Practical Horseman, May 1997
by Arlene Newman
An idyllic fall day in 1986 - just right for a
hack, thought then sixteen-year-old Suzy Reggio. So she and a friend saddled
up for a ride through the open land around C. W. Post College on New York's
Long Island. But crossing a busy road on the way home, Suzy's mare spooked
at a grate over a storm drain, landed in the path of oncoming traffic,
and was hit from behind by a van. The good news: Suzy was unhurt, and the
mare, Glory, survived. The bad news: Glory's budding career as an event
horse was over.
And so a new story began for the mare, Suzy, and her mother, Judy Reggio.
In a sense, it's a story of making lemonade when life puts lemons in your
grocery bag. It's also a story of courage, foresight, and luck: of people
rescuing a horse, changing her life, and having their lives changed as
well - because Glory has turned out to be an extraordinary broodmare. Not
only have her babies won many coveted awards, hut those the Reggio's have
sold have helped make the breeding program built, around her still stronger.
THE COMING OF GLORY
Glory had come to the Reggio's barn a little more than a year earlier.
Suzy had successfully campaigned Angel, an ex-racehorse, up through preliminary
eventing, but Angel wasn't up to the challenges of higher levels. So, with
a limited budget, Judy (no stranger to bargain horse shopping - in her
teens she'd shared with two friends the purchase and expenses of a $100
horse) and Suzy began looking for another event prospect.
Then came what Judy calls an "interesting" telephone call. "I was told
there was a four-year-old steeplechase mare, well bred, about sixteen hands,
that had bitten a child at a barn. If we wanted her, we could have her
at the butcher's price - as long as we got her out of the barn in twenty-four
hours." Judy wrote a check for $1000 and arranged to have the new horse
delivered next day.
"When the van pulled up and the driver went to get the mare," Judy remembers,
"she leapt right over the ramp. 'Must, be a jumper,' he said."
The Reggio's next surprise was the mare's size and looks: She was more
like seventeen hands than sixteen, with excellent conformation and hone
- built, to he an athlete
The mare's Jockey Club name was Quick Confession; in choosing a barn
name, the Reggio's decided to continue the "ecclesiastic" theme. begun with
Angel and call her Glory. They put her on a fitness and general-training
program to prepare her for her new career.
Suzy started competing Glory at novice level and had moved her up to
training level before. the accident occurred. "At the time, it seemed like
a real disaster," Judy remembers. "The mare was hit in the muscle tissue
of her hind end, so she could never again do the work necessary to be an
event horse. We were getting ready to move to Pennsylvania at the time"
- they'd bought a thirty-one-acre property in Bethel, near Reading, to
accommodate a retiree-boarding business they were about to open - "and
I got the idea to try breeding her. We all make plans, but I think it's
important to be able to come up with plan B when plan A doesn't work out,."
Looking for a match for her mare, Judy had begun talking with David
Gribbons (husband of '96 Olympic team bronze-medal horse Metallic's owner,
Anne Gribbons) at nearby Knoll Farm about breeding to his Swedish stallion
Three Crowns. Then, she says, "My vet asked if I'd be interested in a free
breeding to a racehorse just bought by a Japanese syndicate that wanted
to make sure he could breed before they shipped him over."
Judy agreed and arranged to get Glory ready; then, the day before the
scheduled breeding, she "got a wire from the syndicate saying it wasn't
necessary to breed the stallion. But my mare was ready to go, so I called
David to see if we could breed to Three Crowns right away."
The breeding took, and soon afterward the Reggio's moved to Windy Ridge
Farm. Glory foaled easily; the Reggio's named the baby Trinity and sold her as a three-year-old to a rider in Colorado.
Purchase money in hand, Judy turned to Iron Spring Farm, not far away,
for her next stallion. "I decided that if I was going to get into this,
I wanted to breed to a stallion with recognition. Also, although we never
had a problem with Glory, the biting incident was a concern, so I wanted
a stallion with a very good mind." She bred Glory to the inter-nationally
known Dutch Warmblood Glory's grandsons stallion Roemer; the result was
colt that she named Joshua.
Judy took the weanling to that year's Dressage at Devon to see. how
he would fare in the "Colts of '91" class. "There had to he at least forty
entries. When they called back the top ten, I was thrilled to find our
number called," she remembers. "Then they called the tenth-place colt;
it wasn't Joshua. I thought to myself, 'He must be ninth.' When they called
us fifth, I was in disbelief."
Encouraged in her breeding plans by the Devon placing, Judy turned to
Iron Spring again - though this time she didn't have sale proceeds to invest
- and chose Rolls Royce. "He was a new stallion and less expensive than
the others, but he seemed to have all the qualities I wanted." The breeding
produced a filly, Korniche. At the next Dressage at, Devon, Joshua's fourth
place in the two-year-old class for colts was pleasing but not a surprise.
Then came time for Korniche to show. "I wasn't sure what to expect," Judy
says, "but I didn't expect what happened. I couldn't believe it when she
was called first." Glory had once again delivered a star.
Having achieved such success with Iron Spring stallions, Judy was thrilled
to be able to breed to the farm's Grand Slam the following season. The
result was the filly Gospel - who kept up the family tradition by winning
the "1993 Fillies" class at Devon. Ironically, Gospel had come close to not going to the show: She’d
gotten cast in her stall shortly
beforehand, and “I pulled her out and took her at the last minute,” Judy
says with a laugh. With the proceeds from selling Gospel, Judy expanded
her breeding operation, buying a Dutch Warmblood “Star” mare (a rating awarded by judges at mare inspections to signify exceptional quality)
in partnership with neighbor Pat De-Coux. Everdina’s filly tradition by
winning the 1996 yearling-filly class at Devon.
BLOODLINES WILL TELL....
Still, Glory remains the foundation dam of the operation – the one
who put it on the map and continues adding to its stature as a producer
of quality American-bred Dutch Warmbloods. Her 1995 filly Northern Lights,
by the then-unknown Dutch stallion Idocus, was second among that year’s
fillies at Devon and third in the Dutch Warmblood registry’s national standings.
That, added to Josh’s fourth place in the nation as a weanling and again
as a yearling, brought to three the number of top-ten awards Glory’s offspring
have earned from the Dutch.
What has enabled this mare to produce such quality is a combination
of top European bloodlines in the stallions she’s been bred to and her
own royal Thoroughbred ancestry – though, Judy says, “I didn’t really put
the picture together until about a year ago.” She adds, “If I were to hunt
for a mare with bloodlines like hers, I’d never find one.” Glory’s forebears,
it turns out, include the very same Thoroughbreds used by the Dutch and
other European breeders of heavy horses to lighten the breed for both jumping
and dressage mounts. Her sire was Father Hogan, a grandson of Bold Ruler.
Her dam, Dynastic, is a Bold Ruler granddaughter. And that’s just the beginning.
Like the famous foundation sire Lucky Boy, Glory has Nearco in her bloodlines
(Bold Ruler was a Nearco grandson). Like Le Mexico, she has blood from
Cottage Son. Other foundation sires in her lineage include Hyperion, Blenheim
II, and Man O’War.
RECOGNITION – ACHIEVED AND AIMED FOR
Although the Reggio's original plans hadn’t included a stallion of
their own, Judy’s kept Joshua, now six, and uses him for both breeding
and dressage. “He was so sweet as a baby that I decided not to cut him
until I had a reason to. I’ve never had that reason,” she says. He’s progressing
through the levels, ridden both by Suzy and by Dutch rider Suzanne Van
Cuyk, an alternate on the 1992 Dutch Olympic Team dressage squad who now
lives near Windy Ridge; Judy plans to present him for approval at a NA/WPN
(North American Royal Studbook of the Netherlands) inspection (probably
at Iron Spring) after he’s achieved a performance record of FEI-level successes.
“The Dutch have yet to approve a stallion born in the US,” Judy says, “but
I’d like to see Josh be the first.”
The respect Judy’s breeding operation has gained has led to sponsorship:
National tack supplier KL Select provides the tack her horses wear in the
show ring. And this winter she was able to go on a NA/WPN tour of breeding
facilities in Holland. She likens the experience to “being a baseball fan
and meeting Mickey Mantle,” citing such highlights as “getting to meet
Jeannette Nijhoff” – whose highly rated stallions are among the most famous
in the world – “and see her Voltaire and Cocktail, to name just two.”
For others with a dream of breeding quality horses, Judy – the girl
who long ago convinced her parents to invest $2.50 a week in riding lessons
for her – advises: Make a plan. “If you want to produce dressage horses,
make sure you have the right conformation and bloodlines. I knew I wanted
my mare to be in a registry, so I went to the Dutch, although they are
the most discriminating; if accepted, her offspring would go right in the
main foal book.”
And, of course, don’t let a sour experience or two discourage you from
turning your lemons into lemonade. “It wasn’t all easy,” Judy says. “We’ve
had some disappointments” – 1994, for example, when none of her horses
got so much as a callback at Dressage at Devon. Still, as she looks out
her kitchen window these days, watching her horses graze peacefully, “I
have to pinch myself sometimes.”