Colorado has a diversity of horse breeding programs. In addition to some outstanding western horse lines, there are excellent breeding operations that feature Sport horses. Sport horses compete in traditional Olympic equestrian sporting events and are bred for specific qualities in their conformation, movement and temperament.
Although any horse breed can compete in these events, one of the most popular is the Warmblood, which is not a breed in the truest sense, but rather a type of horse. At its most basic definition, a Warmblood is a cross between a hot-blooded Thoroughbred and a cold-blooded draft horse. There are a lot of different Warmbloods, but perhaps the most popular for competition is the Dutch Warmblood.
The competitive Dutch Warmblood is a large, somewhat spirited, but mostly even tempered, and highly trainable horse.
Most Dutch Warmbloods are black, brown, bay, chestnut or gray. There are also a number of tobiano pinto horses from the influence of the stallion Samber. The terms "paint" and "pinto" are used to describe spotted horses, but there is a clear difference between the two terms. A pinto may be of any breed or combination of breeds. For a horse to be registered as an American Paint Horse, it must have registered American Quarter Horse, American Paint Horse or Thoroughbred parents.
Jeri Yarbrough, owner of Yarbrough Acres in Fort Lupton, Colo., specializes in breeding champion, pinto Dutch Warmbloods. Jeri competed for many years on her Paint horse Son of a Delight (Bear), who was a USDF Paint Horse of the Year. "My paint, Bear, was a Quarter Horse and 16.2, tall, and leggy." said Yarbrough, "I bought him from Virgil Lawson down in Wetmore. Virgil called him 'that tall, white, leggy, thing' and he didn't like him, but I thought he's going to be perfect for me for dressage. That 'tall, white, leggy, thing' did all right, because he's still the top ranking paint horse in the nation."
Jeri Yarbrough started the Yarbrough Acres breeding operation by importing her black and white pinto stud, Presley. Presley is a beautifully colored dutch stallion with an exceptional temperament and powerful movement. Presley's pedigree contains some of the best Dutch bloodlines, Olympic Ferro, one of the most well known and most successful dressage stallions in the world, and Ulft, known around the world as a top sire of both dressage and jumping horses. Also Presley's sire Samber received a rare 10 for temperament and trainability in Holland.
Presley was a good choice by Yarbrough for a stallion as he passes his athleticism and temperament to his offspring. "His offspring like people a lot, and they are very willing and easy to work with. They are not real 'hot' and are suitable for anyone from an amateur to a professional rider," said Yarbrough. Yarbrough selected her 13 broodmares with equal care. "Our top quality sport horses combine the best of European and American bloodlines. I hand selected each Warmblood and Thoroughbred broodmare at our farm for their exceptional pedigree and correct conformation," said Yarbrough.
When it comes to Sport horses, the buyer has to do a lot of due diligence and have complete faith in the breeder, as Warmbloods are not for the financially faint of heart. Semen prices run from $1,000 to $5,000 per unit. Foals are from $7,000 to $15,000 and prices rise depending on bloodline, training and competitive results. Breeding stallions like Yarbrough Acres Presley are well into the six figure range.
Jeri Yarbrough has put a lot of effort into making sure that her horses and those that she boards for others are well cared for. No detail is too small. The large performance arena has a special sand mix to insure the soundness of the horses. Pens are spacious to give horses plenty of opportunity to run. All animals get at least half a day in two to five acre pastures with other horses just being a horse.
"The nicest thing that anyone has ever said about my place is "your horses are happy" and it's because "they get to be with their friends!" She said "Horses are social animals. So I let them be with their friends and they get to go out and just be a horse - and I think that it makes them a better performance horse."
Besides the Warmblood breeding program, Yarbrough Acres is a premier breeding, sales, boarding and training facility. Jeri's sister Shelley Yarbrough is the ranch manager and also does the training in western and english riding. In addition, Shelley does a lot of work with 4-H kids in the Equitation projects. Yarbrough Acres also does AI breeding for clients. They foal out the babies, imprint them and do the halter training and starting of the foals.
Jeri Yarbrough puts a high value on her experience and integrity, "I want to make sure that the horse is going to match the rider, so that the horse and the person have the best chance of being successful. I competed hard for 20 years, so I know a lot of people in the business and a lot of top professionals have my horses." Yarbrough continued, "These guys can buy babies for their future competition prospects anywhere, but they have come to Colorado and buy horses from me. That's really exciting for me."
For more information about Yarbrough Acres, please call (303) 857-0388 or visit YarbroughAcres.com.