April Wayenberg was a horse-crazy eight-year-old when she was given an orphan foal to care for and raise. With palomino colouring, four white stockings, a white blaze and blue eyes, the colt named Baby Blaze and April became inseparable.
More than a quarter-century later, that colourful colt is 27 years old and living on a farm named in his honour: Blazing Colours, southwest of St. Catharines, Ontario, where April raises and sells unusually coloured riding and show horses.
“I got into breeding because I wanted neat coloured horses to ride,” said April. “Business has been fabulous. We have sold out of all foals for the last four years. And, for 2015, we have already sold three and they are not even born yet.”
Two of her homebreds recently appeared as the star horses in the 2013 film “The Lone Ranger,” starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.
Getting into the Game
When she was just 12, April picked up another project, a neglected donkey, and soon her life and business plans were set. “The donkey needed some groceries and farrier work,” said April. “After a few months, I was able to resell him and make a bit of money. That got me hooked onto buying and selling horses. Finding a diamond in the rough and putting some work into it was my specialty.”
While attending Kwantlen College’s equine studies program in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, April did a school assignment that involved formulating a business plan for a mythical project. “Since I have always loved horses and Baby Blaze gave me my love for the palomino and pinto colours, I thought it was natural that I would want to get into breeding these horses.”
But breeding Quarter Horses of a different colour turned out to be a dead end since they did not sell for much money. “I did some market research into palomino and pinto horses that would be able to jump. That is where I came upon my niche market,” she said.
April moved from B.C. to Ontario in 2002 and sought out a stallion to start her business. “There was simply nothing available to North America in the dilute (palomino/buckskin) colours as far as a Warmblood stallion,” she said. “This is how I came across Mirabeau, who is now one of the foundation stallions.”
Mirabeau, a cremello stud with a white coat and blue eyes, was in Germany at the time and out of April’s price range. So instead, she purchased the pinto stallion Arts Aero, who is from a pinto sireline and a Thoroughbred female line. April and Arts Aero competed in many events successfully before he began stud duty.
It was only a few months after April purchased Arts Aero though, that her mother, Cathy, helped her finance her own property, which she christened Blazing Colours. It was then she was able to bring Mirabeau over from Germany, and the 14-year-old became the farm’s foundation stallion.
Sticking to the Plan
Blazing Colours Farm, run by April and her family, sits on 47 acres and has four barn complexes. The oldest barn is the foaling barn, which was followed by a mare barn, foal barn and riding complex. The riding complex consists of a 26-stall barn and an attached 80’x200’ indoor arena. There is also an outdoor sand arena and 19 fields or paddocks.
For the first years of the business, April kept many of her foals and started them under saddle in order to sell as riding horses. She found that a number of prospective buyers wanted to buy strictly breeding prospects though. “It was tough turning down a buyer who is looking at your fancy young colt to purchase as a stallion prospect. But I had to keep my head set on the end goal – to produce horses that would be used by fellow equestrians.”
Mares are bred at Blazing Colours through artificial insemination and colts are immediately gelded so that April’s business goal stays firm.
April said Blazing Colours is about offering people options. “Just like when you purchase a car, a shirt, a dog, a pair of shoes…we have choices. Now, for anyone who wants to compete in the English disciplines, they have choices in the colours of the horses’ coats too.”
Not only does April run a booming breeding business (there are 10 stallions on the farm these days), but she is a rider, trainer and coach. This has helped her business grow, especially since she teaches lessons on her stallions. “This speaks volumes on the stallions’ ride-ability and temperament,” she said.
“So, for all these reasons, I am now able to sell foals out of my program before they are born,” said April. “The farm, stallions and offspring have built up a reputation that speaks for itself daily. I am extremely proud of how this farm and establishment has grown in leaps and bounds.”