Even my husband JJ Hathaway, who can hardly bear to leave his own piece of paradise in Kentucky, was looking forward to our trip to Fruitport, Michigan to visit Kim and Fred Boyer, at Hampton Green Farm to do a video and photo shoot for their upcoming auction to be held August 21. Hampton Green is the home of Grandioso, the gorgeous Pura Resa Espanola (PRE) stallion who Courtney King Dye was campaigning for the American Dressage team prior to her accident. As Courtney continues to make progress each day, Grandioso and two of Courtney’s selected young horses are waiting for her, being kept in condition by the HGF staff. We photographed and video taped a quality selection of young horses, but it wasn’t just the foals that were new the additions to the Boyer family...
It had been two years since we had made the pleasant drive to work with Kim and her team. Michigan is such a pretty state, and while Hampton Green Farm has their headquarters in Wellington in the winter for the competition horses, they return each year to their farm where a select group of mares and stallions represent the finest bloodlines and breed management for the PRE Spanish horses in America. We arrived just as the Boyers had finished a fundraiser with over 150 people for United Way at their farm with riding demonstrations and food by Kim’s husband, Chef Frederic. As we settled into the guesthouse out visit had another perk. Our good friend Ralph Graham, a master gardener is our Kentucky neighbor where he owns a retirement facility keeping some of Kim’s older broodmares. He was in town to work on Kim’s gardens. Ralph had just finished planting at our place in Kentucky turning a mound of dirt into an oasis.
After a cozy night’s sleep we headed to the farm, perfectly designed for both the breeding and riding elements of the operation which has been growing for over 10 years. The farm has been very busy with training of the stallions under Maria Lithander, care of the mares, foals and young horses by Sandy Talbot and Karen Drasiewski who were all ready and waiting for us.
We managed to do standing shots and videos of all 12 horses being featured in the auction August 21, in spite of intermittent rain showers throughout the day. As we worked with the staff and horses I kept getting excited about the quality of what I was seeing.
Bred for high level competitive dressage, the HGF horses have the movement and temperament for High Performance. Germany’s Martin Schaudt owns Hampton Green offspring, and Lendon Gray, a close associate with Boyer, now has several in her Young Rider program. Their sale-which will be done in part because of the economic times and also to make room for more growth- is going to be an excellent opportunity to own a quality horse at a bargain price.
Hampton Green Farm has continued its breeding program throughout the recession, and sales have continued but at a slower pace. All HGF horses three and older have been sold, but there is a good group of two year olds and yearlings that the farm needs to move along. From that group, 10 top young horses will be selected for the sale. HGF's last auction was over 10 years ago and it is not a method of preference for them, but this sale is happening as a result of the economic times and Kim is hopeful that it will allow more riders to own a top-quality PRE at a very reasonable price. "From the very beginning, I was advised to purchase young horses and grow my business that way, and almost all of our horses were purchased from Spain un-started. With the exception of Idilio, all of Maria's and Courtney's current horses were started at HGF. As a result, I am quite an enthusiast for young horses, and I believe that the best situation is when horses are started and trained under one roof and one philosophy, especially in the first 5 or 6 years. If you have the time and the patience, purchasing a young horse allows you to buy the most quality for the price."
We saw gray and bay foals, yearlings and two-year olds-colts and fillies. All of the horses in the sale are offspring or bloodlines of proven and successful International and Grand Prix competitors-Cosaco, Grandioso, Cuatrero and Bolero (half-brother to Spain's Olympic horse Fuego). The dams are also imported prize-winning stock or HGF-bred from their own champion sires. HGF only breeds horses who have proven themselves in dressage competition as well as in the morphology circuits, and they believe that the mentality and ability to do upper level work are inherited. To illustrate this, both sires and offspring are campaigned against the top dressage horses in the country in Wellington and Devon, and the recent success of Courtney King-Dye and Grandioso has brought additional attention to the HGF breeding program.
Kim is in regular communication with Courtney-by phone and email. Courtney intends to return to riding as soon as she can, and Kim is happy to keep Grandioso for her, as well as several of the young horses Courtney had selected for herself in the past. In fact, in their first conversation together, Courtney asked about the girls first, then GR (as she calls Grandioso) and then about a pair of 3 year olds..."Prior to the accident we spoke almost every day and my impression after my first conversation with her now is that she is just as organized and motivated as she always was. I am sending her photos and videos whenever I can so that she remains a part of what goes on here, like always." Maria Lithander-an FEI rider from Sweden and Mexico--is keeping Grandioso fit and trained under the coaching of Lendon Gray.
Of course another motivator in coming to HGF is knowing we will be joining the Boyers in their home for one of Fred’s incredible meals, and plenty of wine. Kim and Fred recently returned from a six week pilgrimage to Russia and Nepal where they completed the adoptions of their two new beautiful daughters. We finally got to meet Nina and Justine. While Justine continues to sing nursery songs in her native language from Nepal, the three and a half year old is eager to learn new words in English as she repeated what we said. Nina, who is from Russia, is still in fragile health but getting stronger and happier each day with the love and care she has been getting from her new family.
By the end of the evening her shyness dissipated, and she was on my lap looking though photos on the cameras, managing all the buttons quickly and with ease. For Kim (who has four grown biological sons) and Fred, the adoption process is one they have been pursuing for over 3 years.
It was very moving for us to watch the girls nestled in Fred and Kim’s arms as we sat at the dinner table after our meal. Kim was reading Nina Dr. Seuss, and Fred held Justine as she had finally slowed down and faded into sleep.
This job is an equestrian photographers “dream job”. Working with Kim on all levels is a joy, and we are proud to be known as friends. We strongly recommend those in the market for a horse to make plans to visit Michigan in August to attend or pre-view the horses in the sale, or visit their on-line bidding site in the near future. We know first hand what will be offered and those in the market should take advantage of this rare opportunity for what are sure to be a few “steals”. Stay tune as DressageDaily will be bring more details and videos of the sales.