Pat & Vickie Montgomery
The original plan for The Yard Equine Center didn't include breeding. But given that the rehab, rest and retirement facility's main mission is to help nature take its course, it's little surprise that the 60-acre facility now stands two stallions, has a growing broodmare herd and is looking to mix in some top sporthorse stallion lines.
"Everything we do has organic origins, and that's definitely how the breeding aspect came about," explains Vickie Montgomery, who developed and owns The Yard with her husband Pat. The peaceful, beautiful property is located near the Bay Area in the small San Benito County town of Paicines.
The Yard's two Dutch Warmblood stallions, OhJackR (Kojack) and Romeo (Voltaire) came when injuries cut their promising show jumping careers short. Their arrival coincided with the discovery that daughter Tory Montgomery's retired show mares had impressive sporthorse pedigrees and one thing led to another, Vickie explains. She also leased the Holsteiner stallion, Caligula (from Sue Curry), to augment initial endeavors.
The fruits of The Yard's early labors were already in evidence when the facility hosted its second RPSI breeding inspection last year. That's when Captain Morgan, a weanling out of foundation mare, Surrey, a Cor de la Bryere granddaughter by Caligula, earned an 8.6 overall rating and put himself into the stallion prospect category. Caligula is now owned by Dara Rip's Golden Oak breeding program.
A Pilot 1 grandson, OhJackR stamps his babies with his athletic ability, animated personality and lots of bone, Vickie reports. He's a great producer for any sporthorse discipline, as is attested to by the Silver Premium status awarded four of his offspring at the inspection.
Voltaire son Romeo brings two well-known bloodlines to The Yard: Furioso and Ramiro. Romeo's trademarks are beautiful type, quality jump and a great disposition for amateurs in dressage, hunters and jumpers. A 3-year-old daughter of his was awarded Premium Mare status at the inspection.
The babies demonstrate The Yard's intent to produce high quality horses. With amateur riders in mind, good conformation, athletic ability and great temperaments are top priorities.
Surrey is so far the star as The Yard's foundation mare. A former World Cup qualifier mount for Michael Endicott, she is 20 and will soon pass her torch onto The Yard's younger mares, many of which were top jumpers for Tory.
Owner of the recently-reactivated Tory Montgomery Show Stables, Tory gives The
Yard an edge as a breeder because of her ability to develop its youngsters, bring them to a show-ready state and compete them up to Grand Prix. At the same time, her gift for communicating with all of the horses in The Yard's charge makes her an integral part of the program's success.
Surrey & Captain Morgan
The Yard's mission to rehabilitate horses is based on balancing the physical, physiological and psychological areas of the horse, Vickie explains. Traditional and non-traditional methods are embraced equally, all with an eye toward re-educating horses to carry their bodies in healthier ways. "Yes, we want to fix the bowed tendon," she notes. "But we also want to know why it happened and help prevent it from recurring.
"The most important part is that the horse's head needs to be in the game," she continues. "Mentally, they have to trust us, but too often humans have put them in situations where they are not allowed to do that. To be successful, we have to get them to be open, without fear or tension."
Mother and daughter are a powerful team in that regard. Once a horse is rehabbed enough to begin under-saddle conditioning work, Tory's skills and sensitivity as a rider come into play. "She's a very sensitive soul," Vickie says. "She really gets a feel for them through her seat and hands, finding tight areas in the hip, the neck, the shoulders, etc."
These reports give Vickie a head start when she begins bodywork. "Tory will tell me a horse is locked up between his left shoulder and right hind quarter, for example. That's great because it saves me the time of trying to find it, which speeds up the whole process."
Which is not to say that The Yard is set on speedy fixes: quite the contrary. However, there is something about the place that seems to bring about both remarkable and, often, remarkably fast improvements. A devotee of healing methods that help the subject heal itself, Vickie is no stranger to the impact a healthy environment can have. Still, she's taken aback by the extent to which simply being at The Yard affects the horses.
"We spent a lot of time thinking about what would help the horses be most comfortable, but I didn't anticipate how much the horses would really kind of settle in here. They wear a smile on their face." She attributes this phenomenon to the equine grapevine. "I think the horses send a message to the new ones, saying, 'Hey, it's cool here, there's nothing to worry about.'"
The resulting state of mind sets the stage for effective application of various treatments and therapies. The Leg Saver, Game Ready, treadmill, Euro-walker, Theroscope 1000, Impulse Line Magnetic Blanket and the McLaren Phototonic Laser are among the types of therapeutic equipment in The Yard's arsenal. Sensitive and well-trained hands are equally powerful and much-used tools. Vickie practices several forms of bodywork, most of them based on moving energy rather than bone and muscle manipulation.
Quantum Energetics Structured Therapy (QEST), as performed and taught by licensed Equine Touch® instructor and practitioner Trudy Johnson, is an "energy release" modality that Vickie is particularly high on.
None work magic, Vickie acknowledges. "In aiming to treat the whole body, it's always a combination of modalities." Nor is there a recipe that works on every horse, or even on the same horse all the time. "Sometimes the body sets up blockers to a certain modality, and you have to figure that out." Every case calls for open mindedness and picking up on the horse's
Educating horse owners is an important part of The Yard's work. Toward that end, the beautiful venue hosts clinics with top trainers and practitioners whose methods fit with The Yard's overall mission of enhancing the comfort and welfare of all horses, whether they are patients or not.
Vickie is excited about hunter/jumper legend Bernie Traurig's return to The Yard, Jan. 14-15. His simple and effective techniques are a perfect training complement to the care and healing lifestyle The Yard provides. Although very different in content, an in-the-works clinic with Trudy Johnson and the QEST energy work process will be another good educational fit. Both are examples of the many components needed to fulfill The
Yard's mission of helping horses feel and perform their best.
For more information on The Yard Equine Center, visit www.theyardequinecenter.com or call