When it comes to dressage sport horse breeding, including blue ribbons at Dressage at Devon, six Adequan/USDF national championships, and a stallion approval, Maplewood Warmbloods' owners Jen Vanover and Tommy Pushkal have covered a lot of ground in 2014. It all culminated over a whirlwind three weeks this past September. Jen Vanover and the team at Maplewood Warmbloods had hit their stride, and over a decade of determination and smart decisions were about to pay off. September began somewhat ominously. The 70-day test in Oklahoma that Maplewood’s stallion MW Feinermark (Fidertanz X Flemmingh X Rohdiamant) was scheduled to attend was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of entries. With a quick change of direction, he was presented under saddle, ridden by Wanja Gerlach, at an Oldenburg Horse Breeders Society NA-German Oldenburg Verband (OHBS-GOV) inspection in Slatington, Pennsylvania where he was successfully licensed as a stallion pending full approval. In addition to his conditioning for stallion testing this past summer, Feinermark showed his superior abilities as a dressage horse, coming out at Training Level and earning high scores of 75.2% from Dinah Babcock and 77% from Anne Gribbons. He then topped off his year as the Adequan/USDF All Breeds OHBS-GOV Materiale National Champion for 4 & 5 year old stallions.
The same day of Feinermark’ s licensing, MW Weiss Schwarz (Sir Donnerhall I X Feiner Stern X Aktuell) completed her Mare Performance Test at an OHBS-GOV inspection, also winning the title of States Premium Mare and Under Saddle Champion. She continued her streak by winning the 4 & 5 year old Mare Materiale at Dressage at Devon with a remarkable 81.5%, and then completed her year with two national championship titles: Adequan/USDF Materiale Horse of the Year for 4 & 5 year old mares, and Adequan/USDF All Breeds OHBS-GOV Materiale National Champion for 4 & 5 year old mares.
Two of Maplewood’s other youngsters completed exceptional years as well. MW Dallas (Sir Gregory X Dormello X Rubinstein) was awarded Adequan/USDF Dressage Sport Horse Breeding 2 Year Old Fillies Horse of the Year, USDF Breeders Championship New England Series Champion Filly, and Breed Show Grand Champion at New England Dressage Association’s Fall Festival. Maplewood’s 2 year old colt, MW Fabulous (Furstenball X Espri X Lemon xx), was awarded Adequan/USDF All Breeds OHBS-GOV Horse of the Year with an 81.5% and Great American Insurance Group/USDF Breeders Championship Series New England Series Final Grand Champion Colt.
The Building of a Successful Breeding Business
Maplewood Warmbloods, named after maple trees which dappled the original property, was founded in 1999 in Michigan and relocated to Middletown, New York in 2007. In 15 years, it has grown into a large, 95- acre facility with 50 stalls housing 22 of Jen and Tommy’s horses plus 16 boarders. The farm hosts two breed shows, two dressage shows, and an OHBS-GOV inspection each year, in addition to events such as clinics with top international level clinicians.
Jen Vanover sidelined her successful career as an industrial engineer to develop Maplewood Warmbloods into a thriving breeding, training, and boarding business. Tommy Pushkal, a retired FDNY member, owned a successful excavating and concrete contracting business in Queens, New York, which he sold in 2013, enabling him to focus on building Maplewood’s business full-time.
Guided by Jen’s keen sense of dressage sport horse breeding and her undying devotion to improving the breeding and caliber of dressage horses in the United States, Maplewood today is gaining momentum as one of the premier dressage breeding operations in North America. The numerous awards and accolades earned in 2014 demonstrate that Jen is well on her way to becoming a major influencer of US dressage sport horse breeding. She has mastered a formula for building Maplewood’s operation that will enable its continued success.
If you have had the pleasure of meeting Jen Vanover and Tommy Pushkal, you know that they radiate warmth and happiness, and that they are always smiling. Behind those smiling faces are two individuals who are very serious about their business. Passionate, driven, honest, and devoted to raising the dressage sport horse breeding bar, Jen analyzes the dressage breeding market in the U.S. from every angle, using skills developed from her industrial and management engineering expertise. She sets herself apart in the dressage sport horse breeding arena with her cautious and thorough analyses of her breeding selections. “I spend all of my free time watching videos and studying stallions and the market. For me to consider a stallion for any one of my mares, I need to first spend time with him in his stall and see for myself in person what kind of guy he is.”
In a notoriously difficult industry, how does one build such a successful business in such a short period of time?
The Maplewood Philosophy
If you ask Jen what sets Maplewood apart from the competition, she will tell you that she does a “crazy amount of research.” She travels to Germany two to three times per year to personally meet the stallions she is considering for her mares, to attend the GOV licensing, and to visit the mares and foals. Jen puts her time in. She is devoted. She is passionate. She rides all of her own young horses. Her horses not only show in hand, they perform under saddle--and with impressive scores. Jen is a talented horsewoman and business woman with sights set on lofty goals.
“No matter what, the horses I breed must be rideable,” says Jen. “When I purchased one of my original broodmares, Riva, 95% of the women dressage riders in America were on average 5’6”, 130 lbs. and amateur. My horses were meeting the standards perfectly for these riders. They sold for good prices, they were taking their riders to FEI, and the owners loved them.”
Jen’s foray into the business included successfully breeding beautiful, rideable, amateur friendly horses with great color. However, as her horses started showing and winning, they began drawing the attention of international quality riders. Without making a conscious decision, Jen found herself naturally transitioning Maplewood Warmbloods into a facility that was breeding for professional riders. Today, Maplewood Warmbloods offers international quality horses produced as a result of Jen’s hundreds of research hours. Jen and Tommy are the quintessential hands-on equine facility owners. Jen has undertaken all of her own breeding work, including embryo transfer, since 2012. “In 2010. I spent $20K on veterinarians managing the breeding and ended up with not one mare in foal. I had watched the process for so many years and I had learned how to feel it. I decided I could do this work myself.”
She fosters the most natural environment possible for her horses. “Horses live in herds here. The stallion is out all night where he can see his girls. He is also stabled in the same barn with them. We don’t have any issues with that.” Jen is actively involved in the daily happenings with all of the horses at Maplewood. This includes everything from knowing exactly what every horse in the barn is being fed to starting them under saddle in preparation for sale as 3-5 year olds. “My assistant of three years, Erin Powers, and I work as a team in starting the young horses,” says Jen. Erin is responsible for the youngsters’ initial starts under saddle and Jen takes them over at four to work up the levels.
So with 2014 at a close, where does Maplewood Warmbloods go from here? Jen says one short-term goal is to obtain her silver medal on her mare she started under saddle, Donnahall (Florencio X Donnerhall X Pik Bube I). A second is to qualify her youngsters for the USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships. She is also working on embryo vitrification. Long-term goals include continuing to grow a boutique breeding business competitive with Europe and someday standing 7 or 8 high-quality stallions. One thing is for certain--the future is looking bright for Maplewood Warmbloods.
Maplewood Warmbloods is only eight miles from the Newburg’s quarantine facility, and Jen and Tommy invite you to stop by if you are in the area.
To learn more about Maplewood Warmbloods, visit www.maplewoodwarmbloods.com or call Jen Vanover at 845.649.7160