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Taylor River Farm - A Happy Place



by Ann Bullard

 

 

My happy place. That’s what Sarah Gove’s mother, Martha Merrill, calls Taylor River Farm in Hampton Falls, N.H. Sarah, her husband, Jared, and his parents, Jeff and Gay Gove, have made the farm just that for themselves and their clients. It’s a team effort, one that stresses families and fun as much as winning. And it works on all fronts.

 

Jeff and Gay Gove had no thought of ‘getting into’ the Morgan business. Their then-seven-year-old daughter, Brooke’s, desire for riding lessons started it all.

 

“She looked at us and said, ‘I want to take riding lessons,’” the very-personable Jeff Gove said. “We lived in Topsfield, Mass., about 25 miles north of Boston. Chrislar Farm, three-to-four miles down the road, had a large lesson program. Lo and behold, Brooke was in there two, three and four times a week.”

 

One thing led to another and the Goves found themselves immersed in the Morgan business. Brooke began showing walk and trot equitation in the year 2000. That October, she earned the Grand National Walk/Trot Classic Pleasure Saddle Seat Equitation 10-11 Year Old Championship and rode Queen’s Carlton to a third-place tie in the Grand National Walk/Trot Classic Pleasure Saddle class for 10 and 11-year-old riders.

 

It was the beginning of a stellar career for the Gove daughter and her family. Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine owning a 25-acre farm, fronting on the picturesque Taylor River, featuring 36-stalls, an indoor heated arena and all the amenities.

 

 

 

As Brooke mastered her equitation skills, her parents decided to buy her “a real saddle seat equitation horse,” Jeff said. “We went to Cricket Hill and bought Hollybrook Romeo, leaving him with Lisa [Richardson] and Kristen and David [Cater.]”

 

The team began their assault on equitation records in 2003, earning good ribbons at Oklahoma City. In 2005, Brooke earned the Senior Saddle Seat Equitation World Championship and AMHA Saddle Seat Gold Medal Finals Championship. The following year, her final one of junior exhibitor eligibility, she won the Grand National Saddle Seat Equitation title for 16 and 17-year-olds, the UPHA Morgan Senior Challenge Cup Finals, and a reserve in the Senior Saddle Seat Equitation World Championship.

 

Brooke Gove’s horse enthusiasm started the

family on its way. She is pictured with the

park saddle champion, HVK Man Of Distinction.

 

 

Jeff looked back to those times. “We were sitting in the coliseum, waiting 20 to 25 minutes until they announced the results of the AMHA Gold Medal. Brooke won it. Without a doubt, that is the finest memory I have of being involved with a class and a show. You can have all the personal accolades, there’s nothing like having your children succeed in front of your eyes. From the time she trotted out of that ring, Brooke has been a different person, a different rider.”

 

Brooke riding at Chrislar Farm became the catalyst that led to the establishment of Taylor River Farm as it is today. It was here that the family met Sarah Merrill, from whom Brooke took many early lessons.

 

“My best friend in the fourth grade rode horses. I thought that was the best idea and begged and begged for lessons,” Sarah said. “Chrislar Farm was two miles down the street. My mother bought a gift certificate and thought those four lessons would be the end of it.”

 

Sarah had been riding four years when she told her family she wanted a horse. “My parents said they couldn’t afford it, so I decided I would save my own money. After six months, I had earned $1,200 from babysitting. They realized I was serious and helped me buy UVM Victory for $4,000. I got dumped off every other time I tried to ride him,” she said with a laugh. “I rode him around the fields, hanging on for dear life.”

 

They also showed at the one-day events in New England as well as at Granite State, Maine Morgan and other larger shows. She rode with Chrislar Farm until she was 17 or 18 years old.

 

The Cassentis’ Chrislar Farm was more than the place Sarah and Brooke rode. It was where Gay Gove demonstrated her matchmaking skills.

 

“Sarah has an incredible personality and the unique ability to immediately make people feel good about themselves,” Jeff said. “We fell in love with her. My wife engineered a meeting between Sarah and our son.”

 

Jared explained, “I didn’t want to do horses; I thought they were some crazy thing the family was into. Mom brought me to the barn and introduced me to Sarah. I said, ‘Hi.’ Obviously I thought she was very pretty. At the time, I had a girlfriend that Mother did not like.

 

“Brooke was at the age where she still needed a baby-sitter. Mother got Sarah to sit with her,” Jared said. “I was 18 and had a driver’s license. I would bring her to the house and stay a little while.

 

“I could see right through it,” he added. “But I hung out and we hit it off. I kind of gave the heave-ho to the other girlfriend. We started dating and nine years later, we are still together.”

 

Sarah had decided she wanted to make a career of the horse business. “Chris [Cassenti] was super supportive,” Sarah said. “She thought I should go and learn from someone else. I worked three years with Anne Benson at Kornhugel Farm. I learned a ton and did things I’d never done before. It was the next complete step for me.

 

“I showed up for work in September [2001] with one horse that wasn’t completely sound. A week later, Anne asked me if I had ever shown in Oklahoma,” Sarah recalled, adding she had not gotten a ribbon the only time she had shown there. “Anne asked, ‘Do you want to ride this horse for me?’ I got to ride him three or four times before we showed.”

 

Sarah’s catch-ride aboard Kriskroft Hot N Spicy earned the Reserve Grand National Championship for owner Alisia Ouellette.

 

The young lady also enrolled at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. Again, ‘coincidence’ took her farther down the path to what now is Taylor River Farm. As part of her thesis, she had to write a fictional business plan. She elected to present the plan for a Morgan Horse farm that offered training and lessons for the public.

 

“Sarah and my father came up with it,” Jared said. “We knew that someday we wanted to do our own farm. The plan included building a facility with a lesson and training program under the same roof. It would be a place you could take someone who had never ridden a horse before and teach them the basics, adding showing on the local, state, regional and world levels.”

 

That model became the basis for Taylor River Farm. “We’re starting to see some fruit from that now,” Jeff said.

 

The road from then to now wasn’t always smooth. Sarah continued to work with Benson until Benson went to work for Rick Stevens. Sarah kept the 10 horses remaining at the farm.

 

“That whole summer was a whirlwind,” she recalled. “Jared and I had become engaged in November and planned the wedding for a year later in March. The barn was closing and I had to move. Jared and I went crazy. He told me he would have to figure out what was going on in the business or we would break up. Thankfully he learned it. Now he knows how to do all the fun things as well.”

 

As Jared put it, Sarah helped him fall in love with horses. His administrative abilities help him in his position as farm manager. From doing books to organizing things and performing maintenance, he is very much a part of the day-to-day operation.

 

“Whatever comes up, Sarah and I have this tie,” he explained. “We often see things similarly but can accept it when the other one doesn’t see things the same way.”

 

The younger Goves’ wedding was – to say the least – memorable. Jared explained.

 

“Sarah and I got married three years ago at Wentworth By The Sea, a beautiful hotel redone by Marriott. Being horse and dog people, we decided we wanted Belle, our boxer at the time, to be the flower girl in the wedding.

 

Sarah and Jared were married at the

resort Wentworth By The Sea. Sarah’s

boxer, Belle, was the ‘flower-girl.’

 

“It was a seemingly la-di-da wedding with 250 guests. The whole thing was a comedy of errors. The wedding planner cued music and I’m sitting in a hotel room across the hall chatting with the groomsmen and minister. My father came streaking over to the hotel room saying, ‘Jared, hurry up, you’re missing the ceremony.”

 

“We have a dry sense of humor; I told him, ‘you’re full of ----.’ Then I realized he was serious. We all went running out and I just made it to the end of the aisle before Sarah made her last step. When I asked, ‘What took you so long?’ she cracked up.”

 

Belle played her role in the comedy. Jared continued, “Flower Girl Belle came down the aisle and sat down. About the time we reached the ‘I do’s,’ she started yowling. A couple of weeks later, I heard someone on the radio say they were at the funniest wedding they had ever been to in their entire lives.”

 

Taylor River is nearing the end of their third year of independent operation. The barn was almost finished when Richard Boulé committed to becoming the senior trainer before Oklahoma City four years ago. Gay Gove had purchased the promising colt Cartier (Cedar Creek Harlequin x Schiaparelli). She and Jeff put the then four-year-old along with three-year-old FRF Seattle Reign in training with David Rand after the New England Regional.

 

Gay Gove is most proud of her

stallion Cartier. Here, they enjoyed

a walk in the farm pastures.

 

“David stood up and told us what the situation was. He said, ‘Right here, you have the four and three-year-old Pleasure Driving World Champions,” Jared recalled. “A couple of months later, we went to Oklahoma – and it worked. Cartier is so gorgeous. Mother was in tears in the stands and went down for the presentation when he got the roses.”

 

Boulé and FRF Seattle Reign won the 2005

Four-Year-Old Pleasure Driving World Championship.

 

“Going home to a brand new barn, with two world champions and Richard scheduled to start in December was quite an exciting start,” Jared said.

 

“The Goves asked for my input. I told them I thought Richard Boulé was a perfect fit for them and the job,” Rand said of his long-time friend. “He’s an old Yankee boy and it seemed that job was made for him. Richard has always been hardworking, talented and an all-around ‘Mr. Nice Guy,’ everybody’s friend. He is an incredible judge and trainer with a great eye and feel for a horse. He always brings out the best quality in any animal.”

 

Boulé spoke of his meeting with the Goves. “I was judging Maine Morgan. After the show I went to David Rand’s place. He mentioned that the Goves were starting this farm and said I should take the job. I kind of laughed it off. He called and asked if I had talked with them.”

 

Boulé suggested the Goves might see him at New England Morgan. “By the end of the show, Jeff Gove had introduced himself and said he wanted to talk with me about their new project. We discussed the business plan and type of facility. A couple of weeks later, I flew up to meet with the whole family. By the time I went home [to Florida,] it was pretty much said and done.”

 

Boulé’s varied background helped make him a perfect fit for the new operation. A New Englander himself, he began riding in 4-H programs. “I had a lot of experience as a kid,” he said. “I worked at the race track, showed 4-H, and went through a period of doing 25 and 50-mile competitive trail rides.

 

Boulé initially attended Essex Agricultural School until he decided he wanted to work with horses. He took most of his equine classes as a part-time and continuing education student at the University of New Hampshire, later completing his degree at the University of Massachusetts. During these college years, he worked with the outstanding Saddlebred trainers and instructors Harold and Marilyn Childs.

 

The famed Orcland Farm in West Newbury, Mass., was less than an hour from Boulé’s home. His introduction to Morgans came when he helped at shows and at the farm during his school years. After graduation from college, he continued his ‘education’ as part of their staff.

 

“In the late 1970s, horses were not so specialized,” he said. “We did in-hand, riding and driving with the same animal. I enjoyed both the versatility of the Morgan Horse and the people as well.”

 

After showing ‘minis’ for a couple of years, Boulé moved to Florida. He divided his time in the ‘Sunshine State’ between Summerfield Farm and Centerpointe.

 

In his career, Boulé has worked such horses as Orcland Tinaline, Woodsong Courageous, FVF Rolls Royce, Mantic Top Gun, Mantic Bullseye and FCF Rhythm Nation. He has proven his versatility, winning local, regional and national championships in almost every Morgan discipline.

 

Kristin Farley directs the farm’s lesson program. “We don’t really do academy per se,” she explained, pointing out that their young riders show in the open division in the area’s smaller shows.

 

A graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., where she received an equine management degree, Farley has been riding Morgans and American Saddlebreds since she was six years old. She joined Taylor River the day it opened. Rebecca Fish recently joined the team as an assistant instructor.

 

Kristin Farley (left) and assistant instructor Rebecca

Fish (right) coached Rebecca Davis on one of the

farm’s lesson horses at a cold-weather show.

 

“I was a client here for a short time. Now we teach an average of 70 lessons a week. We do summer camp, day camps, the show circuit and UPHA Winter Tournaments,” Farley said. “It was my dream to be in the position where I am. I’m 36-years-old with a three-year-old daughter named Madison, who is our youngest rider,” said Farley.

 

Farley and her daughter live in a 2,000 sq. ft. apartment that is part of Sarah and Jared’s home. Sarah calls Farley “the little sister I hang around with, that I have a glass of wine with. We started going out together about a year ago. We enjoy it and it’s big outlet for frustration.”

 

Sarah’s parents and sisters, Kate, age 14, and Callie, 11, are very much part of the Taylor River family. They have owned several horses including a four-year-old gelding now in training. Kate stars in hunt seat equitation and pleasure while Callie prefers to participate in youth contests.

 

Riding with or teaching a family member can be a challenge. It’s one Sarah and Kate have met, and conquered.

 

“Teaching my little sister is more difficult [than most] and is super special to me,” Sarah said. “We’ve gotten through the past couple of years and have a good working relationship. When Kate started, she was very timid. When she turned 13, I don’t know what happened but now she rides the pants off anything I put her on. Watching her grow into a good horsewoman has been super fun.”

 

Last season, Kate and KHF Dante de Lion won the Grand National Hunter Pleasure Junior Exhibitor 12-Year-Old title and tied third in the 13 and under world championship. They earned a reserve in the 12-year-old section of Grand National Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat competition. It was Kate’s first year out of walk and trot. She will be back at Oklahoma riding The Lion King this year.

 

“Mother is the highlight of my life. We’re great friends. If I need anything in the course of stressful moments, she is right on it. She pops in the barn five or six days a week just to say ‘hi.’ Dad is a truck driver and trucks the horses for us,” Sarah said, explaining her father has bought his own trailer. “All we have to do is pick up the phone, call Daddy and he is here.”

 

Jeff Gove says their goal is to have “a family-oriented, full-service type of barn. We want to take people who have had no exposure to horses and bring them into our breed. We will introduce them to the Morgan, teach them to ride, to love and respect the animal. The next step is them becoming show clients.”

 

Are they succeeding? Just ask some of their clients.

 

Stevie Meder moved to Taylor River a little over two years ago. The 16-year-old and her mother, Gina, purchased Manchester In Demand and Set To Dance since joining the team.

 

“Stevie was a great hunt seat equitation rider, but her horse was too quick-thinking to do patterns. When we bought Manchester In Demand from Mary Carlton at Oklahoma two years ago, Mary said ‘This is a world champion equitation team.’ Stevie has such poise and control. She’s great to work with. In 2006, they were first out of 30 riders. This year, they have been undefeated at all but one show,” Sarah said.

 

Stevie not only tied reserve in her age group and won the equitation world championship, she rode Manchester In Demand to the top of the Junior Exhibitor Hunter Pleasure World qualifier and is the reigning world champion.

 

Stevie Meder rode Manchester In Demand to win

the Senior Hunt Seat Equitation World Championship

in 2006. Meder is one of the Taylor River students

who excels in both equitation and performance as she

added the park saddle division to her resume in 2007.

 

This season, Stevie has stepped into the park division. “I was getting a little bored with hunt seat,” she said, explaining she had been doing this since she was 10-years-old. “I decided to try something new. Park is more exciting, more fun.”

 

The Taylor River staff had teamed her with the then four-year-old Set To Dance. They head to Oklahoma City as the New England Regional Junior Exhibitor Park Saddle Champions.

 

Stevie finds showing at Taylor River a different experience. “At my old barn, my trainer was more a trainer than a friend. Now my trainer, Sarah, is my full-time trainer and friend; Richard is more of a trainer-trainer,” she said.

 

Sara Heffernan returns to Oklahoma City with her 2006 Grand National Hunter Pleasure Amateur Mare Champion and Reserve World Champion, Andrea’s Radiance.

 

Stephanie Slater has expanded her horizons into English pleasure. Teamed with Better In Black and Sight Unseen, she has been a formidable competitor in the hunter division. She and The Bachelor MEM tied reserve in the Junior Exhibitor Pleasure Driving qualifier and championship at the New England Regional.

 

“It’s fun to have kids get new horses to do English pleasure,” Sarah said. “Stephanie will continue to help Kristin teach lessons until she goes off to college in December.”

 

How well is Taylor River doing? Ask David Rand. The many-times world champion trainer entrusted his PWF Good Will Hunting to the Taylor River team earlier this season.

 

“David decided English pleasure was stressful for a horse that was happy as a hunter. He told us, ‘Hey, you guys do hunters … take him. That was 10 days before the New England Regional,” Sarah said. “David was so excited when his horse won the Ladies Hunter Pleasure Gelding class.”

 

Jane Brown has been Boulé’s client for years and sent horses to Taylor River when he made the move. Although she rarely gets to the barn, they catch up at such shows as the New England Regional and Oklahoma. She is the lady responsible for arranging catering and other services at the major shows.

 

Marjorie Miller and Sarah have been friends since Sarah leased stalls at Miller’s barn during the short time she was on her own. “She’s a typical old Yankee and has always been so nice to me. I got one of her mares saddle-broke and when I moved to Taylor River she sent her with me.”

 

Miller’s granddaughter, Chelsea, developed leukemia when she was 16. She battled the disease and continued to ride and show. Now a freshman at William Woods University, she enjoyed a successful spring and summer season with three-year-old Garland Movado.

 

Nason Bastarache began riding at Taylor River when she has 12. Not only have she and her mother, Jen, appreciated the Gove extended family’s ability as trainers, they can speak first-hand of their kindness and determination to give a talented young rider an opportunity she might not otherwise have.

 

“Nason began riding and showing from home. I took her to local shows myself and saw other trainers and instructors notice her,” Jen Bastarache said. “Two trainers approached me to say I needed to get Nason into a lesson program and out of the backyard. We agreed, although it was a big transition for us as a family.”

 

Farley recognized the youngster’s talent. She told the Goves about Nason. They opened doors that the family could only have dreamed of.

 

“Kristin probably was the key in my and her father’s understanding what our child was capable of doing,” Bastarache continued. “She told her colleagues about Nason. They watched her ride and decided they would have to find a way to make ‘this’ happen.”

 

‘Make this happen’ meant giving Nason the opportunity to reach for the equestrian sky. Brooke Gove had just aged out of equitation. Hollybrook Romeo needed a rider – and the right one stood at the farm.

 

“I rode with Kristin for about a year. The Goves went to local shows with me; they showed with me,” Nason said quietly. “That helped them decide they wanted me to ride Romeo. I thank Kristin a lot for that.”

 

“Their picking Nason from all the kids who ride at that barn to ride Romeo is an incredible honor,” her mother continued. “It’s wonderful to see how happy she is and how well she has done.”

 

Showing at Oklahoma seemed a dream to the young lady who two years ago was riding walk and trot in the hunt seat division. Yet she is going, and as a contender for top saddle seat equitation honors. They will arrive with an almost unblemished record – their only defeat being a reserve in the Junior Saddle Seat Equitation Championship at the New England Regional.

 

“Times at the farm are always special. Everyone is treated like family; there is no defining line between client and instructor. Whenever possible, the entire staff is on the rail. While the Goves can’t be there for every lesson, they are on the rail at shows no matter who is in the ring. It’s such a huge family … whether they’re in the lesson or training program, everyone is treated exceptionally well,” Bastarache added.

 

“Teaming Nason with Romeo was a fun thing for the farm to do,” Sarah said. “When we built this place, Jeff said the barn had to be for kids, a place to help them grow into good adults. One of our goals is supporting young kids who could not do this on their own. We wanted to have a place that is safe haven for them.”

 

Many farm owners and professionals talk about having a ‘family place.’ Few have done it better than the Goves. That starts at the top.

 

Jeff Gove is the more outgoing and outspoken of the family seniors. On a professional level, he “develops shopping centers for a living. Not that it adds to the greater good of humanity, but it puts food on the table,” he said with a laugh.

 

That’s work. His passion encompasses his close and extended family at Taylor River Farm.

 

“We fell in love with everyone – people and horses - on the Morgan circuit. I’m not sure whether you put the equines or the humans first. In this world, you’re part of something much larger than you are yourself. This is a very loving, wonderful family we’re involved with. We try to introduce people to this wonderful life we’ve found,” he said.

 

Farley elaborated. “We strive for professionalism. We can introduce any client into our Morgan industry via our lesson program. If they want to buy a show horse and move up to the Morgan circuit, we honor that. If they just want to ride as a stress reliever, we honor that too.

 

“We run the lesson program separate from the show program and offer every student the opportunity to show as we do. We believe in taking Morgans to open shows to promote them, to reach out to a community that doesn’t know what a Morgan is,” she added.

 

Gay Gove leaves most of the ‘talking’ to her husband. In her more quiet way, she is just as committed, just as excited about Taylor River as he.

 

“We have had some wonderful family times,” she said, speaking of the hours she spent “doing buns and other things for Brooke and their clients. Auntie Gay’s Hair Chair sits in front of the tack room at the shows. Her responsibility – and pleasure – is doing buns and makeup for their riders. Each client treasures the black garment bag with their name embroidered on it that Gay Gove has given them.

 

“This business can be all-consuming and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

 

As she looks forward to Oklahoma City, Sarah looked back on the brief, very successful history of Taylor River Farm.

 

“We had a great first year, a good second year and this third year everything came together,” she said. “The Gove Family Partnership is super fun.”

 

Sarah Gove teamed Graywood’s Arthur

to win the 2005 New England Regional

Ladies English Pleasure Championship.

 

“Our very first New England Regional was kind of special,” Jared added. “About 80 percent of our ribbons were the top three and we won a good portion of our classes. To do that in our very first season helped make a bit of a splash. People took notice from the beginning.”

 

Cartier and Seattle Reign won the farm’s first world championships with David Rand. Boulé has taken them to further honors. Cartier’s career as a breeding stallion led to his showing only at two Northeastern shows last season. He and Boulé were undefeated in the in-hand competition last year. Sarah stepped into the irons at Southern States and New England this year.

 

Cartier is proving his worth as a performance

horse, with both Sarah Gove and Richard Boulé,

and in the breeding shed. He is pictured with Boulé.

 

“New England was a nostalgic moment for me. It was about 7:30 or 7:45 in the evening. The sun was setting when we came trotting down the track and into the gate. He was just amazing. It was so special to be in that class and to have actually won it.

 

“When everyone says you’ve got it, you’re winning as you go around …,” Sarah paused. “Richard told me, ‘You’re a real horse trainer now’ when I got through the open class. I played with all the horse trainers.”

 

They also came back to tie reserve in the English Pleasure Saddle East Coast Championship.  

 

Jeff Gove has stepped into the pleasure driving buggy behind Seattle Reign this season. They, too, are headed to Oklahoma with a pocket-full of blues in their proverbial hands.

 

Jeff Gove enjoys his time in the show ring like

pictured here with Change Of Heart winning

the Amateur Pleasure Driving qualifier and

championship at Maine Morgan in 2006.

 

And then there’s Jared. “He started driving last winter when we were short of help,” Sarah recalled. “I told him, here’s this 19-year-old gelding. Go jog him.’ This year the horse was not doing a lot. I told him, ‘Let’s put you in a buggy and go to Maine Morgan.”

 

Since Jeff was showing Seattle Reign in amateur competition, Jared drove in the open division. He teamed Dorneywood Stars N Stripes to the open blue and Pleasure Driving Championship.

 

“He hasn’t shown since,” Sarah said, adding, “He likes to go out on top. Still, he will show again; he just doesn’t know it yet.”

 

How does Boulé fit into this close family group? “We might as well say Richard Boulé Gove. He says he’s the only 50-year-old who has ever been adopted,” Jeff said. “If he ever tries to leave, we will tackle him, chain him down and not let him go. We were ready to accept him as part of the family long before he was ready to accept us. Richard is everything we wanted: honest and full of integrity. He runs his life the way we want our farm run. When you put the best interest of your clients, your horses and other people first, everything else falls into place.”

 

Farley agrees with the idea that she has been adopted into the Gove family. “That’s how they make you feel. We all started together and none of us has any intention other than staying together. It’s a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. We run our programs independently, yet work together. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to live my lifetime dream.”

 

The Taylor River crew: 

(front) Jared and Sarah Gove,

(back) Kristin Farley and Richard Boulé.

 

“I can’t believe our lives have turned out this way. It’s an honor, a pleasure and a blessing all wrapped up into one,” Jeff continued. “It’s a wonderful way to live your life, to bring up a family and give back to the community – especially the greater horse community.”

 

As for Sarah, the self-described “over-emotional, giggly girl who likes to shop,” she also is a worrier. “I care too much, worry too much. I want everything to be perfect,” she said. “It keeps me awake at night trying to figure things out.”

 

Rand sees her as “a dynamo - a most positive, hard-working, talented young girl. In an industry where we often scratch our heads when looking to see who is coming along behind us, there’s Sarah. She is a good horsewoman who always has a smile on her face. She’s following in Richard’s footsteps and is getting better all the time. Sarah has the whole package: she is very consistent in the quality of her horses and the people around her.

 

“Richard and Sarah always have a smile on their faces. In an industry that takes a lot out of you, Richard thinks positive. He’s happy and always has been the shoulder to lean on rather than leaning on anyone else. Jeff and Gay are extremely nice and always happy. It’s nice to see people who always have a smile,” Rand added.

 

Where Sarah, Jared, Kristin and Richard are the professional faces most people see, Jeff’s is the one at Morgan committee meetings. He serves on the Grand National Show Committee, the New England Morgan Show Committee and is president of the New England Morgan Horse Association.

 

“Through the AMHA, the New England Morgan and the horse world in general, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with some wonderful people,” he said. “One thing I want everyone to know is how grateful the entire Gove family is to be so readily accepted and made a part of everyone’s lives.”

 

Yes, the Goves and Boulé do take time away from the farm. “We all go to the islands for a week after Oklahoma,” Sarah said. “We have a rule that you can’t talk about horses until Friday. We always do things we’ve never done before. I crossed parasailing off my life ‘to do’ list last year,” she said, suggesting she might try swimming with the dolphins this fall.

 

Richard also likes to travel, although Jane Brown says being his traveling companion can be taxing.

 

“If you travel with him when he’s not working, be prepared to go sight-seeing,” his long-time customer and friend said. “He will go to see everything he possibly can when he’s in a new location. He does all the tourist things he can and kills his companions. He loves learning about all those different things.”

 

Martha Merrill says she “loves having a daughter for her trainer. She is one who smiles all the time and makes people feel good to be alive and around her. The other day, she put Kate on an English pleasure horse to let her see what it was like. Kate couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. I think Sarah was smiling as much as Kate was.”

 

As the Goves finalize their Oklahoma plans, put the finishing touches on the dozen or so horses and riders who will compete for national titles, they have a lot to look forward to, a lot to build on. But while blue ribbons and tricolors, trophies and national honors are important, living up to their stated purpose remains at the top of the list.

 

Merrill put it into words. “When I have a bad day, I go to the farm and tell Sarah, ‘I need my happy place. Smile at me and make it all better.’”

Yes, it does work.


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