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It Starts with a Cell – A Behind the Scenes Look at Two of the Industry’s Top Breeding Programs

Your beautiful, elegant, prize-winning show horse was once a clumsy little foal. These talented horses did not just fall from the sky. As nice as that sounds, there is a lot of hard work and technique behind your equine partner.

Long days, exceptional care, and a loving heart go into the mixture of a great show horse. Breeders accomplish this. Breeders are the start of the fantastic journey of competitions and an unbreakable bond.

GoHorseShow gets a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a top breeding facility. Debbi Trubee and Roger Landis of North Farm and Amy Gumz of Gumz Farms run successful USDA certified farms and share their experiences, which gives us a new perspective of how those clumsy foals turn into show pen champions. And it was no fairy dust; it takes commitment, passion, and a lot of love.


“Every day is a new day. There are great opportunities, and there are challenges,” says Any Gumz, who stands top stallions Its A Southern Thing and No Doubt Im Lazy. It is not a straightforward job; breeders handle everything from contracts to shipping to feeding to foaling.

“We start at 7:00 a.m. every morning with feeding the herd and checking each horse to be sure none of them got into any mischief the night before. After that, we turn out, clean stalls, and exercise. I also start my mornings off in the office, catching up on the evening email inquiries,” says Debbi Trubee who stands Winnies Willy, The Best Martini, and Makin Me Willy Wild. This is just where it all begins, though.

“We take mares in for breeding and send semen out throughout the United States and Internationally,” comments Amy. “Most days require giving mare shots, worming horses, scheduling the blacksmith and vet, and working with newborn babies,” says Debbi.

It is vital to give these mares proper care and nutrition and ensure they have a safe delivery.  Running an equine breeding farm is no joke. These wonderful ladies must be on their A-game to accomplish their daily tasks.

“There is always something that needs attention on a horse farm, whether it is the livestock or maintenance work. The breeding business is not a job, but a way of life,” exclaims Trubee, who credits her partner Roger Landis for helping keep everything running smoothly.

Success from the Start

“It has to start with the foals, or we are not going to have those wonderful show horses,” says Gumz. Breeders are the cornerstone of every single aspect of a horse and rider’s career.

“Not every horse is going to be a world champion, but they must be good minded and conformationally correct. The ability to perform is directly related to form and function,” states Trubee.

AQHA/APHA horses have a pretty good reputation for being calm, relaxed, and collected, but it took some careful considerations and innovative techniques to evolve these horses to where your six-year-old kid can trot around on their not so small “pony.” Many of these saint-like horses come from well-developed bloodlines. “Every family has its pros and cons. As a breeder, you want to be realistic about identifying the good and bad and pick a complementary partner for the cross. Hot minded mares bred to dull-minded stallions often result in exceptional show horses with each parent offsetting the pro or con of the other,” explains Trubee.

“Bloodlines are important, but so are the other parts that go into it; the conformation, trainability, disposition. One without the other does not yield you a successful prospect,” says Gumz. “It takes years of knowledge and experience to know the lines and what the expectations will be in a particular cross,” added Debbi.

The Destination

“It takes 11 months to make a foal. All that time is spent in anticipation of the perfect cross and it’s often like Christmas when you finally get to see the resulting baby being born,” says Trubee. After so much time, care, and some plasma to kick start a healthy beginning, hopefully these foals are on their way to becoming a show horse. There are many challenging moments to face with such high standards, but it is worth it to both Gumz and Trubee when that baby is born and begins the transition to his/her new life.

“My favorite part of the job is probably being successful on a tough horse and helping that client achieve their goals when the cards are stacked against us. I have spent a large part of my career working with horses that people have given up on,” says Gumz.

Helping clients and horses is what this job is all about. The road can be a long journey, but a beautiful foal’s destination is a great reward for these breeders. “Our objective is to raise the very best prospects we can, and send them off to new owners to achieve all the hopes and dreams we envisioned when we planned the cross,” states Trubee.

Now, when you look at your dazzled up show partner, you can think about all the effort put behind making them. They were once just a single cell that then developed into a stunning foal that was cared for in such a great way from the very beginning.

As pampered as you think your performance companion is now, they were just as sought after in the womb. Breeders are the start of the whole industry, a real passion, and a complete lifestyle.

About the Author – Georgia Smith has always been intrigued by anything equine related since she was a little girl. Throughout the years, Georgia has been The National High Individual in horse judging and placed Top Ten at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. She has been riding/showing horses for 14 years with her trainer, Charlene Carter, who has led her to jump at Harmony Hill Farms.