Host: Saltriver Horsemanship
Written by Heath Stewart – Owner, Saltriver Horsemanship and Topstock WA Feed Services.
My father was a social campdrafter and I got the bug quite early. It is a common denominator between my work and interests; many friendships and client relationships have been founded through my participation of the sport.
I had limited opportunity to own or even ride top horses when I was younger, so when I saw the Hall family (Terry, Chris, Ben and Jane) compete in the Kimberley in 1996 I was blown away by their standard of competition and horses. I overcame my shyness and introduced myself and they were really helpful and suggested I come over their way and have a look about and quite generously let me stay there for a few weeks.
I decided I was going to buy a top shelf mare. There was just one problem, I had about $500 in my account, and the mare Terry suggested was $15,000 (rather a lot of money in 1997). After a few months deliberating I approached my local bank and while they said they hadn’t lent money for a horse before, I got the loan!
Soon after I was the proud owner of McNeills Reagan, a seven year old Romeo mare. I was like a kid with a Ferrari, and she was so quick I was flat out staying on her! It took at least a year of competition to get used to her and she took me from someone who had only ever won one draft to being fairly competitive and winning opens despite my inexperience.
We sacrificed most of her competition years to have foals as this was my one opportunity to breed a top team. She has had ten foals so far and her first foal Impulse (Saltriver Rea) is currently our best mare.
Kellie is amazing at embryo transfer (ET) and Reagan’s last four foals were by ET and Impulse has had 10 ET foals in three years plus carried one. Now I have a new problem, too many to ride and I don’t know which ones to sell!
The downside to missing so much riding was that she incurred a tendon injury when she came back in about a year ago. The initial prognosis from the vet was to retire her, but Kellie put her on an exercise and diet program and ten months later she was back on the truck.
All the hard work was worth it when she won both the opens last weekend at her first show back. Impulse has had a lot of riding by Kellie and combined with incredible natural talent this makes her a great competition mare.
Reagan still looks great at 25 and we could still be flushing embryos if not for the fact of us having too many. She’s mainly used as a nanny to her children and grandchildren, but she’s still an old ratbag and takes them for a hoon around the paddock occasionally.
So if there’s a moral to the story, if you really want something then find a way to do it. To buy a mare for the equivalent of the top price in Australia at the time seemed unattainable, and if I had of given up on my dream I would never had the fulfillment of competing on some amazing horses with generations of enjoyment to come.