BY VYLA CARTER
Many of those who have spent their summers showing on the East Coast or spend winters in Wellington have heard of the Dalmans. Married couple, Sandra and Javan Dalman, have recently made a name for themselves in various parts of the horse industry, specifically along the east coast and midwest areas.
Sandra is the owner and head trainer at Dalman Show Jumping, a sales and training program. Over her years spent in the horse world she has gained recognition for her great ability to sell and buy horses.
Apart from selling, Sandra trains clients of all levels, helping them reach the next level in their riding careers. She has a special knack for helping riders and horses improve immensely, even in a short period of time. She also works with young horses, training them to sell, and competes in Grand Prix level competition.
Javan is the owner/operator of Dalman Jump Company, the more recent of the Dalman’s companies. The jumps are high quality and can be found being used for training at home or in the Grand Prix ring at top competition venues. Javan is busy nearly everyday with the jump company, either building, painting, designing, or selling jumps.
Sandra and Javan are friendly with everyone and seem to have connections in every corner of the hunter/jumper industry. They both are on the top of their games, Sandra in the ring and while training, and Javan with his ability to always be making and selling jumps. But how did they reach this point? Where did they start and how did they get to a point of such success?
It all started before Javan and Sandra even met. Sandra has been riding since she was three years old and grew up riding in the pony and junior divisions, eventually moving along to the amateurs. When the couple met, the only experience Javan had was riding bareback broncs in local rodeo competitions, however, after marrying Sandra that soon changed.
After a successful amateur career, Sandra decided to become a professional and start her own training program at the age of 24. “Horses were always my passion and I wanted to follow that passion,” Sandra said on why she decided to start her own hunter/jumper training program. Her new program was born, based out of her family barn named Southview.
Located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Southview quickly became a busy and bustling program. Sandra would teach up to sixty lessons a week, teaching very beginners all the way up to Junior/Amateur jumpers. Javan joined the program to help, “I wanted to see my wife, so I joined her team.” The pair trained with top professionals Geoff Teal, Donald Cheska, and George Morris in order to bring their program to the next level.
Following their massive success in Indiana, the couple made the decision to travel to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida during the winter. With this change came fewer clients, as not all of their Fort Wayne based clients were willing to travel. But this change also opened up more opportunity for the Dalmans.
Opportunity came for Sandra in the ring. She got to compete against the best in the world and improve her skills. She eventually qualified and competed in her first Saturday Night Lights class at the Winter Equestrian Festival on her own A-Freida-O, a huge accomplishment.
Opportunity came for Javan with jump building. He had built a few jumps for Sandra and people started to take notice, asking if they could purchase some. From there Sandra and Javan identified a need for a custom jump shop and started Dalman Jump Co. Previously, there was not a place that clients could call up and order any type of jump — so they created that.
“We were able to identify what jumps were needed in the marketplace and provided and produced those,” Sandra explained. Ever since its inception the company has been growing, constantly receiving new orders.
With Javan starting his own business, they both had the opportunity to run their own business, something both of them wanted. “He wants to be the boss and I want to be the boss, and there can’t be two bosses at the same thing,” Sandra explained one of the reasons starting the jump company was beneficial to them. Or, as Javan put it, “Boats don’t have two steering wheels.”
Although their companies are separate, each of them plays a huge role in the other’s business. For Javan’s jump business, Sandra plays a key role in the marketing and social media branding, and also voices her opinion on the jumps. “She is the brains behind the pole designs,” Javan laughs. Sandra is used to people coming up to her asking for horses, but now they ask for jumps too.
Javan is somewhat like a barn manager for Dalman Show Jumping, dealing with housing and hauling needs. He also helps set up jumps in the schooling ring, and when needed, helps get horses to the ring. Even when he is working in the jump shop he makes sure he is there to watch Sandra show and record or photograph her rounds.
Their businesses complement each other, giving them the opportunity to travel and be with each other while they are working. Working together has many benefits but with it also comes some downfalls. “The best part [about working together] is that we get to spend time together all the time and we get to enjoy what we do everyday together,” Sandra said, “It’s also the worst part, you’re together literally all the time.”
The reason everyone knows their name is not by coincidence, it came from hard work and lots of marketing that included a name change from Southview to Dalman Show Jumping/Dalman Jump Co. They used social media to their advantage to brand their companies. They also relied on word of mouth referrals from clients and friends, and used their social skills to introduce and market themselves to people at shows they attended. One big thing they did was use clothing as a marketing tool, giving their merchandise to friends and constantly wearing it around shows and the barn. “Everything we own to wear daily has our logo on it,” Sandra said.
In the near future the Dalmans hope to keep using positive branding and referrals to double the clientele of both of their businesses.
The Dalman’s journey to the top of the show jumping world is not over yet, they have a promising future ahead. It all started with galloping horses in fields to being featured in the Harry and Snowman movie to owning a booming business for Javan. For Sandra, who started competing in a state with only one rated show a year, to going clear in the Grand Prix at that home town show- Traders Point Charity Horse Show- to competing against the top of the sport in Grand Prixs at the Winter Equestrian Festival; she has made it a long way. They are definitely ones to watch in the coming years.