The name, McTalley Manor, is new, but the sporthorse breeding approach is the same one that's propelled the former Malouin Manor to consistent success since Merijane McTalley started the business in 1988. Her receipt this year of the Dutch Warmblood Breed Registry's, the KWPNs, Silver Breeder Award is the latest of many accolades to grace her efforts. Her greatest reward, however, is the satisfaction of seeing American-bred horses improve in quality. That was her goal in starting the breeding business.
"I think we American breeders have made huge gains," observes Merijane, who is also a sporthorse breeding judge. "When the Dutch inspectors come here they are really comparing our quality now with that of horses bred in Europe."
There's still progress to be made. To accomplish that, Merijane encourages clients and breeders in general to focus on the mare's role in the breeding equation. "I think that should be our number-one goal right now." With her own clients, she'll do this even if it means losing a breeding.
"I ask mare owners how objective they want me to be," she says of evaluations done either in person or by asking detailed questions about the prospective mare's conformation, temperament, athletic ability and other traits. "I know they are
my clients' 'babies.' Some people ask for objectivity, but they are not ready to hear it." With so many stallions available through frozen semen, there is no excuse for not honestly assessing the mare's attributes, she says. "There are plenty of great stallions out there, but they can't do it all
McTalley Manor has a band of five broodmares and a long list of European stallions represented via frozen semen. With all of the mares having delivered babies last year, Merijane has plenty for herself at the moment and will consider leasing out one of her mares for the first time. They are all top stock, as Merijane has held herself to the same standards she recommends to her clients.
"I cull my herd regularly. I've sold mares that
were my 'babies' too, but they just weren't what I was looking for in terms of their ability to produce top horses."
McTalley's foundation mare Harmony is the first American-bred mare to earn the KWPN's Keur Elite Preferent Prestastie designation, Merijane notes proudly. Each adjective in that title reflects different levels of success in Harmony's offspring. "Most people go to Europe to buy a mare with such distinctions, if they can find one, but she was bred here." Delivering the approved stallion Rhythm & Blues, by Olympic Ferro, is one of Harmony's many claims to fame.
Harmony isn't the only star at McTalley Manor in Riverside County's Banning. The G Ramiro Z daughter Nelissa has already produced several First Premium Colts, and the Sandro Hit daughter Vivanta "produces nothing but super babies," Merijane says. One of those is Evanta III, by UB40, another of McTalley's broodmares.
The Stallion Side
Merijane represents an impressive and diverse list of top sporthorse stallions: Olympic Ferro and Numero Uno, just to name a few. Most are Dutch Warmbloods. She typically goes to Holland every year for the stallion shows, then stays to visit a few more farms. Those visits, coupled with trusted connections throughout Europe, enable her to bring in a few new stallions each year. "The young ones are exciting and it's nice to have new blood." She hopes to bring one of those new horses to stand at her ranch this year, but at presstime, negotiations on that were not yet finalized.
Merijane is equally candid about stallion choices, occasionally talking a prospective customer out of one of the steeds she represents if it seems a poor fit for the mare involved. It's not a get rich quick scheme, by any means, but it has produced something better in 15 years of gratifying results in talented, athletic and enjoyable horses for her clients.
McTalley Manor is distinct among U.S. agents in that the program offers live foal guarantees with the frozen semen sales. "I know many people are still afraid of using frozen semen, or they have mares that don't conceive well with it," Merijane explains. With most stallions, clients can choose between the more expensive LFG guarantee or purchasing semen on a per-dose basis.
Long standing relationships with stallion owners helps Merijane be confident about the viability of the each horse's semen. "This provides us with an insight about the stallions that other agents might not have," she explains. "It gives us the nitty gritty about each stallion. It's data that's not normally out there." Sending a test batch from each stallion for evaluation by the Gluck Research Center in Kentucky is another confidence-instilling step.
The KWPN's Silver Breeder award required 30 points, as earned by the offspring of McTalley Manor's horses. Merijane already has 43 points. With her honesty, integrity and great eye for horse pairings, she seems well on the way to reaching the association's 60-point threshold for the Gold Breeder Award.
For more information on McTalley Manor Sporthorses, contact Merijane McTalley at
909-241-6334 or visit www.malouin.net.
(The website address will soon be changed to www.McTalleyWarmbloods.com.)