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David Rand - People's Choice Morgan Trainer Of The Year

by Ann Bullard

"The key to success in all human relationships is as simple as mastering the art of giving happiness…when you master the art of giving happiness, you will discover that you can’t give it without getting it back." Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

Rand. At Schaeffer Farm. The simple, elegantly scripted words on the farm logo give an insight into who and what David Rand is. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s words explain much of the ‘why’ of what Rand does. The rest simply is ‘for the love of the horse.’

People’s Choice Trainer Of The Year David Rand enjoyed a year filled with winning smiles in 2007

Those credos, combined with Rand’s work ethic and talent, explain the reasons for his success – and his again being selected your People’s Choice Trainer of the Year. He may be working with young riders, such as Max Liberty aboard Gradell’s Wild Reflection, or bringing along four-legged youngsters. He may be coaching amateur riders such as Casey McDonald with her World Champion Amateur Park Saddle mount BKC Valiant Star or Sandy Hendrick with Queen’s Proud Mary. He might be leading the four-time World Grand Champion Stallion, LPS The Boogie Man or riding the World Grand Champion Park Saddle star, Lamborghini In Black. But whatever he is doing, at the farm or at the horse show, Rand remains the consummate professional.

Rand’s dream was "to be the world’s best horse trainer. I was fortunate to have a family that supported me."

His New Hampshire family supported David Rand’s dream, despite their having no connection with the horse world. His father operated an excavation business. All agreed that David Rand’s place was with horses – not driving heavy equipment.

He was something of a ‘late-comer’ to Morgans. Like many children, Rand started on a pony. Early formal training came at an Arabian barn, where he did odd jobs to pay for his lessons. He trained his own horse at home, taking it to area shows.

Rand was about 12 when he found his way into the Saddlebred world. His introduction was with Linda Weber at Hawkewood Farm, in nearby Danville, N.H.

"He probably was the most talented kid I ever taught," Weber recalled, saying Rand "grew up with me. I’d pick him up and take him to the barn. He loved to help with everything, whether working show horses, breeding mares or cleaning stalls."

When Rand was "about 13, Lyman Orcutt brought me a non-broke, six or seven-year-old Morgan, saying ‘See what you can do with this one,’" Weber recalled. "We got him broke and, after three or four months, took him to New England. David showed him in Youth Park Saddle. The horse didn’t canter much, but David made sure he started behind the judge’s back. They ended up third or fourth."

The young trainer took the Kentucky route toward what he anticipated would be a career with American Saddlebreds. In the late 1980s, he "walked around learning from [various] people." His mentors included some of the greats in the Saddlebred world.

"Don Harris taught me how to use the curb bit," Rand said, explaining he spent time with Harris toward the end of WGC CH Imperator’s career. "…The way Perry used to sit back in the curb bit. Watching Don taught me how to bend a horse at the poll."

Rand adds the late Tom Moore, Redd Crabtree, John Biggins, Rob and Sarah Byers and Raymond and Lillian Shively as those he greatly admires and have helped him along the way to get to the place he has achieved. The New Hampshire man loved Kentucky … still the Granite State called him.

"I just wanted to be back home. Here, Morgans are where it’s at. I was at a place where I could make a difference and make a mark at that time. The people and horses are great and I’ve been able to develop some amazing relationships, he said candidly, saying he has anything but regrets about the changes in his life."

He worked for the Ramsey family, first as a private job and later accepting outside horses. In 2006, he purchased a farm in Falmouth, Maine.

Why name it Schaeffer Farm? "I am the last Schaeffer. To make my grandmother happy, I named this for the family farm," he responded.

The Rand group enjoys each other’s company in and out of the ring as Jason Douglass, Casey McDonald and David Rand celebrated McDonald’s engagement

His clients range from the youngest lead liner and walk and trotter to more mature adults. He works with them all. Weanlings to mature show and breeding horses – all get his personal attention.

With 70 horses on the farm, 45 in training and five ‘wonderful stallions’ (AWS Icon, BKC Valiant Star, Lamborghini In Black, LPS The Boogie Man and Queen’s Romeo) standing at stud, his and his staff’s days are busy. He’s looking forward to the arrival of 10 foals at the farm this year. And he loves every minute of what he does.

"David is the least egocentric, hardest-working trainer I’ve ever been around. He rarely takes time off," said Dr. Grace Steere, owner of World Champion Lamborghini In Black. "He’s one of the more compassionate guys I know. He wants desperately for his clients – all of us – to be happy. Some people wonder how he will have the time to pay attention to them. I’m just a little guy and feel like the most important person on his docket."

"He’s our man – and we’re his people," said Sandy Hendrick of Queen’s River Farm. She and her husband, Pete, are starting their eighth season with Rand. They "pretty regularly" keep about seven horses with him.

"For us to remain in this business this long, it has to be fun, rewarding and we have to have some success. Certainly we have had all that together," she continued, calling Rand "a very fun person. It’s a collaborative effort, with a lot of mutual respect."

The Hendricks recently returned from a ‘customer weekend’ at Schaeffer Farm. "I remember thinking as we all had lunch together on Saturday that this was just like a horse show. David was giving lessons; we watched horses work," she said, explaining watching horses work is her husband’s enjoyment. That’s the way our horse shows go; everyone is supportive of one another."

"There are a lot of things to admire about David," she said, enumerating two that stand out for her. "It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, a child, junior exhibitor, successful or beginning amateur, you get the same attention. I do admire him for that. And he hasn’t forgotten his roots, his old friends – the people he started with. He speaks of them often."

She added one other: "Even before we came here, I was impressed with the turnout of his horses and riders, although most of his riders at that time were children."

Crystal Everett and David Rand guided a large string of horses and riders to the winner’s circle under the Rand banner

The daughter of Saddlebred trainer Marcia Everett, Crystal Everett became part of the Schaeffer Farm staff shortly before New England in 2006. "I kind of came here randomly. I’d seen articles about David in magazines. When I came out here and met him, I was very impressed."

It took less than 24-hours for Everett to decide to move to Maine. She enjoys going to work every day.

"David is a joy to be around. He works so well with his animals all the time. David works the horse, molding his program to fit each individual," she said.

Use of the curb bit is one thing Everett says sets Rand apart. "That’s been a big learning experience for me. Working the curb bit from behind makes a lot of difference in the way horses move, in the performance you get out of them. David’s horses work right up to their bridles. He uses both bits and both hands. The horses are comfortable; they don’t feel fussy or scared in their bridles but are happy in them. That translates well to the amateurs once they learn his program."

David Rand is always surrounded by his animals; whether they are horses, dogs, llamas, donkeys, or birds

There’s still another side to David Rand. According to Steere, he likes his land. Something of a homebody, he recently built another house that is not attached to the barn and has spent time decorating it.

When he does take time away, not surprisingly he likes being in the snow – whether on skis or snowboarding – or on water. As for dining, he is a "junk food junkie, who loves Captain Crunch," Steere said. "You should see our tack room when it’s set up. It’s full of Ding Dongs [and other snacks.]"

As for spare time … "what is that," Rand quipped. "I do have a show dog, a Springer Spaniel, in training. Her showing is fun, a different type of adventure for me. It’s something I’ve always wanted.

"Becoming a client is an interesting dynamic," he continued, explaining that the two sports run parallel. "It gives me an insight into what my clients go through, lets me be a better service provider. It has helped my understanding of what one wants from a professional."

‘Professional’ isn’t adequate to describe David Rand. His humility, his appreciation for the horses he has helps set him apart.

"I have an incredible group of horses and clients. Our success always exceeds our expectations. Every time we’ve had a great year, I think it may be time to slow down. I’m sure we won’t have as good a year again. Then last year … I’m blessed to get this kind of recognition from my peers and the industry. To think that people voted for me," he paused, and then looked ahead.

Even at the end of a busy day training horses, David Rand is never far from his horses and his farm

"We’ve got an exciting lineup of two-year-olds. I may bring one out this year," he said, explaining he rarely starts one in performance until they are three. We have walk and trotters who are moving up to cantering and a couple of new combinations we’re excited about bringing out."

He talked about his philosophy concerning success. "In order to make it to the top in this demanding business, it is necessary to take care of yourself, your people and your horses. The horse business has always been about people. Even as a child, you go to the barn to be around the horses, but it still is more about the people. To me, horses are the icing on the cake. I have the joy of working with great horses and great people. Great horses make great trainers, but great clients do as well."

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