Predictability is the Key

The art of breeding begins not with the stallion, but rather with the mare. Therefore, our breeding strategy starts with selecting premium mares for bloodlines, conformation, and the genetic potency of her family heritage – particularly the strength found in her tail female line. This allows us to plan, with predictive results, for the traits she will pass forward. We can then confidently match her with a stallion who will complement and enhance those genetic attributes.

Our staff spends hours analyzing and reviewing the phenotypes and genotypes of every mare, stallion and foal at Orrion Farm. Frozen semen allows the most prominent breeding stallions to be at our fingertips regardless of the continent they call home.

The work is intensive, but well worth it. The knowledge attained with every foaling season increases quality in each new generation.

Footing That Protects

Footing

Orrion Farms uses a premium footing surface called Premier ProTex that is comprised of carefully chosen, non-woven textiles and fibers. It is then mixed with sand to mimic a sod surface for premium cushion, rebound and grip. It is used in Olympic-level jumping, dressage, vaulting and horse show complexes around the world. We also use an underground footing irrigation system from OTTO Sport Ebb & Flow that both increases our staff’s efficiency and provides a consistent footing for our horses.

The care and well-being of our horses is always the top priority, and this premium footing is one way we can enhance their long-term health.

Pasture Irrigation with Conservation in Mind

geyser

Using snowmelt from the Kittitas Reclamation District Canal, Orrion Farm’s pasture irrigation system is a state-of-the-art automated system fueled by a powerful system of underground pipes that drive massive, geyser-like sprinklers. When no water is being used, the variable drive shuts the pump down to “sleep mode” to conserve energy. All unused water from the pump vault is piped back into the KRD canal to increase efficiency. All of this allows us to be good stewards of our valuable water resource.

Irrigation Canal

The Kittitas Reclamation District controls miles of irrigation canals to deliver snowmelt from the Cascade Mountains to valley farms each year. The Kittitas Valley is known for strong daytime winds through much of the growing season, so the Orrion Farms irrigation system was designed to irrigate in nighttime water windows, which creates more efficient water cycles by avoiding wind drift and evaporation, integrating strong eco-water practices into our daily farm operations.

Paddock Protection

Every pasture and paddock is judiciously double-fenced. This allows greater safety for all horses because horses in different pastures cannot touch each other, while also allowing the staff more flexibility for turnout locations. Additionally, aisles measure 16’ wide; swing gates can then latch in either direction, creating endless catch pens and chutes. Staff can operate gates with one hand so that moving horses is easy, safe and efficient.

Foal Kindergarten

When Doug first joined Orrion Farms in the early 2000s, having safe, happy, healthy horses and people were his top priorities. Foals who were given boosted confidence through additional attention can avoid ‘wrecks’ so that they are less prone to panicking and hurting themselves or others. So, he created the Foal Kindergarten program. Starting when foals are just a few days old, our staff spends an enormous amount of time handling them, whether in their stalls or turning out each day with their mare, time in cross ties, getting on/off trailers, experiencing new paddocks, arenas – whatever we can do to safely expose our foals to new, interesting and stimulating environments makes them happier, healthier and more confidant. While it’s a substantial time commitment, Doug has always believed in the program and we’ve seen the difference – Orrion Farms’ horses are well-behaved and easy to train (and catch) from a young age.

Natural Barn Lighting and Ventilation

Award-winning equestrian architect, John Blackburn, offered priceless suggestions to improve our horses’ quality of life. Two of his most important concerns when designing equine facilities are natural light and natural ventilation.

Opaque ridge skylights run the entire length of the roof in all three barns, brightening the barns with additional natural daylight. Not only does this increase the comfort of our horses and staff, it also creates the ideal conditions for our broodmares in their cycling and foaling seasons. A barn created to court nature provides optimal opportunities for efficient and expedient fertility earlier in the year.

With over 70 stalls, ammonia accumulation can be a serious issue. High concentrations of ammonia in the air can irritate the mucous membranes to the eyes, nose and mouth and possibly increase the susceptibility of animals to respiratory infections. Therefore, we took simple steps to increase airflow and improve the indoor air quality in each barn. First, we removed the hay loft storage which significantly reduced the fire hazard and associated allergens. We then replaced the dirt barn aisles with concrete paver bricks to reduce dust. Finally, each barn has new high speed, battery powered aisle sweepers to further reduce dust and encourage more frequent cleaning.

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