Horse farm owner and breeder
How long have you been part of the horse world?
I rode my first pony when I was 3 years old, received lessons on my 8th birthday and the rest is history. I grew up on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, and learned to ride on the beach, so my start in the horse world is a little different than most but certainly unique! I first started showing when I was 9 years old—we had to drive three hours just to get to the nearest local show! I was in my mid-teens when I knew I wanted to be involved with horses for the rest of my life.
How did you get started in breeding/showing?
I started horse showing at rated shows in my teens, in Zone 3. When I went to college in Pennsylvania, I started training with Louise Serio, which broadened my experience at shows from Wellington to Vermont. After a serious riding accident when I was 22 that ended my competitive riding career, I got involved in breeding as a way to stay involved in the sport even though I couldn’t jump anymore. Although at the time of the accident it was devastating, it definitely made me believe that everything happens for a reason.
What part do you play in the horse world?
I breed upper-level amateur horses for the hunter and jumper rings. My breeding goal is to produce something athletic enough for the top of the amateur levels, but with the brain necessary to be successful as well. So often my foals will compete in both rings! I currently stand two stallions, my own Bandelero JSF (Banderas/Columbus/Condino), who is proving to be an exceptional hunter producer, and Jac’Potes (Caretino/Corrado I/Lord), who is client-owned and just retired at 19 years old from a 1.60m career.
Additionally, I’m on the Young Hunter Committee; Vice President of the U.S. Sport Horse Breeders Association; Belgian Warmblood Registry board member; and on the planning committee for the North American Elite Foal Auction.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
There is nothing I love more than watching the babies I’ve raised learn and grow into well-rounded performance horses. Their first ride, first time off property, first time their owner gets to ride them…these moments will always be incredible to me. I take my job very seriously, and I know that everything I teach these young horses from the moment they’re born will shape who they are for the rest of their lives. And if I do my job right, they will live happy and healthy lives. I’ve always enjoyed being the one behind the success, not the one in the spotlight.
What’s your biggest achievement in the horse world?
There have been many achievements that I still can’t believe. Breeding an approved stallion was a big one, Likewise HM (Lestat/For Feeling); having horses I bred be in the top five at Young Horse Show Finals multiple times; being awarded Reserve Champion Breeder for the Young Horse Show series; breeding a Top 10 foal for BWP-NA each year that I’ve been breeding and registering with them.
But the biggest achievement is every time I send a young horse off that I’ve raised and get to watch them succeed with their owners. It’s what keeps me going every day.
What are your goals for the future with your farm and your horses?
I’m very happy with where my program is now: I have some phenomenal young horses and owners. I would like to get back to my roots of starting young horses under saddle; that’s where my heart is happiest, those first moments of riding. I’d like to expand the mare management side of my business and increase the quality of my own broodmare herd. I also have a young stallion prospect born this year that I am very excited about, Lucrative HM (Lordanos/Cassini I).
What is the best thing about your life?
After an especially hard year, this question definitely gave me pause because I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been hard to remember why I live this life. But we just came home from Young Horse Show finals where every horse we brought (seven of them!) were in the top five of their classes and handled the six days at the Tryon International Equestrian Center like total professionals. It was a reminder that I do this for the young horses. The babies are the best thing about my life, and I am so blessed to be the one that gets to raise them into the athletes I know they’ll be.
For more information, visit hickorymanorllc.com