by Caroline Spieker, UMD Equine Breeding Program Intern
(first appeared in the August 2016 issue of
The Equiery)

It’s another successful year in the books for University of Maryland’s Equine Breeding Program! Our year started strong with the sale of our two 2015 Thoroughbred foals for a combined $11,500 in January, along with the acquisition of two new broodmares, and then continued like clockwork with the births of two new healthy colts in April. This year came with a twist, however; our first ever Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross was born! We are excited to be able to continue to expand our program and we anticipate future success.

Today’s Breeding Program
Our breeding program herd currently has four Thoroughbred broodmares and two foals. Our mares include previously donated Daylight Lassie and Runaway Pearl. This year we were fortunate to gain two additional mares, Liberty Bay (donated by Northview Stallion Station), and Old Grey Square (donated by Mr. Edward Hunt).  It’s tough to make it into our herd because not only do the mares have to have good conformation and good pedigrees, but they must have good manners so they can be handled easily by students. These two new mares fit the bill!

Our Thoroughbred colt, nicknamed “Axel,” is by Nicanor out of Daylight Lassie. Nicanor, who stands at Shamrock Farm in Woodbine, has won over $147,000 and is a full brother to the 2006 Kentucky Derby Winner Barbaro. Axel is as handsome and muscular as his father and famous uncle and he’s definitely easier to work with than some of the other high-spirited colts we’ve raised.

Our Thoroughbred/Warmblood colt, nicknamed “Calvin,” is by Contucci out of our mare Runaway Pearl. Contucci is a renowned dressage stallion standing at Hilltop Farm. Calvin is our first-ever Warmblood foal at the University and he quickly became a barn favorite. His easygoing and lovable demeanor won over the hearts of many and he’s even helped to further educate the general public about the Maryland horse industry. It’s exciting to inform those who visit about other breeds and riding disciplines. Even students, myself included, have gained more knowledge about the sport horse industry as a result of breeding a Warmblood cross. Navigating our way through the sport horse world has been a great learning experience and we are looking forward to seeing where our first foal goes!

A huge thanks to Shamrock and Hilltop Farms for donating breedings to their successful stallions!


The 2016 crop of UMD foals Axel and Calvin playing at the larger off-campus farm near Ellicott City

Looking Forward to 2017
As for the future of our program, we will continue to breed both Thoroughbreds for racing and Warmblood crosses for showing since our first year of doing both has been such an exciting journey.

Currently, all four of our Thoroughbred broodmares have been confirmed pregnant and scheduled to foal a week apart in April 2017.  Liberty Bay was shipped to Northview Stallion Station and covered by Buffum, a stallion with over $261,000 in total earnings. Buffum was also the sire of our 2015 colt, Blazing Terp, out of Daylight Lassie, who turned out to be one of the top 10 yearlings sold in the January Midlantic Winter Mixed Fasig-Tipton sale.  

Runaway Pearl also went to Northview but was bred to Bandbox, a new stallion for us, who has a total of over $390,000 in earnings. Pearl’s first foal with us was the Warmblood colt, so we are excited about seeing her Thoroughbred foal next year.

Daylight Lassie was third in line and headed out to be bred to Street Magician standing at Heritage Farm in Chesapeake City.  He won $245,000 and is a great match for our mare.  This will be Daylight Lassie’s fifth foal with us and we are happy to have such a reliable mare and good mother as a part of our herd.

Finally, our newest mare, Old Grey Square, is in foal to our next Warmblood sire. Dr. Kenneth and Selma Garber generously donated a breeding to their Dutch Warmblood stallion Vallado, who stands at Hilltop Farm. Vallado, aka Praise, has numerous wins as a show hunter and he competed in jumpers as well. Our 2016 Warmblood foal’s sire, Contucci, is known for his success in dressage, so furthering our experience by beginning our involvement in the hunter/jumper world will be another fun learning experience for everyone involved!


The newest additions to the UMD breeding program are mares Liberty Bay and Old Grey Square.

Life as a UMD Student
There are so many wonderful opportunities offered to UMD students, especially with the convenience of a farm nestled right in the corner of campus. Our campus farm houses various livestock throughout the year: cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and of course, horses.

Our broodmares live off campus at our larger farm in Ellicott City for most of the year but move right onto the campus farm for foaling each spring. Having the mares on campus allows for a more hands-on experience for students in the Equine Reproduction class, taught by Dr. Charlie Apter. Students can easily visit and participate in the daily monitoring of the mares by checking for increased udder development, and monitor milk production and conduct milk calcium strip tests. When the milk test indicates the possibility of an imminent arrival, students get to spend the night in our Animal Sciences building right next door.

“Foal watch” is always quite the experience for students, consisting of remotely monitoring the mare through a webcam connected to a camera set up in the stall. Foal watches continue until the mare goes into labor, and once she does, students may go to the farm and witness the foaling and help with postpartum care of the foal. The impact the experience has on the students could never be matched in a regular lecture, and we are very lucky to be able to provide that experience at UMD.


Caroline Spieker with Axel at the Campus Farm

©The Equiery 2016

After graduating in May, Caroline headed off to the Kentucky Equine Management Internship program where she was assigned to work at Ashford Stud in Lexington, KY, where Triple Crown winner American Pharoah stands at stud with a slate of other famous stallions.