Marsha Parkinson

It is with great sadness that the passing of this incredible soul is told. *Wilejka was an exceptionally beautiful mare, noble to the extreme, gentle to all, and a shining spirit.

I purchased her in Poland, with the blessings of my dear friends Urszula Bialobok, Director Jerzy Bialobok, and the members of the Michalow Stud farm. *Wilejka was 22 at the time, and had not had foals for three years. She was my favorite mare since I had visited Poland for the first time in 1983. Each time I returned, I would search her out, and marvel at her gentle ways, extreme dryness of head with soft eyes, and her ability to make you melt when she looked at you. Her throat was the finest that I have seen, with a lovely arch, and hinge, which entered her head through wide clean jaws. You could fit a large man's fist between her cheeks, which is the way it is supposed to be. Her eyes were filled with wisdom, and overwhelming kindness.

She was shown to be the Polish National Reserve Junior Mare, and to other placements. Her beauty was of such elegance that she almost seemed ethereal. Royal heritage was her breeding, being sired by US&nbs;National Champion Stallion, *El Paso, and out of the exquisite and treasured Comet daughter, Warmia. *Wilejka was the only chestnut, and the youngest of four full sisters. These were US National Champion Mare, *Wizja, *Wistula, and *Wersja, all imported to the US, with *Wizja being on lease and returned to Poland.

When *Wilejka was to leave to come to the US, the Stud farm turned out in numbers, and gave a going away party for her, so loved was she. She was Urszula's favorite mare, so we became "sisters" and shared the love of this rare creature. The people of Michalow gave me a beautiful pastel drawing of *Wilejka as a gesture of kindness.

photo Maria Kulisa

Wilejka - at Michalów Stud (1983)

*Wilejka was suffering from heaves, and it was the hope that she would improve with a new environment as well as from medicines available in the US. She arrived in Los Angeles tired, but with ears up. A long and hard trip for a 22 year old mare with emphaseyma. The breathing problem was relieved greatly during the flight because I had FedEx'd a bottle of Ventapulmin to Poland for her trip. Worth every penny of the charge for overnight service to Poland!

photo Marsha Parkinson

Wilejka at farm in California


Once in California she began to improve with her breathing, and she gained weight, and was like a youngster again... still, of course, requiring due respect from all around. Given her age, and her potential to revert to heaves, I didn't want to breed her and have her carry a foal. Through the good graces of the powers that be, she was able to produce an embryo, which was transferred into a thoroughbred mare. This resulted in a gorgeous bay filly, sired by *Goliat. who was born in December of the second year I had *Wilejka. The filly was named Walencia, after the tradition of Poland naming horses by the first letter of the dam, and she was also born in my foaling barn which was nestled in a valencia orange grove.

photo from archiv of Marsha Parkinson

Walencia  (Goliat - Wilejka) - the last foal of Wilejka

*Wilejka was the dam of 15 superb foals over the years. Her most famous offspring is *Wojslaw, Polish National Champion Stallion, Race Sire of the Year for Stakes Winners, and sire of such horses as: *Emanor, US and Polish National Champion; Druid, "best racehorse in 70 years" who sold for $500,000; Estelka, Oaks winner, and other halter, performance and race champions. Another son, Weteran, is owned by Altana Arabians of Germany, and he has posted a photo of this successful stallion on AWH forum under the Kuhailan thread. This stallion has some excellent racing offspring as well. *Wilejka has two daughters who remain in Poland: Worskla by *Eukaliptus, and Wilnianka by Tallin, full sister to *Wojslaw and Polish Reserve National Champion Junior Mare. Three have been imported to the US, and along with *Wojslaw and Walencia, all reside at Canterbury Farm. These are *Wilenka, Polish Top Five National Champion and full sister to *Wojslaw, *Weltawa by *Arbil and *Wybranka by *Piechur. All three of these mares are bred to *Ganges for 2005. All are treasured, and are beautiful unto themselves and reflect the elegance and refinement of their mother.

photo Stuart Vesty

Wojslaw  (Tallin - Wilejka)

*Wilejka blossomed for six years in the US, having only minor times when the heaves became evident, usually brought on by weather changes. Sadly emphaseyma is a progressive and incurable disease, so as she aged it would occur sometimes without weather relatedness. Ventapulmin and Dexamethazone would relieve her quickly, and she would be fine for months and months. She lived in Maryland for three years with little effect from the heaves as well, and did babysitting duties with the mares and foals, or with the weanlings. They would follow her like ducklings in a line, and would hang out with her until she got tired of their foolishness and she would gently send them back to their mothers. Visitors would be met at the gate by her, and she would follow us through the fields, wiggling her nose at our pockets for carrots or sugar, which she often found (no surprise there!). She would follow until we left, and then would return, usually at a canter or trot, to her duties as the wise grandmother.

photo from archiv of Marsha Parkinson

Wilejka at the age of 25

Last Thursday, she said it was enough, and she simply made it clear that she was ready to go home. I stroked her head, talked to her in what little Polish I knew, told her that I loved her as did everyone who she touched, and she peacefully slipped away.

Sometimes the tears don't stop. But the joy of knowing her, of sharing her nuzzles, of having her put her head on a shoulder, of just watching her grace and nobility as she grazed in the green fields, and of course, her beautiful legacy reflected in her foals and grandchildren, are the priceless gifts which have enriched all that have been in her presence. She was a once in a lifetime mare.

Do widzenia. Dziekuje bardzo. And bless you my treasured friend.

Marsha Parkinson, 1st of September, 2004, Canterbury Farm at Melfield (MD)