Stallion Owner Spotlight: Avalon Equine

Welcome to the first installment of our North American stallion owner spotlight! Getting a better look into the history, passion, and ambitions of the men and women working to progress the industry and help breeders understand the drive that cultivates warmblood breeding here in North America.

Avalon Equine got its start almost four decades ago and now their breeding program is one of several programs making North American Warmblood breeding the power house it is today. With around 15 foals a year, their operation is considered one of the more successful mid-sized operations in the United States.

Avalon Equine

Avalon Equine owners
Avalon Equine owners Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead of Avalon Equine and Equine-reproduction.com.

Avalon Equine got its start almost four decades ago, when Kathy St. Martin was on the hunt for an amateur dressage prospect. Through the course of time, Avalon Equine has become one of the top producers of quality warmblood broodstock in the U.S. after decades of hard work and the cultivation of a breeding program that caters to prolific domestic and international bloodlines. Now, Kathy St. Martin and her husband Jos Mottershead have created quite the legacy in Avalon Equine. Their breeding operation is producing a modest number of foals each year, with a variety of licensed stallions and proven broodmares in their program. Their stallions’ offspring are proving themselves in the showring and in the breeding barn. 

Avalon Equine owners, Kathy and Jos, are members of the large equestrian governing bodies in the U.S.(USDF, USEA, etc.), but they also personally offer education on equine reproduction through their equine reproduction business (equine-reproduction.com), and have been known to work directly with mare owners and their veterinarians to brainstorm and work through ideas to troubleshoot and optimize their success.

How did Avalon Equine get started?

Kathy says “My father was in the military, so there was never an opportunity to own a horse until he retired. But, I did anything and everything I could to be around horses wherever we lived.” It wasn’t until over a decade later that Kathy started her venture into warmblood breeding. My second horse was an Anglo-Arab that a lot of my broodmares will actually trace back to. I bought her with babysitting money when I was 15 and she was 2. She became my endurance racing mare. I did my 2nd to last 50 mile race on her when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter and I did my last race on her when my daughter was 16 and the mare was 24. She lived to be 34.

Oldenburg stallion Ideal
Kathy standing with her Anglo-Arab mare, and first warmblood foal, Idealise by Oldenburg stallion Ideal.

Kathy tells us that same Anglo-Arab mare was the first cross she made. The first time was to an Arabian stallion her uncle owned – he was actually the one who supported her and got her her very first horse. She bred her later to Ideal (Inschallah x Pamela/Zeus) for her first Warmblood cross.

What started as an amateur trying to find the perfect dressage prospect has since turned into an incredible story of dedication and passion for North American breeders.

Ideal filly
Kahlua and Ideal filly Idealise.
Tor of Glastonbury
After a visit to Glastonbury over two decades ago, Kathy and Jos found inspiration for the Avalon Equine farm name after soaking in the view of the Tor of Glastonbury.

How did Avalon Equine get its name?

When Jos and Kathy made the decision to combine their breeding farms, it was time to come up with a new barn name. “We came up with the name after visiting Glastonbury.  Glastonbury Tor is a hill near Glastonbury in the English county of Somerset, topped by the roofless St Michael’s Tower, a Grade I listed building. The entire site is managed by the National Trust and has been designated a scheduled monument. The Tor is mentioned in Celtic mythology, particularly in myths linked to King Arthur, and has several other enduring mythological and spiritual associations.” Avalon Equine seemed a fitting new namesake, and as such, the foals they produce on the farm all receive the d’Avalon naming convention.

What does Kathy have to say about the industry?

Mannhattan from Avalon Equine
Mannhattan from Avalon Equine, and Kathy, almost 30 years ago!

While the top priority for Kathy is producing well rounded, conformationally correct foals in her own breeding program, she and Jos strive to offer a variety of licensed stallions to mare owners to help nurture the warmblood breeding industry here at home. 

How and why do you support the registries you do?

I’m all about customer service. If I’m going to work with a registry, I want to know that they are supportive of American breeders. Since I originally got into warmbloods almost 40 years ago, the registries have certainly evolved, morphed and changed directions over the years. But, at the end of the day, the registries I prefer working with are the ones that are easy to work with, have inspections all over the country for our mare owners and have the same requirements and goals that I believe in.

When asked what the most challenging thing about being a stallion owner is, she has this to say: “Trying to ensure that I am proactive in making sure our customers and clients are taken care of. Dealing with living, breathing animals means there are times when they aren’t on the same page with what you are needing or wanting on a particular day.

How does Avalon Equine choose their mares and stallions for their program?

Every breeding program is different, from desirable traits and temperament, to show records and conformation. Kathy has some pretty specific desirables and we think most people can see where those fall into their program.

Initially, pedigree. They HAVE to have a desirable pedigree that will appeal to the North American market. Once they are on the ground, what their conformation is like, what their gaits are like and if they lean dressage or jumping. And, of course, temperament. If it’s the most perfectly conformed, perfectly bred stallion, but has a horrible temperament, he’s gelded. I can go much further on a less than perfectly conformed horse that has a spectacular, willing temperament than one that is perfect, but is not a nice animal to work with. The same standards apply to our broodmares.”

Avalon Equine told us they love the Furioso line, and how they treasure the versatility and all around quality that pedigree brings to their program. Kathy says some of her favorite dream crosses would include combinations that include old bloodlines like the old Inschallah, Furioso II and Zeus combinations, as they were always known for their versatility, athleticism and talent. She said she would be inclined to try to breed a combination of those pedigrees, only with a more modern “twist”.

A great memory Kathy shared about one of their program’s foundation stallions was when Mannhattan was at his 100 day test. “When Mannhattan was going through the 100 Day stallion performance test, they kept raising the free jump to the point that the stallion director yelled at me if I was okay with them going higher. I nodded and they put the rail up to just shy of the top of the standards. Mannhattan breezed over it.

Mannhattan Oldenburg
Avalon Equine foundation stallion, Mannhattan, Oldenburg, soaring over jumps at 11 years old.

The Avalon Equine stance on North American warmblood registries.

Kathy and Jos have been involved with a handful of N.A. registries over the last several decades, so they’ve seen progress in real time. “I think that we have imported some really spectacular stallions that have moved our breeding programs forward in North America. I think that the horses we are breeding now are so much better than they were even ten years ago.

Challenges are still present, as with every industry. When asked about obstacles she has seen most recently, Kathy has this to say: “I think that we sometimes see with mare owners that if it stands in their own backyard, it’s not as good as something that’s in Europe. We don’t have the warmblood “machine” that we see in Europe. Young horse auctions are still viewed with skepticism here. We don’t have the unified voice that you see with breeders in Europe. And of course, our stallion licensing/performance testing is challenging.

When it comes to superior service, Kathy says this of Avalon Equine: “I think that we offer not only really good quality stallions, but we are also able to help and guide mare owners that may be having some challenges getting their mares pregnant as we also specialize in equine reproduction. And I think that we strive to be approachable and easy to work with.

Of course there is still the debate on whether importing international stallion semen is more beneficial than shopping here at home, and Kathy has an insightful opinion on that dynamic. “North American stallion owners have a vested interest in mare owners producing a good quality foal and seeing that foal reach its best potential. We tend to be supportive of our mare owners and most offer a live foal guarantee. With the price of frozen semen reaching the prices of fresh cooled and with the breeding doses resulting in fewer and fewer straws, it’s becoming more and more difficult getting pregnancies at a reasonable value. Way back when I was first breeding warmbloods, the price of frozen semen was usually less than $500 for a breeding dose and it usually was at least 8 straws per dose. That’s a reasonable price vs. risk. I WANT my mare owners to be successful and get pregnancies, preferably on the first collection!

oldenburg stallion mannhattan
Avalon Equine stallion Mannhattan as a 4 year old.

Kathy’s final word of advice when diving in to your warmblood breeding program? Just follow and believe in your own goals and dreams. And support others! We always figure that we are all in this together and if our clients are successful, that means so are we! She recommends breeding for what YOU as a mare owner or breeder would like to own and ride – that’s the ticket!

Avalon Equine Testimonials:

“Kathy and her team are amazing!  We had some delays with shipping due to COVID and she was very understanding and worked with us to make it work.  When we got our mare to her she took excellent care of her and got her bred right away and on the first try!  Very professional.  Very easy to talk to and work with.  Great communication.   Very pleased with everything!!”

– Kristin Waterman

“Wonderful people and so very helpful. They offer advice and truly care to make the breeding process, for the mare owner, go very smoothly.”

– Marie Emery

The Stallions at Avalon Equine

If you’d like to check out the current Avalon Equine stallions, browse and click through the links below:

Apiro Stallion

Apiro

Apiro (Argentinus / Pilot / Cyrus)

Baatesh

An athletic and blood option for warmblood breeders!

Belafonte d’Avalon

Power in a small package!

Colorado Skrødstrup

Incredible athleticism with the added bonus of color!

Dracula d’Avalon

Talent, temperament and beauty!

ES Black Tie

Exceptional Dressage Bred Stallion Excelled in the Hunter Arena!

ES Toronto

Imported Celle Stallion!

Gladiator d’Avalon

Stunning Eventing Stallion in a gold wrapper!

Legaczy

Exceptional hunter stallion!

Mannhattan

A dual purpose stallion producing offspring in all disciplines!

Pax Asgard af Pegasus

Quality Knabstrupper Few Spot – Guaranteed colored foal!

Sarkozy

Brilliantly bred imported dressage stallion!

Sempatico

Stunning Homozygous Pinto Warmblood Stallion!

Silver Creek’s Validation

Vallado / Lansing / Capitol I

Vindication S

Outstanding Jumper stallion with good competition results!

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