With windswept bangs that fall as though artfully arranged to set off his deep- brown eyes to their best advantage, the ruggedly handsome face of Three Chimneys’ stallion Formidable will undoubtedly charm many mares and riders in his lifetime.
Already, the good-looking brother of Mad for Smarty, is making the ladies, both horse and human, swoon.
“The first time we saw his picture, a bunch of us had the same reaction: we looked at him and said, ‘Oh my God! That’s a good-looking horse!’ ” says University of Minnesota equine lab services coordinator Andrea Reed. “It’s not everyday that somebody gives you a horse this nice!”
But, last December, Mr. Handsome was wrapped up and delivered to the university’s equine program on the Crookston campus, courtesy of Three Chimneys Farm.
After earning $202,000 on the racetrack, the 2005 stallion by Sky Mesa, stepped off the horse trailer and into the warm glow of a 45-stall barn filled with broodmares and earnest students, all curious and interested in the new man on campus.
“I was a little skeptical at first,” Reed says. “I thought, oh no, another Thoroughbred stallion!”
But her concerns were quickly allayed by his charm and good manners, and by his good behavior that does not abandon him, even when he is getting to know the ladies.
Race name: Formidable
Sire: Sky Mesa
Dam: Santaria, by Star de Naskra
Foal date: Feb. 11, 2005
Winnings: $202,286“The first time we bred him, I was a little concerned about how he might behave. But, he was fantastic! He listens so well. He’s been a prince,” Reed says.
Formidable is happily learning the ropes as a ladies man, and has successfully gotten a Palomino Quarter Horse named Norma in foal.
And, other mares are lined up, waiting to see if the chemistry is right for them!
“We take him down the mare aisle to see if anybody talks to him,” Reed says. “If they seem interested, we stop to let him chat them up a bit.”
The goal is not simply to find good mating prospects for the bearer of royal bloodlines of Seattle Slew and Storm Cat, but to provide hands-on knowledge for students of equine reproduction, Reed notes.
Among other things, they learn how to handle horses who may forget their manners in the height of the moment. “He’s tested them a little bit. He may start shoving you, but, if you get after him, he’s very quick to behave,” she says. “He’s Mr. Manners after that.”
Along with the breeding experience, skilled equestrians are also planning to train the explosive runner to be a riding candidate and possibly a lesson horse for their program.
He has been lunged a couple times under saddle, and come spring, may start work with an experienced rider.
“We’ll start him English style because that’s what he’s used to. If that goes well, we could put him in a western saddle, and see if he goes western,” she says, emphasizing that he will not be jumped. An earlier injury prohibits that, she said.
But for now, the goal is to “let him learn his first job” and, when lunging, to get him collected in groundwork.
Although Reed was a big fan of their previous breeding stallion, who was retired recently, Formidable has surpassed him with his good manners, charms and looks.
In fact, people outside the university are already trying to put their mares on Formidable’s dance card!
“A good friend of mine has a Thoroughbred mare descended from Spectacular Bid and another has a granddaughter of Seattle Slew,” she says, and these pals are hoping for a chance for an introduction to the new guy. “When my friend’s husband heard about him, and his bloodlines, he said, ‘Oh my gosh, we should breed both our mares to him!’ ”
But beyond the fun of it, the excitement, and the sheer joy of working with such a fine stallion, there is something else that is special about the experience.
“Ever since we got him, I’ve paid more attention to the negative news about what happens with some racehorses,” she says, “and, I love that we can look at Formidable and say, he is one who has a good life.”