Growing up as a horseless 4-H member was fun but I always wanted to be in the ring competing with all my friends. My family did not have a farm or horses. My Grandfather had a small working farm which is where I became fascinated with farm life and animals. I worked Saturdays at a hunter barn up the road before I turned 16 and started learning the ropes of the show horse world. I learned to braid manes there! Once I could drive I found a job taking care of halter horses at a small farm in Mohnton, PA. Shaun Piper was like family to me and helped me learn more about these creatures. She did some breeding and sold most of her babies as yearlings. I learned here how to let go and not get attached! I learned what I could on the ground and to this day I enjoy showing halter and the in hand classes because of Ms. Piper.
Before I turned 18, I was offered the chance to accompany a dear friend who had her horse in training with a professional horse trainer, on a visit to the farm. She mentioned letting me meet the trainer and horse and taking the lessons that came with training, and if it all worked out I could lease the horse to show my last year of 4-H. Of course I was so excited to have this opportunity! Things worked out and I became a close friend to Shannon Zimmer Rhineer, the trainer, and the horse, Squirt who was owned by Jan Kauffman. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as I never really had lessons or the opportunity to show a horse under saddle. I was always the groom or tag along at horse shows! That was the start of my dreams… the dreams I never realized could be so big and actually come true.
I worked hard and moved out at 18, still pursuing the horse world as a part time job. Shannon bought a weaning and offered to let me take her and raise her for a year. At the time I was living in a lovely little cape cod on a hunter jumper farm in Exeter, PA. I helped run the farm in exchange for discounted rent. I took the filly from Shannon and got the “horse ownership” experience. I tagged along with my best friend and showed the filly in Halter her yearling year, trying to prepare her for the Fall Futurity of Yearling Longeline. I learned a lot and also took jumping lessons while on the farm that year. The Fall came around and Shannon picked up the filly and I traveled to see what she thought of her after she settled. She was impressed and we ended up top 5 at my very first APHA show in Dillsburg, PA with the Pennsylvania Paint Horse Club.
My time with Shannon was priceless. I reminded her constantly that if she ever wanted to hire me, that I would stop and move an hour away from home to work for her. I didn't even realize this was a dream at the time; I just knew I loved it. Shannon offered me to continue coming for lessons and helping her with her personal horses so I could continue to learn and grow. We developed a friendship and then one day she asked me the magical question. Next thing I knew I was moving to Lancaster County. I quit my successful Corporate America Customer Service career and left my family and friends and moved to follow my dream.
I worked full time for Shannon for three years. We managed Greystone Stables and Shannon Zimmer Show Horses, nearly fifty head (boarding and training/showing). Shannon had two children while I worked for her, a grueling 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We did some breeding as well as training all disciplines and levels including show horses, warmbloods and rodeo horses. I was developing a solid understanding of the foundation of training a versatile, well rounded horse. My passion only grew from there. The blood sweat and tears were contagious and I found myself with a burning desire to do this myself someday, somehow. I wanted to be Shannon. I listened to her talk to her clients, I watched her focus when working the young horses, and I even helped her design a logo and develop marketing tools for her growing business. We flourished together and I loved every minute of it. I simply couldn't get enough.
Reality was starting to surface; however, and I found myself battling between paying my bills living on my own, and staying with my Dream. I knew God had a plan and I trusted that if this was meant to be, I would save money and be able to have my own farm someday. Proverbs 3:5-6. Back to Corporate America I went. Before I left I bought my first horse, a solid paint bred weaning by an up and coming APHA stallion, Special Invitation. I wasn't getting out of it all together. I boarded my filly and started her myself, making her a statement of my program. Not long after that I met Jason, we rented his family’s farm and were able to keep her at home with us. I worked hard in the office all day and came home every night to train my horse. I began showing her and acquired my first customers. I was so excited to actually be doing it on my own and successfully too, all the while keeping Shannon's foundation as a staple in my training program.
The years passed and I grew. I grew with knowledge and often times at my own sacrifice. I rode alone and often learned from trial and error. I traveled to take lessons from all the local trainers. I wanted to fill my head with everything I could, even if it was with “what not to do”! I soaked everything I heard in the practice pens, often times going to bigger horse shows just to listen and watch. At this point I still didn't know what I wanted for my future. I just knew I had an undying fire feeding inside me pushing me to continue without question. Jason supported me whole heartedly and shared the journey in every way. He was becoming addicted as well.
Our success and love grew and we began thinking about the full time options as an entrepreneur in the horse world. I was renting a full service facility at this point (year-round) and still working a full time job. One thing led to another and we made the leap to launching our business. Hollinger Farms Inc. was born January 1, 2014. Jason and I also got married in June of 2014.
We have never looked back. We grew and began helping more people with their horses. I learned from every single horse and client. I continued to travel further to ride with trainers I admired and respected. I believe in happy horses that receive a full days/nights turnout on individual grass pastures and only the best professionals working on them (thank you to my vets and farriers!). I believe in forward motion and natural movement. I believe in a well rounded horse that can be themselves and learn without the use of mechanical aids. I also believe in helping them become what they want to be or are built to be, not what WE think they should be.
We went to our first Pinto World Show and earned 2 Reserve World Champions in the Western Pleasure with our double registered stallion SVR Krymsun Jackpot. We had the help of some wonderful trainers along the way and still do! We never stop learning and traveling to expand our horizons. I became an AQHA and APHA Professional Horseman and found myself getting exposure on the show circuit. I was loving it. We finally had a vision. We started looking for property of our own which took several years. We found our dream farm in Dillsburg PA in December of 2015. Hollinger Farms would now have a “home”.
We are nothing but blessed. We have an incredible family around us and a beautiful property flourishing with happy healthy horses and customers. I teach youth and adults both Western and English riding and we travel the AQHA, APHA, PtHA, and open circuits. We put over $100,000 into our property after we bought it to make it the most efficient, safest, and pleasant atmosphere to come and learn and love horses. I couldn't ask for anything more, or could I? Jason and I are living our dream and I never once thought I would be where I am right now. Blessed. Thankful. Bursting with gratitude. This life is not easy but the rewards I get from the people and horses around me are priceless and far greater than anything I could ever accomplish sitting behind a desk. Now I help make others’ dreams come true and this is something I never realized I could do. Until the next adventure, we will be here sharing the love of horses with those around us, no matter what their level or goals. My doors are always open and my heart is always full.
We are all born with a gift, and our job is to give it away.
In Loving Memory of Shannon Zimmer Rhineer August 29, 1971 - March 25, 2012