Ask any horse farm owner what their hours are and they will give you an odd look because horses don’t keep set hours and neither do the people who work with them. When you add the demands of running a top flight hunter/jumper stable, to the hours of the horse shows, which keep your boarders and students in the show ring, it exponentially increases the hours.
Carolyn and Mike Krome, who own Persimmon Tree Farm, which is located about 40 minutes from Baltimore and an hour from Washington D.C. in Westminster, MD, offer high quality living and superior care for competitive show horses. They work hard to cater to the needs of Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation riders and horses of all levels and their days often stretch from before dawn until late into the night when it is time for their boarders to head out to the shows.
They do all of this with their son, Ken Krome, who is not only a nationally known rider of Hunters and Jumpers but also an FEI “I” rated course designer and a USEF “R” rated judge. He has designed courses nationally and internationally across the country including such notable places as WEF, WIHS, Devon, Kentucky, Vermont, Ocala, Legacy Cup, and Upperville.
Their riders leave the Maryland farm to show over a wide range of country in nearby Pennsylvania and Virginia as well as travelling farther afield for specific shows in other states and, of course, the winter circuit in Florida. Maryland is also an epicenter for the huge autumn international shows and that is an exceptionally busy time for the farm and its occupants.
Many of the shows are week-long affairs and since Carolyn is dedicated to the well-being of those horses entrusted to her she often transports the horses back and forth from the shows to the farm on the days they are not necessarily required in the ring. Often there are as many as 16 horses at those shows with several of the horses required in the ring on different days, depending on whether they are showing in the Hunter, the Jumper or the Equitation divisions.
As she said, “…who wants their horse to stand around in a little porta stall when it can be out in one of the paddocks here or comfortable in a nice stall?”
The paddocks she refers to are part of a system 16 paddocks (which run the gamut from a large one of 7.5 acres to a small one that is .9 acre) and the stalls are large, deeply bedded and meticulously cleaned ones in the barns on her farm.
The turn-out is adjusted from season to season, with horses out at night in the summer and out in the day in winter.
“It is a rare day that we don’t do a complete turn-out here,” Carolyn said. “It really has to be a blizzard or a hurricane out there for the horses not to get out of their stalls and into the paddocks.” It should probably be said Maryland’s proximity to both the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern side and the Allegheny Mountains just to the west make that statement more of a possibility than simply an idle thought given the season.
The question of weather is made more problematic by the fact all show horses are body clipped, often starting in late summer, for the important fall and winter circuits. For the horses on Persimmon Tree Farm this means each horse must bring with it not only a fly sheet for the summer, but also a waterproof sheet as well as a medium weight and a heavy weight blanket. Depending on the horse — and his coat, lack of coat and delicacy of skin — this means the horses have to be prepared carefully for the weather conditions they will meet during their turn-out. Often the owners also provide a second set of the medium and heavy blankets.
Since horses are adept at attracting dirt there are both a heavy-duty washer and dryer on the premises just beside the heated lounge and office combination. In fact, both the lounge and the tack room are heated and after riding in the raw cold of Maryland’s winters it is a much-appreciated addition for the riders.
Carolyn’s boarders are as dedicated to their horses and showing careers as she is to the horse’s comfort.
“I have people in here all the time,” she said. “All of my people either work or go to school so I have some who come in as early as six a.m. and some who are here as late as nine p.m. It is when they can fit in their riding around their schedules.”
All of this means Carolyn’s days stretch from that early to that late. In the hours in between she is kept busy with making sure the horses are available for one of the four farriers who come to shoe different horses and they are ready for the people who come to do the body clipping on those horses. At the current time she has 22 stalls in her three barns and 20 of those stalls are filled. If you figure 20 horses times four hooves, always factoring in what a horse can achieve in the way of managing its life, well, that’s almost a career right there.
She has an on-farm vet, Dr. Tanner, and she has an equine dentist who takes care of floating teeth once a year and sometimes more if a horse has problematic dentition.
And she has help. Really good help, as a matter of fact, she has had for several years now.
“Alvero always has my back,” she said thankfully. “It doesn’t matter what happens, I know that I can count on him.”
All of this is in addition to the ordinary duties of running a horse farm — or in the case of Carolyn, the extraordinary duties. The farm she and Mike own is situated on Morgan Run Creek. This is no small problem for a conscientious individual and on her 135 acres, Carolyn has separated her farm into not only the acreage needed for a working horse farm, but also has reserved 40 conservation acres in the CREP program, three acres in pollination habitat — all wildflowers — two riparian acres spread along Morgan Run, a marsh acreage and a wetland acreage. She has worked closely with the Army Corp of Engineers and Trout Unlimited to do this as well as to set up a Water Security area and maintain the five spring heads on her farm.
“There are so many things that you can learn to do with your land,” she said. “It’s actually kind of fun when you get into it! Not only that, but many of my clients into green living so this makes them very comfortable with the way that the farm is run. In the good weather, they will come out here to the farm to hike over the acres even before they ride their horses!”
With Carolyn Krome there is always something more indeed. They have just been to Europe to look at 50 Warmbloods to offer to the riders who might want to move on to a different horse, and there are always people calling to see what might be for sale either on the farm or with others who have horses of the right caliber to interest them for that national (often international) showing they do.
What it comes down to is life might be tiring but at least life is never dull.