St. George horse lover wins Spruce Meadows “Name the Foal” contest and $1,000

St. George – Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB is not just home to world-class show jumping, it is very well-known for its annual “Name the Foal” contest. The contest, which is open to all Canadian residents, is a popular one with more than 100,000 entries each year. This year, there were four foals to name, and the winning name for foal number one came from Rachel Clinch of St. George.

Clinch said the contest is held every year, but this was the first year she was old enough to be able to enter on her own. The 18-year-old said she loves horses, and also rides. She especially loves foals, and has had the opportunity to help friends name their foals in the past. She figured since she had some experience in naming foals, she would give the contest a whirl. She entered four different names, because there were four foals born this year. Then, she waited, and ended up pretty much forgetting about it because she didn’t hear anything for more than a month.

“I’d kind of forgotten about it until I received a phone call from Spruce Meadows last Monday, saying that my name not only had made the short list, but if I could confirm all of my information that it had won for foal number one,” said Clinch.

So, what was the winning name that will forever grace the stall of foal number one? Clinch said one of the rules of the contest was that the name had to begin with “W”, in honour of the first stallion of the Spruce Meadows Hannoverian breeding program. Clinch thought up a very clever play on words, using that horse’s nickname.

“Foal number one’s name is Whiskey n’ Wodka,” said Clinch. “It had to start with the letter “W”, in honour or inspired by the first stallion of Spruce Meadows’ breeding program, who was nicknamed Wodka. Sort of like vodka was what I had thought. I thought why not make it Whiskey ‘n Wodka.”

Born on Easter Sunday, Whiskey n’ Wodka is a gorgeous dark-colored colt, sired by Spruce Meadow’s stallion, Doremi. Representatives from Spruce Meadows say this is a “very bold and brave” little colt, and he absolutely adores people. He loves to have his neck scratched, and has figured out people give great neck scratches. When he isn’t looking for human attention, he can often be found relaxing near his mother. Whisky n’ Wodka’s father is grey in colour, and although the little fellow is very dark, it is thought he will take on his father’s coloration as he matures.

The original Wodka, better known as Young Wolfsburg, was selected for the breeding program due to the results from State Stud Farm licensing in Germany. He finished fourth in licensing overall among Hannoverian stallions of the same age, and he showed a great ability for jumping.

He played a large role in bringing this breed to Canada, in particular to Spruce Meadows, and he helped shaped their breeding program as well as the development of show jumping horses.

Clinch said she has been a follower of Spruce Meadows for years, watching their jumping competition on television every fall. When she first entered the contest, she hoped that if she won, she would be flown to Calgary to meet the little colt, as winners in past years have done.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, that wasn’t possible this year. Instead, for her winning name, Clinch received $1,000, along with a prize package from Spruce Meadows that includes a custom Spruce Meadows 45th anniversary jacket, and a stable plate.

“It’s a stable plate which has his name and my name, and the same one is on his stall at Spruce Meadows,” said Clinch.

Clinch was surprised that she won, since there were more than 100,000 entries. She is very proud to have her letter from Spruce Meadows, and they also sent her photos of Whiskey n’ Wodka. She said it is rare for someone from this part of Canada to win this contest, although she does know of one other Atlantic Canadian couple who has also won.

“One of my friends messaged me the other day and said, ‘oh my gosh, my grandparents won that 12 years ago’. They’re from Nova Scotia. It’s sort of a pretty big deal. It had to be within Canada, but a lot of the time it’s not Maritime people that win it.”

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca