She got Feel The Dream, her first broodmare, in 1991, and for a few years she combined riding with breeding one foal a year. But by 1997, Haymon was feeling the effects of having broken her back twice in skiing accidents in the ’80s. That’s when she stopped riding and decided to hone her focus on breeding.
“It’s worked out to be even more important to me than the riding was. I didn’t realize how rewarding this was going to be. I always loved my job in the nurseries with infants, and I can’t live without horses, so it was kind of a natural evolution to put the two together,” she said.
Going To Graduate School
Haymon jumped head first into the dressage breeding world. She went to Scott and Susanne Hassler—then at Hilltop Farm—for guidance. “You couldn’t ask for better teachers. They helped me tremendously,” she said.
“We recognized right away that Maryanna was passionate about her mares and dedicated to producing the best foals she could,” said Susanne. “She has clearly invested herself in not just learning about today’s influential bloodlines but also in experiencing them through her foals, both in this country and in Germany. This investment has provided great depth and vision for her breeding program.”
In 2000, Haymon traveled to Germany for a two-week mare and foal breed orientation course. “It’s an in-depth course of teaching what’s working, what to look for, what the standards are, what bloodlines work well together, what bloodlines don’t nick, all kinds of things,” Haymon said.
As part of the course, she went to the national state stud for Hanoverians and saw portions of the 100-day test for stallions. “We got to see mare performance tests with the jump chute, and we sat through a foal auction of almost 200 foals with the course instructor making comments on each one. We got enormous volumes of material to bring home,” she said.
Haymon then took that education and built a broodmare herd that suited her vision. “I think breeding today has gone so far to the left in getting the light, refined, hot, sensitive horse,” she said. “I wanted to aim for horses that are heavier but have engine and athletic ability.”
Her 2010 colt Flavius MF (Fidertanz—Diora, DeNiro) reflects that philosophy. “He’s a tank, but he’s got power, suspension and elasticity,” Haymon said. Flavius was one of the three offspring who brought the Breeder’s Group class win to Haymon at the 2010 Dressage At Devon.
Haymon had volunteered at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and paid attention to the pedigrees of all the horses competing there. One of the things that struck her even then was that Grande showed up in the pedigrees of the top horses across the disciplines.
“It might not have been in first generation, but it was there,” she said. “So we started looking for a Grande direct daughter.”
And soon enough, they found Flavius’ dam, Diora, who is out of a Grande mare.
Finding Her Prince
The final piece of Haymon’s breeding puzzle fell into place in 2004, when she bought Don Principe. She’d seen the black stallion in 2001 in Germany, just after he’d been rejected from the Hanoverian 2-year-old stallion licensing. But Haymon liked his looks and knew he had late-maturing bloodlines.
Unfortunately, Don Principe (Donnerhall—SPS Papagena) wasn’t for sale at that time. But by 2004, the stars aligned.
“We decided after a year when we spent $36,000 in stud fees that buying a stallion was probably the way to go,” Haymon said. “Our broodmare band was mostly R line, and I wanted a G line son. I had hoped for a Donnerhall direct son, since he’d just passed away. We went over, and Don Principe was the first stallion we looked at. I told my husband, ‘We’re buying this one.’ ”
Wendell convinced his wife to look at a few other stallions, but she kept returning to Don Principe, so they wrote the check.
Haymon left “Prince” in Germany for a year, and he arrived in the United States in 2005 as a 6-year-old. Haymon asked Jim Koford to ride him, and Koford developed him from the 6-year-old classes to the Grand Prix. “He’s been near the top throughout his career, but he’s never been in top two or three and gotten a lot of press,” Haymon said.
“He’s a workaholic. He’s sweet and kind,” she added. “Even I, who had just had hip replacement surgery, can trail ride him. But he’s also producing himself, and better than himself, over and over again. We have five 6-year-olds out there that are doing very well under amateurs.”
When Koford went to Europe to train in 2009, Prince needed a new rider, and Courtney King-Dye took over the reins in early 2010. She had excellent results with Prince in the two shows they did before her fall and head injury.
For the remainder of 2010, King-Dye’s assistant, Jennifer Marchand, showed Prince. They competed at Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions (N.J.) and won the GAIG/USDF Region 8 Intermediaire I Championship (N.Y.).
By the end of 2010, Haymon decided she wanted Prince closer to her, so she shipped him to Baumert, whose Cloverlea Dressage farm is just a few miles down the road from Marydell Farm.
“She’s very enthusiastic, and she’s got strong opinions, in a good way,” Baumert said of Haymon. “She’s a wonderful owner, very attentive and caring about the horse’s well being. She’s detail-oriented and supportive.”
Baumert and Prince debuted together at the Grand Prix level in Florida in February. “It was a learning experience for both of them, since they’d only been together four months,” said Haymon. “It’s fun to be on the sidelines and see a horse enjoy his work so much.”