THE JOURNEY BEHIND THE CROWING OF THE NATIONAL SOUTH AFRICAN GRAND CHAMPION FIVE GAITED SADDLEBRED 2017
On Christmas day, 2010, we were gifted with the most exquisite colt. From the moment we first laid eyes on him, we knew we were looking at the next Mountain View Stud. His birth was the direct result of our longstanding breeding vision, our new blueprint. He is a strategically planned combination of vintage genetic lines and our newly acquired imported gene pool.
After a few days of basic handling, he chose his name, Valley’s Rising Music. This name was more than just a name, it journeyed back in time, it reflected on the all the greats within him and secured a place in the history books.
The new born colt, now nicknamed Music, and his dam were turned out into the veld camps where they spent the next 4 months. They could freely roam the undulating hills and the dense African bushveld until sunset. This in itself was the start of his training career, the walking, trotting and galloping all defining and toning his musculoskeletal makeup.
Tragically his dam, My Snapdragon died when he was 4 months old. He was then hand raised down at the training stables.
At six months old he joined a small herd of young colts and fillies in a separate veld camp. Here the foals were introduced to a herd mare that’s sole purpose was to take care of them. This was a new phase for Music, he loved being in kindergarten and flourished under the herd mare. He started growing and developing, exciting us as he started revealing moments of greatness on the occasional prance and frolic.
At nine months old, all the colts were separated from the fillies. Music and the colts were introduced to a gelding, the new babysitter. As he started maturing, we noticed a unique athleticism in him. He was rapidly becoming the horse we had dreamed about. Our excitement became difficult to contain, moonstruck by a fantasy that became real and daydreaming about what the future held in store for us.
Finally the big day arrived. It was eventually time to introduce Music into the professional life of a show horse. What a breeze, it took us an hour to introduce him to his start up trainer, Carlos, a saddle, bridle and mounting using techniques from the Monty Roberts join up process. Music continued to amaze us and took to training like a pro.
We were thrilled at what we saw; Music had a distinct quality about him, something phenomenal. He progressed rapidly and all we wanted to do was share him with the world.
Fortunately, better judgment took president and we progressed slowly and at the pace he could cope with. Baby steps until he showed us he was ready to be a show horse during the winter of 2013. Our excitement was beyond measure. We decided that he would debut in the 3 gaited division in 2014.
Music’s natural motion was an additional gift added to his beauty. He progressed according to schedule. We entered him in the 4 year old Fine Harness division at the 2015 South African Championships. He met our every expectation, winning his class. He became an overnight sensation, he charmed many spectators and breeders from all around the country wanted to combine him with their mares.
That show was the turning point for us. We felt that what Music had to offer was more than we had ever dreamed of. He was more than the vision we had, he was most definitely on route to becoming a big name.
He soon started becoming masculine and stud like. He started loving himself and became sportier as he matured, his athletic ability unparalleled in our breeding program. We spent the winter of 2015 teaching him to rack. After Bloemfontein Show Harold Poil came for his annual hunt. I was working Rising Music, with his Bloemfontein Fine Harness shoes on, and Harold said to lift my hands up and see if he would rack. Rising Music simply started racking like a pro.
Music adjusted to his new training regime easily, he was just a natural. He had our work cut out for us with his excessive natural motion and size. By that October we decided to give him a break from racking and qualified him at Parys Regional as a junior Park horse. This was not where he belonged so after the December break; we went straight back to work in January and continued racking him. He felt amazing.
We were right on track and by April 2016, we headed back to the South African Championships, this time in the gaited division. As we entered the arena, I could feel that something phenomenal was happening. He was confident, he was big, he was bold and he wanted to win. It was an experience of a lifetime, it felt surreal. He was victorious, adding another South African title to his record.
We knew we had something very special in the making. We gave him some time off for two months and further developed his gaits over the winter. Mares were streaming in for coverings by spring. Excited by the developments, we lost track of time and found ourselves on the doorstep of the show season and not quite ready to show. We needed to qualify him for nationals, with two shows remaining; we decided to qualify him in harness.
In January 2017, we focused on the gaited division again. We set our goals and worked as hard as he would allow us up until Nationals 2017. Music just kept giving, a bit more was surfacing every week. He seemed to have no limits. He was so eager to please that we had to curb his enthusiasm to prevent him from burning out.
We could feel the excitement building. We started getting visitors on Saturdays just to watch him work. He loved Saturdays, they were his show days, the days he could fully express himself. As we counted the weeks down, they soon turned into days and in a blink of an eye it was show time.
We entered the Five Gaited Stallion class with a trot bigger than I had ever felt. Music felt like he was a giant, he covered ground so easily, his gaits were so smooth. The class felt like it was over in an instant. I recall hearing so many words of encouragement and applause. I was filled with gratitude; all the years of combined efforts had finally come to a head. For the first time, I knew what right felt like.
We had a mammoth task ahead, a decision to take on Music’s behalf, were we going back to stake night? We felt he was both physically and mentally ready and without further ado, we entered.
As I was doing the final touches before heading over to Music’s stable for his class preparation, I distinctly remember overhearing a call from Music’s farrier. All I heard was, Music has shifted his back shoe, I need to strip it, reset the toe clip and nail it back on. Try keep Irene there as long as possible so she doesn’t stress. Needless to say, I was up and on my way to Music in a heartbeat. I needn’t have worried as his farrier, Thinus Rademan, had it all under control.
Everything fell into place and we were in time. The moment had arrived. When I mounted him, I felt him double up in size. We were ready, win or lose; we were going to put up a show of a lifetime. As we entered the arena, I heard applause, Music felt extraordinary. It felt as if I was on the edge of heaven. His trot was bigger than the qualifier, I felt like he was popping me way out the saddle, but he kept me with him. When we came down to the walk, he had such rhythm and style, he felt like a fancy three gaited horse. His canter was big and collected, I wondered how he was stepping so high with so little on his feet. Then came the slow gait, he stepped up into another world. I literally felt the one, two pause three, four. He was raising up higher and higher, I could not believe what I was feeling. When they announced the rack, Music increased his pace and covered ground, through and around the traffic, it felt sensational.
As we stood in the line-up, I could feel his heartbeat through my saddle and at that moment I realized it was immaterial where we came, the euphoria of that brilliant ride was more than enough to feed my soul for my lifetime.