On 11 January 2015, a leggy chestnut colt was born to the Nader Al Jamal (Ansata Sinan x Savannah CC) daughter DG Givenchy, herself a daughter of LM Sadunga (ex Spruce Tamin) sired by the wonderful El Perfecto (Vallehermoso x Example), the straight Spanish stallion. The colt struggled to rise but immediately his breeders, Andrea and Paul Taylor, were a little split on his future, Paul, being relieved he was a colt, meaning he would be sold, and Andrea a little in awe of him. He was another beauty sired by her own Vivegas, a stallion who needs little introduction, himself sired by Vervaldee (Versace x Precious as Gold) and out of the imitable La Dolce Vita (ex Bint Bint Mierka), herself a Versace (Fame VF x Precious as Gold) daughter.
|On one of our visits.
Andrea was certain the leggy chestnut colt was special; little did she know at the point just how special he was. But while the unnamed colt was adored by Andrea, he was not so loved by his dam. She spent the first couple of days turning increasingly aggressive towards him, yet Andrea persevered to try to build a relationship between them. The little colt seemed oblivious to the lack of his mother love and bounced around like a kangaroo. As he did, it was clear that he was unfurling into a very smart colt, with a fabulous topline and great front, typical of Vivegas stock, and his head a good mix of both sire and dam. On his fourth day of life though, everything changed.
The super bouncy colt didn’t want to bounce; he seemed quite off, so Andrea instructed her vets to take bloods, yet before the results were back, she had a sickening feeling something terrible was wrong. Contacting her vets at Rossdales again, she advised them that she would be bringing him to their hospital. Andrea went to wrap him in a duvet to keep him warm only to find in the moments between leaving him, he had collapsed. So, with him tucked up like a baby and laying on Andrea in the back of the lorry, Paul drove them hastily to the vet hospital. It still took 1½ hours to complete the journey and upon arriving at 10pm, the veterinary team led by Imogen and Emily were waiting for him. The foal was dreadfully weak and they all assisted in carrying him off the lorry into the emergency treatment room were the colt was attached to a drip. While filling out the paperwork and history of his past four days, the vets asked his name; he didn’t have one, but as Andrea remembered him bouncing around the stable just 24 hours earlier, she called him Skippy.
|Managing to stand for five minutes.
By the time Andrea and Paul left at midnight, they were warned that the next 48 hours were crucial for the colt. Knowing Skippy could lose his battle at any time, Andrea suffered a sleepless 24 hours dreading the phone ringing in case it was bad news. The bloods came back with an E.coli infection. It was serious for a young horse to have such infection, that can so easily be picked up in the environment, and even though a diagnosis was given, he certainly wasn’t out of the woods for the next 24 hours. As Andrea was not allowed to visit those first 48 hours, the vets sent Andrea a photo of him; he was wired up to a drip and monitor, he had a bandage on his neck and looking at the photo it really hit home how sick he was. The next morning the vets were a little more positive with their prognosis and Skippy had managed to stand unaided for five minutes, which was a huge improvement.
|Finally grasping feeding
On the third day, Andrea was allowed to visit him. She spent a couple of hours with Skippy, lying in his stall cuddling him, willing him to bounce back. While not really understanding the charts that were used to plot his progress, Andrea logged everything, taking the information to her friend Barbara Gregory to translate into laymen terms. Barbara explained he was on a cocktail of different drugs to fight the infection, and ultimately, he was lucky to have made it to his first week of life.
|First little turn out at vets.
With Skippy starting to feel better, the vets turned their attention to feeding. Of course, this proved difficult to him as he was used to being fed intravenously and upon firmly rejecting the bowl, the vets resorted to feeding him by bottle. This enabled the vet team to spend much time with him, resulting in all of them falling under his spell. As each day passed and his strength improved, the vets slowly introduced Skippy back to the bowl. Once he had got the hang of it, there was no stopping him. After three days he was allowed to stretch his legs in the paddock. Being flanked by the vets, he was let loose and immediately began bouncing about as he had done previously, his tail flagged, a sure indication he was on the mend. The vets advised Andrea that she could collect him the next day.
|Fun with Colours.
Skippy’s medicine list was huge; as well as needing injections morning and night, he required medicinal additives to his milk and Gastroguard to try to alleviate any aggravation to the lining of his intestines. As Skippy’s dam had been less than warm to him before his illness, it was decided he would be hand raised. Andrea managed to acquire a miniature pony from friends of hers, Louisa Biles and Nicola Benson, called Looking Glass Coat of Many Colours, ‘Colours’ for short. She proved an amazing foster mum and taught Skipppy to behave like a horse. Skippy of course, had to be constantly monitored, and the bloods obtained on the Thursday were taking a bit longer to report back.
|More grooming with Colours
Andrea was not comfortable about Skippy on Friday; although he appeared happy and bright, she spent every day feeling the colt all over and discovered that he had a slight swelling in his fetlock and was a little unsound. Contacting the vets again, she asked for him to be taken back in for a further assessment. So, on Paul’s birthday, Skippy and Andrea went back to hospital. While his lameness was minimal – most of the vets did not spot it – the consulting vets requested x-rays of his leg. The the worst was confirmed – the infection had entered the bone. Skippy had to be admitted immediately into special care and a further stronger course of antibiotics was administered. Skippy was less than two weeks old and had the roughest start to life, yet he was always happy to see the veterinary staff as well as Andrea and her family on their bi-daily visits to see him. While he had another couple of very touch and go days, he was illustrating how strong he was and fighting the illness every day. As he had a catheter for so long, he had got used to relieving himself while lying down, which of course proved very interesting once the catheter was removed and, like a baby, he kept wetting himself, not realising that he had to stand to relieve himself. Andrea had to continually take freshly laundered rugs in to him to keep him clean.
Skippy stayed at the hospital 13 days on that visit, each day gaining a little more strength and eventually picking at feed and hay. On the 14th day, it was decided his test results were improving so much, he was allowed to return home, much to the delight of Andrea, but with a little bit of dismay from the veterinary team, who had all become rather fond of him. There was also an online following as so many friends and Facebook followers of the stud, Tucana Arabians, had been anxiously following Sippy’s story on his own Facebook page. As he was now known as Skippy, Andrea had to consider a name close to his stable name, and named him Skipinzski.
|Growing up & recovered
On returning to Tucana Stud, he was introduced back to Colours and he had not forgotten his ‘nanny’ who continued to rebuke him for naughty behavior but showered the love on him that he desperately missed from his dam. Skippy grew in strength and stature and soon, watching Andrea’s reaction to him, Paul realised this colt would not be leaving Tucana. Skippy had worked his way firmly into their hearts. Andrea spent a great deal of the following weeks worrying about him but as Skippy blossomed, her fears abated and she enjoyed watching the playful colt skipping in his paddock. He had the most loving nature, with absolutely no coltish behavior. Even more surprising given his hand rearing, he matured into a fabulous yearling.
|1st photo shoot
Andrea was fiercely protective over Skippy given his poor start, but felt he was such a handsome colt that she wanted to show him. She took him to Northern Group Arab Show, where his many online admirers visited him in the stable to cuddle him before his class. Shown by Andrea, Skippy won his class and went on to be Junior Male Champion; quite an achievement.
As he turned two, Andrea wanted to show him a little more, so enlisted the assistance of Rod Jones Training Centre who produced him for the 2017 season. Skippy was awarded Gold Champion at the Cornish Region Show, third in the European Breeders’ Cup in Chantilly and second in the UKIAHS at Addington, just 0.2 points behind the winner. He then returned to Tucana and the coming show season is now being planned.
|Eyeing up his carrots.
Looking at him now, it is difficult to believe what a poor start Skippy had in life. He is a very refined colt, with a great length of neck, good shoulder and an elegance that is not often seen in males. He is very showy, never fails to raise his tail, has fluid movement that is wonderful to watch, he has good length of hip and still has to grow into himself; he has not lost his legginess, so will undoubtable be very tall.
Andrea is very excited about him as a breeding stallion as she comments that he is the most like Vervaldee age for age, except that Skippy has a particularly level croup. It will be interesting to see his babies, but we have a little time to wait, as he is only available at stud from 2018.
Skippy is a horse who was so lucky to have survived what he did; he must surely be destined for greatness. Time, as they say, will tell.