cheetah bred, have the foal born, and handle/gentle/train him before I had to become a real adult. This was when I broke the news to my parents. They thought I was crazy and I do not think they believed me. Never a good thing. This was very much happening.
It took two tries and a twin reduction to get her bred, but pregnant she was (and, yes, I have ultrasound pics)! I will save that story for another day or else we will be here all night. It was fun to watch her transformation, both physically and emotionally. She was a great mom even before the foal was born. Just look at the happy pregnant mare face at 11 mos, 9 mos, and 6 mos.
At 10 mos., I took her to a lady that foals out mares for people. I give you permission to marvel over that life! Given that Cheetah and I were both maidens (ha!), I wanted her to be somewhere where she got constant supervision from someone experienced in case of an emergency. Here she is in all her glory, getting very close.
After this visit, I went to the store and bought a bag of carrots, several bottles of champagne, fresh squeezed orange juice, put them all in the fridge, baked a special coffee cake, and stuck it in the freezer. I could practically feel she was going to foal any day and I wanted to be prepared to celebrate.
It was Tuesday. Before 7 AM. I was in the computer lab on campus finishing an assignment for a geophysics course that was due later that day. As I worked, I pondered to myself, “I wonder if today will be the day?” I had grown weary of waiting on Cheetah…and paying for board. Horse people problems, I tell you. I shook my head and got back to work while at the same time cursing myself for signing up for more school, assignments, and having to learn MATLAB. I loathe MATLAB.
I looked at my phone for the time (why not the computer I have no idea) and just as the clock turned to 7:20, a call came in from the lady I was boarding Cheetah with. A fleeting moment of panic rushed in as I got the all familiar, punch in the gut sickness that there was a problem. Colic? Breach position? Still birth? Was she having trouble? You name it, I thought it in that moment. I can not tell you how long I stared at the phone while it rang before I came to. Answer the phone you idiot!
My mind jumped to the present as I answered the phone. I do not even remember what was said other than that the time had come! I immediately called my mother and started to cry the moment I heard her voice. I feel now is a good time to tell you a little something about me. I am a crier. Not a pretty one. And sometimes a catastrophic thinker, if you didn’t already pick that up. This is a genetic trait. OK, now back to the story. My mother answered the phone saying something like, “oh, is it time!? I had a feeling!” Then she heard me and assumed the worst, forgetting that I am me and her daughter. I somehow got the message across that there was not a problem and we needed to go!
Best mom ever was waiting in the driveway with the carrots, champagne, orange juice, and coffee cake packed in a cooler. How I managed to drive the 40 min out there through my excitement is beyond me. As we got out of the car and walked into the barn, I could see my now pair of horses. I about fainted when I saw the dorsal stripe on that tall, lanky foal. I knew it was a colt just by looking at his face. I had hoped and prayed for a dun filly. I expected a bay colt. I got a pretty good middle option! The biggest dun colt in the barn! He was bigger then the 1.5 week old foals in the barn and just a complete spunk of a personality. I was, and still am, a goner.
Cheetah apparently just popped him right out like it was nothing. I filled her full of carrots and thank yous as mom popped the champs and served coffee cake. Truth be told, I got so worked up I was sick to my stomach and could not enjoy the coffee cake for more than a couple of bites. The mimosa helped to settle me a bit as I got to know my new colt.
When my mom had her full of barn time and I was assured my dun duo were OK, I agreed to leave them on the condition we have Mexican for lunch on our way in. I arranged pickup for a week later. I was full on hangry at this point with a couple of mimosas and having not eaten all day. I got my bearings enough when we got to the restaurant to email my professor and ask for an extension on my assignment, stating a family emergency. That counts in my book and I was granted one! Winning!
The little booger needed a name. No easy feat, naming a baby of any kind. Now I will be honest and tell you that I had a couple picked out prior to the birth, but I was not committed till after I met him. If it came out to be a colt, I knew I wanted an ‘M’ name in honor of Magico. I first came up with the name Manolito from a song (I know, go figure). It is half in English and half in Spanish. Just like my new colt. It is about a great ranch horse, just like my new colt would grow to be. Have a listen to the story about the inspiration and to the lyrics of the song. I know some of you are rolling your eyes at me right about now, but just give it a chance! I love this song. Thanks to THE Wylie Gustafson for the vid on YouTube!
I started to research the origins of the name and this is what I learned. It is a nick name or term of endearment for the name Manuel. Manuel comes the name Emanuel. Emanuel means ‘of God’ or ‘God is with us.’ It sure seamed to fit him and the situation. Kept everything in perspective. Naturally, I thought Lito would be a great name for the biggest colt in the barn! Lito is not so little lito!
I picked my duo up to bring them home one week after Lito’s grand arrival. He loaded right into the heavily shavings bedded trailer right after his dam, and he unloaded just the same. He fit right in with everything and everyone. At 2 weeks old, he was a better equine citizen than most mature horses. Before I knew it, I looked up, and he is now 3.5 yo, standing at 16.2 hh, and started under saddle by me. I am one blessed human to have the best mare and colt.
I hope you enjoyed Lito’s story!
Lead with love, dear readers!