Breeding Masters

By Erin Gilmore

What defines a successful breeder? Patience, skill, careful management and a wealth of knowledge are a given, but combining all those factors into a winning formula is an art.

We talked to two West Coast breeders who made it a point to prove that some of the very best sporthorses don’t have to fly over from Europe. Certainly not backyard operations, these ladies built names for themselves and their horses on the backs of their successful breeding programs.

Allowing for the fact that tastes vary – from fashion to wine and well-bred horses – Tish Quirk and Barbara Ellison may skew in slightly different directions, however they both possess an uncanny mix of the finesse, patience, know-how and planning that “breeds” success.

Four Sensational Generations: Lucky Lines 
When Tish and John Quirk imported the Dutch stallion Octrooi (Lucky Boy x Ilonka) and gave him the name Best of Luck over 30 years ago, she never could have predicted the world this fabulous horse would create for her.

“Everyone who saw him wanted to buy him,” remembers Tish. “Every time we imported a horse by Lucky Boy, Best of Luck’s sire, it sold immediately. They were exactly the right horses for our market, and it just made sense to continue the bloodline right here.”

Best of Luck, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 28, became an indelible foundation stallion. Throughout his career, he was a phenomenon in the show ring, and he passed his most dominant traits on to his sons, Just The Best and More Than Luck. Tish is now showing the third generation offspring. Best of Luck sired FEI dressage horses, international grand prix jumping stars, excellent hunters and top-level eventers. And in this age of rapidly advancing science, Tish has more than Google searches to back up her knowledge. She began her education as a child in the family ranching, farming and livestock breeding business and continued to learn while she was buying horses in Europe. She learned to study “the whole horse and what made him what he was,” she explains. “Bloodlines are interesting but are not the end all of the horse. What’s more important for me is to know the horses.”

Working with top breeders in Europe who knew the bloodlines for four generations back, Tish learned that “what’s on paper, results and such, is deeply affected by who owns the horse and how much they compete,” she continues. “The heart of horses is not the papers, and it’s not on the Internet.”

Along that vein, for the last 30 years Tish has spent seven days of the week out in the barn, putting her hands on the Best of Luck progeny, knowing each horse from her daily interactions. Tish not only runs her own breeding operation but also oversees the mares when they foal. As the time of birth draws near, she stays in the barn bedroom and watches the mare’s every move on the monitoring system. She is at the mare’s side when labor begins, assists in the delivery and introduces the new foal to life outside of the womb. And she is available anytime to the breeders across the country who are part of her breeding family.

With accomplishments too long to list including champions at every national show in the country, from Devon to Del Mar, Tish’s breeding program has certainly illustrated that the proof is in the progeny.

Dreams Come True: Wild Turkeys Can Jump
In just 15 years, Barbara Ellison’s Wild Turkey Farm’s Holsteiner stallions have made an unmistakable mark on the sporthorse scene.

As an amateur rider in Northern California’s Woodside, Barbara juggled horses and raising children throughout the ‘90s. But as she collected a stable of stallions and her kids grew up, her goals began to shift. After purchasing her first stallion, Wizard, in 1995, then-trainers Butch and Lu Thomas sent her a tape of Holsteiner stallion Liocalyon and things started to pick up speed. The stallions Admiral Z and Lavita quickly followed, and one day she thought, “I should start breeding these boys!” Six years later, she officially began marketing Wild Turkey Farms with a bold ad campaign that has since become a trademark.

Top notch rider Mandy Porter put the Wild Turkey jumpers on the map, most notably with the (recently retired) mare Summer, a two-time World Cup Finals competitor and 2006 Pacific Coast Horse Association Horse of the Year. She continues to campaign Wild Turkey stallions on the West Coast grand prix circuit, winning two events this summer, the Sonoma Horse Park $30,000 Grand Meadows Grand Prix and the Blenheim EquiSports’ $30,000 Copa De Amistad Grand Prix with LaMarque.

Barb also had a hand in the breeding of New Zealand rider Guy Thomas’ powerhouse stallion Peterbilt (Liocalyon x Jeribos). As the World Equestrian Games approach it is impressive to note that both Peterbilt and fellow Kiwi rider Katie McVean’s mount Dunstan Delphi are both by Liocalyon – and both horses will represent New Zealand in show jumping at WEG.

The success of her jumpers is one goal realized, and now Barbara is on the precipice of another. Ten years ago, she set in motion the dream of owning a horse farm. A native of Portland, Oregon, she’s always wanted to return to her hometown, and as her involvement with breeding deepened, she made plans to build her dream facility on 200 acres outside Portland. The new Wild Turkey Farm is now complete, and Barbara plans to be fully moved in by early next year. Among its many benefits, the new facility will have space – lots of it. Barbara looks forward to completing the move and having all of her horses in one facility, where she’ll have more time to be hands on every day.

She counts her mentors as the fellow breeders that she has built working relationships with: Hilda Baisel, DVM, Anke Magnussen at Royal Oaks and Matt Davis at Crooked Willow.

“I really believe that we can breed good horses in this country. We have the quality right here,” Barbara says. “In Europe people can go to a concentrated area and look at tons of horses. I’m hoping that as I get going, people will see that we have a lot of very nice horses, and they’ll shop on the West Coast.”

The Beat of Breeding Continues
By combining the elements of patience, skill, a good eye and extensive knowledge with a true love of horses, Tish and Barbara can rightly be upheld as examples of sporthorse breeding programs gone right. Whether active for 30 years, or half that long, these West Coast women are masters at breeding superb sporthorses.

Thank you Tish and Barb! See more at and

Highlights From The $40,000 Summer Grand Prix On August 22nd, 2009

The weekend of August 22nd, 2009 will be remembered for many years to come in the equestrian world. On Saturday we watched 56 horses start and fourteen jump-off in the last outdoor grand prix of the 2009 season. Plus we simultaneously witnessed the final rounds of the inaugural ASG Software Solutions/USHJA Hunter Derby Finals live from the Kentucky Horse Park online at On Sunday not only did the CPHA Foundation Medal Finals come to an exciting close but the EquSport and Coapexpan Horse Shows along with a handful of fantastic sponsors hosted a fabulous cocktail party that evening. More on all the above and other outstanding stories below, so read on.

Designing a course for a large field requires the track be challenging enough to narrow the jump-off to a handful of horses and riders. Among the 56 entries were competitors at the International level, horses returning from a summer in Europe with this as their first comeback to the show ring as well as riders on young horses and new mounts. Quite a mix for course designer Olaf Petersen Jr. to contend with and successfully so with exactly one quarter of the first round attempts making it to the jump-off.

Sixteen-year-old Paris Sellon on her Orlando LA went fourth and were the first clean. Familiar with Olaf Jr.’s courses after competing at the 2009 NAYJRC in late July, she set the pace with one rail in the jump-off in a time of 49.25. Up against some top West Coast and Mexican riders, she held her lead for several rounds when rails dropped as riders attempted to beat the clock. Sixth to ride in the second round was another young rider who has made her mark several times in the grand prix arena, Laura Teodori on her fabulous Kasoar D’Uxelles. She also had four faults but in 47.70 to take over the lead for a brief moment.

Next in Mexican rider Eduardo Menezes on his Renoir Mercedes Benz were the first double clean setting, the time to beat at 45.38. Another top contender, Susie Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano, nipped at Menezes heels, double clean in 47.70, which would end up third best. The amazing (and young) Ashlee Bond was clean on all three of her Little Valley Farm entries, her first time back in on Chivas Z garnered her lowest prize, seventh with a rail in 49.10. Her next attempt on GZS Cassira Z ended up fastest of the four-faulters in 45.37 for fourth overall. Menezes returned on his Let’s Go Mercedes Benz, racing around in 46.80 with four for fifth place. And Ashlee Bond finished the class on her outstanding Cadett 7. The pair blazed around in their now internationally known style and stopped the clock clean in 44.73 for the win.

August 29th, 2009 – The $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark Indoor World Cup Qualifier

Fitting that the end of our summer season and the start of the new Indoor season would include a retirement ceremony for a horse known worldwide – Wild Turkey Farm’s Summer. Discovered, trained and taken to the highest levels by Mandy Porter, this gorgeous gray mare cleared many World Cup level courses and competed in the FEI World Cup Finals. She also sailed effortlessly around many outdoor venues, including wins at Spruce Meadows and the Del Mar National. When trying the mare as a mount for Barb Ellison, both Mandy and owner Barb saw international potential. Barb purchased Summer and allowed Mandy to bring out the best in the horse. After a very successful five-year reign in the show arena, Mandy will hand the reins back to Barb, who will breed the mare to some of her fabulous Wild Turkey Farm stallions in Summer’s second career as a broodmare. Can’t wait to see those babies jump!

Of forty starters in the first World Cup qualifier of the West Coast season, six horses piloted by four riders jumped off. Last to go, Tiwistar and Francie Steinwedell Carvin were two time faults away from making it seven clean. Four faulters rounded out the top eleven and similarly to seventh, twelfth went to a team with one rail and one time fault.

“I built a legitimate course,” explained course designer Leopoldo Palacios. “What the West Coast has done having all the qualifiers indoors is the best for the sport, you can see the improvement in the riders.”

A beautiful course that started with the black and white EquiFit, inc. plank oxer, to a bending six, around a tight right turn to a liverpool vertical, blind corner to the red planks, left turn to a diagonal line down the middle of the arena with a triple combination – one stride to a two stride to three forward strides to the brick wall, another bending line that ended with a square wide oxer, to a triple bar in a tight five to a vertical – oxer combination and finishing in a bend over an airy gate. Suffice to say the most of the jumps came down at one point or another, but the middle line and the tight five were the biggest culprits.

First to go clean was none other than rock star duo Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7, seventh in the ring. She did it again on Little Valley Farm’s GZS Cassira Z later in the class. Ashlee’s coach, Richard Spooner followed suit, clean on Cristallo (Show Jumping Syndications Intl, owner) and on his wife Kaylen’s horse Pako. The other two to join the jump off included Santiago Rickard on his own Jet Star and Keri Potter on her Rockford I. Of course Bond set a blazing pace in the jump off, clean in 33.95. No other rider could catch that time. Two more went clean – Spooner and Pako in 34.30 for second place and Potter with Rockford I in 36.08. Cristallo with one rail in 34.20 ended up fourth. Cassira fifth with a rail in 38.38 and rounding out the top six was Jet Star and Rickard with four in 41.17.

Young Horses

The Showpark All Seasons Classic also crowns a good number of young horses with their first big victories. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Wheeler family sponsored the Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF Hunter Breeding Championships for yearlings, two-year-olds and three-year-olds in hand, while two-year-old, three-year-old and four-year-old hunters competed in the International Hunter Futurity classes.

The 2009 Wild Turkey Farm Young Jumper Championships Western League Finals offers competition for three age divisions, five-year-olds, six-year-olds and seven/eight-year-olds over three days. Exhibitors from northern and southern California, Mexico, Colorado and Arizona gathered to show their young prospects. The Simpsons, Nicki and Will, dominated the five year old division riding Holly Go Lightly (Ilan Ferder, owner) and Carpendale (Kimberly Thomas, owner) respectively. Mexican riders garnered the top spots in both the six-year-old and seven/eight-year-old divisions – John Perez won with his six year old Winalaris La Cantera and was second on Carla (Eduardo Leon, owner). He also battled it out with Mandy Porter for the win in the seven/eight-year-olds, with the blue going to Arezzo (Rolling Oaks West LLC, owner) and a close second to LaMarque (Wild Turkey Farm, owner) in an exciting six horse jump off.

Are these horses potential USHJA Hunter Derby winners? Grand Prix contenders? International horses? Time will tell… We wish all the best to these young horses in their future careers.

Highlights From 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Highlights

Hunter Derby

Hunters had the spotlight in the Grand Prix field on a cool Saturday afternoon as the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby commenced. A solid rain had fallen the night before, however the footing held up well and twenty-nine horses competed over what turned out to be quite a challenging course.

Competing in front of an audience of 200 plus, many a lovely (and usually brave) hunter spooked on course. The spooky spot – gray rocks along the side of the outside line – was reminiscent of the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals last summer. Approximately half the entries balked, stopped or refused to get near the rocks or jumps nearby. However a handful of horses didn’t take note and went on to jump magnificently.

Jenny Karazissis hunted around both rounds on two of Tonia Cook-Looker’s horses, Forbes and Aragon, riding each with style and ending up second and third respectively. John French rode Mountain Home Stable’s new mount Rumba to fourth in the first round, and then returned in the second round with a gorgeous handy course to take the win in both the round as well as overall. As always, the class was fabulous to watch and appears equally fun to ride.

Place Horse Rider  Owner
1 Rumba John French Mountain Home Stable
2 Forbes Jenny Karazissis Tonia Cook-Looker
3 Aragon Jenny Karazissis Tonia Cook-Looker
4 Quicksilver Sharon Duff Jaclyn Duff
5 Y2K Natalie Rae Medlock Hap Hansen
6 On Top Nicoletta Von Heidegger Laurel Ridge Sport Horses LLC
7 Paladijn Jenny Karazissis Maria Bruggere
8 Belle Fleur Avery Hellman Avery Hellman
9 Piper Zoie Nagelhout Sylvia Ausweger-O’Conner
10 Beckham Holly Dickinson HMG Farms
11 Toska Gail Ross Pacifica Riding Club
12 Aspen Extreme Liz Schmidt Teton View Farm

World Cup Qualifier
The indoor arena was the place to be on Saturday night for the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan. With a line out the door, the bleachers and VIP seating area were packed with spectators hoping to see some great World Cup level show jumping from the twenty-nine starters in the posted order. The course and horses did not disappoint, the class was phenomenal all the way to the last jump off round.

Bernardo Cabral of Portugal built a tall and tough route, using every bit of the intimate indoor space. First to go, east coast equestrian and Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward made it look easy riding Sagamore Farm’s Phillipa without a fault. We did not see another clean round until Jill Henselwood on Black Ice, Ashlee Bond aboard Cadett 7 and Helen McNaught all rode fault-free going thirteenth, fourteenth and sixteenth in the order. Two more men rounded out the six returning for the jump off – Harley Brown piloting Cassiato and our west coast Olympic Gold Medalist, Will Simpson on Archie Bunker. The four faulters took the remaining ribbons, among them some of our top World Cup contenders including Richard Spooner, Mandy Porter and Rich Fellers.

The top six had a lengthy jump off with a combination of long gallops and tight turns to master. McLain and Phillipa set the pace, going neat and clean in 42.51. Both Jill and Black Ice and Ashlee on Cadett 7 went for the win, each finishing with fast times, but one rail down. Harley rode Cassiato strategically to a clean round, knowing he would end up second or third. Leave it to Will for the finale – he cruised around the jumps in a fast and clean 40.24 for the win.

Place Horse Rider Owner
1 Archie Bunker Will Simpson Linda I. Smith
2 Phillipa McLain Ward Sagamore Farm
3 Cassiato Harley Brown Oak Park Group LLC
4 Black Ice Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms
5 Cadett 7 Ashlee Bond Little Valley Farm
6 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught
7 Ace Richard Spooner S & B, LLC
8 San Diego Mandy Porter Danielle Korsh
9 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman
10 Kiss The Sky Lane Clarke Horsemanship Unlimited
11 Cristallo Richard Spooner Show Jumping Syndications Int’l
12 Chianto John Pearce Forest View Farm & Gerald Moore

Desert Circuit Weeks I-II Highlights
No stranger to the winner circles, our congratulations go out to the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Weeks I & II Grand Prix winners, Richard Spooner and Mandy Porter. These two riders ruled on different turfs – Richard outdoors and Mandy indoors:

In the Grand Prix Field:
1/23: $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, Desert Circuit I: Richard Spooner & Quirino 3
1/25: $50,000 EMO Grand Prix: Richard Spooner & Quirino 3

In the Indoor Arena:
1/29: $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, Desert Circuit II: Mandy Porter & San Diego
1/31: $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan: Mandy Porter & San Diego

Desert Circuit Week II
HITS celebrated the horse as art in many ways on the eve of the final day of January 2009. Exhibitors and spectators alike enjoyed the displays presented by artists from California, Colorado and Oregon. Plus a unique installation by Embarr Tack Room Design, specialists in tack room design and construction.

Hung with care throughout the arena spectator entrance, equine paintings and prints created a stylish start to the upcoming artistic performances on horseback in the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.

The indoor arena was literally filled to the rafters in anticipation of the evening’s special events, including the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing and listening to John French sing the National Anthem. His voice not only boomed but he rocked the house! The cheers were heard all the way back at the barns.

Mr. French set the stage for a fabulous night of show jumping. Thirty-one horse and rider combinations negotiated the Bob Ellis course. Difficult but not deadly, twenty-three of those who attempted had a rail or more, including Olympians McLain Ward on Phillipa, and Will Simpson on Archie Bunker. However eight went without fault and advanced to the jump-off.

Ashlee Bond set the stage on Cadett 7. She was flying high – literally – as she made the sharp rollback turn from fence 6b to 3b. Almost separated from her horse, she quickly recovered to finish with four faults in a fast 33.88. Katherine Bardis riding Mademoiselle made the turn but lost the pace heading to 3b, resulting in a refusal. Quick indeed, she still managed to make a dash for cash, and even with the stop, stayed within the time allowed for four faults.

In galloped McLain Ward on Goldrika 559, who had a fabulous time with eight faults. Next to attempt a clean and fast ride was Lionel with Erin Duffy aboard. She went for clean not speed, but had four faults as well. Halfway into the jump-off with no one clean, Mandy Porter and San Diego entered the arena. Consistent since the start of World Cup qualifying season back in the fall, and after winning the Thursday $25,000 Grand Prix, they once again set the time to beat – clean in 32.93. Lane Clarke riding Kiss the Sky made a gallant effort but had two rails. With two left to go, Mandy held the lead. Richard Spooner maneuvered Ace to a beautiful clean ride, in 32.94. One one-hundredth of a second off the leading time – the definition of a close second. Black Ice with Jill Henselwood took the final shot at the win, finishing with four and settling for third best.

Young Jumper Classes

By Tammy Chipko

The Young Jumper Championships are designed to identify the horses that are the most promising young show jumping prospects competing in the United States. One of the goals is to offer opportunities for up and coming Grand Prix jumpers to compete against their peers over suitable courses.

Horses must be nominated for the Young Jumper Championships annually in order to qualify for the League Finals held in August.

Qualifying classes are hosted throughout the year at recognized USEF competitions. These classes for 5, 6, and 7/8 year olds are designed to provide exposure and invaluable experience.

A great way to bring young horses up the ranks throughout the year, each division begins with inviting courses and then advances throughout the year offering bigger and more difficult courses. Since all the horses competing are the same age, the classes help riders gauge their own horse’s talent and progress. Ideally the system is designed to help young horses along at a good pace.

I asked some of our top professionals about the YJC.

Joie Gatlin: This organization is important because we need to develop our own horses here in the United States. With the Euro being so much stronger than the dollar now, it is not cost-effective for most people to go to Europe and show horses there like we used to. It also encourages people here to develop their own breeding programs. This is vital to the growth of our sport and in doing this we can encourage owners to purchase horses here in the States.
Joie Gatlin and her husband Morley Abey run a successful program that includes trips to Europe and Canada.

Mandy Porter: I hope that everyone continues to support the Young Jumpers so we can continue to grow and improve the organization. I would love to see this develop like it has in Europe. This is possible if we keep our standards high and provide good challenges for our horses throughout the year.
Mandy Porter spent many years developing jumpers and showing in Nations Cups in

Duncan McFarlane: The Young Jumper classes are a great idea! They inspire owners to become more involved because they can show their horses all year in hopes of qualifying for the finals. I think the final could be run in a different format that would make it more exciting for the owners and spectators but hopefully, as the organization progresses, this will happen.
Duncan McFarlane and his wife Gry own Windfall Farms. Through the years, they have trained multiple young horses to the Grand Prix level.

Tasha Visokay: The class allows me to show my horse in a division of horses of the same age and ability and I like that. I think the intent of the Young Jumpers is good and we need to continue to come together to help it grow as it has on the East Coast.
Tasha Visokay assists Mark Bone at Huntover Farm in Thousand Oaks, California.

Patricia Griffith: We have several horses that we enter in the different age groups – it really is a great outlet for the young horses. It provides us a chance to compete in classes with horses of the same age instead of competing in open classes that have sometimes over 100 horses, many of which are older and have much more experience than our young horses. The format promotes clean rounds which is so important for young horses. These classes also provide a very nice way to showcase young horses that are for sale. We are lucky here that we have the sponsors to support this. The eastern finals are located at the Hampton Classic and it is a beautiful venue and very exciting for all.
Patricia Griffith works for Heritage Farm located in Katonah, NY. (914) 232-2122

EquestriSol News: March 2005

West Coast Active Riders
The West Coast Active Riders Organization is hosting its Party in the Desert fundraiser on Friday, March 11th, 2005 in La Quinta, CA. Come enjoy a fun and exciting evening with dinner, dancing and fundraising all for the benefit of West Coast Active Riders. Visit the WCAR website or contact Gaby Salick at [email protected] for more information.
Have you visited yet? If you haven’t listed your sale horse, you’re missing out. New sale horses are added daily making it the best site to find your next hunter, jumper or equitation horse.

Published Articles
Look for our article on Mandy Porter, featured in the February 18th issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Also, look for a column written by us in the March issue of USEF’s Equestrian Magazine on Hunter/Jumper websites.

Ad Campaigns
EquestriSol specializes in creating effective, custom, integrated marketing solutions. To learn more about our services and what they can do your business, e-mail us at [email protected]

EquestriSol News: February 2005
Check out the cool new articles on Elitehunterjumper.comZazou Hoffman, Jenni Martin and Sharon Blake. While you’re there, list some sale horses. The prices are so reasonable and it’s such a convenient place for buyers to see your horses. P.S. – You don’t have to list the price!

Ad Campaigns
Remember to pick up your Winter issue of Show Circuit Magazine! EquestriSol is pleased to continue working with great clients, including Arwen Stables, Creative Saddlery, Mandeville Farms, Lancer Farms, Amy Brubaker and A special thank you to our clients for once again trusting all of your ad needs to EquestriSol.

EquestriSol specializes in creating effective, custom, integrated marketing solutions. To learn more about our services and what they can do your business, e-mail us at [email protected]

Chronicle of the Horse
Look for these familiar West Coast names, World Cup hopeful Mandy Porter and Elvenstar & Jim Hagman, in upcoming issues of the Chronicle. (We wrote these articles)