Tell us about your operation:
My family and I own and operate Fiddler Run Farms, an 80-acre equine breeding, training, and boarding facility in southern Clarion County. We also offer breeding services. We raise most if not all the horses we are riding. I start the young ones under saddle and get a good foundation on them and then my wife, Renae and daughter, Bailey take them from there. They will either start the training for barrel racing or get them ready to sell.
How did you get involved
in the equestrian world?
You could say it started when my wife and I were children. My wife, Renae, was born into it, and my family was more involved with cattle. We actually met through competing with the horses. My wife was taking lessons from a local trainer that mentored me into the equine industry. In February of 1995, I attended the Worldwide Equine Dental School after a dentist worked on a young horse that I had. I was so impacted by the difference it made in the horse performance that I was driven to become an equine dentist. My wife starting training full time shortly after we were married in 2000. Now, we’re making it a family tradition. For us, farming is a way of life. Our daughter Bailey is 11, and our son Tucker is 6. Both like working with the horses and being active on the farm. Bailey and Tucker both compete in barrel racing, Bailey on Newt and Tucker on his pony, Texas. We have hauled all over the country, from Pennsylvania to Florida, Ohio to South Dakota. Hauling and competing helps to promote our business and the stallion’s genetics, plus it enables my wife and daughter to do what they love all while promoting our horses and even making a little money!
As the parent of two young children, why is it important for young people
to be engaged in agriculture?
For my kids, horses are real. Horses don’t put on a façade. My children are working with a 1,000-pound animal, so Bailey and Tucker have to be disciplined and work well with the animal. And agriculture is a way of life. It seems like so many kids don’t even know how to communicate without texting, so I think it’s important for kids to be involved in something real. In the future, my kids can absolutely go into another field, and I will support them whatever they decide. But it’s really nice for them to have this solid foundation in agriculture.
You raise barrel horses. What kind of characteristics make a good barrel horse?
Well, they have to have heart. A good barrel horse needs to have that desire. The desire to compete and the passion to win. Just like us, a horse can have all the physical ability in the world, but it needs to have the heart, passion, drive, and conviction in order to succeed.
What are the top issues facing equine owners in Pennsylvania?
The industry is growing, but it is also expensive for people to own a horse. It is causing some people to say, “I love my horse but this just isn’t worth it anymore.” Hay and grain prices continue to vary, and over the years has skyrocketed. To own a horse, you need the truck, trailer, and fuel, etc. Horses are mostly for hobby, so only so many people can afford to put in the money needed to maintain their horses and related costs. That is a huge issue facing, and currently changing, the equine industry in Pennsylvania, and all across the United States.
Are you optimistic of the future of agriculture?
Yes I am optimistic about the future of agriculture. The average size of farms and agriculture is growing. Unfortunately, it is hard to have a small hobby farm so I think that agriculture is changing, but I am optimistic about its future.
Why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I originally joined for the insurance discount. But I’ve come to realize that Farm Bureau has amazing benefits for members. Being a member, I have become more involved and learned more about all of the programs. Last year, our county held legislative day at our farm, and it was great to have people come out and learn more about legislation and Farm Bureau’s involvement. It is good to be around people who know agriculture. It is really important that people in our industry support each other.