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Ann Hailey - People's Choice Morgan Breeder of the Year

She’s a lady who doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘can’t.’ Whether it’s admission to the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration – in only the second class that admitted women – or breeding world champion Morgan horses, the only word to describe Ann Hailey is ‘successful.’ What else can you expect from a person who applies the rules she learned in Harvard’s MBA program and as chief financial officer of some of the country’s top businesses?

People’s Choice Morgan Breeder of the Year Ann Hailey was also recently inducted into the AMHA Breeders Hall Of Fame as she shared the coveted titles with manager Harry Sebring

Her hard work and dedication to the Morgan breed earned her your votes as The People’s Choice Breeder of the Year. The American Morgan Horse Association honored her with their Breeder’s Hall of Fame Award at the February convention.

A Georgia farm girl, Hailey grew up with various types of pleasure horses. Although she had done research and decided that Morgan horses were for her, she had never owned a Morgan until 1987, when she visited a tack shop near her home in Connecticut.

"I’d have to say I was lucky," she said quietly. "I walked in and there was a picture of a Morgan on the wall. When I asked the proprietor about the horse, he happened to know him. He told me to call Harry Sebring."

"We got together totally by accident," Sebring said, recalling his first encounter with the lady who would become a major client. "We had just moved from Connecticut to our home state of Pennsylvania. I had good relations with the tack shop, so they told her to call me. Ann told me she was looking for a trail horse for her husband; she bought him right away."

According to Sebring, Hailey became "enamored by show horses. She made a conscious effort get into Morgans."

"I was fortunate that I got in with a good, honest trainer who is also a great horseman and he cares deeply about horses," Ann said. "Next, I bought a mare we thought would make a show mare; if she didn’t turn out, she could be a broodmare. And then, the horse I fell in love with, the horse that got me really hooked, was Savage Arms. I thought he was the most magnificent creature I’d ever seen. He wasn’t for sale and I wasn’t sure if he ever would be."

In 1990, Alfred and Enid Stettner leased the six-year-old stallion Savage Arms to Hailey with an option to buy. Sebring took him to Oklahoma City, where he was crowned Reserve World Champion Stallion. That was the beginning of Hailey and her husband, T. Patrick Duggan’s, Copper Beech LLC.

"I believed in "Alex" and started breeding," Hailey said, saying she bought the horse right after his Oklahoma City successes. "One thing led to another …"

That would be an understatement. To date, 205 Morgans carrying the CBMF prefix are listed with the Registry.

When asked how many horses she has now, Hailey responded, "A lot. I knew I was hooked on horses. What is a surprise to me is that I am so passionate about breeding. My breeding in quantity is fairly recent. At the beginning, we played around with it on a small scale and only started producing in quantity four or five years ago. The good news is that we remained small for a long time. I tried to learn before I went into it in a major way."

The Copper Beech program is designed to produce horses for the Park or English Pleasure Divisions. Hailey puts a lot of work and research into developing her breeding plan.

"I’m sure Harry will tell you I make him nuts. I probably do at least 25 versions of my breeding plan each year," she explained.

Sebring commented on those plans. "While our numbers are large, our direction is very pointed and accurate. We have a lot of discussions over prospective crosses. Ann will be here for four to five days once a month. We spend a lot of time discussing how to breed a mare. She’s not averse to using outside stallions. Ann wants to breed the best possible horse she can. She’s realistic about how many great ones you can raise."

"Harry is absolutely my partner in the breeding program. I might do a draft plan but we don’t go to press until he and I are both fully comfortable with it," she added.

"Occasionally I have a mare I really love and will breed to get a Western horse, but my objective is the Park and Pleasure horse," she said. "I’ve made my share of mistakes. I try to learn from them and get better from there."

She also knows how to separate the business from the emotional decision. "I may love a horse, but just because I love it doesn’t mean it belongs in my breeding program," she said. Such horses she removes from the Copper Beech books.

"I took Savage Arms out of the program. He wasn’t producing what I wanted for the show ring. I do have a handful of his offspring that are valuable to the [breeding] program," she explained. "I won’t say that I never do something for emotional reasons. But I’m very clear that when I do, it is a personal decision, and not part of the business."

Ann Hailey has enjoyed great show ring successes with her Copper Beech breeding program including a reserve world championship victory pass on the lines of CBMF Mozambique

That ability to differentiate is one of many traits Sebring admires. "Ann is in this for the long-term. She loves her horses; if she never sold them, they would have a home for the rest of their lives. When we discuss who to and who not to sell, that’s a very careful choice. And if there’s one I don’t want to sell, she normally won’t make me sell."

However, if Sebring is totally for or against something, he says she normally will acquiesce. One such case in point involved sending horses to another trainer when her program continued to expand.

"I have to put on my managerial hat and do what’s best for Copper Beech," the trainer said, acknowledging that ‘best’ for Copper Beech ultimately is best for Sebring Stables as well. "I told her she had too many horses in one place."

Sebring recommended Tim Roesink, whose Grove Pointe Stables is not far from Hailey’s Ohio home. "She wants her youngsters trained and Tim is very good at that."

Roesink has had some of Hailey’s horses since the 2004 show season, earning good ribbons wherever they went. At Oklahoma 2007, he drove CBMF Double Down to reserve in the World Champion Futurity Pleasure Driving Three-Year-Old competition. Stonecroft Flammable and Roesink earned a Grand National title and a pair of reserve world titles for Copper Beech in 2007 as well.

"It was an honor to get horses for them," Roesink said. "I am very fortunate in that our barn sits close to her. She loves to come see her horses." Roesink said. "Hopefully, she will have an opportunity to do a little more of that."

"Obviously, Ann is very numbers-oriented. She knows exactly what she’s got," he added. "One thing about her: she won’t bury her head in the sand and say ‘that’s the way it’s going to be.’ She changes, moves mares and colts. The turnover in her program is pretty good. Those she falls in love with, she puts in her own name and keeps them."

The hackney pony trainer, Rodney Hicks, trains a few Morgans for Copper Beech. And more recently, additional horses have been ‘out-sourced’ to Jaisen Von Ballmoos at Fairview Stable LLC in Manchester Center, VT, to David and Caren Earehart’s Liberty Stables in South Lyon, MI, and to Sally Longenecker at Saralin Farm in Versailles, KY. Many of these horses are scheduled to go through the SignatureSale in April.

The businesswoman Ann Hailey is well-known nationally and internationally. She has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Pillsbury Company and recently retired as Executive Vice President of Limited Brands in September after 10 years with the Company, including eight and one-half years as its Chief Financial Officer and 5 years on its Board of Directors.

Her ‘retirement’ may or may not leave Hailey more time to enjoy her horses. She serves as a Director and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Ohio), a Director of W.W. Grainger, Inc. and, most recently, was appointed to the Board and Audit Committee Chair of Realogy Corporation. Tying in with her love for animals, she also chairs the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board for the Columbus Zoo. However, she says candidly, "I am not sure that Board work is going to be enough to keep me satisfied. I love big challenges and may return full-time to the workforce once my son leaves for college."

Hailey’s personal life is less well-known. Her husband, T. Patrick Duggan, rarely attends equine events. Their son, Chris, graduates from high school this year.

But there’s much more to that story. Hailey had been an executive with PepsiCo for 13 years when Chris was born. She resigned to work in her husband’s consulting business so that she would have more flexibility while Chris was a baby. When Pillsbury came knocking on her professional door, the couple reevaluated their lives.

"When I took the job at Pillsbury in 1994, I knew that the travel, and particularly the international travel, would be heavy," she said. "Patrick has always had a passion for writing. He was tired of consulting; it happened that the chances for advancement in my career coincided with the time that he wanted to go in another direction."

Duggan scaled back his business – in exchange for writing screenplays and working from home. That commitment let Hailey achieve all she has in the corporate world.

Sebring calls Duggan "the highly creative one" of the couple. Rather than continuing a business career, he focused on his writing, including screen plays, which enabled him to be at home for Chris.

"They’re great parents," Roesink said. "Ann is always baking cookies, running here, and fixing Chris this and that."

"Chris is a wonderful young man. We’re very blessed," Hailey said. And then speaking as a parent of a high school senior, she added, "A lot of pressure left our house the day he received his first college acceptance.

Music is Chris’ passion. According to his band, Winter North And Night’s, website, he has been a musician for more than 10 years. His CD, Answers, features 14 of Chris’ original songs; he plays every instrument and sings the lyrics on the CD which served as background music at The Secret Room Celebrity Gifting Suite, part of January’s Golden Globe Awards. Film and The Secret Room producer Rita Branch calls the Chris "a wickedly gifted songwriter and producer."

Chris gets his creative side from his father. "I would have no idea how to write lyrics, write the instrument part, or do mixing," Hailey said. "We simply have given him the support to develop his talents."

That philosophy is the same as she has adopted with her horses.

"Ann is very, very patient," Sebring said. "She doesn’t care to show two-year-olds. If they don’t get to the ring in performance until they are four or five, that’s OK. There’s no pressure to get a horse to the ring until it’s ready."

As one might expect, Hailey has a plan for her breeding program. "We strive for Morgans that have it all – athletic ability, beautiful heads, long legs and necks, laid-back shoulders and that important Morgan intangible known as heart. Some people say breeding is completely random. I do believe there is some element of randomness, but I think you can improve the odds.

"The obvious thing is to invest in mares. Every breeder will tell you that," she continued. "It is true; I had to learn it for myself. I never bought mares with poor bloodlines but perhaps I did buy some that, as individuals, I would not buy today. I’m more educated and I’m more clear about what I want to produce."

She continued, "I also think that you can improve your odds by repeating proven crosses. I will say we get some degree of variability, but as long as I get 80 percent the same thing, in my mind that is a much higher chance of success than doing a cross I don’t know. In addition, these crosses are perhaps easier to market. You can point to a full sibling and say, ‘This is a proven cross.’"

Ann Hailey won her first personal world championship with CEN Can’t Touch This, a mare who has gone on to produce 2007 World Champion Gelding CBMF Ruling Class sired by GLB Bell Pepper

As much as Hailey prizes her stallions, her mares are the foundation of the Copper Beech breeding program. Her world champions and dams of world champions include CEN Can't Touch This, Ariel, Treble's Wild Memories, Something Wicked, Futurity's Nobelle Prize, Arboria Victor's Pride, Soul Sister, Halle Barry and Prelude to Passion. In the future, she will start adding her current show ring mares including Paradigm Hot Chocolate, MEM So Emotional, and RWF Over the Rainbow, who was World Champion Mare as a yearling in 2006. If Hailey does sell a show mare, she usually retains embryos from the show mares she sells so she will also have future foals from Treble’s First Take and LBJ Uptown Girl.

Sebring Stables manages four breeding stallions for Copper Beech. Hailey purchased GLB Bell Pepper (HVK Bell Flaire x Fletcher Music Lee) in 1999. His cross with the 1996 World Champion Ladies Park Harness mare, CEN Can’t Touch This, produced the 2007 World Champion Gelding and Reserve World Champion Ladies Pleasure Driving horse, CBMF Ruling Class.

"Bell Pepper crosses really well with Masterpiece-bred mares and Arboria Noble Victor daughters," Sebring said."His daughter, CBMF Infatuation, won the 2005 Grand National Pleasure Driving Three-Year-Old Mare and the Grand National Four-Year-Old title in 2006. His son, CBMF Clear Victory, out of the Noble Victor daughter, MSV Victoria, was the 2007 Two Year Old Futurity Park Harness Reserve World Champion."

Hailey says, "Given how well this cross worked, we were thrilled to be able to buy Arboria Victor’s Pride at Oklahoma and will cross her with Bell Pepper this year."

Another of the Copper Beech sires is The Century Free Spirit x SBS Devilashe son, War and Peace. He has sired numerous successful show horses. However, one of his greatest contributions to the breed may be through his daughter, Ariel (out of the Cedar Creek Harlequin daughter RRG Flash Dance) the dam of CBMF Arbitrage by Ben’s Rhapsody (Salem Command x Tedwin Title Song). The successful Amateur Park Saddle and Park Harness stallion became part of the Copper Beech program in 2002. "Ben crosses well with Harlequin and Masterpiece mares," Sebring added. Hailey and Sebring liked CBMF Arbitrage so well that they have three other full siblings on the ground and one more on the way. Hailey added, "We’ll just keep repeating this cross."

Hailey followed her beliefs in selecting park horses – and those who have done well in-hand when she added DBA Street Talk (Serenity Masterpiece x Kinglow’s Cherish) to her program in 2006.

"He’s a direct son of Masterpiece that we bought to breed back to Bell Pepper daughters," Sebring said.

DBA Street Talk

Hailey indicated that the acquisition of DBA Street Talk was a very important milestone in the breeding program. "Bell Pepper had crossed wonderfully with the Masterpiece bloodlines and we wanted to do the reverse: have a Masterpiece son to breed to the Bell Pepper daughters to produce the next generation. Early indications are that the results are everything we hoped for.

In developing her breeding plan, she studies crosses that have worked with particular bloodlines or a particular mare. "If I find something that works great, we can just repeat it. Arbitrage is great big, with a long neck, long legs, good back end and is very talented. He is three and will debut in performance this year. We’ve repeated that cross three times and have gotten remarkably consistent results."

Some of their crosses, "such as Ariel with Ben, and the Park Harness World Champion CEN Can’t Touch This and Victoria [MSV Victoria] with Bell Pepper are automatic," Sebring said. "We have repeated the Can’t Touch This cross that produced CBMF Ruling Class four times – and it works every time."

Hailey notes that they’ve repeated the cross with MSV Victoria three times and it has worked each time as well.

Dr. Rick Lesser, Sebring’s veterinarian for more than 20 years, and his team play an integral role in the breeding program. He is approximately 45 minutes from Sebring Stables.

"He keeps almost all of my broodmares, flushes embryos and foals the babies," Hailey said. "The babies come back and live in the fields at Harry’s until they are two or three, when they go in training."

Lesser – and Sebring – stay busy. According to Sebring, Hailey owns "fifty-some-odd’ mares with 45 foals expected this year. Her goal is to have CBMF on both sides of the pedigree.

"All our horses grow up outside. We don’t have hot house babies here," he continued. "We have big sheds for them. We handle them every eight to ten weeks to worm them and do feet. That’s worked fine for us. Most are handleable when brought in – and we’ve been very fortunate with soundness issues [on these youngsters.]"

Hailey takes a personal interest in every one. "We now have 45 yearlings out there. Ann wants to know every one by sight," Sebring said. "When she is here she goes out to visit them in the fields. There are days the help has chuckled at her for standing there with an umbrella in the drizzle. When her horses see her, they come running. If you want to see horses in the field, bring Ann with you."

If she stays ‘retired,’ Hailey hopes to have more time to spend with her horses.

"I’ve driven in the Classic Division at Oklahoma the last three years," she said. "I won the world title three years ago [with Prindle’s Mere Mortal] and was reserve last year and the year before.

"Harry has been my only trainer in terms of personal showing. He taught me how to drive and trains all the horses the same way for me. We’ve had considerable consistency," she said. "He keeps my driving horses in extremely good order for me. That makes it relatively easy to show if I have the time."

"I also have some guidelines for what I show," she said with a smile in her voice. "I can remember three things in the ring: the first two are watching out for everyone else and doing the right gait. I can do one other thing, but don’t start talking to me over the rail and tell me seven different things. So my horse has to do most of the work."

Successful? Yes. Personable? Certainly. Dedicated? No question. In love with her horses? Absolutely. Those and other traits that made her successful on the international business scene have translated well into the less-structured horse world.

"Business training is absolutely crucial to me in running this horse operation. The principles I learned in business have been very helpful with the horses," she said. One thing she learned in the business world was to surround herself with good people.

Ann Hailey celebrated a park saddle championship victory Something Wicked and Amy Neifert, a pair that went on to earn a Grand National championship along with a reserve world championship in 2007 for Copper Beech

"So many people who do high quality work help make my program a success. Trainers, grooms, support staff, farriers, veterinarians … Whether we’re breeding or showing, Copper Beech is a huge team effort," she said.

She also knows it’s important to evaluate where she is. "I am constantly looking at my horses and asking are these the best possible horses [I can have for a particular job]. I try not to be barn blind."

And from business she learned to be persistent and to make the tough choices, the choices that continue to push her program to the next level year after year.

It should go without saying that not all horses fulfill any breeding programs ideals. As Sebring says, Hailey knows the value of a great horse. Those that don’t meet her standards are sold to individuals or through an annual public sale.

What does it take to run a successful breeding program? Add courage to any list of qualities.

"Breeding is not for the faint of heart," Sebring said. However else one might describe the People’s Choice Breeder of the Year, faint of heart would not be on the list.

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