It’s been a rollercoaster of a week for Kristi Nunnink, who announced the heartbreaking news on her Facebook page that her talented former four-star mare R-Star lost her foal by Royaldik just before the due date. Fortunately, the prognosis for “Rosie” is good, and the mare should make a full recovery.
“We still aren’t exactly sure what happened to the foal,” Kristi said. “I had dropped Rosie off at the vet clinic on my way to a show over the weekend, because she was due while I was gone. I’m very thankful that I did that, because I’m afraid we would have lost her as well if the vet wasn’t right there.”
The first sign of trouble came on Thursday evening, when the vet called and told Kristi that the foal’s vital signs were “slowing down.” Kristi instructed the vets to do whatever they could to save her beloved mare. “It was very nerve wracking,” she said. “I wanted that baby, but I love that mare more than anything, and so I told them to do everything they could to keep her alive.”
Rosie ultimately never went into labor, and the foal died in utero. The 14-year-old Holsteiner mare remained under veterinary care for the next few days while her own vital signs returned to normal, and she was released to Kristi’s care this week.
Now, Kristi has begun planning to bring the mare back into work. While a heart condition discovered before Rolex last year will prevent R-Star from returning to her career as an event horse, she’s been cleared to continue competing as either a pure dressage or a pure show jumping mount.
“Her heart could handle everything but the high cardiac activity for a prolonged amount of time,” Kristi said. “I’ve been given the green light from the vets to see what she wants to do in the jumper ring.”
R-Star was never one to have much trouble in the show jumping phase during her eventing career, so Kristi has not done much in the jumper ring with her. “I’ve done up to Fourth Level dressage with her to help her settle, but she’s always been so good with the show jumping I never felt she needed the extra time,” she said. “But I grew up doing hunters and jumpers, so it will be great to be able to make a return to that.”
Kristi is confident that Rosie will make a return to full work soon, as she’s been ridden periodically since her retirement from eventing. “She was unhappy sitting around, and she hated seeing us leave for shows,” she said. “So we eventually put shoes on her, and I had my girls start riding her here and there, just so she felt she was doing something. Once she got pregnant, she seemed much more content.”
Despite the loss of her foal, Kristi reports that Rosie is in good spirits. The mare is definitely purpose bred for dressage or show jumping (by Riverman out of Marisol, by Corofino I), so it looks like she should be right at home in the jumper ring.
“She’s quite good at getting to the base and jumping around and not up,” Kristi said. “I’ve been told on multiple occasions that she had the talent to either be a Grand Prix dressage horse or a Grand Prix show jumper, so we’ll just see what she wants to do. I don’t think I’ve even tapped into her scope. The big question is: How high can she go without me falling off?”
Kristi hasn’t left her dream of breeding R-Star behind just yet, but she does not want to put the mare through another pregnancy at this time. “I do have some very nice semen frozen still,” she said with a laugh, “so not this year, but maybe next year we may look at doing some embryo transfers.”
“I’m really looking forward to riding her — I’ve missed her!” she continued. “I’m not in a hurry to get to a jumper show; I know I will spend a lot of time doing flatwork to get her stronger, and when she feels really good, we will find a show to go to.”
We wish Kristi and R-Star the best of luck in their new adventure together and send our condolences for what surely would have been a lovely foal. We’ll keep you updated on Rosie’s new foray into the jumper world as we learn more.