Craig Heckert and Patty Larson, Rivervale Farm
Nisland, South Dakota
How long have you been part of the horse world?
Craig and I have been involved in the horse industry our entire lives. Craig was involved in Quarter Horses and I with Appaloosas. My family switched to Warmbloods in the late ’80s and Craig joined with us in the early ’90s.
How did you get started in breeding?
Both of our parents were horse breeders, so we pretty much just “followed in their footsteps.” Craig and I both grew up showing Western horses. Craig was very successful with Western Pleasure Quarter Horses. I discovered eventing in the ’80s and competed through Intermediate Level on a horse I bred to be a racehorse. He was a solid colored Appaloosa, so couldn’t race.
What part do you play in the horse world?
I do the marketing, website, etc. and Craig does the training and competing. We are also a farm and produce most of our own hay.
What are some of the highlights of your program?
Our program is based on crossing the Appaloosa stallion BJC Asher Seven with warmblood mares. Our warmblood mares are mostly daughters of Meisterwind (Trakehner) and Lion King (Hanoverian). Asher has no stock horse breeding, he is Foundation Appaloosa and Thoroughbred. He is 16.3-hands and wears a size 2 shoe. He has several offspring competing in eventing and is also the sire of the Appaloosa Horse Club National Champion 50-mile Endurance Horse RF Abstract, ridden by Jeremy Reynolds. We’ve also produced a few Appaloosa Sport Horses by our warmblood stallion Lion King, out of Appaloosa mares. One of those, RF Let’s Tell Secrets, is the 2022 USDF All Breeds ApHC Champion at Training Level.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
We are our own “boss.”
What’s your biggest achievement in the horse world?
I think it’s the horses we’ve bred that make their owners happy and successful.
What are your goals for the future with your farm and your horses?
To produce the best Appaloosa Sport Horses!
What is the best thing about your life?
That’s a tough one. We put in long hours and are never “off duty.” But this farm is a wonderful life. To bring a foal from conception all the way to their first ride, first show and watching them go on to their new people is super rewarding.
Best kept secret about what you do?
People are always so surprised to “discover” Rivervale Farm, an “English horse” facility in the heart of “Cowboy Country.” We have people drive in because they see our sign at the driveway and are just curious to see what these horses are.
For more information, visit rivervalefarm.com