Visiting Thoroughbred Breeding Farms-A Personal Adventure!



  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    We were one of the first cars to enter the facility and waited around in the nicely air-conditioned WinStar reception/showroom area. Slowly, more cars began to arrive. In their website, WinStar mentioned no public restrooms available. But there were restroom facilities which were for guests of WinStar only. Thank goodness!

    ▲This building completed only 2 years earlier was fresh and new! We were able to get a booklet showing a complete roster of WinStar's Stallions which included each stallion's conformation photo. The double doors on the left of the photo above is the access to the stallion barn and breeding facilities. Above the grand arched entrance to the stud facilities, we were treated to several videos of exciting past wins from the WinStar Stallions. ▼

    ▼Toward the left in the reception area, was a negotiation desk for potential clients who want to breed their mares.
    ▼While waiting for late comers to arrive, we were greeted by our WinStar Tour Guide named Aisling (Irish name). Although young, she already had a lot of background experience in the field through her studies and from her family background. She mentioned to me that her aunt was the General Manager for the breeding facilities at the Irish National Stud. We got a chance to chat about the INS while waiting for the tour to begin.
  • SallyTSallyT Member
    The anticipation and excitement builds............
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    Heh Heh...I shall dangle the carrot a bit further. :oD

    Nah...Working very hard on a collection of postings to follow...soon!

    image A central showing circle located between the duo stallion barns on either side of this atrium. We had just entered through the double doors from the left of this photo (off camera). Straight ahead in the background is the left wing of the stallion barn. To the right is the open path down to the breeding shed facilities.

    image A skyward view of the central showing circle where the cupola of the stallion barn is used also as a ventilation outlet. Refer to the earlier posting showing the photo of the weather vane on top of the complex

    Background Recap: This new Stallion Barn facility began construction in 12/2011 and as mentioned earlier, was built on property formerly known as Romanoaks Farm and later Fab Oak Stable. The building was completed in January, 2013 in time for that year's breeding season.—

    The new barn has many similarities to the old stallion barn from wide aisle-ways, a big showing circle in the center . The new facility merges functionality with new technology and more facility space including a larger parking area for van traffic during the busy breeding season. A veterinary lab is centrally housed within the breeding wing so that both breeding sheds can be observed but acoustics were taken into consideration so that noise from one area will not distract activities in another. The overall layout is symmetrical with a central pathway having two wings of stalls for the stallions and two breeding sheds.

    image The Stallion Barn (right wing)-photo taken from the central showing circle.

    image The Stallion Barn (left wing)

    imageA view down the open, covered pathway to the breeding shed from the central showing circle.

  • Wonderful photos and descriptions again, Paniolo_Gal, but I just have to laugh at what you said about dangling the carrot in front of us because immediately following I had the thought that this whole series is like Mrs. Pasture's, only it's like crack for the horse junkies, not the horse. As ever - thank you for sharing. :)
  • LOL! Celeste_in_TX! I'm glad you caught on to the "carrot"! :oD
    But your comment about "crack" and Mrs. Pasture's cookies for horse junkies had me falling off my chair! Funny mental image indeed!:oD
  • LOL Celeste, I agree! Waiting for each installment is so hard, but you never disappoint, PG! This is incredibly fun!!!! Thank you! :)
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    Sorry it takes me so long to organize a post...there's sooo much information that I discovered on this trip and sorting the best photos takes a bit of time. I wish I wasn't so into understanding what I experienced. But it's also very educational for learning and sharing what I discover with you all! :oD

    More coming up soon!
  • Oh PG, don't apologize! Everything you post is well worth waiting for. We are all grateful to you for sharing, there is no rush. :)

    ▼Heading down to the breeding shed, Aisling informed us that they used polytrack fibers in this new facility. The polytrack or other forms of footing material are important to provide a nonslip footing during the breeding process.

    imageA close-up view of the polytrack fiberous material used in this facility.

    Tagging The Mare Upon Arrival:
    To make sure that the mare is covered by the properly assigned stallion, WinStar has a roster bulletin where a tag system with the name of the stallion is attached to the mare's halter upon arrival.

    imageThe Stallion Roster where the names of the mares to be covered will be assigned. To the right is the rack with the name tags of the stallions.

    imageClick directly on the image to get a better close-up view of the tags of the stallion's names in alpha order. The ones not showing clearly are Pioneerof The Nile in the middle between Paynter & Revolutionary, to the right of Speightstown is Super Saver and the far right is Jump. Jump appears to have 2 tags. Perhaps Jump and Hard To Twitch might be their teaser stallions.

    imageHere, you see this afternoon's roster line-up being prepared.

  • SallyTSallyT Member
    Your organization is very helpful! If we saw everything at once it would be more difficult to digest it all, and the experience would be over too soon! (like kids in a candy store LOL) Anticipation is half of the fun.
    I especially appreciate that you take the time to include links to articles on the subject!! Thank you so much!
    Sorry it takes me so long to organize a post...there's sooo much information that I discovered on this trip and sorting the best photos takes a bit of time. I wish I wasn't so into understanding what I experienced. But it's also very educational for learning and sharing what I discover with you all! :oD

    More coming up soon!
  • I second SallyT's comment. I like the chronological order and the pace.
  • Thanks everyone! I'm finding it's easier if I cluster the photos/text into shorter segments...helps in editing the posts and selecting the best photos as well!
    Sorry I just got back in.

    More coming up next.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    The Mare's Prep Area:
    We didn't get to see the teasing area where they review the mare to see if she is ready to be covered, but we were allowed into the area where there was a "chute" or a padded stall to hold the mare while the prep person washes her outer genitalia and wraps her tail with gauze to keep it out of the way during breeding. During this time, mares are checked for sutures (Caslick's procedure to prevent foreign matter out of the vulva) and to remove the sutures if they are too tight to accommodate the stallion during mating. The mare is also examined for signs of venereal herpesvirus or other infections or health issues.

    image The chute or padded stall to prep the mare prior to breeding.

    At WinStar, a special non-skid flooring in this area is designed not just for safety, but also to increase biosecurity procedures. With mares coming from different farms and locations, it is extremely important to prevent the spread of any diseases/infections. The one piece rubberized flooring with a drainage in the middle can be easily sprayed and disinfected without worrying about anything seeping into cracks or crevices or mortar between cinder blocks.

    References: (Note you may have to register to read the article in it's entirety)
    Posted earlier:

    Articles about the Caslick's Procedure:

  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    The Breeding Shed:
    imageAisling explains that the glass windows in the background provide video monitoring of the live cover.

    As typical in most breeding sheds, the loose materials for footing (at WinStar, it's polytrack) can be moved around to accommodate differences in height between the stallion and the mare by creating a "mound" so that a short stallion can stand on this mound to properly cover a taller mare. In this shed, there were also various protective equipment found that are used to prevent any injury to the stallion and mare during the covering process.

    imageTo the right in this breeding shed photo is a green, wedged-shaped, padded "chest board" for the mares to lean against and prevent them from moving forward during breeding. In the background on the left is the mare's prep area showing the padded chute.

    Documentation is constantly monitored: As shown earlier, in the breeding area, identification tags are placed on the mare's halter to ensure that the she goes to the correct stallion. In the breeding area, a video system records the mating and provides back up documentation in the event of disputes after the mating.

    imageThese are bite shields worn by the mare to prevent injury to the mare. The bite shield covers the mare's neck, withers and back as some stallions like to grab the mane and skin with their teeth during breeding. The workers in the breeding shed wear helmets and chest protectors for added personal safety.

    imageBreeding Boots are used on the mare's hind hooves to protect the stallion if the mare does kick.

    image The entire perimeter of the breeding shed walls are lined with thick padded panels to prevent any injuries to the horses if they get out of control.

    Semen Sampling:
    Once the cover is complete, a dismount sample is taken from the stallion's penis into a cup and sent to the breeding shed's lab where a small sample is put on a slide and analyzed under a microscope. This sample is important to check the stallions fertility. Also, the Jockey Club regulations state that you may "immediately reinforce a cover with a portion of that covering" to increase the odds of a successful breeding. This is when the dismount sample can be inserted into the mare if necessary. —

    imageSpeightstown being rinsed down with water, perhaps for an afternoon covering. Breeding farms try not to use strong antiseptic rinses because it could remove good bacteria that surrounds the stallion's penis and prepuce (sheath). Unless antibacterial rinses are very necessary, water is most commonly used instead.—


    After Care:
    Currently, Winstar's Stallion roster includes their original 22-year old foundation stallion, Distorted Humor. When the time comes to eventually retire Distorted Humor, he will be in good hands. They are committed in providing a caring permanent place to live for retired, nonbreeding horses.

    They will go a step further...Even if they never had an ownership interest, WinStar has a sincere responsibility for Thoroughbred after care. They have a philosophy to give retired horses a great place to live out their lives. Retired geldings like Hedge Fund (2003g), a full brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner- Super Saver, will receive the same excellent treatment that all of WinStar's horses get every day, whether they are a Kentucky Derby winner (Super Saver), a champion Stallion like Tiznow, a Belmont Stakes winner (Drosselmeyer) or the other happily retired horses living at WinStar Farm.

    A nearby cemetery will also provide a permanent home to the current and future equine stars that have given the farm its glory. —

  • Note: On the following set of WinStar Stallions, pardon for these very out-of-focus photographs but these are the "least" blurred of the WinStar collection of photos we took...sigh, I guess we just can't count on auto-focus and settings for indoor shots. Sorry to disappoint.
    The above is the complete list of 2015 stallions. We were not able to see all of them as several were left out in their paddocks.

    WinStar's Foundation Sire
    The first stallion to be shown is WinStar's foundation sire...Distorted Humor. When Troutt & Casner purchased the Prestonwood Farm, Distorted Humor came with the farm's purchase. Since then, he has proven himself as a leading sire with numerous stakes champions such as Kentucky Derby winner-Funny Cide (2000g), Alternation (2008c), Any Given Saturday (2004c), Boisterous (2007c), Commentator (2001g), 2010 Belmont & 2011 BCC winner-Drosselmeyer (2007c), I'll Have Another's sire-Flower Alley (2002c), Hystericalady (2003f), and Regal Ransom (2006c).

    Forty Niner (1985) x Danzig's Beauty (1987) by Danzig (a 1977 chef de race sire).
    Lifetime Earnings: $769,964 (23 starts: 8 wins, 5 places, 3 shows)
    Entered stud in 1999 at Prestonwood Farm
    Current WinStar Stud Fee: $100,000 (s/n)
    Pedigree Chart:

    imageDistorted Humor enjoys the afternoon sunshine outside his stall. I can't believe he is 22 years old!

    imageDistorted Humor showing his beautiful star.

    imageDistorted Humor finally decides to approach his stall door.

    imageThis is not the most flattering photo of handsome Distorted Humor, but it's the only headshot that wasn't completely blurred!

    Trivia: The new road from the WinStar office to the new stallion complex is named Distorted Humor Parkway in honor of the farm's foundation stallion, the 22-year old son of Forty Niner, the leading sire of 2011 and ranked in the top 10 in 7 of the last 10 years.

  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    BODEMEISTER (4/28/2009)
    Empire Maker (2000) x Untouched Talent (2004) by Storm Cat (1983)
    Lifetime Earnings: $1,304,800 (6 starts: 2 wins, 4 places, 0 shows)
    Background: Came in 2nd in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Retired due to a nerve injury in his left shoulder on 8/21/2012.
    Entered stud in 2013 at WinStar Farm
    Current WinStar Stud Fee: $30,000 (s/n)
    Pedigree Chart:

    imageLooks like Bodemeister was involved in a mud fling outside and he is proud of his mud pack! I wonder who he had the mud fest against?

    imageAnother view of our mud covered Bodemeister. He looks very happy all dirty. I love his soft eyes!

    imageFrom this angle, Bodemeister reminded me of War Front at first glance with that crocked blaze. Although they are not directly related, they both have Fappiano (1977) in their lineage.

    Trivia: As mentioned earlier, WinStar farm is owned by Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt. Casner, originally from El Paso Texas, started exercising racehorses when he was 15 years old and later began to train racehorses. Troutt, from Mt. Vernon, Illinois established his first horse farm in Landview, Nebraska in the early 1980s. Troutt and Casner met when they tried to claim the same horse! The rest is history for WinStar!

  • Photos are fine--they don't look particularly blurry to me.

    Re: Bode--a muddy horse is a happy horse.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    LOL! Thanks lauraj_cincinnati! But...If you saw the rest of the pictures taken, you'd think your glasses weren't helping...they were "really" blurry indeed!

    Yes...Bodemeister looked really happy all caked up in mud...I think he won the mud fest outside! ...And he was full of himself!

    COLONEL JOHN (3/4/2005)
    Tiznow (1997) x Sweet Damsel (1995) by Turkoman (1982)
    Lifetime Earnings: $1,779,012 (15 starts: 6 wins, 3 places, 1 show)
    Background: Won the 2008 Santa Anita Derby & Travers Stakes. Named after an Army Colonel who was a longtime close friend of Troutt and Casner.
    Entered Stud in 2010 at WinStar Farm
    Current WinStar Stud Fee: $10,000 (s/n)
    Pedigree Chart:

    imageI just love the bright, curious eyes of Colonel John!

    imageColonel John has a classic profile.

    imageRather prominent ears...He probably has excellent hearing!

    imageDid I hear someone open a peppermint wrapper?

  • I've really been enjoying your photos and stories, @Paniolo_Gal. I'd love to visit all of these farms someday.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    Thanks @jaefeathered! If you do get a chance to visit these farms...and many, many others in the area, I hope you can post your visit in this thread as well!

    My advise is to plan ahead and make sure you are aware of the breeding season so you might be able to visit the other farms. Many farms do not take visitors during their breeding season. I had no choice on the timetable and visited during late breeding season as my husband on a whim, needed to gather travel miles to keep his status with our Airlines.

    Besides visiting breeding farms...there's so much to see in Lexington, including wonderful places like Mike Blowen's Old Friends, Our Mims, Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park! :oD

    Fortunately, I had guidance from @lauraj_cincinnati...Mahalo Nui Loa (Thank you very much) once again lauraj! :oD

    DROSSELMEYER (4/1/2007)
    Distorted Humor (1993) x Golden Bellet (1998) by Moscow Ballet (1982)
    Lifetime Earnings: $3,728,170 (16 starts: 5 wins, 5 places, 2 shows)
    Background: Won the 2010 Belmont Stakes and the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic
    Entered Stud in 2012 at WinStar Farm
    Current WinStar Stud Fee: $15,000 (s/n)
    Pedigree Chart:

    imageLooks like Drosselmeyer was involved in that mud fest with Bodemeister when they were outside.

    imageDrosselmeyer sticks tongue at someone trying to take his photo.

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