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On January 19, 2007, at 4:30 pm, Carol Gee of Fort St. John, B.C. lost her battle with lymphoma cancer. She passed away at home with her family around her. A great loss to her young family, the community, and the horse community.
Carol Gee and Landover (Lynx/Arkansas/Sandsturm)
Landover didn't win the 2005 Stallion Licensing here in British Columbia by accident.
Owner Carol Gee’s love or horses really began at birth, but took hold 32 years ago when she got her first horse. Her mom had had horses as a teenager, but it had taken 11 years for them to convince her Dad to buy acreage so Carol could get a horse.
After earning her CGA at college, Carol got into dressage, keeping her horse at her parents' house and riding with her Mom. She really got into dressage at the age of 23, saying her first coach, Ellen Drews of Edmonton, inspired her real love of horses and dressage. 'My Mom and I camped many summers in her yard and we were treated like family.' Later, Ellen came to Fort St. John regularly to give clinics.
But riding wouldn’t be all for Carol. In the early 80’s the German owner of the Hanoverian stallion Sandsturm bought some land near the northern community of Fort St. John, Carol's hometown. He bought a number of mares to breed to his stallion, and soon there was a herd of 40 running wild on the property.
The owner only lasted 3 years in the isolated community, and the new managers started selling off the horses. Carol convinced her mom to take a look and they ended up buying 4 horses: 2 weanlings and 2 yearlings. They intended to train one and sell the rest, but two of the Hanoverian/Thoroughbred mares became her foundation mares. 'One is still out in my backyard,' says Carol. 'That’s Londoner’s grandmother. I bred her for the first time in 1986.' She bred the two original mares to a stallion her coach Ellen Drews imported from Europe.
The past three years she has ridden with Derek Huget of Vancouver and feels he has taken her riding to another level. 'Derek loves Landover and is very inspiring,' she said.
Once hooked on breeding these two warmblood mares, Carol bred 3 colts and 5 fillies. She had always wanted a stallion of her own, so she had kept one of the colts entire prior to having Landy arrive on the scene. Carol says she never believed in financing anything but your home and one auto, so she never had the cash balance to purchase a stallion prospect. She also loved breeding and having foals.
'I thought Landy was special when he was three days old,' Carol recalls. 'He had the look and the moves. At four months, I took him with his Mom to a mare inspection, and the German Inspector really liked him. That’s when I thought he might be THE ONE.' Carol thinks the world of his disposition, and says he was kind and loving from the moment he was born. He tries to please, and riding him is a dream, with no 'stallion resistance.'
'My goal in breeding was always to breed an exceptional dressage horse for me to ride,' Carol recalled. 'But this one was special beyond that.' So she decided to make the trip to Aldergrove this year (2005) to see how Landy would do at the Stallion Licensing event. Carol, true to form, gave to Landy what he had always given to her – love, respect and kindness.
Instead of trailering in the day before and hoping for the best, two weeks before the Licensing she made the two-day trip from Fort St. John, travelling around 1500 km with Landy and her 8-year old son, sleeping in the camper portion of her horse trailer.
'I came early to take lessons from Derek Huget. Derek doesn't come to Fort St John in the summer so I needed lessons. And I have an 8 year old son so it also had to be a holiday for him, too,' said Carol. 'I also wanted Landy to have lots of time to recover from the long haul.' They slept in their camper/horse trailer at the stable for two weeks, and when she wasn’t busy with Landy, Carol took her young son to see the sights, including the Pacific National Exhibition, which he loved. A mom, a son and their dog – together on this journey for the love of their horse.
'My success with Landover I believe is because I wasn't breeding for a stallion, I was breeding for a talented riding horse, an exceptional dressage horse for me to ride.' Carol and her life partner Dave Moore recently purchased a 1/4 section and built an indoor riding arena. They breed 3-4 mares a year, start the youngsters themselves, and then sell them as 3 - 4 year olds with 5-8 months training.
Carol with her son, their dog and Landover.
Carol has a few pieces of advice for breeders who hope to raise a great stallion prospect ...
'First, don't assume you have a great horse because it has famous parents. My first stallion I left a stallion because he was out of an Olympic stallion, and that was a mistake. Landover stayed a stallion because he had something special as a youngster and he was so easy to keep a stallion, having such an incredible disposition.'
'Second, go where your heart takes you. Do it because it’s your passion, not because you hope to profit. I did a round penning clinic with Chris Irwin and watched many join-up kind of videos, which I feel are a must for respect.'
'I breed because I love horses and there's no greater joy than getting Christmas cards from people who have bought a horse we've bred telling us how much they love it.'
Asked for any final thoughts, Carol said, 'Every day when I go to ride I remind myself of the gift God has given me and make sure I don't waste that talent.'
Congratulations, Carol. You deserve it. We wish you and Landover all the best.
By Jane McLeod, BC Chapter Secretary
All photos courtesy Steve Charles, Totem Photographics
This article appears in the 2007 May Breeder's Digest #3
Added: April 15, 2007