Berthoud’s newest horse breeding facility to host open house Nov. 17
By Katie Harris
Originally raised by the Nez Perce American Indians of the west coast for its coat’s camouflaging abilities in hunting and warfare, today’s appaloosa horse continues to be recognizable for its distinctive spotted and splash patterns, yet the breed has evolved in many ways from what it was in the 18th century.
“Today’s appaloosas are modern, beautiful and talented horses,” said Blanny Hagenah, owner of Avalon Appaloosa’s in east Berthoud. “These aren’t your grandparents’ appaloosas. People expect them to be little, homely, jug headed and without tails, but that doesn’t describe any of my horses.”
Hagenah prizes the modern version of the breed for its reputation of sensibility, a pleasant disposition, and overall refinement, traits she said are a result of selective breeding over the years. Her horses all boast the unique appaloosa coloring trait of spots or “splash” on their coats, which is found in some, but not all appaloosas.
Hagenah’s stallion, Honkytonk Wrangler, the first and only horse she’s ever left a stallion in her 40 years as a breeder, has proven his worth again and again, siring nearly 50 babies, all of which sport the desired appaloosa coloring.
Thanks to the ability to ship frozen semen nationally and internationally, Honkytonk Wrangler has offspring across the U.S.A. and in Europe and Australia, with two due in Africa this year. Here in Berthoud the stallion produces four to 10 foals each year with Hagenah’s brood mares.
“We have foals of all ages for sale as well as a few brood mares we’d sell,” said Hagenah. “We generally sell all of our prospects before they reach four years old, which for me as a breeder is good.”
While the horses at Avalon Appaloosas are typically snatched up before they undergo any training under saddle, even the yearlings are schooled on loading in a trailer and standing for a farrier, having undergone “kindergarten classes,” as Hagenah puts it. Of the available brood mares at the ranch, many are former show winners and are rideable with a bit of brushing up.
Hagenah’s horses typically sell in the $3,000 to $7,000 range, depending on age, training and potential. With such a wide variety of color patterns available, and a range of disciplines the horses can be used for, the breeder said choosing the right horse is highly personal for every buyer.
“Many of these horses would do well in English events, and some could be used for trail riding or for beginner riders once they’ve matured and undergone training,” said Hagenah. “Honkytonk Wrangler was Reserve National Champion Hunter in Hand Stallion in 2007 when he was just a youngster, and he’s sired both reserve world and national champions.”
Having moved the ranch to Berthoud from California last year to be in a more “horsey” area and closer to Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Lab, Hagenah is delighted to have welcomed her first three Colorado babies to the ranch this year: a colt and two fillies. She kept the ranch tightly under wraps while renovations were under way for the past year, but is now ready to welcome the public out to see the facilities and meet the horses themselves during an open house at the ranch this month.
“We’re very excited to meet our neighbors and fellow horse people and show our appaloosas off to the community,” she said. “Our first three Colorado babies will be on display, and they’re pretty spectacular.”
In addition, guests to the open house will have the opportunity to meet the staff and tour the 12-stall heated show barn, weanling barn, heated indoor arena, oversized outdoor arena, seven pastures, and five-horse Eurociser: a state-of-the-art horse exerciser featuring five stalls which rotate in a circle, encouraging horses to move at the walk, trot and canter within their stalls without being tied, and freeing up trainers for other needs while the horses undergo conditioning.
The open house will take place on Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Avalon Appaloosas, located at 20242 County Road 5 in Berthoud, just five minutes east of downtown. Refreshments will be served and everyone is welcome to attend.
“I’m raising some of the nicest appaloosa’s you’ll find in the country, and I wanted to have the nicest facility,” said Hagenah. “It really is top-of-the-line and I’m excited to show it off, along with these lovely horses.”
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