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THROWBACK THURSDAY | DB Racing Annual 1978-79 | OL’ GINGER by BARRY STREET

“Not bad for an old fellow, eh?” Reluctantly, Ginger shows a strong, straight row of teeth, which belie his old age of 33. 

On the outskirts of Matamata there lives a great lover- a professional womanizer, which sounds like a fun way of making a living.

His name is Ginger.

Ginger is estimated to have 50 wives and 2900 girlfriends, all of whom have found him irresistible. He's getting old now. But no one dares tilt for his title.  If anyone did, he would face a fight to the death. For that is the way of the Shetlands. And Ginger is King of the Shetlands.

He is also the longest serving teaser stallion in NZ thoroughbred breeding. Teaser stallions are horses or ponies, usually vasectomized, which run with broodmares during the spring breeding season.  As their title suggests, they woo and excite the female breeding stock.  Any sign of response from a mare is a signal to a stud master that she is ready for mating.

Remarkably, Ginger has been working like this each spring for 29 years. His owner is 66-year-old Mr Jack Lindsay, proprietor of Balcarres Stud, Matamata, who bought him in 1955 for 65 pounds ($130).  Mr Lindsay believes he may have been the first thoroughbred breeder in his country to use teaser stallions. He first did so in 1942 after reading of their value in America.  Ginger began his career as a four-year-old in 1950.  Fortunately for him, there was no need for him to undergo a vasectomy. His sheer lack of size makes it physically impossible for him to mate with thoroughbreds.  Just the same, wherever he goes courting in the brood mares’ paddock he is kept on a lead.  

His 50 odd wives have all been Shetland mares. At one time Jack Lindsay used to stand him at stud for Shetlands at 5 pounds ($10) a service. Nowadays he charges only a dozen of beer.  Ginger's girlfriends over the years have included champion racemares like Moy and Hush Money, also some illustrious broodmares like Entrancing Belle, one of Mr Lindsay’s own mares, is the dam of Taras Bulba,  Taras Regent and Turfcutter.  Jennifer Joy produced Ben Lomond. As this edition of DB Racing Annual went to publication, Ginger was still hale and hearty and due to run with about 100 mares at Balcarres to put them in the mood for matings with the stud’s three stallions , Zephyr Bay, Smuggler and Rangong.

Even though he is now age 33 and the equine equivalent of human aged 132- Ginger’s desires have never been waned. Nor has his devotion to duty.  Ginger will have no other stallion interfering in his business. One thoroughbred stallion that came too near him a few years ago was dragged to the ground.  Another that got cheeky, a piebald Shetland teaser, was hauled by the crest of his neck over a post-and- rails fence. Mr Jack Lindsey recalls: “The only thing that stopped that fight was a bucket of oats.”

Lindsay says: “Old Ginger does all the work around here- and gets none of the credit.”

Another of Gingers unheralded feats is the mileage he is covered with Mr Lindsey on his back.  He is by far the easiest mode of transport around the stud. Daily he bears his owner checking stock.  “I reckon.”  Says miss Jack Lindsay,  “I've written Ginger about 5 miles a day since I've had him. That means he's carried me more than 4000 miles.  And all of its being bear back he's never had a saddle on him in his life.”  



 

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