During the 1980’s we lived in Massachusetts. Elizabeth, Caitrin and Britta were children and then young teenagers. We had several excellent trainers for our horses and instructors for our riding and driving lessons.
Paula Payson, apprenticed at Bob and Patti Brooks, Storybook Farm. We started with her in the late 1970’s. Paula was recommended to us by a friend for a riding instructor. She started with lessons for Elizabeth and continued to teach all three girls through Britta’s undefeated leadline career; and John and I for riding and driving. Those were the days when even Leadline was very competitive.
Paula found our first horse, a Government bred Morgan, U C Spicy Lass (UC Marquis x UC Taffy); attended the birth of Sleipnir Valhalla (UVM Viking x UC Spicy Lass) (“Hal”) and Sleipnir Selebrity (“Seppy”) by her stallion, Donnybrook Celebrity, out of Spicy. Hal, and his sire UVM Viking, provided the impetus for the name of the farm and pedigree prefix. See my brief note about “Sleipnir” the eight-legged horse.
Paula was also B-L Rhinestone Kid’s (Waseeka’s Showtime x B-L Brown Lace, by UVM Flash) (“Rhinestone”) first trainer, and taught him to hand-breed. His first foal resulted in Sleipnir Constellation, (“Connie”) out of Spicy. Connie was our first foal to be born on our farm, a pre-Revolutionary War farm in Gardner, MA.
Paula gave us all the foundation of a knowledge base, for a life-long love of Morgan Horses, and to build upon for our breeding herd, as well as our first lessons.
Les continued Rhinestone’s riding and driving training. He also furthered the girls’, John’s and my driving experience and continued the girls’ riding instructions. In addition to Rhinestone, Les worked with our lovely mare, Gaitwood Kitzbuhel (Jubilee’s Star x Antique Crown Jewel), S. Constellation, UC Phoebe (UC Ringmaster x Merwin’s Black Beauty), S. Valhalla, and S. Selebrity.
Les was the first to show S. Valhalla and S. Selebrity under saddle and in harness; introduced them to the Class A show ring; and trained them to be Elizabeth’s Junior Exhibitor Pleasure Driving and Caitrin and Britta’s Jr. Exhibitor Pleasure and Saddleseat Equitation mounts. He and John collaborated on Pleasure Driving in the New England shows; and he even got me in the show ring, driving S. Valhalla.
Les was also the first to present S. Constellation, and to her first Driving Championship, at her first show.
When we met John, he was training exclusively for Dr. and Mrs. B. Means, of Elm Hill Farm. We were taken with several of the Means’ horses. In particular, we wanted to breed Spicy to Elm Hill High Hat (Orcland Leader x Windcrest Star of Dawn, by Upwey Ben Don). After Spicy’s untimely death, we went back to the University of Connecticut, and purchased S. Valhalla’s full sister, U C Cinnamon (UVM Viking x UC Spicy Lass). We did breed her to High Hat, and the resultant foal was Sleipnir Top Hat, High Hat’s last whole son.
After John opened his own training stable, we moved S. Constellation and UC Cinnamon to his care. Connie continued her Pleasure Driving Championship winning with John; and Cinnie also did very well. He was our final Class A show horse Trainer. We retired the show horses, and moved to Iowa.
Equitation Instructor: Cheryl Orcutt
At this point, John MacDonald did not teach riding instruction.
We were friends with Lyman and Cheryl Orcutt. This started due to the fact that they had purchased UC Ringmaster and UC Town Crier. Ringmaster was a half-brother to Rhinestone; and we owned UC Phoebe, by Ringmaster, and had considered purchasing Town Crier (Scooter). (Yes, Britta, I should have listened to you when you wanted him!) I said we had two geldings, and didn’t need another (sigh). Dr. John ’learner judged’ under Lyman. Cheryl agreed to further the Equitation instruction for the girls and riding and driving training for S. Valhalla and S. Selebrity. Another reason that we became friends with them was the fact that we wanted to cross Rhinestone’s lines with Ulendon lines, particularly through Orcland Leader’s Get.
We stopped showing at the end of the 1980’s, and reduced our herd to B-L Rhinestone Kid, Sleipnir Top Hat, UC Cinnamon, Sleipnir Constellation, Sleipnir Valhalla, and Sleipnir Selebrity. We continued with our solid core of Morgans, now becoming solely backyard pleasure horses. We were in Eastern Iowa for about four years, and then moved back East, once again along the Appalachian Trail, but South, where we have been since 1995, and at our current farm since late 1999.
Rhinestone, Top Hat and Constellation continued as the focus of our protection of these historic bloodlines in wonderful horses. Cinnamon was never able to hold a pregnancy after the one that resulted in S. Top Hat. S. Valhalla and S. Selebrity taught our grandchildren to ride and drive, and lived long lives as part of our family. Hal died at 25 y/o in 2005; Seppy at just shy of 27 y/o in spring, 2009; and Rhinestone at 29 y/o in autumn, 2009. Cinnamon (Cinnie) passed away at 32 y/o. All are buried here on the farm in Tennessee. Constellation (Connie) (31) is still with us here in SoEast Tennessee, in the herd of their descendents, and others.