2018 Foaling Season at Hilltop Farm

Our 2018 Foaling Season here at Hilltop Farm began in mid-March.  With cold weather and snow still on the ground, we wouldn’t have minded a bit longer delay, but seeing those first foals is always so exciting!

March 14th: Catherine Haddad’s lovely Damon Hill daughter SPS Dreamcatcher gave birth to a very good-looking colt by Vitalis. Dreamcatcher has been the ideal broodmare – settles easily, uncomplicated deliveries, and a great maternal instinct.  Definitely a cross to repeat and Dreamcatcher is already back in-foal to Vitalis for next year. 

March 23rd:  Cuteness overload!  Lily, Arlette Johnson’s Welsh x TB cross mare, had her second foal – this time a filly by the Scottish pony jumper Woodbury’s Harlequin.  Harley’s Angel is very outgoing and wants to be completely in the middle of everything that’s going on.

March 24th: Arlette Johnson’s second mare, Olivia K by Popeye K, thought she’d stay on pace with Lily and delivered a beautiful, bay filly by Talisman.  This is the third time we’ve done this combination and “Sissy’s” quality just validates why we keep repeating it.  This filly is sure to be a star in the hunter ring one day.

March 28th: From a hunter mare to a royally-bred jumper mare.  Next in the foaling line-up was Jack Morgan’s special mare Talinka.  In late March she delivered a very large colt by Cornet Obolensky. Nobalinko is all power and athleticism.  Talinka is already back in-foal to Cornet for 2019.

April 14th: And now our filly streak really starts to run.  Hilltop’s Elite Mare Raj Mahal delivered a strong, good sized filly by Negro.  This one was bred with the FEI ring as the goal and we think she’s a very complete package of conformation, movement, character, and athleticism.

April 16th: Just two days later and it’s another bay filly!  Last year we all loved the Sternlicht x Ebella (Ehrentusch) filly Stella Lux, so we repeated the combo.  Breeder Lisa Saabye was rewarded with another special filly.  Starstruck strongly resembles her dam but seems to have her sire’s confidence and confidence that the spotlight should be on her!

April 21st: Breeder Liz Frankel had been saying this would be her last foal, so when “Layla” safely arrived on the 21st everyone agreed Last Hurrah would be a perfect show name.  By Last Man Standing and out of Liz’s competition mare Gina, Layla is a complete charmer that we know will shine in the hunter ring for Liz in the coming years.

May 1st: It’s hard to believe but we’re already entering our third month of foal watch now!  Gavin Parfit & Isabel Barzun’s Elite KWPN Mare Romy (Gribaldi-Casanova) delivered a very special filly by Sternlicht. We’ve liked all of Romy’s foals, but this one has us especially excited with her long legs and fantastic movement.

May 11th: An it’s another filly!  This time a bright chestnut with a lot of chrome by the Grand Prix stallion Widmark and out of Hilltop’s mare Chiquita.  This is Chiquita’s first filly after producing 3 colts and we are very happy to see the next female generation of this wonderful mare line continue.

May 17th: Wait for it….it was two fillies born within minutes of each other, and of course both were bay.  First up was Susanne Manz’s Everdale-Prado filly Evalina.  This tall, strong filly has a ton of personality and was quickly up on her feet and bouncing around.  Hilltop’s mare Raja foaled just minutes later.  Three weeks early, this Olivi filly is smaller but also full of personality and was quickly on her feet.   

May 24th: Finally, another colt and he was well worth the wait!  Congratulations to breeder Catherine Haddad on this Sir Donnerhall foal out of her homebred mare Raureif.  While this mare always produces quality offspring, we think this one may be her fanciest yet.

June 1st: We’re getting close to the end of foaling season and maiden mares can keep us guessing up until the last minute, but Hilltop’s mare Qindle had an easy delivery on June 1st and produced a beautiful, feminine filly by For Romance.  We were very excited about this combination and Fiona is exceeding all our expectations.

June 6th: The last mare wasn’t due until the end of June, but Valkyrie (Ferro-Idocus) very kindly moved her timing up and produced a tall, elegant black filly by Olivi around 5am this morning.  Named Nova by breeder Susanne Manz, we can just picture this beautiful filly in the dressage ring a few years from now. 

It’s a wrap – 3 months of of foalings, lots of long nights, 11 (mostly bay) fillies and only 3 colts!  Congratulations to all the breeders of these wonderful foals and an enormous thank you and job well-done to our Broodmare Manager Diana Frederick and her team!

Sternlicht Withdrawn from 2018 Line-Up

Hilltop Farm has always been committed to not only offering the highest caliber stallions to our breeders, but also to supporting the education, overall development, and integrity of the sport horse breeding industry.  In response to an owner’s request to breed a mare that was a known carrier of Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS), all the Hilltop-owned stallions recently underwent genetic testing.  All the tested stallions were negative except for Sternlicht who tested positive as a carrier of WFFS.

With recessive genetic disorders like Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS), two copies of a recessive gene must be present for the horse to exhibit signs of the recessive defect. Horses with only one copy of the defective gene are considered “carriers” and do not have any symptoms associated with WFFS.  A foal can only be affected with symptoms if the foal inherits the disease from both parents, and in four years of breeding Sternlicht we know of no cases of WFFS affected foals.  Current estimates are that between 6% and 11% of the Warmblood population are carriers of WFFS, but testing is not common and to-date there has been an overall lack of discussion about the disease or testing.  Hilltop Farm will be encouraging all breeders to test their breeding stock to make informed decisions.

Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome is an inherited systemic connective tissue disorder that is found in Warmblood horses. Foals can have extreme skin fragility that lacks tensile strength and is often characterized by tearing or ulceration from normal contact with surroundings. Limb joints are extremely lax, affected foals cannot stand normally, and they must be euthanized soon after birth. 

Sternlicht has many outstanding traits that make him a valuable contributor for sport horse breeding.  With the state of genetic testing in its infancy, the sport horse industry has not yet had an open discussion on recessive traits like WFFS.  Other breeds and registries are far ahead of us in dealing with similar situations related to recessive traits and genetic testing. Time is needed for education about WFFS, discussions on the use of genetic testing and how it will influence our breeding decisions going forward, and the role and position of the warmblood registries in these circumstances.  Consequently, we have chosen to remove Sternlicht from this year’s stallion roster as we investigate the ramifications of this and other similar situations related to recessive traits and genetic testing. 

We hope that by coming forward and openly announcing this discovery, we can be a positive catalyst for how we as an industry move forward.  Questions regarding Sternlicht or Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome should be directed to Natalie DiBerardinis, Hilltop Farm’s Managing Director, at 410-658-9898 or natalie@hilltopfarminc.com.

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