May 2020 - Sunsprite Ranch Expansion
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 05:12
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Two new stallions reflect sporthorse breeding program’s embrace of “do it now!” philosophy.

Over morning coffee at Sunsprite Ranch, Pamela Duffy sometimes takes some time to reflect on her life and present circumstances. In the midst of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, solitude has become a given, and has brought a complicated mix of thoughts, plans and projects to the table.  

For Pam, losing her mother in October 2018 and her husband, Don Trotter, in June of 2019 have been turning points that have forced her to reconsider some of her options.  

 


The original plan was, Pam states, to bring down the workload at her Temecula ranch and spend more time in leisurely pursuits such as traveling to places far and exotic. Don had travelled extensively for his job at the United Nations, but they definitely had a shared travel bucket list. Unbeknownst to most riders in USEA’s Area VI and beyond, he was starting to limit his volunteer stewarding calendar in order to spend more time in non-equine activities.  

 

One of the directions in which the Sunsprite breeding program was headed was to bring it to a close, although gradually. “I have spent too much time, passion and effort planning hypothetical matings, staying up nights with mares due to foal, and maintaining the fencing and flooring and the like to just walk away from a dream that was pushing and pulling persistently in my head, soul and heart for years and years,” Pam explains.  

Infinity, one of Sunsprite Ranch’s two new stallions.

In March 2019, Pam and Don went to Germany together. It was a great trip, as well as a wonderful opportunity to talk about the future. Berlin was the stop that brought art, architecture and some real luxury to the lives of the couple. It also made Pam painfully aware of Don’s stubborn cough and lack of stamina.

Then, in April, Don underwent many diagnostic tests and was found to have cancer in multiple organs.

With this recognition, there was time to discuss what the Sunsprite dream entailed and how best to bring the basic plans into fruition. There was also time for reminiscing and humor and a hard stare at the realities of imminent death. “Not sufficient time” says Pam. “I think we made the most of it though.”  

Donald Trotter’s legacy in both the warm-up arena and volunteerism will live on and he was so proud, also, of the Sunsprite program. He rarely got to see the horses compete, but certainly enjoyed following their careers. His trademark smile, words of encouragement for the riders, and thumbs-up gesture “gave the riders wings” as Pam describes it.
     

Sara Sellmer. Photo: MGO Photography

New Paradigm

Pam’s new life-stage has actually embraced a new paradigm of expansion, probably due to the fact that she is, in her own words, “a hopeless contrarian” when it comes to planning. Pam holds the following quote close to her heart: “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.” The author is Anaïs Nin.

“I started to think about life in terms of enjoyment and risk and opportunities.       

I also saw that nothing in life is guaranteed and that if you are lucky enough to think in bold lettering, so to speak, you owe it to yourself to do so,” says Pam. “I also started to tap into a carpe diem or “Do It Now” mentality.”        

With that in mind Sunsprite recently purchased two stallions that will represent the company in the breeding shed.

In 2019, Pam purchased a second facility, which goes by the name of Donegal Farm, in honor of the Irish county in which the Duffy family, for generations, was born and raised. Donegal Farm is far better suited to having a stallion in residence and is also very well appointed for training young horses.
   

Don de Marco. Photo: MGO Photography

Don de Marco. Photo: MGO Photography

Don de Marco

Until now, Sunsprite’s foundation has been mares from Pam’s favorite bloodlines, paired with outside stallions ranging from the familiar and proven to the lesser-known up-and-comers. Pam still has a beginner’s giddiness and a willingness to fiddle with her own breeding formulas going forward, so Don de Marco, by Donnerwetter, has been purchased, transported from his former home in Florida, and started back under saddle.

His bloodlines stem from a very successful mare line, including the genetic jewel Chinchilla, allowing proven old but very valuable bloodlines to shine through.  
Chinchilla was born in 1977 and her conformation and overall quality allowed her to bring home numerous regional and national titles in Germany in the early and mid-1980s.   

“Don de Marco is very modern in body type and his offspring have excellent records, winning in a variety of disciplines, including hunters, dressage, jumpers and also eventing,” Pam says. Through Donnerwetter, he is a paternal half-brother to the famous dressage sire and former world-ranked competitor, Donnerhall.  

Don de Marco is 14 years old and boasts a very correct foundation, Pam continues. His unique temperament appeals to riders who want to be partners with their horse rather than a passenger.  Don de Marco does have set opinions, Pam adds.  “He has his own intelligence and code of ethics.” That strong sense of himself more than fills his 16.1 frame.  In Pam’s words, “He’s a gem in a small package.”

Infinity. Photo: Jutta Bauernschmitt

Infinity.

Infinity

Infinity, Sunsprite’s second stallion, is much younger. He was born in 2017 and like his future stablemate, Don de Marco, brings traditional bloodlines to the table.  

Pam purchased Infinity at the November Trakehner stallion show in Neumunster, Germany.  There were many young quality stallions looking to be approved, if the breeding committee had found their characteristics laudable enough. However, in the end, the percentage of stallions that were given the approval vote was low. Infinity was among them. Pam shared that the “hook” that caught her attention in regard to the stallion was the connection to Infinity’s grand sire.

Pam’s interest in this sire (Amiego) had to do primarily with the fact that he was the sire of one of Pam’s foundation broodmares, Donamia. In 1987, at the Pan American Games, Amiego represented Bermuda,  where he won the individual bronze medal, ridden by Peter Gray, in Combined Training/Three Day Eventing.

Amiego shares the same dam, the incomparable Abiza, with Abdullah, who represented the United States with his rider Conrad Homfeld and won a team gold and individual silver in show jumping at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. On Infinity’s dam side, he carries the exceptional sire Buddenbrock, an elite stallion with many successful get in the dressage world.

During the grading process whereby the young stallion “prospects” are shown to the public, the candidates are presented numerous times so that they can be evaluated. “Most of the horses were reactive and impressionable.  Infinity, himself showed a presence beyond his young years, strolled out calmly and obediently, like he had been doing this all his life,” Pam explains.  “He was kind of unflappable, and the more I saw him, the more I loved him. He is balanced when he moves, elegant and compact. I really do have high expectations for this guy.”  

Infinity will stay in Germany for another year at least, but there are plans for collecting him and freezing semen for the American public, likely to be available in 2021.  

Photo: Pamela Duffy

Exciting Times

“These are exciting times at Sunsprite!” Pam states. “Another fortunate event has been the presence of my dear friend from Canada, Sara Sellmer, who is hanging out and playing at Sunsprite. Sara originally came to the U.S. to compete in eventing through the winter and spring.  Fortunately, she is enjoying the weather and the horses and I am thrilled for her to be part of the Sunsprite family. Hopefully when we all get back to competing, you will be seeing her on several Sunsprites.  

“In the meantime, we’re having fun starting some young horses and it’s great to watch her. She is a phenomenal rider and also a phenomenal person.”    

Sara sees many common positives in the Sunsprites she’s riding.“Intelligence, athleticism and sensitivity are common traits. They are all very correct in their movement.

Rebecca Braitling on Kirschblute 3. Photo: MGO Photography

“The related traits of balanced canters and big walks are of special appeal,” Sara continues. “A balanced canter translates to a natural ability to adjust the stride. That makes it easier for the horse and safer for us as riders. It’s a big advantage when you are galloping down to a big solid fence. Cat-like is the phrase I keep going back to,” she reflects. “They are soft and light over the ground and really agile.”

Being a part of the horse industry has never been for the faint of heart. Pam believes that staying true to one’s goals and committing to the journey, one step, one jump, one competition at a time, is the ultimate celebration of living life.

“Stay healthy, stay strong and don’t forget to add sprinkles of joy and amusement to the mix.”

For more information, visit Sunsprite Warmbloods on Facebook.