Walking into The ASPCA Maclay Finals in 2007, I was only worried only worried about two things: finding distances, and making sure my boots were polished. At that point in my career I had lost a lot. My finals horse was injuried and my second-string gelding had turned his ankle at Harrisburg. That being said, I was only left with one option: borrowing my sister’s horse. I hadn’t won anything major at that point, but I had the advantage of being consistent, so I walked into the ring with nothing to lose. Walking out of the ring with my Reserve Champion Ribbon in hand was more than I ever could have hoped for.
Until now. Fast forward eight years. Somewhere between the tears of being dropped off at college, figuring out that being normal really wasn’t all that bad, and pure dumb luck – I stumbled across a farm in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. I was only a passenger in the car headed west, looking for a distraction, and I found it in the most unlikely of places. It was there that I fell in love with a stallion named Beste Gold. “Bill”, as he is better known, stands at a small breeding farm off the beaten path, and yet he is sire to so many that impressive youngsters. So, of course, I had to have one to call my own.
In the three years that I have had my filly, sired by “Bill”, I have enjoyed ever moment. Of course, I had my no-so-glamorous moments. I fell flat on my face a few times, metaphorically and physically, but the experience of owning & raising a baby is by far the most gratifying. So much so that it far exceeds the excitement I felt winning that Reserve Champion ribbon in 2007. It inspired me to the point that I changed my path and turned to handling babies and dabbling with breeding as a side business to my Financial Advisory day job.
In 2014, I had a friend connect me with a very well-known Breeder in South Carolina. I was fortunate enough that she entrusted me with the prep and management of the Best Young Pony at Devon in 2014. From that point on, it took on a life of its own. With my furthered involvement, I began to understand the disconnect between Hunter Breeding and The Performance Ranks. Being that I spent more time on the Performance Ranks growing up, I find myself consistently frustrated with the process. How many of these Hunter Breeding competitors, that are bred in the States, actually make it to the Big Rings of Wellington or Devon and come away with a tri-color ribbon? The answer is: not many.
As an attempt to try to bridge the gap, I have taken it upon myself to host a Battle of the Babies class on May 2nd and May 9th at my farm in Glenmoore, PA. The purpose of this class is to reward those babies who not only look the part, but that are also equally athletic, in order to help connect the missing dots. I know that I may be a small fish in a big sea, when it comes to changing the ways of the equestrian community, as most things in the equestrian world, humble beginnings have the potential to create a major impact.
The Hunter Breeding Avenue is a dying road. The number of United States breeders that are going under due to overseas competitions frightening. Why not try to change the criteria involved in judging so that our “sport-horses” walk away with more tri-colors instead of playing the old “tradition” card that has plagued this part of the industry for years? It is normal, wise, and quite frankly, healthy to evoke change in any and all forms of life. Without a push for change, we as a community become stagnant. Without change, we, as a community, are ceasing to move the sport forward.
As a part of the horse show I am hosting, I am also trying to shine a light on the nurse-mare problem that we see in the United States. The foals are only born so that their mothers come into milk to go nourish a Thoroughbred baby so their mother can return to being a broodmare once more. Most of our horses get tucked into bed at night with a fresh bucket of water and plenty to eat. This is not the case for nurse foals. These foals have an expiration date, and it is only a short two days from when they are born. If it was not for the Last Chance Corral, these foals would have a grave ending to their short lives.
Horizon Hill Farm Hunter Breeding is currently fundraising in order to offer a “Battle of the Babies” NON-USEF rated challenge class. I am trying to shine the light on the disconnect that we see in the United States in the breeding industry, but also trying to take some of the proceeds to give back to a good cause that I truly believe in. To donate, please click here.
It is easy to forget how lucky we are to have healthy, well cared for horses. So go home, give your horse a kiss and some hay at night check. Remember to be thankful, because there are many horses out there that aren’t quite as lucky.