“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
― A.A. Milne
After finally leaving the corporate world, Rachel King moved to Lexington, Kentucky from San Francisco, California, in 1999. She and her partner bought Deer Haven Farm, bringing the property from run-down and neglected, to the beautiful, pristine paradise she came to love so dearly. It wasn’t until she had the farm that she made the decision to buy her first Haflingers. While out driving one day, she noticed a few blond horses in a field and was intrigued. She went home and began her research to figure out what she had seen – it wasn’t long before she knew that her farm should be a home to these gentle, family-friendly horses. On her first buying trip, she purchased four Haflingers.
Although she never set out to become a breeder, she couldn’t resist purchasing Avanti of Cedar Lane as soon as she saw him. From there, her herd continued to grow, and at one time the farm was home for close to thirty Haflingers. Rachel was an active, founding member of the Haflinger Owners Promotional Enterprise (HOPE), and was passionate about supporting the growth of the breed as a versatile sporthorse. She was instrumental in raising awareness of the Haflinger as a dressage horse in Kentucky, and attended more than her share of USDF and USEF shows, Regional Championships, AHR events, and Equine Affaires – with Avanti, All-Tell RVM, and many of her other horses. She also brought Haflingers to meet visitors at the International Equestrian Festival during the World Equestrian Games in Lexington 2010.
Deer Haven horses can be found all over Kentucky and the United States – in Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas, just to name a few. Seven Deer Haven Haflingers, including five Avanti offspring, were the first Haflingers imported to South Korea, where they became school horses. Rachel donated three horses, including her personal riding horse, to BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding Center in Illinois, where they are shining examples of their breed.
Rachel kept in touch with each and every new horse owner, and was known for her integrity, compassion, and generosity, both in business and as a friend. The National Dressage Pony Cup was one of her favorite shows to attend, and she is remembered each year with the Rachel King Memorial Award, given to the highest scoring Haflinger.
I was lucky enough to train Haflingers for Rachel at Deer Haven from June 2009 until the farm was sold in December of 2012. Her legacy is one I strive to emulate each day.