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Orion-Light Van't Huttenest

Year: 1974

     The following is an article that was written and was published in 1997 for The Miniature Horse.

A Horse called Orion…

     In July of 1982, Vern Brewer and I took a trip to the east coast, one of several such trips over a couple of years, looking for miniature horses. On this particular trip, we visited Ray and Ruby Lee, of Shady Acres Miniature Horses, in Hardin, Kentucky, Bond Miniature Horses in Lavonia, Georgia, and J.C. Williams’s Dell Tera Miniature Horses, Inman, SC. We finished the tour with a stop at Mark Verhaeghe’s animal park where he had his miniature horses. We enjoyed seeing his gift shops, petting zoo, and all the atmosphere of his "resort", but had to wait until the next morning to see his miniature horses. We then found that the wait was worth it. Mark had come from Belgium some years before and his herd of mares averaged 29" in height, very small for that time. He also had a group of oversized mares that were mostly POA mares for another breeding plan that he had in mind.

     He took us up to the barns after touring all the pastures and the girl that was working for him turned out into the paddock in front of the barn, a young stallion that excited us both. We asked about him and Mark said that he just used him in his appaloosa program because he was afraid that at 31" refined and leggy, he would not cross well on his little draft-type mares. This beautiful pintaloosa stallion that we could not take our eyes off of, was of course, Orion-Light Van’t Huttenest.

     While Vern was talking to Mark, I pulled the trainer aside and asked if she thought that Mark would be interested in selling Orion. She said that she thought that he ought to because he only bred him to the big app mares and she thought that it was a waste. I pressed further and she said that she figured that he would sell him if he was offered around $35,000.

While we were standing there watching Orion run from one side of the paddock to the other, Mark's wife called him to the phone. While he was gone, Vern and I both were excited about what was in front of us. We both thought that he was the most beautiful, refined, elegant stallion that we had seen on any of our trips looking at horses. I told him what the trainer had said about the possibility of selling.

     When Verhaghe returned we visited for a while and he said that he really did not want to sell. We both told him that we would really like to see some foals from him and some of the little Belgium mares. He said that his trainer had been trying to get him to breed some, but that he thought that the foals would just be too big. We discussed the possibilities at length and he finally said that maybe he would breed some mares to him that season just to see what would happen. All the way back to Texas our conversation seemed to drift back to that beautiful stallion. Vern said that he really did not like his color but really liked his conformation. I said that I thought that he was the most beautiful horse that I had ever seen regardless of color or even of breed!

     Time passed, and the next year, Vern was able to buy some of the foals resulting from those breedings since Verhaeghe was still not willing to sell. Among the group he got two colts, Happy Appy and Xenon-Light Van’t Huttenest. When they were yearlings, the Brewers had both of them in their showstring, and late in the year decided to sell the bigger of the two, Xenon (which he had allowed his son Roy to purchase). I bought Xenon from Roy at a show in Austin as he came out of the ring after winning the class and before he got junior grand in the show. It is a purchase that I have never regretted. He is still, many years later, one of my premier herd sires, and I have many daughters and granddaughters in my broodmare band. In fact, more than twenty-five horses in my herd are direct descendents of Orion.

     After several years of negotiating to purchase or lease Orion, Vern Brewer finally bought the entire remaining herd of forty-two head in order to get Orion. It was a long and arduous negotiation, but Vern was up to it. Since the early 1950s he knew that the importance of a stallion could not be over emphasized, and the time and money that it took to get the right stallion was time and money well spent. History seems to continually bear out that opinion.

     Some years later, after encouraging Vern to buy Bond Dynamo (that’s an entire other story), he gave me a breeding to Orion and Dynamo for Christmas one year. Another of my herd sires, 28 ½" Little America’s Orion Mr It, was the result of my breeding to Orion. His first foals are proving to be a great asset to our program, too. The prepotency of the Orion line continues to amaze and please me after all these years.

---Tony W. Greaves
Little America Miniature Horses


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