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May 20, 2014

Welcome To Taming The Herd

The young herd in their former home.

Welcome to a personal and candid look at our first step (gigantic leap!) into the world of horse ownership!

I guess I should start at the beginning. My name is Haylie Jayne Rolfe and I have been involved with horses my whole life. My father is a fifth generation horseman, so you could say horses are in my blood. I grew up riding on my family’s farm in Elgin, Ill., and traveling around the world showing with my family.

In 2006, after a junior career in the hunters, jumpers and equitation, I went to college at the University of Georgia to ride on their NCAA equestrian team. It was there I met the captain of the track team and my future husband, Nate Rolfe.

He had never been around horses and had a legitimate fear of them, which I found adorable. When I graduated in 2010, Nate proved he was the man of my dreams and moved back to Illinois with me so I could start my career as a professional rider and trainer.

Since then I have been training alongside my siblings, Maggie and Charlie Jayne, out of our family farm, Our Day Farm. Nate has immersed himself into the horse business. He sells horse insurance through EMO, started a tutoring company for kids that ride on the A circuit and has even learned to ride. Life has been good to us.

But even though I have been riding and training all my life, I have never owned a horse. All my horses had truly belonged to my parents or more recently, my clients. Then in December 2013, we caught wind of 11 really well bred horses in Minnesota at a friend’s barn. We knew they were mostly 4 and 5 years old and unbroken, but we received some really impressive pictures and free jumping videos of two horses.

Nate and I were already in Florida for the winter and it didn’t sound very appealing to fly to Minnesota in the middle of December to see these horses! So we decided to take a crazy chance and make an offer on all 11, knowing that in raising young horses it’s always better to have numbers on your side.

By some miracle, the owner decided to take our offer. So here we are, a young married couple with 11 new kids that we had never actually seen before!

Nate and I were set to stay in Florida until the middle of April so we decided to leave the horses turned out in their field in Minnesota until we got back to Illinois. 

We arranged for the horses to live in a field with a run-in shed at a beautiful Trakehner breeding farm here in Elgin. Nate got back to Illinois a week before me and in that time he made two trips with the truck and trailer to Minnesota to retrieve our new horses.

In the time since Nate picked up our herd, we’ve named them all and got some basic grooming done, getting COVERED in shedding winter hair.

We just went horse by horse, and took our time moving forward with handling at whatever pace they wanted. There will definitely be times ahead where we’ll need to force the issue, and push them out of their comfort zone, but this wasn’t the time.

So far, it is looking as though we got very lucky. Despite the fact that these horses have had limited experience with people, they all seem incredibly sweet.

Our goal this summer is to get all these horses broke under tack, and ready for the show ring by the time we start getting ready to migrate south in November. Some will get sold along the way, others will come with us down to Florida next winter, and a few will probably stay here in Illinois to continue growing and maturing.

Regardless of where we stand in November, it is going to be quite a process and we plan on documenting as much as possible on this blog! Nate and I want to track all the ups and downs and show all the bumps and bruises. I hope you all enjoy!

 
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