Deep into the woods and lush pastures of Wellborn, Florida, you can find Valhalla Farm. Valhalla Farm sits on it’s only little slice of heaven of 400+ acres. The farm was established in 1981 by Jean and Roy Brinkman, soon after the farm was established they became world class Trakehner breeders. It’s a family owned farm and Jean’s daughter, Erin, is one of the head trainers at Valhalla today; Jean’s other daughter, Shannon, is an international equine sports photographer. Valhalla specializes in dressage, but has bred and produced horses who excel in many other disciplines including eventing and jumpers. At this time Valhalla offers positions for working students, training, sales, lessons, inspections, clinics, and rehabilitation.
In 1972, Jean discovered dressage and was looking for an appropriate breed to raise for the coming sport—at the time dressage wasn’t popular in Florida. Warmbloods were just beginning to be imported into America. When Jean Brinkman first established Valhalla Farm as Trakehner breeders, she wanted to create a better name for the breed; Trakehners imported from Germany were thought to be hot and difficult to train. Jean had a different opinion of the breed and worked hard to import sane, sound, and athletic Trakehners from reliable sources in Germany. Through out many years of breeding Valhalla began to change the view on Trakehners. Stallions such as Martini Pg*E*, Hailo Pg*E*, Stiletto Pg*E*, and the youngest, Hart Throb, have paved the way for the American Trakehner. Jean first imported a mare in foal who foaled out Martini. Martini later became the USDF leading dressage sire from 1998-2001. Martini initiated the success of Valhalla, and now his offspring continue to thrive at the farm. Valhalla Farm was the leading breeder of dressage horses from 2005-2007 by USEF statistics. Today the farm has downsized significantly, but is still home to world class dressage horses that they breed, sell, and train. There are currently two stallions standing at stud for Valhalla at Andrew Palmer’s farm, Stiletto and Hart Throb.
The history of Valhalla is quite extensive, we joked with Jean that she needs to write a book! When the Brinkman’s purchased the land in 1981, the only thing on the property was three chicken houses. Over the years the chicken houses were converted to horse stables, a covered round pen, covered arena, and outdoor arena were added along with several other structures. The facility was designed by Jean specifically for breeding horses, and her husband, Roy, constructed the buildings. Today the farm is incredible, if you set back to admire the farm you can imagine the decades of horses that have come in and out of the property. Horse shows were hosted at the farm for 16 years, they hosted dressage, driving, in-hand, and eventing shows. However, there was more to it than just the horses. Roy farms hay and raises beef cattle. The vast 400+ acres is gorgeous with large rolling hay fields, humungous Oak trees, and even a little hideaway treehouse where the family hosts social gatherings.
Valhalla is mostly known as Trakehner breeders, but the farm has a long list of accomplishments. Jean says one of her favorite accomplishments is earning the USDF Gold Medal for Grand Prix competition with her founding sire (and heart horse), Martini. She is very proud of the incredible professionals who started their journey at Valhalla. There has been a working student program at the farm for decades. Professionals like Andrew Palmer, Derek Peterson, Dorie Addy, and many other upper level riders spent time at Valhalla. Overall, honesty is what has made Valhalla successful. Jean has always bred carefully, trained slowly, and sold honestly to make sure her horses received the best care. Matching sales horses and prospective owners is her favorite and a great reward when she gets it right. When Jean first started in the equine business an early encounter led her to purchase Warmbloods misrepresented in age and training. After her disheartening experience, Jean vowed to be careful with sales not only for the buyers, but also for the horses, ensuring the best care and partnership. Collette Zimmer, a trainer at Valhalla, says she loves working at Valhalla because of the young horse program. Collette says the horses are not pushed, they’re given time to develop and aren’t started under saddle until they’re ready. They place an emphasis on ground work and trail riding to build horses who want to learn instead of drilling them in a certain area of training. Jean credits the supplement, Medicine Bag Complete, to the success of her young horses. Medicine Bag Complete has Amino Acid Chelated Minerals, digestants, and vitamins which are crucial to young horse development and adult horse soundness. Today, Jean’s goal is to complete the “Century Ride”, where the rider and horses’ age add up to 100, with her homebred Martini daughter, Faithkeeper. Jean and Faithkeeper are currently working FEI levels and hope to complete their Century Ride within the next year.
Erin Brinkman works closely with Equiderma and Equipe Saddles. Erin Brinkman and Collette Zimmer both offer training, lessons, and working student options at Valhalla. If you are interested in Valhalla’s services, you may contact Jean Brinkman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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