Woodmont Canadians: A Passion for Canada’s National Horse
Interviewed by Emily Penn
Dantan (Dan) Wilson, owner of Woodmont Canadians, a breeding farm in Ladysmith, British Columbia, is passionately committed to furthering the development and interests of Canada’s National Horse, the Canadian. Wilson’s 54 acre property is home to 20 horses that live in an all-natural pasture environment.
Currently, Woodmont has two standing stallions, Guinness and Rubin. Guinness is a Woodmont bred Canadian that no longer resides at Woodmont but to whom Dan has retained breeding rights, and Rubin is a Hanoverian stallion co-owned by WhatAView Farm.
A lifelong horseman, Dan views successful breeding as a challenge similar to a chess game, and takes pride in combining bloodlines to produce the best Canadians and Canadian-Hanoverian crosses possible.
To learn more about Woodmont Farm, I recently spoke to Dan Wilson.
Photo: Robin Duncan Photography - MD Eno Wassy, “Wendy”, is one of Woodmont’s prize Canadian mares.
Horse Journals: Tell me about Woodmont Farm and the services you offer.
Dan Wilson: We are proud breeders of Canada’s National Horse – the Canadian. We breed our mares at two years of age, foal them at three, let them run with their foals, and usually sell the mares as rising four-year-olds, ready to start serious training for performance in any discipline.
Most of our mares are pasture bred with no interference. Outside mares are bred in a stall, and we can safely and successfully have a mare covered in five minutes with no help from the owner.
We won’t breed any mare unless she scores 90 percent or higher according to the Kirby Assessment System (an assessment system designed by Dorothy Kirby), which focus on temperament, movement, and trainability as well as conformation and type. We are even harder on the stallions; they must score 95 percent or higher to see service.
When was Woodmont Farm established?
Woodmont Farm was established in Huntington, Quebec in 1956 and was registered with Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (CLRC) in 1957. In 1967, as a centennial project, Woodmont Farm moved across the country to BC in a Canadian National Railway boxcar.
What made you decide to breed Canadians?
I was 19 years old when I bought my first Canadian horse. She cost me $5 and was from a Pregnant Mares’ Urine (PMU) farm. I had my Aunt Marg drive my 1947 Dodge while I held down a five-day-old filly in the backseat for the ten mile trip to my farm at Coteau. She was black with a white star and my aunt raised her on cow’s milk mixed with diluted lime water.
One of the deciding factors that led me to start breeding the Canadian in earnest was a comment made by Wolfgang Winkler, who was trained by Kurt Albrecht at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. After riding and assessing two of our horses, Winkler said: “With their quiet and willing nature, comfortable back movement, and motion in all three gaits, this breed would make an exceptional horse for recreational riding.”
Photo courtesy of Woodmont Canadians - Brandy Creek Fablo Felix is the prototype for present Woodmont Canadians.
What traits, characteristics, and disciplines do you breed for?
Generally this breed is a very easy keeper, and a docile and intelligent equine. As a breeder I do not want to lose these valuable characteristics, rather, I want to enhance them. We breed for an athletic horse that is easy and fun to handle. Canadians can excel in any discipline, from competitive trail riding to dressage.
Are there any horses you’ve bred over the years that stand out in your mind? What makes them special?
Over the years I have bred some exceptional horses. Woodmont Rex Glenfiddich was sold to Dennis Waller of Cassidy, BC, and is still owned by him. One of Glennfiddich’s biggest accomplishments was being a top four finalist out of 57 competitors at the 2011 Shady Oaks Combined Driving event at Lodi, California.
Another horse that definitely stands out for me is Woodmont Furie Lawrence, who was sold to Dreams Reach Farm in McBride, BC, where he still stands at stud.
One of Lawrence’s sons, Premier, is currently competing as a successful Hunter/Jumper with owner Glynis O’Shea. He has won multiple Champion and Reserve Champion Hunter divisions on Vancouver Island and was Supreme Canadian at the 2006 Vancouver Island Exhibition in Nanaimo, BC.
Photo courtesy of Woodmont Canadians - WhatAView RubinWinston “Winston” is a Hanoverian/Canadian cross by Rubin, a Hanoverian stallion, out of MD Eno Wassy (“Wendy”), a Canadian mare.
How many foals are born each year at Woodmont?
Before 2010, we had seven to ten foals born annually at Woodmont Farm. They were both Canadian and Canadian-Hanoverian crosses. In 2011, we limited our breeding to four foals and in 2012 we will have three. We will keep these numbers low until the market improves.
What is the most challenging part of running a breeding and sales business?
Because we limit our breeding program we really don’t find that we are challenged today. Actually, having fewer, higher caliber foals, we enjoy less work and take pleasure in looking forward to new foals and being able to spend more time with each one of our horses.
What is the most rewarding part of owning and running Woodmont?
The most important and rewarding part of owning and running Woodmont is working with our horses every day. I have never wanted or needed a holiday. My holiday is here on the farm.
Photo: Robin Duncan Photography - La Bute Watt Billy is a former Woodmont stallion who is featured in the Canadian Heritage Symbols of Canada Publication alongside the maple leaf and a beaver.
What are your future plans for Woodmont?
A photo of our second stallion, La Bute Watt Billy, is being used by Canadian Heritage in their Symbols of Canada publication. He is depicted as Canada’s National Horse standing alongside Canadian symbols like the maple leaf and the beaver.
Our next goal is to breed a Canadian stallion that is acceptable to the breeding unit responsible for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) musical ride.
With WhatAView Farm, we also co-own a Hanoverian stallion, Rubin, of the Rubinstein I and Donnerhall lines, who is imported from Germany. Over the last five years we have produced ten Canadian-Hanoverian fillies and four colts between the two farms.
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Woodmont Farm?
The one thing that I am proudest of accomplishing in my 75 years, with the support of Regent and Gerry Lalonde of Beckett’s Creek Farms, is making a trip to Ottawa after a personal invitation from the Senate to present a brief. This brief was not only to support Bill S-22 to make the Canadian Horse Canada’s National Horse, but to have the bill spelled Canadian when speaking English, and Canadien when speaking French.
There is really something different about a Canadian horse compared to other breeds, and it’s catching. They’re a satisfying, truly fun horse that brings out your inner passions, emotions, and strong feelings of nationalism.
Main Article Photo: Robin Duncan Photography - Woodmont Furie Lawrence, by Bromont Felix Furie, was Woodmont’s foundation sire. He is now owned by Dreams Reach Farm. “Lawrence” was Supreme Canadian at the Vancouver Island Exhibition in 2002 and 2005.