Bec Braitling

HoofBeat columnist Bec Braitling

I am thankful to report the horse show season is finally winding down. Being on the road competing can be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. We finished the season at Galway Downs International, bringing home some blue ribbons and a few personal-best performances. This was followed by a quick trip to the UK to source some more exciting three-day event horses to import to the United States.
I thoroughly enjoy scouring the globe for up-and-coming horses but also love that some of the best are bred in our own backyard. Let’s meet one of our local breeders!

Oak Meadow Farm

Brian Jalbert is the owner of Oak Meadow Farm, a Holsteiner sport horse breeding farm in southwest Atascadero. Brian didn’t get involved in horses until he was in his late 30s, when a job brought him to the Central Coast from southern California. The once avid sailor was forced to sell his boat, leaving a huge hole in his recreation time. The constant exposure to horses on the Central Coast led to riding lessons and things moved quickly from there.
Horses met his recreation needs and pretty soon he decided to buy a property in Atascadero, which eventually led to breeding — first as a hobby and tax shelter but then as a more serious enterprise. Brian was introduced to the Holsteiner breed early on by Anke Magnussen, who owned a business in Atascadero importing Holsteiners from Germany and, needless to say, it was love at first sight. He was initially impressed by the athleticism, versatility and willing spirit of this wonderful breed, which is aptly described in the Holsteiner motto: Character, Class and Charisma.
He bought his first Holsteiner mare in 1985 and soon owned another. Being a relative newcomer to the equestrian community, Jalbert relied heavily on the advice of others and got lucky. Early on, he was influenced by the legendary Holsteiner breeder Lieselott Wiendieck, who gave some advice which has been at the core of his program through the years. She said, “You only need one or two mares. Select them very carefully and breed them to the best stallions you can find.”
This advice has served him well as that little farm has produced two North American champion mares to the Holsteiner registry and his Oak Meadow Holsteiner foals typically earn foal premium awards. The inspiration to continue breeding is the joy of working with the new foals each year — being a small farm he typically has just one or two foals as the goal has always been to produce the best possible sport horse he can.
Brian bases stallion selection on two factors. First, he tries to select a compatible type. Each mare is vastly different and each needs a stallion that will complement her good qualities while not adding any undesirable traits. For example, the heavier-bodied, old style Holsteiner mare needs a lighter, more refined stallion, while the other mare, which is a more modern type, can do well when crossed with a stallion with more substance and bone. He also suggests sticking with a winning combination. If the results of a cross are successful, he will repeat again, oftentimes more than once.
Although he admits he’s not a “line breeder” — one must also consider pedigree — he favours sticking with older more established lines rather than going for the current “stallion du jour” which may be a passing fancy.
Jalbert has used artificial insemination using fresh, chilled semen exclusively until this year, which was his first venture into breeding with frozen semen. This method makes a wider range of stallions available to American breeders and his aim is to do more with this in the future.
Brian’s advice to new breeders: breed the best to the best! Some of Brian’s progeny has already made waves on the international stage in the sport of three day eventing with local trainer Andrea Baxter piloting Oak Meadow bred “Enfinity” to some impressive finishes and has her sights set on the Young Horse World Championships, Modial Du Lion, Le Lion- D’Angers France in 2019. Other graduates have been sold across the United States, paving the way in all English disciplines for the small but mighty Holsteiner breeder that calls the Central Coast home.

MGO Photography Update

Heading into the festive season, I’m thrilled to report that Jacob Greene is recovering well from a head injury he sustained in an
MX accident in early October.
He was transferred to a facility in Arroyo Grande to continue his rehabilitation and is looking forward to returning home by December. His parents Kelly and Marcus report his progress has been astonishing and we hope that trend continues through the  holidays. The strength of the Greene family is second to none and I’m grateful they’re a part of our amazing Central Coast equestrian community.


December Calendar

December 1: Whitehorse Tack Customer Appreciation Gathering.
Come and enjoy this fun end-of-year sale with food, discounts,
giveaways and drawings. The first 50 people through the door between 2 and 6 p.m. will receive gift bags. Join the festivities at 2805 Black Oak Drive, Paso Robles.
December 1-2: Winter Wonderland Schooling Show. Paso Robles Horse Park, 3801 Hughes Parkway, Paso Robles. Come and hone your skills in a laid back and super fun environment at the final schooling show of the year. Entries can be found online at
December 6-15: Cowboy Christmas, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, free
admission, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls, 3150 Paradise Road Las Vegas.
December 15-16: Kristin Hardin Clinic at Marcly Farms Equestrian Center, Nipomo. Come and learn from one of California’s most successful jumper riders. Auditors welcome at no charge. Food
available. Contact Kelly Greene at 805-310-2555 or email marcly for more information.