Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
In the past few weeks, two tiny foals have joined the herd at the Fort Leavenworth Stables.
Rebecca Calkins and her family — husband Maj. Craig Calkins, veterinarian and Command and General Staff College student, and their children, 9-year-old Ella, 7-year-old Clayton and 19-month-old Hailey — currently board four Shetland mares at the stables on post. Two mares have recently given birth and another is due to foal soon.
Calkins said moving to Fort Leavenworth was a difficult transition for her family because it was challenging to find housing with land for their horses. The family raises and shows Shetland ponies and have Shetland stallions, a paint riding horse and a donkey that they board off post. The mares in foal are kept on post where they are closer to where the family lives.
Calkins said she and her family came to visit the fort in June 2021 to look for land and explore the history before moving here, and found the stables in the process.
“I thought, for foaling, it would be perfect because then I’m only about five minutes away instead of 40 minutes, and I can be right here,” Calkins said. “The people at the stables are super nice; there are a lot of people that, in the morning when they go (to the stables), they check on (the mares) to see if they have (had) their babies… It’s a really nice community. I’m glad this is offered for people on post.”
Calkins said she loves having the option to have the mares close because she likes to be there for the births. She said she and her husband have been raising Shetlands for several years and they typically know which mares they might need to assist in the process.
She said she enjoys discovering the new foals’ gender and markings.
“It’s just excitement. The foals are exciting, they’re cute, and they’re fun to play with. I love this time of year because they bring a whole other level of excitement to the horses, and the kids love them. “
Calkins began riding horses at age 3 her with her family in Connecticut. When her family moved to Wyoming, they were offered a Shetland pony, which led the family to attend a miniature horse show.
Calkins began showing miniature horses, which are horses under 38 inches tall, as a project after rodeoing in high school. She said she has had several horses since then and shows them depending on her family’s location. Some of her Shetlands can also be registered as miniature horses, but most are over 38 inches tall.
“When my husband was deployed, I went to a show again and I was like ‘oh my gosh, I want to do this again,’ because we had kind of taken a break. We still had the horses, but I was not actively showing. I bought my first Shetland in 2013, and we’ve just kind of continued to grow our herd since then,” Calkins said.
Calkins said the family tries to attend the American Shetland Pony Club Congress in St. Louis, Mo., annually and attends other local shows during the summer whenever possible. She said this year, she attended the congress with Ella and enjoyed watching her show horses.
“I love to see the different horses and see where the industry is going. Every year there are changes; horse styles go in and out, things they do go in and out. I really like to be able to see all the horses and, of course, talk to the people.”
For more information on the Fort Leavenworth Stables, a Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation boarding facility for privately owned horses, call 913-684-1703.