Breeder of the P.R.E. Spanish Horse, Kim Van Kampen-Boyer owns and operates the gorgeous 185 acre facility, just east of Lake Michigan, where for ten years she has been developing and perfecting the finest line of quality P.R.E. Spanish horses, bred for Dressage in the United States.
In the “It doesn’t get much better than this” department, my husband and partner JJ. Hathaway topped off a long hot relentless summer of work, work, work, with a totally delightful trip and successful photo shoot at Hampton Green Farm, in Fruitport, Michigan, September 4-7.
It was an easy drive from Kentucky, even though it was 520 miles. We got on Route 31 just north of Indianapolis, enjoyed a scenic trip, arriving way ahead of our anticipated time. Even our corgis, Trooper and Tasha were welcome and we stayed night on the property in their guest house, sleeping in a big fluffy bed in a hand built log cabin, decorated in antiques and lacy curtains.
Her husband Fred Boyer, a world class French chef entertained us in the evening in their home where his state of the art kitchen would make Emeril swoon in envy.
JJ a master chef of the weber grill, admittedly was in awe of Fred's kitchen as well, especially impressed with the commercial dishwasher in the pantry.
Happy Horses and Happy People at Hampton Green
Although we had three days schedule for photos and video, we completed our work in a day and a half, shooting over 25 horses. The weather cooperated, but that was only a small part of the reason why.
The quality of the horses, their movement and temperament made it easy to get our shots, taking no more than 10 minutes per horse, even the foals.
With Peter and Pati Pierucci as Kim VanKampen-Boyer’s farm manager and trainer, and a staff of hardworking dedicated help, we started at 8:00 AM in the morning light, first with the mares and foals, then the riding horses.
Even with the paddocks full of mares, the stallions were perfect gentlemen, and on the following morning the yearlings were even easier to do, and we were able quickly to capture the movement Kim was looking for in each shot.
With strong hind end action, and an amazing lift in the knee, it is easy to see why some of these horses are currently being sold to the Germans who are breeding this movement into the Warmblood lines.
In fact our photos of the foals rival any action of the German foals being presented at the Vechta auction.
P.R.E. Pura Raza Espanola Offers Classical Perfection
Van Kampen-Boyer is dedicated to the art of perfecting the P.R.E. Spanish bloodlines in the United States and keeping them pure, and it is easy to see why. The trot work in all the horses we saw was large, forward and clean and the canter work uphill and powerful. Currently Hampton Green has five breeding stallions with impeccable bloodlines, temperment, and movement.
Sales have been so successful, that all of the foals are sold, and a number of those still in utero are spoken for! While the P.R.E is rapidly becoming a popular horse for the amateur dressage rider, their talent and perfection in the Grand Prix movements also make them serious prospects for High Performance dressage.
In fact it was a P.R.E. Spanish horse; Rociero XV (Rociero VIII out of Bombardina II) ridden by Kristine Harrison-Nanes who placed third at the USEF National Dressage Grand Prix Championship, demonstrating that it is possible for a P.R.E. to have a future in this country as an Olympic and World Championship Team prospect.
Pierucci rides and competes more PRE horses on the dressage circuit than any rider in the country: two Grand Prix stallions, Idilio II and Cosaco XI, along with several younger horses up to the Prix St. George level. During the winter months riding and competing at their winter location in Wellington, Florida they trained with German team rider, Martin Schaudt.
With Pierucci the stallions have enjoyed considerable success in the show ring, but have also had their share of dissapointments. In spite of the clear success of the Spanish Team at the 2002 World Equestrian Games where they edged out the United States for the Silver Medal, there are still discrepancies in judging the breed. Furthermore the Wellington competition is the country’s toughest venue to compete an outside breed, and the judging tends to be most conservative
But the number of judges on their “good” list is growing, and includes many of the top international judges in the world, who’ve encouraged them to keep at it.
Hannah Pierucci – A Rising Star at Hampton Green
Watching Pati Pierucci's 13-year-old daughter Hannah ride brought one word to my mind. A word I have never thought of before when watching a young rider; prodigy.
She rode three P.R.E. Spanish horses throughout the photo shoot, all with grace and ease gave me goose bumps, especially as a long time friend of her mom, Pati, I remember when she was born.
This winter 13-year-old Hannah Pierucci hit the show season in Florida instantly racking up wins and high scores, with judges’ commenting more than once on her test stating “We will be seeing you in the Olympic someday!” Even JJ who rarely comments on his days' work was floored by Hannah Pierucci the first time he photographed her at Ingred Lin's Welcome Back to White Fences Show last March.
“Mary, when I tell you this, believe me it is true.” said her mom Pati, “This is all self taught, she has picked all of this up just watching us – listening and watching.”
“Hannah offered to ride Kim’s horse one day, and then just started to do all kinds of movements. I can hardly say I train her, she just knows how to do it. ”
Riding the hot little stallion Cosaco XI for our cameras, Hannah handled the warm up and piaffe-passage transitions with gentle ease. When she began to do the changes for the video camera, Cosaco did every stride. At first it was not intended, but then Pati said, “OK Hannah, go for it, try the every's!” Grinning from ear to ear, Hannah went across the diagonal twice doing the flying changes at every stride, her first time.
“This is Hannah’s Ken and Barbie doll combined.” said her mom. “She has never wanted to do anything else.”