Owning a sporthorse breeding farm in Maryland was not what Wendy and Marty Costello envisioned when they began taking their teenage daughter to riding lessons almost 25 years ago. Wendy had always loved horses and purchasing one for their youngster was the perfect opportunity to finally own one. Then Wendy’s childhood passion for horses was reawakened. At first she only wanted to have her own horse but then she had a dream of breeding one of her own. Her first mare was a dressage trained thoroughbred (TB) approved for breeding by the Hanoverian Society. The initial thought when breeding her was that the foal would be her “last/best/forever” horse. But in the same instance she became the owner of the stallion she was to breed her mare to, Donavan (photo left by Karen Leitz: Elite Stallion, Derwisch x Akelei).
The result of this initial breeding was a handsome colt named Duesenjaeger (photo middle right), fondly known as Pilot. The next year the same match resulted in a filly who was top foal at her inspection. In just 3 short years, more foals, JJ Tate’s success with Pilot, and Donavan’s renewed success at FEI levels, cemented the drive for the Costello’s to continue their new breeding program.
In the beginning, Donavan was the focus of the breeding program at Riverland Farm in Mequon, WI, now known as Kent Island Sporthorses in Stevensville, Maryland. Being new to the breeding industry Wendy did all she could to learn about her stallion, his lineage and the breed. Her goal was to find the best mares she could afford and breed them to Donavan in order to preserve his best qualities: superior mind, considerable athletic talent and substance. She attended annual meetings of the American Hanoverian Society where she met some of the breeders who had previously bred their mares to Donavan but also met interested mare owners for future breedings. It was during this time she decided to open Donavan’s book to mares in the Oldenburg NA and GOV registries. Whether breeding mares for the American Hanoverian Society or either of the the Oldenburg registries the end result was to produce charismatic, sensible, sturdy horses with a good mind for the adult amateur riders. Kent Island Sporthorses has achieved this goal but has also produced horses for the professional rider as well.
Donavan has produced many wonderful offspring. Drachen Herz, a 1999 stallion out of an approved TB mare is one of those foals. He is an approved breeding stallion with many premium foals. Several of Donavan’s offspring have won regional year end and high point placings in Dressage, Hunter classes and in three-day eventing. Donavan himself was a top 5 Award recipient for the American Hanoverian Society Year End Awards and made a mark in dressage every year from his early years at lower levels with George Williams to the FEI level with JJ Tate. He is consistently in the top 5-10% of the Leading Sires in Dressage for the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).
JJ Tate, a top FEI rider and trainer, has been associated with the Costello’s from the beginning. After their success in the breeding industry and Tate’s success in reintroducing Donavan to the FEI community it was decided to expand the goals of Kent Island Sporthorses. The Costello’s decided to help Tate obtain a world class mount to increase her chances of entering international competitions and perhaps one day the Olympics. Tate set out to find her mount in Germany that she could compete with but that the Costello’s could also promote for breeding. She found the German Oldenburg stallion, Rosall (Rosario son of Rubenstein x SPS Liberty by Akzent III). Rosall also has a good mind and world class talent plus he crosses well with Donavan mares.
During his show career Rosall has accomplished many feats and strives for many more. He was Champion of the First ISR/Oldenburg NA 10 day Stallion High Performance test, placed first of the stallions in his 30 day Stallion Licensing Test in Munich, Germany and qualified for the National Young Horse Championships. At the age of 10, Rosall is quite a bit younger than Donavan but has already begun his legacy as a stallion. Some of his offspring include two highly accomplished sons plus many others. He has an approved son, Royal English KIS born in 2010 out of the mare Atlanta by Aktion (Dutch Warmblood). Another son, Royal Rousseau KIS by Rousseau out of a Kent Island Sporthorse mare (EM Royal Princess OBX) was the recipient of a $5000.00 prize from Hassler Dressage Breeders Challenge Sweepstakes and is now owned by the Malones of Harmony Sporthorses.
Along with their wonderful stallions, Kent Island Sporthorses prides themselves on their mares and their premium foals. They have presented several Elite mares and bred several top foals of site inspections. Including, Don Noir by Donavan, Doha Day by Donavan (photo bottom left by Karen Leitz); Royal Rousseau KIS by Rosall, Paprika KIS by Pablo and Reserve Champion D’Aktion by Donavan and now in 2013, top colt at his AHS inspection, Exclusive KIS by Escudo II. JJ Tate has chosen 2013 Rekos Royall KIS, a Rosall son out of EM Royal Princess OBX (photo left by Richard Malmgren), as her own colt. When asked how SBS assists the Costello’s with their breeding program Wendy said,
“By giving us all of the advice and information we need at the click of a mouse or a ring of a phone! It makes this process so smooth because I will get the right information from the people at the top of the “game”. I can count on their experience and knowledge to help me reassure and educate breeders that all will be done as professionally as possible. This has been the way it’s been since I first froze Donavan 12 years ago. When I had both fresh and frozen to offer, it was one thing, but now I only have frozen semen to offer. Breeders, especially new breeders, want to feel confident they are not throwing money away. There are myths out there about using frozen semen. I have been able to prove those myths wrong time and time again. First time mares, older mares, mares that have a history of losing foals all have become in foal with frozen semen from SBS.”
“We are now in a unique situation and the ability to use Frozen semen has enabled us to keep our dreams and the dreams of others alive,” said Wendy. Donavan is now 28 years old. The Costellos didn’t want to be collecting semen from him after the age of 25 so they chose to freeze his semen when he was younger so they could continue to produce foals after his retirement from the breeding shed. Though they had hoped to keep Rosall (photo right with Wendy Costello) a breeding stallion as well as a competitor they had to make the difficult decision to geld him in 2012. But not before they had SBS in Chesapeake City, MD freeze his semen.
“We were the first ones to try Donavan frozen semen on a maiden mare and she caught first try. We are able to recommend SBS easily and confidently to others. I had a lot to learn and they were patient in teaching me all about the collection process, the assessment of semen, and the insemination process.”
The Costellos have used Select Breeders Service to freeze all of the semen from both of their stallions. They first utilized the mobile lab from Select Breeders Southwest in Aubrey, TX when it traveled to Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital in 2000.
“Since 2007, we were incredibly fortunate to move to MD and become Kent Island Sporthorses which is not far from the lovely headquarters of SBS in Chesapeake City, Maryland. I have had the pleasure of meeting with Paul Loomis and his staff on many occasions. To me they offer everything I could ask for: knowledge, experience and patience! And a quick response! I have also worked with Select Breeders Southwest in Aubrey, TX where much of Donavan’s earlier frozen semen is stored and they are also very helpful and knowledgeable. Staff at both facilities are easy to access. So I recommend to anyone in any phase of the breeding industry, to seek SBS and choose them for your frozen semen needs.
Photos provided by Kent Island Sporthorses.