We began our breeding program with my riding mare Flaming Heart (aka Flame) in 2014. I purchased Flame as a 4-year-old in 2006 long before I even thought about owning a farm, let alone starting a breeding program. Looking back it is clear I always had a special place in my heart for mares. The first pony I ever rode was a mare named Teddybear. The first horse I ever owned was a mare named Marquis, she put the idea in my that it would be fun to breed a foal. It was an amazing experience and I daresay a foreshadowing of things to come.
Years passed and I discovered my passion for Dressage. Then, after Templeton Farms was established, we decided to start a breeding program. As we thought about what an outstanding program might look like, undoubtedly the foundation of that program had to be the merging of my long-time love of exceptional quality mares with an emphasis on my chosen discipline of Dressage.
Coincidentally the mare is responsible for more than 50% of overall the genetics of a foal. Although the dam and sire are each responsible for 50% of the nuclear DNA of a foal, only the mare contributes the mitochondrial DNA (aka mtDNA) for the offspring. It is scientifically well accepted that the mtDNA is one of the main determinants of individual variation in endurance performance for elite athletes . Thus our focus on the best of mares gives us a competitive advantage vis a vis the traditional stallion-centric approach. Furthermore, techniques such as fresh cooled and/or frozen semen allow us to access the best of the stallions from almost anywhere in the world. We can leverage the fact that a good stallion can sire hundreds if not thousands of foals during his breeding career to look for stallion-specific traits that complement the strengths and weaknesses of our mares.
We match riding mares with excellent temperaments to the most appropriate stallions.. Our use of embryo transplant allows us to keep our mares under saddle to further their training; we believe a mare’s talents and temperament are yet another indicator of the potential of her foals. We keep our mares for the long term, so we have the unusual opportunity to see how well we have done matching the mares and stallions - multiple foals from the same mare to help us better understand what traits the mares are likely to pass to their foals.
Quality mares are hard to find, and we are fortunate to have acquired a handful since we opened in 2011. Combined with our hands-on style and a dedication to quality at Templeton Farms, a smaller boutique program is the best use of our mares and our business and management strengths.
Arguably handling of foals and young horses is as important as the breeding – and oft left unnoticed. But our hand-on approach at Templeton Farms allows us the time required to work with each of our foals 1 on 1. We foal out all of our babies here at the farm. They are handled from birth through sale by well-rounded professionals. Generally their first grass “turn-out” is within 12 hours of birth. They learn to accept the halter and be lead. They learn to cross tie, be groomed, clipped and trimmed or shod.
Environment is another key factor. While growing up horses need to be horses, our youngsters are raised in groups on grass pastures (an anomaly in California). However, they have the added benefit of experiencing life within a working training barn. An unusual combination. They see and do many things that most horses don’t experience until they are under saddle. They are introduced to occasional stall living. They master a trailer, a walker, a round pen and a jump chute. They see other horses training dressage in a covered ring or jumping outdoors. They see tractors, trucks and sometimes the isolated construction project. The grass, grain, and forage are monitored to assure that their nutritional needs are met. We make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and we use fecals to track parasite load and avoid unnecessary worming.
Finally, when the young horses are ready to go under saddle we take our time and tailor the start to the individual needs of each horse. The youngsters are exposed to the round pen, the lunge line, side reins, long lines, bridles, and saddles, all before experiencing “Fluffy Frank” on their back. Finally, after the 3 YO is comfortable with their new job, Max will climb aboard. The training doesn’t stop there – we continue to move them forward as long as we have them at the farm. They are schooled in classical dressage, as we believe it is the basis of all disciplines. We get them out hacking and to the occasional show.
Since 2014 we have successfully bred 3-4 foals a year and/or purchased a couple of exceptional youngsters to allow us to build our herd to the critical mass where we are ready to make our youngsters available for sale. We hope to grow our program to breed 6 foals a year, a little larger but still small enough to be the exceptional and one-of-a-kind boutique breeder that we have become.
Honeymoon aka “Honey” is a fabulous riding horse. She is currently showing Grand Prix with Olympic Bronze Medalist Lisa Wilcox. Honey was already a proven broodmare when we imported her as a young mare from Holland, where she has 4 progeny. Since her arrival in we have been fortunate to have 2 fillies: Roccia Luna who has shown in the 4 YO Dressage Classes and Violet Moon. We decided to keep Violet and breed her and she has had two lovely fillies. In 2020 she gave us Galaxy’s Moon, by Grand Galaxy Win and her 2021 foal, Glamour Moon, is by Glamourdale. Honey’s breeding career is on hold for the moment as she is away in Florida training and showing Grand Prix.
We purchased the 2011 KWPN mare Florenciana, aka Ana, to be a brood mare. Her bloodlines are fabulous, she is a full sister to the well-known KWPN stallion Florencio. She came to us in 2015 already pregnant with our own Amperiano. She stamps all of her foals – they are all extremely good movers with exceptional looks to match. Check out Amperiano, Morianno, Rocciano, Amperiana, Hana, Milano, and Senaido. What bodes well for her foals is that she has turned out to be a fabulous show horse. 2019 was a successful double debut for Ana and her rider, Victoria Bornino; winning the Southern California Young Riders Championship at Training Level.
Sonett was already a proven show horse when she arrived at Templeton Farms from Holland/Germany in 2016. In 2015 she won the 4 year old championship in Westphalia, Germany and went on to the well-known Bundeschampionat. She was also in foal with our own Fulcrum, who is now under saddle. His sire Ferdinand is uncommon in the US but is showing PSG/Inter 1. We have 2 fillies from Sonett via recipient mares in 2020; Bonett by Belissimo M and Minuett by Morricone. Sonett, currently schooling 3rd level, had a lovely Hotline filly in 2021, Half Step.
Unfortunately Flaming Heart, aka "Flame" is no longer with us. Flame was an exceptional riding horse. As a 6 year old she competed at the USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships in Kentucky, and ultimately competed successfully through PSG. After her first two foals, Dolce Flame and Rhoda, were rated Premium by the Oldenburg Verband, Flame was awarded the honor of Elite Oldenburg mare. Before she left us she also adopted our orphaned Violet Moon, and left us with the beauties Rubie Fiammina and Maricella Flame. We like her progeny so much that we also have her first grand-foal from Rhoda, a colt named Brhody.
Batida is a 2009 Hannoverian mare by Brentano II. Brentano II is the well-known Hannoverian sire of Debbie McDonald’s Olympic mount Brentina.
Violet Moon, out of our Grand Prix mare Honeymoon, is by Vitalis. Born 2016, Violet was orphaned when her recipient mare had to be put down shortly after delivery. Our mare, Flaming Heart, stepped in and adopted Violet, raising her as her own. Violet has given us two fabulous fillies, Galaxy’s Moon by Grand Galaxy Win in 2020 and Glamour Moon by Glamourdale in 2021, and she is a wonderful riding horse as well.