AN INTERVIEW WITH
Mr. Donnie Bullock
Breeder of Arabian, Half-Arabian & Saddlebred Horses
AHA and USAE Certified 
Large R Arabian and Half-Arabian Judge
AHA Level 1 Regional and National Judge
and small r National Show Horse Judge

by Marylou A. Yuskiewicz

Donnie BullockDonnie Bullock is a breeder of Arabian, Half-Arabian and Saddlebred horses as well as an AHA and USAE Certified Large R Arabian & Half-Arabian Judge and a small r National Show Horse Judge. I had a chance to interview Donnie on his life in his own words, so here we go:

ML: When did your interest in horses begin?

DB: As long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination with horses. My mother always tells the story that every Christmas after I was about 4 years old, I would always go through the catalogues looking for anything with horses to tell Santa what to bring me. 

ML: What was the name of your first horse and or pony? What made this horse and/or pony special? 

DB: My first pony's name was Dainty's Delight. She was a registered American Shetland. She was a very versatile pony which I think helped me develop the love for the Arabian horse. I competed in 4-H and Open show competitions with her. We competed in Halter, Fitting and Showmanship, Driving, Roadster Pony, and last but not least Working Hunter. I will never forget winning the Virginia State 4-H Championship Fitting and Showmanship with the smallest Pony at the show - she stood 42 inches tall. I guess being short myself made us look great together! We beat all the other breeds and kids that made it to the final championships. The thing that made her special was that she was a tough cookie to ride - but if you did it right she made sure that we won! 

ML: Is any of your family members in the equine business? If yes, is this a hobby or business for them? 

DB: I'm the only horse nut in the family. My younger brother and I showed together while we were in school - but as soon as he began working for a living he decided that he could spend his money on other things! I think I will have the last laugh as his son, (my nephew) has the horse bug. 

ML: Did you ever own a breeding stallion? If yes, what was his name, breeding and how many foals did he produce? 

DB: I did own a breeding stallion which I lost last year due to Chronic Heaves. His name was LH Last Tango. He was by a Marsianin son named Magistrate and out of the Touch of Magic daughter name Topanga. His breeding represented some of the best Russian and Crabbett bloodlines. Tango was an extremely athletic stallion. I had trainer Scott Brumfield start him under saddle and the second time on his back they went for a short trail ride! Scott would always comment on how athletic Tango was. Tango earned Championships in Halter, Hunter Pleasure and Show Hack. Tango sired less than thirty foals. He was mostly bred to grade mares to improve their type and movement. His foals were not bred to be Halter horses yet they all did well in the Breeders Sweepstakes classes at Regionals. 

ML: I understand you have a unique job, can you tell us about it?

DB: I am currently the Supervisor of the Forensic Photographic Section for the U.S. Secret Service. It is a very interesting job as we are involved in many aspects of law enforcement photography. The Secret Service is responsible for Protection of the President, Vice-President and their families and also any visiting Dignataries to our country. In addition to the protection responsibilities of the Secret Service we also are the Federal Investigative agency for Counterfeiting, Credit Card Fraud, Identity Theft and most recently was named the Federal Agency to oversee the coordinating of security at any event named by Congress as a National Security Event. The photographic section provides photographic support to all aspects of these duties, such as Crime Scenes, Court Exhibits, Surveillance, Protective support and Security Surveys. 

ML: You are the proud owner of "Laurel Hill Farm" - home of champion Arabians and Saddlebreds ?

DB: I do own Laurel Hill Farm which is currently a work in progress! I have owned Laurel Hill Arabians since around 1980 but always worked out of leased farms. Two years ago I finally purchased my own farm. I currently have 10 horses, mostly Purebred Arabians and Half-Arabians. This past year I purchased a Saddlebred mare in foal to a Saddlebred and expect my first purebred Saddlebred foal any day. I have been very fortunate to own many champions in just about every division. 

ML: In the coming months, you will have several foals born out of your Saddlebred, Arabian and Half-Arabian mares - can you tell us about the mares breeding and which stallions did you choose for them? 

DB: The first foal due is out of our Saddlebred mare, Julies Tangier Star. "Julie" is by "The Chairman of the Board" and out of a Carey's Night of Love bred mare. She is in foal to Jones Mountainview's Saddlebred stallion, "Oh Heavenly Day" , who is a Coal Train son and Wing Commander bred on the bottom. My second foal will be out of my purebred Arabian mare, "Rdell Firedancer", who is a Bask granddaughter and is Crabbett breeding on the bottom. "Dancer" is in foal to Baske Afire and due the end of March. My Half-Arabian mare who is by Botany Bey and out of a saddlebred mare is due on April 15. "Kiera" is in foal to the purebred Arabian stallion, "MHR Fabbian", a champion western pleasure stallion. As you can tell I try to breed athletic performance horse yet retain the classic beauty that the Arabian possesses.

Living in Fredericksburg, VA has to be beautiful with rolling pastures, exquisite farms - what do you like best about this location for your farm?

First and foremost is that it is located within an hour of Washington, DC so that I can go to work to pay for all this horse stuff! I was born and raised in Fredericksburg, VA., so of course there is no place like home. Virginia is a great place to breed and raise horses with its semi-moderate climate and rolling pastures. It is nice to be located in an area that is only 60 miles from two major cities, 75 miles to the Shenandoah mountains and 150 miles to the ocean. There are numerous horse activities throughout the year in Fredericksburg and actually a pretty large horse population. It is rural enough without being desolate. 

ML: You are also an A-Rated Arabian, Hunter/Jumper and Open horseshow Judge that takes you all over the world. Please tell us the states or countries where you have judged.

DB: In actuality, I am certified by AHA and USAE as a Large R Arabian and Half-Arabian judge, and a small r National Show Horse Judge. I started out my horse career in the Hunter/Jumper arena and have continued to judge numerous open Hunter/Jumper shows but I am not certified with USAE in that division. I judge on average about 8 Open-All-Breed shows a year. Most of my judging has taken place on the East Coast. I have judged as far north as New York and as far south as Florida - and February is a great time to judge in Florida!! I have also judged in Texas, California, Michigan and Washington. Internationally I have judged in Canada on three occasions and had the opportunity to judge two shows in South Africa. In South Africa I judged an Arabian Regional Championship show which had about 200 horses which was held in Upington. A week later they flew me to Johannesburg and I judged a multi-breed show that had about 1200 horses. I judged the Appaloosa, Arabian, Noighadait (native South African breed) and Quarter Horse divisions. The final two days of the show they brought together 5 judges which consisted of me, two judges from England, an Australian and a South African judge. Every discipline such as Halter, Working Hunter, English Riding, etc. had Supreme Championships. Every Champion from every breed and discipline were eligible to compete for Supreme Champion honors of the Autumn Gold Cup show. It was a great opportunity to judge with international judges. The scoring system for the working hunters was different than what I'm used to but I was thrilled when we had a unanimous Champion and Reserve!! 

ML: As a horseshow judge, you meet numerous people in the horse world from announcers, ringmasters, ring stewards, show managers, etc - What do you like most and dislike about a horseshow? 

DB: I guess the best thing about a horseshow is the opportunity to see so many beautiful and talented horses and the challenge to judge the classes to the best of my ability. I also love to see our Youth competing and imagine just how great these young men and women will mature and become great horsemen and horsewomen. The thing that I dislike most about horseshows are the few that lose perspective of good sportsmanship and horsemanship. Unfortunately you can judge a show with 200 great exhibitors, but one exhibitor that pushes the limits of either bad sportsmanship or poor horsemanship can just ruin the whole experience of that show.

The second best thing about working at horseshows is the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from all the various people associated with the show. Since I met you (Marylou), the infamous Ringmistress from New York, judging a show how can that not be a plus? Seriously, I love meeting people and it is so interesting to spend a weekend working with people you have never met before and when you leave you have a new friend!

ML: In the discipline of Western Pleasure, What do you like to see when you are judging? 

DB: In my opinion the Arabian or Half-Arabian has the capability to be by far the best horses in the western pleasure division. First impressions when a class enters the ring that I notice is substance. The western pleasure horse should have the appearance that it is capable of performing its tasks with ease thus emitting the aura of strength and finesse at the same time. With the observation of substance, I am also looking at movement. A good western pleasure horse should have a free flowing and comfortable ride. I have heard many people say - That horse is such a poor mover, I guess I'll have to show him in Western Pleasure - which is so false. Western pleasure horses should be good movers as well and those that are will place higher in competition. It is amazing how your class ranking starts to really come together when the entries begin their first lope. Bad lopers just plain and simple look bad - and competitors that make these poor movers lope so slow that they are almost four beating only compound the problem. My pet peeve in judging western pleasure are horses that stay behind the vertical throughout the class. I feel that if most of the riders would just release these horses faces the horse would perform much better. The head and neck should be carried in a relaxed, natural position for each horses individual conformation. Light contact throughout the class and a horse that is at ease performing its job rises to the top of the class.

ML: In the discipline of Country English and English Pleasure - What do you like to see when you are judging?

DB: A good Country English Pleasure class is probably one of the prettiest classes to watch. I love to see a country pleasure horse come down the rail at a trot - ears and tail up- trotting balanced and cadenced and giving the appearance that they and their rider are just having the ride of their life. Country horses are English horses - therefore they should be able to trot. The difference that I look for between the Country horse and the English Pleasure horse is that the English horse should be performing an octave higher on the music scale than the Country horse. For those of you that don't read music - the English horse should have their energy level turned up one notch higher than the Country horse. So many people put so much emphasis on nothing but knee action when in reality they need to look at the overall picture and level of performance that these horses are performing at. Country and English Pleasure horses should exude athleticism and perform all gaits consistently. 

Thank you for visiting with me - visitors are welcome - just call first!

Visit the LAUREL HILL FARM page on Equine Extra.

Laurel Hill Farm

LAUREL HILL FARM
Mr. Donnie Bullock
7640 Flippo Drive
Fredricksburg, Virginia 22408
(540) 898-3522
E-mail: dnbullock@hotmail.com

 



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