The history of Hope Springs Farm goes back to the first settlements in Kentucky when Rea’s ancestors were among the first to settle in Boonesborough. The family farm, where Rea was raised, was settled in the early 1800 as part of a land grant. It continues as an active farm in the family. She grew up under the influence of her maternal grandfather who was a retired jockey and trainer, her paternal grandfather who owned a horse and mule barn, and a father who would much rather be riding than doing almost anything else. It was natural that she rode from her earliest days. She had her first horse by the age of six, and with the exception of a few years as an airline stewardess, horses have always been a major part of her life.
Rea first heard of the Rocky Mountain Horse from acquaintances in Estill Co., Kentucky, where the breed was born. As she learned about these horses, a strong interest in them developed. With David’s encouragement and support, Rea bred her first Rocky Mountain Horse. Little did either of them know what they were starting. Our first filly, one-half Rocky Mountain, was born in the spring of ‘81. Another filly and a colt were added late in the summer of 1982. So it went by 1983, the first few thoughts of starting a registry were beginning to take form.
Rea’s first goal was to try to find as many of these horses as she could. She wanted to know how many of these horses existed, where they came from, and their history. She also needed to know if the conformation and gait of the few horses she had seen was truly present and consistent in all of the horses called Rocky Mountain. She felt that it was important to confirm the reputation that these horses had of an excellent pattern of behavior. There was a lot of learning to do about this group of horses. Weekends were spent searching up and down the back roads and hollows of eastern Kentucky running down leads as to where these horses were. She would often see groups of horses in the fields, stop and inquire and find another whole collection of them. From early 1983 through mid-1985, she traveled close to 100,000 miles in Kentucky and Ohio to find the remnants of this breed. At that time, there were probably no more than 60 that could be called full-blooded and less than a hundred more that were mostly Rocky Mountain. Rea formed the Rocky Mountain Horse Association in February of 1986 to preserve the Breed. Rea served as president of the association for it’s first ten years and has been an at-large member of the Board since 1998. David has had a major role in preparing and maintaining the bylaws and rules of the association from the very beginning.
Hope Springs Farm was established at its present location in May 1985. Our first stallion, Nuncio, joined us in 1986. Over the years many fine Rocky Mountain Horses have been bred and foaled here. Horses that we have purchased were all carefully selected to preserve the gait, conformation and temperament of the true Rocky. Of the horses bred only those that Rea and David could take from trained to lead to trial riding in three days of limited work were kept for breeding stock. We have NOT followed any of the trends or fads that have been seen in the breed but maintained the original characteristics in our horses. It is our goal to breed the very best Rocky Mountain Horses possible that consistently perform a smooth even four beat gait, have a calm nature and happily interact with their owners. To accomplish this all foals are attend at birth and carefully imprinted. All early training is done by resistance free methods. While our age has forced us to use trainers for the first 30 days of training, they are carefully selected to use resistance free methods. All additional training is carried out on this farm. While the chocolate with flax mane and tail is the signature and most popular color in the breed, demonstrated by Nuncio, we offer horses of many colors, especially those of the Dun factor series bred from our remarkable stallion, Spanish Sundown, who is a classic Grullo.