Eight of 64 Clydesdale stallions and females nominated for 2017 All-Canadian Clydesdale honors were foaled by Clydesdale mares bred at Westerdale, by Dale Rosenke, Olds, Alberta. However, the Westerdale story line doesn't end here. Two daughters of Westerdale Friendly Fiona were 2017 Reserve All-American Mares. Surely, this is a testament to Rosenke's success as a breeder of Clydesdale horses.
Dale Rosenke bred Clydesdales at his Westerdale farm for over four decades. Dale sought disposition, size, conformation, bone, bottoms, character, action and quality in the breeding stock he owned–traits that won the Clydesdale breed fame. Few horsemen studied the breed as Dale did, while no breeder was a greater critic of the Clydesdale horses that they bred, bought or exhibited. Sadly, Dale never felt he had bred what he considered the ideal Clydesdale horse. This said, the Westerdale Clydesdales bred for Dale, as well as for fellow breeders fortunate enough to wrangle the purchase of one of his many Westerdale favorites.
In 1970, Dale bought his first two Clydesdales: Bonnie Argyle and Masondale Lorna. The first Westerdale foal was born in 1971. However, these horses failed to satisfy Dale, for he was determined to breed what he considered the ideal Clydesdale. This in mind, Dale toured Eastern Canada in the 1970s searching for Clydesdale broodmares that would facilitate success. Following his tour, eight mares arrived at Westerdale: Riverview Judy 10th, Yorellea Jean, Maple Wood Tracey, Doura Sweet Bloom, Doura Majestic Hagar Heather, Tulloes Maril, Linda Superb and Weedon Dale Birdie. On their arrival, Dale started his quest for a special breeding horse, a quest that was never ending.
Upon learning that Wilson Equipment Ltd., Truro, Nova Scotia, had their Clydesdale hitch offered for sale, Dale wasted no time negotiating the purchase of this stable's stallion, Bardrill Strathmore. Bred by R. & S. Cumming at Low Ersock, Wigtownshire, Bardrill Strathmore had covered few mares in Atlantic Canada. Before arriving in Alberta, the Scottish-bred sire covered several mares in the Ottawa Valley. Sired by Torrs Renown, the Supreme Champion Clydesdale, Champion Stallion and Cawdor Cup winner at Scotland's 1964 National Stallion Show; his dam was by Highland Monarch, a breeding horse well known in breed circles on both sides of the Atlantic, for the big, upstanding hitch horses he had sired. Bardrill Strathmore sired 33 foals registered in Canada. Of these, 22 were registered with Dale's Westerdale prefix. Dale often stated that Bardrill Strathmore's offspring were key to Westerdale's success.
In 1980, three days after he came home from the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF), Dale flew to Scotland. Greeted on his arrival by Hugh Ramsay, who owned the Millisle Clydesdale Stud at Garlieston, Wigtownshire, Dale had occasion to inspect Millisle Print, Ramsay's senior breeding horse. From the instant he saw Millisle Print, this big, upstanding stallion captured Dale's interest. Speaking of Millisle Print weeks later, Dale stated the eye-catching Clydesdale had but two faults. He could have used a sharper hock and had he been born with a better color, he would have been more popular with breeders. However, when he concluded his trip to the United Kingdom, Dale considered Millisle Print the best Clydesdale stallion seen overseas. Before leaving Scotland, Dale bought a brown colt from Hugh Ramsay. This was the rising 2-year-old, Millisle Masterpiece, a Millisle Print son bred in Northern Ireland by James Smyth of Castlerock, Derry.
While in Northern Ireland, Dale visited the Croaghmore stable owned by James Henderson at Bushmills, County Antrim. Here he saw Croaghmore Jess and Croaghmore Lucinda, together with their mother, Croaghmore Pansy. These three Clydesdale mares overwhelmed Dale, who years later often stated they were "as good a family of Clydesdale broodmares a serious breeder could find." Dale never forgot these Croaghmore mares–Croaghmore Pansy in particular. These Irish-bred mares were in Dale's mind when he purchased Clydeslea Millisle Venture from Bill Taylor, Grand Valley, Ontario, in 1984. Bred in Northern Ireland by John Glass, Ballycastle, County Antrim, this 5-year-old stallion was from Croaghmore Jess, whose big, weighty sire, Muirton Security, had been another of the Scottish stallions known for the hitch horses he sired. Furthermore, Croaghmore Jess was a maternal sister to Doura Student Prince, who had been the Reserve Grand Champion Stallion at the RAWF some years earlier, for Doura Student Prince, like Croaghmore Jess, numbered among the progeny foaled by Croaghmore Pansy.
Dale was ringside when Berry Farrell, Manager of the Budweiser Clydesdale Breeding Farm, placed the 15 colts and 16 fillies at Scotland's 1980 Winter Fair. While the Scottish pundits were high on the colt Farrell had in first, Dale felt Farrell's second place colt was the better sire prospect. This was a son of Maidenplain Trademark, whose dam, the Doura Excelsior mare, Bardrill Linda, was one of Croaghmore Pansy's granddaughters. Purchased by Jim Picken, Torrs, Kirkcudbright, when he left the show ring, Torrs Pointsman was the Supreme Champion Clydesdale, Champion Stallion and Cawdor Cup winner at Scotland's 1981 National Stallion Show. A few months later, he was Champion Stallion at the 1981 Royal Highland Show. Sadly, this big handsome colt left few, if any, foals overseas. Torrs Pointsman was essentially sterile. However, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, purchased his full-brother, Bardrill Refiner, in December, 1982.
Easter Littleward Mona, the Supreme Champion Clydesdale, Champion Female at Scotland's 1980 Winter Fair, also caught Dale's eye. A daughter of Glenord Landmark, she topped the class of filly foals. Impressed by her size, she stood on great feet. While her legs and feet were furnished with a wealth of straight silky feather. While in Scotland, Dale had occasion to inspect her dam, then a 19-year-old Doura Perfection daughter, that was bred and owned by Charlie Carrick, Easter Littleward, Thornhill, Stirlingshire. Mona was the old mare's 13th foal. Very stiff when seen, this veteran broodmare could scarce get to her feet. However, Dale said it was easy to see why Easter Littleward Molly had been one of Scotland's great Clydesdale broodmares.
Leaving the Edinburgh show, Dale spent a night with David and Margaret Kerr, Maidenplain, Auchterarder, Perthshire. The next morning, progeny of Maidenplain Roseanna, a Muirton Security mare, were cause for an adrenalin rush. Sired by Maidenplain Hallmark, these honor-laden youngsters–Maidenplain Melody Ann, Maidenplain Dorothy and their full-brother, then a yearling colt–were often the subjects of animated conversation when Dale returned home.
Dale visited Robert Brewster and Sons, Broom, Stirling, Stirlingshire, when he left Maidenplain. A bitter cold wind failed to dampen his enthusiasm, for the Brewster family also owned some of the better Clydesdale mares seen in Scotland. They were bred to two of the better Clydesdale stallions Dale had seen on his overseas tour. Broom Chancellor, their Johnston Aristocrat son, stood a solid 18 hh. A bay stallion with a wealth of color, he had Clydesdale character in abundance. However, Dale considered Broom Chancellor a touch too long over his back. He felt Broom Designer, his son, was the better horse. While no taller than his sire, Broom Designer appeared more upstanding in type.
Before flying home, Dale paid Robert Johnston and Sons, Roughlands, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, a visit. Here he saw Glenord Landmark, the sire of Easter Littleward Mona. Light roan in color, Glenord Landmark stood about 17.2 hh in height. A thick-bodied stallion that stood on legs that could have had greater length, Dale felt, Glenord Landmark was a breeding horse a serious Clydesdale breeder could ill afford to overlook. His wealth of clean flat bone impressed Dale, as did the great bottoms on which he stood. While this stallion failed to create an adrenalin rush, Dale maintained Glenord Landmark had qualities the Clydesdale breed could successfully use. Although he didn't see Heather Enchantress, Glenord Landmark's celebrated dam, her photographs sparked Dale's desire to breed Clydesdales patterned the likes of her.
The Johnstons had five impressive Clydesdale mares–two brown mares by Glenord Comet; a big, brown 3-year-old that weighed a ton or more, plus two black mares, one the mother of Roughlands Eminent. This well-marked black colt knew how to lift his feet. Third in the class of stud foals at Scotland's 1980 Winter Fair, Roughlands Eminent had been purchased at the Edinburgh show by Jim and Shirley Bryden of Mannville, Alberta, who were also touring Scotland. One of the black mares seen at Roughlands was a Brockloch Footprint mare of great size. Given the events that followed, it is evident Rosenke was impressed by the Clydesdales he saw while visiting Roughlands.
Millisle Masterpiece, the Millisle Print colt that Dale purchased when leaving Scotland, was from the Doura Aristocrat mare, Castlerock Jane, whose dam belonged to a family of Clydesdale females that continue to breed with considerable success in Northern Ireland. While holding court at Westerdale, Millisle Masterpiece sired 15 foals registered with the Westerdale prefix before he was sold to Allan and Wilson Gregg, Paisley, Ontario. When Millisle Masterpiece died in 2014, he had 39 offspring registered in Canada.
Impressed by Robert Johnston and Sons' Clydesdales, Dale bought Roughlands Commander, a Roughlands Trademark colt in 1981; together with two 2-year-old fillies–Glenord Choice and Glenord Melody. These daughters of Glenord Comet were paternal sisters to the big brown mare that Dale had seen while visiting Roughlands a year earlier. James Thomson, Glenord, Cupar, Fife, had bred all three of them.
Roughlands Commander and Glenord Melody were from Glenord Charm; while Glenord Choice was from Glenord Lady 3rd (a.k.a. Glenord Classic Lady), broodmares that were daughters of Glenord, the Supreme Champion Clydesdale, Champion Stallion and Cawdor Cup winner at Scotland's 1958 National Stallion Show. Glenord was an own son of Muirton Sensation, a Clydesdale sire without equal in the Clydesdale world when alive and breeding.
Collectively, the Clydesdale females listed in the paragraphs above were Dale's foundation mares.
Dale thought a lot of Millisle Masterpiece, whose foals were both smart and level-headed. They were the kind of Clydesdale Dale enjoyed being around. However, as a group, they failed to measure up to the offspring sired by Clydeslea Millisle Venture, Millisle Masterpiece's paternal brother. This off-colored blue roan was the better sire of the two Millisle Print sons that Dale imported. Stood on big sound feet, this stallion's clean underpinning was furnished with a wealth of straight silky hair, characteristics found on a successful Clydesdale breeding horse. Although all too many of his offspring were also roans in color, three daughters of Clydeslea Millisle Venture became stable favorites–Westerdale Judy, Westerdale Sweet Caroline and Westerdale Sweet Sophia.
In the late 1980s, Croydon Benefactor was purchased by Dale. Bred by Eddie Arnold, Shoal Lake, Manitoba, this stallion had been owned in succession by Paul Cooper, Mukwonago, Wisconsin; Douglas Hammill, Kalispell, Montana, and Robert and Morgan Cambell, Fawcett, Alberta. Sired by a son of Riverview Benefactor Ideal, this bay horse foaled in 1975 was out of Croydon Rosemarie, whose sire, Commander, was an eye-catching son of Bardrill Castle that was much admired by Clydesdale breeders in Manitoba. While bred in the purple, Dale didn't care for Croydon Benefactor's attitude. Nonetheless, he registered 16 of Croydon Benefactor's foals bred at Westerdale.
In 1992, Dale bought Belleau Annette's Adam, a stallion bred by Anheuser-Busch, Inc. This American-bred sire made Dale more money than any of the stud horses he owned. His altered sons in particular fueled a fast trade with those North American horsemen who fielded an exhibition six-up. However, few of his daughters had a lasting legacy in the court of broodmares retained at Westerdale. Fifty-one foals by Belleau Annette's Adam were registered in Canada. Thirty-four carried Dale's Westerdale prefix. However, this figure is misleading, for Dale registered few geldings bred at Westerdale. The Clydesdale geldings Belleau Annette's Adam sired numbered among the better Clydesdale geldings of their time. In fact, there was a period when few Clydesdale hitches shown in Canada and/or the United States failed to harness at least one son of Belleau Annette's Adam, the popular Budweiser hitches included.
Tightly-bred, Bardrill Castle appeared four times in the first four generations of Belleau Annette's Adam's pedigree. Dale considered Bardrill Castle one of the most influential Clydesdale sires of his time. This said, he often questioned the fact that the sons of Belleau Annette's Adam commanded a faster market than his daughters. However, Dale was foremost a Clydesdale breeder–one with a critical eye who never bought a Clydesdale replacement on an impulse.
While Doura Sensation was a son of Doura Masterstroke, this honor-laden Clydesdale had been Supreme Champion Clydesdale, Champion Stallion at countless breed shows–the National Clydesdale Show in America and the RAWF in Canada included. Dale respected the fact that Doura Sensation had lifted these top honors shown before a number of highly respected judges from Great Britain, Canada and the United States. While I never heard him question their judgement, I am certain Dale felt Doura Sensation owed his success in the show ring and as breeding horse to his mother, Drygate Silver Mink, a Doura Excelsior daughter. Doura Excelsior was another breeding horse that won Dale's favor.
When Paul Cooper's powerful mare Doura Douglas's Delight foaled the Doura Sensation colt, the Cooper family registered it as C.I.E. Perfection. Dale kept this sire prospect in focus. Doura Douglas's Delight was a Clydesdale mare that rattled Dale's rafters. Besides being another Doura Excelsior daughter, Doura Douglas's Delight was out of Barlauchlan Black Magic, as good a Clydesdale mare as could then be found in the British Isles. On learning that C.I.E. Perfection's sale to Australia had collapsed, Dale started negotiating the horse's purchase. Sadly, Dale didn't get along with C.I.E. Perfection. To quote his daughter Jean, "Dad considered C.I.E. Perfection a real jerk to handle." However, C.I.E. Perfection continued to hold court at Westerdale for several years. Twenty-four of C.I.E. Perfection's 32 foals registered in Canada were bred at Westerdale.
A quiet man of great intelligence, Dale Rosenke had strong views on a host of different subjects. In his opinion, Doura Masterstroke's offspring lacked style and presence, traits Dale felt important if a Clydesdale breeder was to show their horses at a breed show like the RAWF. While visiting South Clutag, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, when in Scotland years earlier, Dale could scarce believe Robert McQuaid's Clydesdale mares were bred to Doura Masterstroke, when Hugh Ramsay stood Millisle Ideal for public service at a neighboring farm. Before Dale bought C.I.E. Perfection, few, if any Clydesdales he owned had Doura Masterstroke in their pedigree.
The C.I.E. Perfection daughters Dale owned won his favor. He purchased Windy Ridge MacKenzie, a C.I.E. Perfection son, from his friend Harry McKenzie, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. While he wasn't big, Windy Ridge McKenzie was a quality horse, one with an attractive front end. Bay in color, he could tramp. Furthermore, Dale felt he was exceptionally well bred, for his mother, Mountain Valley Benefactor's Jewel, who had been purchased from Doug Hammill, Kalispell, Montana, was a Croyden Benefactor daughter out of Balgreen Silver Lining, the Champion Female and Cawdor Cup winner at Scotland's 1978 Royal Highland Show, when shown as a yearling filly.
Windy Ridge McKenzie sired 16 foals registered in Canada. Ten were females with Dale's Westerdale prefix. Monty Thomson, Gladstone, Manitoba, bought this young sire, when Dale was finished breeding with him.
Ever searching for a better breeding horse, Dale leased Thistle Ridge Eaton Vision from Ralph Covell, Azusa, California. He also traded a Westerdale filly for a colt by the California horse. Bred by David Cleghorn, Thistle Ridge Clydesdales, Ariss, Ontario, Thistle Ridge Eaton Vision's sire was Hillmoor Fusilier, an Ayton Perfection son that Dale liked. Maplewood Glen Rose, the dam of Thistle Ridge Eaton Vision, was a Bardrill Glenord mare. Dale was cognizant of the fact that this Ontario-bred horse carried a wealth of genetics. Sadly, Thistle Ridge Eaton Vision was at Westerdale but a short time, for he fell into a swamp while running with Westerdale's court of mares. Remembered for his great front end and neck of pleasing length, Dale had planned to use Thistle Ridge Eaton Vision for one breeding season, before shipping him back to California. Dale registered four of his daughters. Allan Gordeyko, Ohaton, Alberta, bought Westerdale Sweet Caitlyn; while Westerdale Elsie bred with considerable success for Dale.
California Vision's Legend, the California-bred colt by Thistle Ridge Eaton Vision, was pressed into service at Westerdale when he came of breeding age. One of Dale's most successful sires, California Vision's Legend left 20 Clydesdale offspring with the Westerdale prefix, 11 of which were fillies. To quote Dale's daughter Jean, "Dad liked Legend, who gave us a whole lot of Clydesdale geldings."
While judging Clydesdales in Ontario, Kenbar Sir Wallace turned Dale's eye. This Hatfield Sir William son, bred by Ken and Barb Galbraith, Melanchton, Ontario, was out of Westedge Lady Inspector Floss, an Inspector Floss daughter. Although Kenbar Sir Wallace lacked the size Dale sought in a breeding horse, he knew Inspector Floss, the colt's maternal grandsire, was known in Ontario for the big, upstanding hitch horses he had sired. With this in mind and aware that some of North America's largest Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron and Shire horses had been sired by smaller stallions, Dale purchased Kenbar Sir Wallace on speculation. Beautifully conformed, this heads-up Clydesdale had a hind leg to die for. While Dale found him difficult to fault, Kenbar Sir Wallace never left Dale offspring of the size he sought. Purchased by David Hill, Goodsoil, Saskatchewan; Kenbar Sir Wallace left 11 registered foals at Westerdale.
Boat Legend Jubilee was the last breeding horse Dale purchased. Bred in Scotland by Agnes Jackson, Thankerton, Biggar, Lanarkshire, this bay stallion, foaled in 2002, had been imported by Dr. Jack and Susan Hanson, Thunder Bay, Ontario. This eye-catching horse's offspring had piqued Dale's interest when shown at Toronto. Sired by Hillside Lorton Legend, his dam, the Eskechraggan Perfection mare, Boat Lady Claire, had been Reserve Champion Female at The Royal Highland Show in 2003. When the Otter Creek Clydesdales were dispersed in 2008, Dale purchased Boat Legend Jubilee. A proven breeding horse with a gilt-edged pedigree, Dale felt he had a great future as a sire. Dale registered 20 of Boat Legend Jubilee's 24 foals papered in Canada. His daughters were beautiful mares, well marked bays stood on the best of feet and legs. Unfortunately, this exciting sire died all too young. While Dale was at Calgary's Exhibition and Stampede's Heavy Horse Show, colic claimed the life of Boat Legend Jubilee.
A Clydesdale breeder who marched to his own drum, Dale was reluctant to part with his better Clydesdales. This often frustrated the parade of Clydesdale breeders who visited Westerdale, their checkbooks held in hand.
Sadly, Dale Rosenke never lived to breed his ideal Clydesdale. However, the Clydesdales he did breed have proven popular with their respective owners. Except for the females Jean inherited from her father, plus four or five of Westerdale's veteran females that buyers overlooked, the balance of the Westerdale Clydesdales were dispersed weeks before Dale's death in June 2013.
Today, Jean, her husband, Kris Kinnear and their children, continue to breed Clydesdales at Westerdale, although in smaller numbers. Currently, the handsome 4-year-old stallion Westerdale Ideal Legacy heads their select court of mares. Stood on the best of bottoms, this light bay stallion is a heads-up horse, whose head and neck exhibits a wealth of breed character. Traveling straight and true, this bold stallion's hock action is close, while his great feet and clean legs are furnished with abundant hair. The first foal crop by Westerdale Ideal Legacy is arriving as I write.
Today, 17 Clydesdale females reside at Westerdale. Four of these are mares by California Vision's Legend. One is a granddaughter by Vision's son, Westerdale Payback; while another is a great-granddaughter by Vision's grandson, Westerdale Payday. Three are North Country Major daughters; two C.I.E. Perfection daughters; two Hatfield Dagger daughters; together with one daughter of each following sire: Thistle Ridge Eaton Venture, Willow Way Baccardi and Cedarlane Carter. The three North Country Major daughters have the size and substance Dale always sought. A 2-year-old filly, Westerdale Amazing Adair, a Hatfield Dagger daughter, in particular has won your writer's eye.
Today, six of the Westerdale females descend from Doura Sweet Bloom; five descend from Glenord Choice; and three from Maple Brook Tracey. One female descends from each of the following foundation mares: Glenord Melody, Yorellea Jean and Riverview Judy 10th. One other female found at Westerdale today descends through her distaff from Lady Strathore 2nd. Her mother, Princess Rainier, was a granddaughter of Nemesia, the Grand Champion at Toronto's 1950 RAWF. For the greater part, the first, second, third and fourth dams of the Clydesdale females now seen at Westerdale were daughters of C.I.E. Perfection, California Vision's Legend, Clydeslea Millisle Venture and Bardrill Strathmore.
Shadowed by Jean since she was a wee lass, Dale gave his daughter Westerdale Sweet Melody when she was a filly foal. For 12 years Jean waited for Westerdale Sweet Melody to drop a filly–one she registered as Westerdale Sweet Sophia. Shown with success, Westerdale Sweet Sophia became a prolific broodmare that continued raising foals for Jean until she was 24 years old.
When North Country Major died in 2016, Jean purchased Doura Rising Star. Unfortunately, this veteran sire has left her few foals. However, as his name suggests, Westerdale Ideal Legacy ensures that the Clydesdale legacy Dale Rosenke left, will continue to shadow the Clydesdale breed that we know today.