Kae Nelson didn’t mean to get so involved with breeding Shire-Thoroughbred
sporthorse crosses, at least not at first. Over twenty years ago,
still a schoolteacher and finding herself desiring her own warmblood but
unable to afford the quality or size she needed, she was remarking on her
dilemma while shopping one day at The Leading Rein in Austin, Texas.
Her friend, Dianne Smith, who breeds nationally ranked show mules, suggested
she breed her own. Kae’s problem is that she is tall, 5’10.” And
that’s what started it all.
From there, she began a quest that put her into some very interesting situations
and took her down some unusual paths of inquiry. For example, how do
you call up a stranger, a “little ole man in Ohio,” that Texas A & M told
her to contact and ask him about what he uses for an breeding dummy?
But more on all that later.
On a whim, Kae had opened a Burberry coat catalogue and seen a model with
two gigantic horses peering over her shoulders. Those look like nice
horses, she told her friend. They were Shires, considered the Cadillac
of the draft breeds due to their movement and temperament. They are
good movers from the shoulder and usually stand 17-2 to 18-2 hands high and
sometimes weigh as much as a ton. The English Shire was bred as a riding
horse to carry armed knights. Later Kae would get to experience that
weight in some awfully funny predicaments. She decided to start
crossing Thoroughbreds with Shires and began researching her new idea immediately.
The Anglo-Shire warmblood (which is what she aimed for) was considered the
original Irish Hunter that evolved by accident when English Shires were pastured
with race horses.
At the time, she as best she could discern, only two folks in the country
bred Anglo-Shires—one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. Kae
visited both farms and pooled all her money to buy a gigantic grey purebred
Shire stallion that became known as “K.P.”
As she and Dianne drove the stallion home from the West coast, a grey Porsche
passed them on the highway. “I’ve always wanted a Porsche,” she
remarked gaily to Dianne. Dianne reminded her that her “Porsche” was
standing in the trailer hitched up to their truck, hence he became known as
“Kae’s Porsche” or K.P. for short. “Forget it,” Dianne said. “You’ll
never have a Porsche.” Most horse people can relate to that.
Today, she stands his great grandson, Tuxedo Affair, who is seven years
old and three-fourth’s full Shire.
But first she had to learn more about breeding horses. She comes from
a ranching family in the Bastrop area and owns a 30 acre place of her own.
Now she had to take things to a higher level. After all, this was business
and she had much to learn. She built a custom stock that had a lambswool
lined chest plate. As luck would have it, K.P. hurt his back and Kae
exhausted all vets and chiropractors looking for help. Finally, A &
M told her that to make the animal (K.P.) be able to breed, she’d have to
train him to allow her to collect “on all fours.” Stallions, in nature,
mount mares. But K.P. was unable to do that. So, she called “the
little ole man in Ohio” and he explained the process he’d gone through to
get collection done on all fours. He also admitted that for a collection
device he just used a plastic baggie and that when the stallion heard the
crinkling of the bag, he got “very happy.”
Kae and Dianne were ready. She had all her research done, the stallion
was primed and ready. They brought a mare around to tease him.
He was placed in the stock with its wool lined chest plate. They held
their breath and suddenly, he forgot his back and reared instead! Kae
had not expected this. In doing so, he got one of his legs hooked around
the uprights of the stock and then slipped down, awkwardly pinned within the
confines of the structure. Fortunately the stock was not fully sided
but still, Kae knew they were in pickle. The horse weighed 2000 pounds.
He lay there, looking at Kae as she nervously stroked his head, trying to
assure him they’d figure something out.
Dianne’s cool thinking saved the day.
“Anyone in the breeding business has barrel gallons of KY jelly,” Kae told
“We were going to have to pull him out one way or the other. But he
weighed so much. Simply to get his foreleg unhung from the stock took
both women all their might and shoulder strength as they hoisted it up and
over. Now the animal was simply pinned and a bit more comfortable.
So, they lathered him up, spread the KY all over him. Dianne told Kay
to get her truck and they hitched him by a halter to the bumper of the truck.
With slow increments, and much back and forth coaching by Dianne, Kae put
the truck into gear and inch by inch pulled him out of his predicament.
K.P. lay there for a moment, stunned. Kae envisioned her investment
was now all for naught. But suddenly he caught wind of the mare who
they’d tied to a tree not too far off. He jumped up and began calling
for her. He was ready all over again.
Despite their size, “they really are careful” when they are breeding, Kae
explained when describing her stallions. She’s made sure that the current
stallion she stands who does do live cover, “Tucker” is the nickname for Tuxedo
Affair, has never been kicked by a mare. That alone has helped ensure
that he does not feel the need to bite down and clamp onto a mare’s neck
and to be defensive about the whole matter.
For marketing, she’s mostly relied on word of mouth and accepts usually
up to 3 outside mares a year. What she gets from her breedings are
Anglo Shires who might be 3/8ths Shire, and 5/8ths Thoroughbred when she
uses her own mares. Her babies normally command a $3500 purchase price.
Currently she has two in foal and three youngsters for sale. In 2006
she will be showing Tucker in dressage.
Valerie Young of Leander, TX, has a grandson of K. P. that she successfully
shows as Shadowfax. Bentley is owned by Sue Newbury of Connecticut and
shown as a fox hunter and in jumping. Los Angeles is home to Bo (Bodacious
Affair), a 17.2 hands high fellow who is still growing and will be evented
by owner Anna Howell who is even taller than Kae. Meanwhile in Dripping
Springs, Bailey is working under the guidance of owner Jamie Farmer and dressage
coach Irene Hill. April Jones who also hails from Dripping Springs,
is awaiting the maturation of her 16-hand yearling Calli (Clandestine Affair),
while Cas (Casino Affair) is being pastured at Kae’s as his new owners, Kerri
and Kenny McFarland, complete their move from Boston to central Texas.
Kae Nelson of Kaesen Farms can be reached at 228 Glass Lane,
Bastrop 78602; phone (512) 231-2931. Her website is www.kaesenfarms.com;
email is firstname.lastname@example.org.