Nestled in the hills near Cypress River, Manitoba is Countrylane Miniatures, a beautiful miniature horse farm owned by Korey and Tracy Conrad and family. While the herds of pint-size horses make their farm unique, it is the national calibre of the animals that makes them known in the miniature horse world.
Countrylane Miniatures is truly a family-owned and -operated business. What began as a fun hobby for their son in 1995, with the purchase of two young miniatures, has now grown to a herd of over 100 horses. Korey works as an agro manager for two local Co-ops and Tracy is a dedicated mom to their four children, while managing the horse business. The Conrad children, Sheldon, Dustin, Montana and Layne are also actively involved with the horses. While Layne is just beginning his horse career at almost three years of age, the other kids help with the chores, training, and are extremely successful in the show ring. Everyone in the family shares the passion for miniature horses.
Aside from managing a successful horse business, Tracy has put her lifelong talents to work in artistic ways. Ever since she was a little girl, Tracy has loved to draw and paint. She has work commissioned across Canada, the U. S. and overseas. Recently, Tracy expanded her talents to include photography. With her business, Countrylane Galleries, Tracy offers wedding, graduation, family and of course, horse photography services. Many farms use professional horse photos as an effective marketing tool. The biggest challenge for Tracy, however, is finding time to do it all.
Each spring, Countrylane Miniatures welcomes approximately 30 new foals. This involves many interrupted nights, making sure each one arrives safely. The barn is equipped with foaling cameras and each mare wears a buzzer on her halter that alerts the family when she lays down to foal. There are many false alarms, but the successful foalings make the effort worthwhile. Born weighing approximately 25 pounds and standing an average of 21 inches high, a miniature foal is exciting and unique. But for the Conrad family, it is also the beginning of a dream. While some horses are retained to show, many of Countrylane’s offspring are sold locally, across North America and overseas. Their well-bred miniatures have found homes in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Belgium. Their careful selection of horses with highly desirable bloodlines ensures that Countrylane Miniatures consistently produces top-quality horses.
Where the Conrads truly excel is in the show ring. The whole family travels to sanctioned miniature horse shows in Canada and the U. S. to qualify for the American Miniature Horse Registry’s national show held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Running for just over a week each year in September, the national show is a highlight for Countrylane Miniatures. While it is an opportunity to showcase their beautiful horses, it is also a chance to renew friendships and make new ones.
Showing horses is something the Conrads do as a family, and that means every member is involved with the mass preparation that the show horses require.
Each horse is carefully fed, trained and conditioned throughout the year so they can be in top show shape. This requires many hours each day of exercising the horses along with the general horse care. Several times during the show season, each horse is body clipped from head to toe to give their coats a sleek appearance. At a horse show, everyone in the family knows what jobs need to be done, and the
LABOUR OF LOVE: Everyone in the Conrad family shares the passion for raising miniature horses.
hard work pays off. Over the years, Countrylane horses have brought home many local and national championships. While many of their horses have won national titles, in 2007 a dream became reality when their gelding was named National Grand Champion – one of the highest honours a halter horse can achieve.
Tracy, as well as the three older children, are extremely talented in the show ring, with many national and reserve champion titles, along with numerous national top 10 awards. Layne will soon follow in his siblings’ footsteps and Korey is the behind-the-scene support, keeping everything running smoothly. The Conrad children have the opportunity to experience something that many kids only dream of, and they can see how their hard work and dedication pays off. The greatest joy for Korey and Tracy is to be able to live their dream as a family. While the awards are a wonderful achievement, it is their children that they are most proud of.
What does the future hold for Countrylane? The registered horse market has many challenges, but Countrylane Miniatures has remained successful by keeping up with the changing demands of the industry. They continually add new bloodlines and strive to improve the quality of horses they produce. Success in the show ring as well as advertising helps to promote their business and many of their clients have become repeat customers. Raising horses has always been a labour of love for the Conrad family – one that will surely continue into the next generation. As long as their pastures are filled with beautiful little horses, they will be living their dream. At Countrylane Miniatures it’s all about family and their passion for horses.
For more information on Countrylane Miniatures and Gallery, visit them at www.miniatureequine.com/countrylane/index. html.
– Tanya Unrau writes from Boissevain, Manitoba