Breeder Profile: Apple Lane Farm and Dayna Gant

  • October 23, 2014

Interview with Dayna Gant

Dayna has been breeding horses for 13 years and has competed through the preliminary division in eventing. She currently has ten horses that she’s bred, plus one retired broodmare and one active broodmare. In this exclusive interview, Dayna shares a bit of her story and advice for other breeders balancing their passion for producing horses with their real world jobs and lives.

Do you have another job? If so, what do you do?
Dayna: Right now, I have several other jobs! I own Apple Lane Group, a registered broker/dealer that specializes in raising capital from institutional investors. I also own Apple Lane Farm, which in addition to the horse-breeding component, is a pick-your-own apple orchard. We have approximately 150 apple trees over 40 years old. I handle the care of the trees. Plus, and I do consider this the most important, I have a fantastic husband, Michael Bailey, and I do everything I can to maintain a wonderful home life.

What are some of the highlights, so far, of your breeding career?
Dayna: There have been many highlights! One is assisting a mare in foaling out a healthy foal. Another is sensing a youngster’s talents and encouraging them in that direction.

“The B boys”, Bono Sinclair and Bombay Sinclair, by Sir Sinclair, are truly a delight. I knew they would be great driving horses. Luckily for me as a breeder, a very knowledgeable driver/trainer, Mike Keatley, Southern Pines, NC, sought me out because Sir Sinclair is their sire. He bought them as two-year-olds and trained them for six years. Harmony Sporthorses purchased them for Paul Maye to drive with the goal of reaching the World Cup one day. They won their first two Preliminary CDEs and then the Preliminary Championships with Paul at the controls. That's thrilling.

Another highlight are “the C boys”, Chivas and Cuervo, both by Judgement ISF. They are full brothers, but were not conceived in the same cycle and are quite different in type and character. I knew Chivas would be a great jumper and had grit. When he was six, I handed the reins to Daniel Geitner, Aiken, SC. He’s competing successfully at the 1.35 - 1.40m level. Cuervo was slower to mature. Once I realized I had a really good event horse, I turned him over to Gina Fiore, Ormand Beach, FL, who is successfully competing him in at the Preliminary Level.

What advice do you have for other breeders?
Dayna: I think the best advice I have for other small breeders is to be realistic and be patient. Plan ahead for who's going to work with your young ones if you don’t sell them as foals (and I never do), and especially if you don't have experience working with young horses. There is no way to cut corners with young ones.

How do you select your stallions?
Dayna: I've chosen to breed Dutch horses because of their strict guidelines for what constitutes a great sport horse. And I have respect for all the hard work and proven success at ISF. I look for temperament, gaits, soundness and athletic ability.

For a small breeding program, one key advantage is to work with an experienced breeding farm. I've been able to save a lot of time and money by having ISF handle many of the breedings on their farm with their vets. It increases your chances of catching a mare quickly and decreases all the costs of shipping semen, whether fresh or frozen, and multiple farm calls.

How do you find trainers for the horses you produce?
Dayna: That is the million-dollar question. I'll suggest be humble and be open-minded. There's no magic recipe to start a horse and every horse requires something different. Branch out and learn from multiple trainers. I've been riding for a long time and I've never quit learning.

I've been fortunate enough to work with Roddy Strang, Kirkwood PA, now for 10+ years. I also work with Greg Eliel out of Wisdom, MT. Both Roddy and Greg trained under some of the superstars of natural horsemanship such as Tom and Bill Dorrance and Ray Hunt. I'm also fortunate enough to have world class grand prix dressage trainer/rider Jim Koford visit my farm just about every year. I also work with a wonderful woman near me, Claudia Lauze, who is very skilled at long lining. Around New England I can trailer to a number of local schooling shows/events and have friends/trainers help be my eyes on the ground

Until the young ones are three, we work with them daily on the farm-- feet, grooming, standing, farrier, all the normal stuff, but also a lot of ground work in a rope halter. Roddy and Greg have taught me that the young athletic ones want to please, but often their minds and their bodies are not in sync.

Typically I have two foals a year, so they are very bonded with each other. When they are three we separate them, and Roddy starts one and I start one. After the three-year-old keuring, they get turned out until they are four. Then I do the legging up and basics. As I've gotten older I've been fortunate enough to have a few young adults, Megan Troy, my barn manager, and Sydnee Gallant, help me with some of the riding when I'm away.

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