Challa Station Morgans, owned by Ashley and Debbie Dowden, is the largest and most remote Morgan stud in the world. With 200 000 hectares to call home, the Challa Morgans live in an environment so like that of their wild ancestors that they have been called the luckiest horses in the world by a Perth vet – and there is quite a bit of science to back up his assertion. Horses evolved eating a large variety of plants and roamed freely in herds on open plains. Not much has changed for their descendants, the Challa Morgans. There are fences now, but the main herd have a thousand-hectare paddock to roam in. They are sometimes referred to as the Lost Herd of Challa because even though the horses know where they are, unless they want to be found they can hide from us forever. Thankfully the gluttonous nature of Morgans means that they are happy to come into the stables each morning for a handful of oats so we can conduct daily health checks.
At Challa, we try to keep everything as natural as possible for the horses. Most of our horses are able to maintain their own hooves beautifully because of the distanced they walk and the terrain they travel over. We know that the condition of their hooves tells us a great deal about the health of the animal and gives us a nice indication of how correct their limb conformation is. If the hooves wear unevenly, it indicates a deviation in the limb and informs our future trimming. As much as possible, we run our mares and youngstock in herds, just like their wild ancestors. As you would expect, we control breeding and handle our foals well before they join the Lost Herd. We always look for the most natural option for our horses, never interfering unless it is in the best interest of the horse. We blend the natural with the practical with our training. We believe that horses should be well trained enough to be versatile, adaptable mounts. We know that by letting them grow up naturally they evelop sound bodies and good minds they have the best chance to become exceptional ridden horses. Having said that, we fully understand that when our horses leave Challa they are likely to have to adapt to smaller paddocks and so they do spend time in yards and stables at home so that they adapt smoothly when they go with their new owners. The feedback we have had is that our youngsters settle in to their new homes very readily, often so happy with the prospect of eating green grass that they hardly notice the change! We are very proud of our horses, not least our beautiful young stallion, Mountain Creek Cartier. He has been selected for his conformation, impressive outsourced bloodlines and his remarkable temperament. Since we purchased him from Leonie Kable, Cartier has not had to have his hooves trimmed, such are his beautiful straight legs. From the ground up, this young horse is very deserving of the title “stallion.” His first foals are due later this year and we look forward to him validating our very high opinion of him. Our broodmares are Mt Tawonga Belinda and Greenstone Dandaloo. Our ridden mares that combine a career with family are Challa Station Willow and Challa Station Captivate.
Tandarra Millennium, or Lenny the Legend, all-round amazing horse and winner of the 2015 Versatility Buckle, is the only permanent gelding on the property. We have one youngster for sale at the moment, Challa Station Walkabout, by Watching Royalty out of Challa Station Willow.
We consistently strive to improve our herd and our management practices. We breed only one or two foals a year and these are usually sold as youngsters. The oldest of the Challa bred horses are starting to be seen out and about. Challa Station Amazon (Eibens Sterling x ASH) and Challa Station Tirrakoa (Koolaroo Klasique Ebony x Ariga Park Loquacious) are making their mark in the eventing scene, where as other horses like Challa Station Forever (Eibens Sterling x Mt Tawonga Belinda) and Challa Station Symphony (Baptiste Levis Strauss x Red Bluff Just the Ticket) are beloved companions and riding animals. Those select ones that remain with us at the station are used for cattle work, trail riding and occasional clinics or competitions. I expect my own riding horses to be versatile and adaptable to anything I ask of them. Challa Station Morgans are offering interstate and WA Morgan enthusiasts a chance to visit Challa after the Perth ANMS. We are organising a car pool or perhaps a bus, depending on numbers,
and people can come to Challa for 2 full days of sightseeing and meeting the horses. It is a 600km drive from Perth, and it will be hot while you are here, but it is a great opportunity to have a look at our operation. We welcome visitors at other times of the year by appointment.