California Riding Magazine • November, 2008

Fantasy Farm
Pavarotti sings the Trakehner's praises at Central Coast breeding business.

by Kim F. Miller

Fantasy Farm owner Sherry Tourino has only one complaint about the handsome band of Trakehners that comprise her increasingly successful sporthorse breeding program. “It’s very hard to take their pictures because they are always in your pocket,” she notes in playful exasperation. This is especially true of the babies, who flock to Sherry when she approaches their paddocks on her property in the Central Coast’s Nipomo. The stallions, too, for all their flash and top-flight performance, are also friendly and whip smart, she says.

Sherry began Fantasy Farm in 1995 and it has grown to include about 40 horses, a mix of mares and for-sale youngsters in various stages of riding and competition readiness. Pavarotti is the newest addition to her line-up of American Trakehner Assn. approved stallions and she and Fantasy Farm trainer and rider, Michlynn Sterling, are excited about this handsome horse. Approved in 2006 and expecting his first foals next spring, the 15’3” dark bay is sired by Enrico Caruso *PsE*, out of the Donaufurst *PsE* mare Pepper.

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Pavarotti hanging out at home.
Photo: Erpelding Photography

Sherry and Michlynn are partners in owning “Pavi.” The plan is that he will carry the Fantasy Farm banner into the show world, specifically eventing and dressage, in 2009. Preparing to campaign with his new trainer at Preliminary Level eventing, Pavarotti has a demeanor more often associated with a well-mannered hunter, Sherry observes. “He has a lovely, lovely temperament.”

The Farm’s two other approved stallions, Fandango and Eisenherz, will follow on the competitive path when they are ready.

Sired by E.H. Sixtus and out of Flotte II *E*, Fandango epitomizes classic sporthorse conformation, Sherry enthuses. “He has that 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 body proportion with an uphill conformation. He has very correct, straight legs with lots of bone and athletic ability.” Approved in Germany in 2002 before Sherry imported him in early 2003, Fandango got off to a great start with Michlynn in eventing and dressage competition before both were sidelined. A hand injury for Michlynn led the pair to focus on dressage, where they excelled. Hitting the highly competitive California dressage circuit as relative unknowns, the pair won the ATA’s Horse of the Year honors at First Level and finished second at Second Level in 2006. More remarkable were their USDF finishes that year: 19th at First level and 32nd at Second Level.

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Pyatta, a mare by Pyatt Charly out of Polarina by Beaute &
Polarona, a filly by Fandango out of Pyatta by Pyatt Charly.
Photo: Erpelding Photography

A series of health setbacks followed. First there was a long surgery to remove an infected molar, then a tendon sheath tear, sustained while recovering from the dental operation, that required another three surgeries. The end result is that Fandango has not competed since 2006. Sherry is “cautiously optimistic” that the stallion can resume his competitive career, but either way she is happy that he had the chance to demonstrate his athletic ability. Through all his recoveries, he has kept busy siring some spectacular look-a-like foals, Sherry reports. “He really stamps his babies.”

Four-year-old Eisenherz was imported in 2005 from Germany by Kathie Vigouroux as a yearling. Early the next year, Sherry and Kathie went into a partnership and Eisenherz was left at the farm to begin preparation for stallion approval. By Summertime and out of Escana *E*, the 17 hh stallion was approved by the ATA in September of last year and already has some beautiful babies on the ground. He won’t be on the show scene this year, but Sherry anticipates that his wonderfully uphill conformation will point him toward big things in the dressage arena. That’s after he recovers from his growth spurts. “It’s going to take him a while to grow up sufficiently to start serious training,” she predicts.

Handsome & Smart

Sherry became a Trakehner devotee back when the breeding business was just a gleam in her eye. She was the supervising district attorney in Redlands when a law clerk invited her to come see her mother’s horses. “What I found was 90 of the best looking horses I’d ever seen in my life!” Sherry remembers. The breeder, Anita Hunter, happily shared her knowledge with Sherry, who learned everything from delivering foals to bringing along riding age horses for the sales market.
When Sherry and her husband retired from their “real world” careers, they moved to Nipomo and started Fantasy Farm with five horses. Surveying her lovely breeding farm today, Sherry spots “probably only five horses” of about 40 that she did not help deliver herself. The Equine Center in nearby San Luis Obispo collects Fantasy Farm’s stallions and handles the semen cooling process, but Sherry does all the foal and mare care herself with the help of veterinarians on standby during foaling season.


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Phargo, a 4-year-old stallion by Fandango, out of Polarina by Beaute.
Photo: Erpelding Photography

As a breed, the Trakehner’s intelligence is the strongest of their many assets. Smart horses, however, require smart riders and handlers, Sherry notes. The first lesson she learned about this breed is that “you can’t heavy-hand them.” Veteran dressage trainer Leslie Webb helped Sherry understand this when she worked with Fandango several years ago. Although the stallion was progressing beautifully in his training, Leslie recognized that his work environment was “just a little too quiet for him.” She suggested that eventing might engage his energies better and thus began his career with Michlynn, who quickly fell in love with him.

“Leslie helped me to see that you can ruin a horse like this very quickly if you try to strong arm them,” Sherry says. “These horses are mentally and physically capable of doing just about anything if you allow them to mature sufficiently.”

The breeder has great regard for Leslie, dating back to 2002 when the accomplished dressage trainer took Fantasy’s late stallion Pyatt Charly to remarkable accomplishments in that discipline. “Charly” earned Horse of the Year honors at First Level from the ATA, and top placings in similar standings with the American Warmblood Association and the USDF. At the end of that year he had to be put down due to a freak spinal injury, but he left behind a legacy of beautiful offspring and a supply of frozen semen.

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Osita, a weanling by Phargo out of Oceana by Adrian.
Photo: Erpelding Photography

With a bounty of youngsters on the property, Sherry has prospects for a variety of sporthorse shoppers. Prices range from $15,000 to $40,000, with the younger horses costing less. At presstime, she had several well-started 3 and 5-year-olds, and a nicely going 8-year-old gelding for sale. Knowing that word of mouth and repeat customers are her best sales tool, Sherry prides herself on helping buyers make the right matches.

Sherry and her husband Ralph welcome visitors to Fantasy Farm. Nipomo is not a well-known town, but its beautiful location on the Central Coast makes it worth the trip, an easy and scenic day’s drive from almost anywhere in California. Easily accessible from Highway 101, Nipomo is in the heart of the area’s wine region and many guests to Fantasy Farm make a pleasant weekend’s worth of shopping for the best in wine and sporthorses.

For more information on breeding to Fantasy Farm’s stallions or its for-sale horses, call Sherry Tourino at 805-929-5175 or visit