28 May 1999

COLOURED HORSE HAS COME OF AGE

THEY were once called skewbalds and piebalds. Now they have exotic names like Tobiano and Overo. Coloured horses are undoubtedly the "buzz" of the equestrian world.

And with a stallion owned by the Queen and a top winning imported stallion from the US, Xanthe Barker-Wild is keen to establish her new Kavanagh Stud as one of the countrys leading names in coloured horse breeding.

Xanthe, a one-time pupil of leading dressage rider Jenny Loriston-Clarke, is no stranger to top show success. With the support of local owner Anne Henriques, she has ridden a string of winners the most notable being the caramel dun Welsh Cob Sec D gelding Kentchurch Cloud who had a glittering career collecting a fistful of major titles including the 1994 Olympia mountain and moorland championship.

Although still producing horses and ponies for the show ring, Xanthe is now concentrating on coloured horse breeding at her new stud at Pointer Farm, Preesall, near Poulton-le-Fylde. And with the full support of husband Henry, the venture is already making a name for itself.

"There is phenomenal interest in coloured horses to fulfil a whole range of equestrian disciplines," says Xanthe who finally made the decision to establish the stud when she was offered a stallion with Royal connections.

Oberon, a 16.1hh black Tobiano, is owned by the Queen. Tobiano describes his markings which differ from the Overo or "paint horse" coloureds which have more white coming up the body from the horses belly.

The 17-year-old Oberon had been standing at the stud of a family friend in Yorks. But last year this imposing 19-year-old, sired by the Danish Warmblood Oleander and closely related to legendary show jumpers Marius and Milton, became the first coloured stallion at Pointer Farm.

"Oberon is a magnificent stallion with a wonderful temperament and some outstanding competition breeding behind him. Hes producing top class stock when put to thoroughbred mares and weve seen some very impressive four-year-olds by him with a really big jump in them," says Xanthe.

&#42 Only coloured foals

Oberon, who is homozygous and produces only coloured foals, is fulfilling the growing demand from mare owners keen to breed big, athletic coloured competition horses. Among some of the most influential breeders to have used Oberon is Mohammed Al Fayed.

But the Barker-Wilds decided to introduce some new bloodlines into the UK coloured horse scene and set their sights on the US.

"We wanted to capitalise on the depth of breeding that lies behind coloured horses in America. In the UK its often difficult to go back more than two generations."

With a "wish list" combining breeding, colour and show suc