This article was published in the Summer 2017 issue of NOELLE FLOYD Magazine.If you’d like to receive a hard copy of NOELLE FLOYD Magazine, visit this link.
Near to England’s border with Wales, outside a small town called Whitchurch, is where double Olympic gold medal winner Big Star has discovered life after sport. He may have had a retirement ceremony only weeks earlier at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, but he’s found new purpose under the care of Stallion AI Services at Twemlows Hall Stud Farm.
The 2003 Dutch Warmblood stallion—with Quick Star as sire and Nimmerdor as dam sire—has important genes and his own talent to pass along. Although he was regularly collected throughout his show jumping career for use by his close connections, his open schedule and public access now allows him to multiply the number of his straws, both fresh and frozen, to breed more mares, in more locations.
On a gray, English summer’s day, Noelle Floyd senior editor Erin Gilmore and I went in search of the celebrated stallion at his home away from home. Navigating a meandering driveway of sorts—passing an air field and the Whitchurch solar farm, complete with goats happily munching the tall grass growing in between the panels—we finally came across a field of yearlings, signaling that we were close.
A sign that pointed mares and stallions in separate directions held the next clue as to where we should go, and soon we were standing in Stallion AI Services’ newly built offices. A beautiful, airy barn to match rose directly behind, where the likes of Arko III and a clone of Gem Twist have taken residence.
But it wasn’t where Big Star was stabled. To find him, we walked to the other side of the property, to the quarantine barn. Here he would stay for some time in order to clear his semen for international travel.
I had seen Big Star in barn settings many times before, at show jumping competitions, at his old winter base in Florida, and at his retirement ceremony. Each time, he was calm and quiet—shy, even, with his intelligent, liquid brown eyes. It was like he knowingly saved his energy for the competition arena, when it mattered most.
At stud, however, Big Star showed a completely different side. His energy buzzed around him as he ignored the proffered grain and barely noticed us on the ground. All that occupied his thoughts were the glimpses he could steal through the fence of the mares on the other side.
In typical English weather fashion, gusty wind and intermittent torrential downpours accompanied the day we visited, despite the calendar pointing to summer. With his forelock aflutter, Big Star would catch the scent of the neighboring mares, or felt the brisk air against his skin, and would begin rearing. I could feel his taut power, like an arrow, pulled and at the ready to make contact with an intended target.
The stud is only an hour and a half away from his home base. And in the past, his longtime groom, Mark Beever, would come to dote on him and to take him for hacks in the adjoining woodlands. Beever had told the girls working at the stud to do the same, but none of them have, according to a breeding manager. And it wasn’t difficult to see why.
Yes, Big Star may never put a foot wrong, as every one of his connections will say. But he’s an incredibly sharp horse, and he seemed to know that he has a single purpose on the property: to breed….
This article was published in the Summer 2017 issue of NOELLE FLOYD Magazine. To continue reading, visit this link and flip to page 98.
If you’d like to receive a hard copy of NOELLE FLOYD Magazine, visit this link.