Rampaging stallion kills mare
At Red Pony Farm, death hard to fathom
A rare Marwari mare died last week, when a stallion of the same spirited breed escaped from his stall in a rented barn at Red Pony Farm, chased the mare across farm property and attacked her. The death left farm workers shaken, saddened, and angry.
The loss could also be a blow to the efforts of the mare's owner, Francesca Kelly, to preserve and strengthen the unusual breed, which traces ancestry back to legendary battle horses of ancient India.
Photos by Mariah Bendavid
The dead mare was called Bijli.
West Tisbury veterinarian Constance Breese, who responded to a call for help on Wednesday, March 11, said that the mare was already dead when she arrived. She said that marks on the mare's head and accounts from the farm workers indicated the mare had been repeatedly stomped by the five-year-old stallion, called Nazrulla.
"It's kind of an extreme expression of stallion behavior," said Ms. Breese. "Stallions are very difficult creatures to have on a farm. It's not unheard of that a stallion acts out aggressively."
The mare was a favorite of Ms. Kelly. In a 2001 interview with The Martha's Vineyard Times, she said, "My personal dream is to race my lightning mare Bijli into the winds that blow across Cape Poge and thunder down East Beach at dawn, with the sound of the Atlantic surf around us."
Nazrulla was born on Chappaquiddick, among the first Marwari horses every foaled outside of India.
Jennifer Blaisdell, an experienced horsewoman who is employed by Ms. Kelly to care for the Marwari horses, said she was devastated by the killing. She described the events of the late afternoon. She had finishing her evening chores, and the stallion was in his stall with the lower gate closed, and an upper grate open, as she worked near the front of the seven-stall barn. The sliding front doors of the barn were open to a gap of about four feet.
"Everything was perfectly calm," said Ms. Blaisdell. "I heard this bang. I turned around, and the stallion and the mare were running toward me. I tried to block the door. They blasted by me."
Red Pony Farm owners Martijn Stuurman and Karen Magid, concerned about the reputation of their riding and boarding farm and the safety of horses and farm workers, said that the mare and stallion, along with the other Marwari horses, were housed in a barn leased to Ms. Kelly, separate from the other horses on the farm. Mr. Stuurman and Ms. Magid stressed that the Marwari horses were not under their care.