On 50 scenic acres in Wellandport, Ontario, you will find Blazing Colours Farm, an equestrian centre and breeding facility with horses that are sought after for their high quality and their unique blazing colours.
April Wayenberg started it all 15 years ago, and in that time, has built quite a name for herself in the equestrian world, bringing clients from around the world to Niagara Region.
“In the past year I’ve sold horses as far west as British Columbia and California, to Louisiana and Florida, and several places in between,” April tells us, adding that she probably has at least one of her horses in almost every province and state.
“I’ve always been around breeding and animals, so naturally I combined my love for horses with breeding world-class equine athletes,” April says. After high school, she went on to complete a 2-year business program focusing on the equine industry.
Now at Blazing Colours Farm, April offers a number of specialized equine services: breeding and training horses as well as foaling mares, raising young stock, offering housing for clients and training them for riding, collecting stallions, and shipping semen around North America. They also offer custom foals, meaning the client chooses the sire and dam.
Horses are sold mainly as mounts for the English disciplines of hunter, jumper, dressage and eventing, but April also sells some as breeding stock, and from time to time rents out the horses for special events and promotions. Recently April and her horses did a corporate event for Grey Goose Vodka.
“What has helped me immensely is the fact that I breed horses for the English disciplines in rare and unique colours,” April shares. The first white Thoroughbred born in Canada was on Blazing Colours Farm.
“My horses come in white, palomino, buckskin and pinto,” April adds, “this is much different than 95% of horses out there. There are not a lot of options out there for people wanting something a little different.”
The Blazing Colours specialty has brought notable, diverse clients to Niagara: Walt Disney Productions purchased two of their white thoroughbred horses for a movie in 2011; Breyer (a model horse company) made a model after one of their stallions; and April recently sold four horses to one of the ruling families in Dubai.
“Disney, Breyer and the clients from Dubai were specifically looking for something different,” April says, “all of my other clients come for the same reasons.”
April recently attended the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, taking the opportunity to educate more people about her horses. Check out this video to see what she teaches at the Royal.
April’s palpable passion for the animals and dedication to the farm have played a large role in the farm’s success. And it’s no easy task.
“Horses require a lot of day to day care,” April explains. “They are what I would consider high maintenance as far as livestock goes.”
For instance, stalls need to be cleaned daily, and they don’t share feed so they need to be fed individually. Horses have sensitive digestive systems so special care is a must.
“There is a lot of managing to keep them all happy, healthy and content,” April says. “Some just don’t get along well with others so they need small group or private turnout.” The 5-10 stallions alone that are usually on the farm are a huge undertaking, as they are very particular about routine.
Ultimately, since the horses require highly-experienced care and things can change quickly, April is the main caretaker, along with a very small group of people who help out when she needs to step away from the farm.
Though, April adds, “I can be found on the farm almost all of the time. It is a 24/7 job that does not give holidays, sick days or vacation time. It is a chosen lifestyle which is one of the reasons I feel I am very successful.”
As a small family-run farm, April is very hands-on, managing everything from the feed program and turnout to training and medical needs — she also does the online marketing. When April’s parents retired, they began helping out with some day-to-day activities.
“As the business has grown, the support of my family has been a blessing,” April shares. “It allows me more time to push boundaries and do even more here at Blazing Colours Farm.”
It’s not just the animals that require dedicated care, but the land also requires management to provide high-quality feed.
“Pasture management is very important,” April explains. “To raise horses properly, the pasture needs to be maintained with cutting, fertilizing and reseeding as necessary.” During this time, the horses are kept in all-weather turnout pens made of stone and sand.
“The more land the better, but with the price of farmland increasing over the last 4-5 years, finding more land has become increasingly difficult,” she adds. “This I do see as a potential issue for all farmers in the future.”
But amongst the many challenges that come with farm work, April’s passion, hard work and commitment has propelled her dream into a successful agricultural business that’s made leaps across borders. It’s a prime example of what can be achieved, and it’s clear April would have it no other way.
“I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life and have pursued it with everything I had,” April says. “Never did I consider what else I would do or what if I didn’t make it. To me there were no other options.”
Check out April and her blazing horses on the Blazing Colours Farm website.