From Maryanna Haymon:
January 25, 1999 to July 12, 2021
Due to complications from a pasture injury, “The Prince” was laid to rest AT 6 pm on Monday, July 12,2021.
Don Principe was a 16.2 ½ hand black bay Hanoverian stallion bred in Germany by Adelheid Bruning. He was by the International “Sire of the Century” Donnerhall and out of a States Premium dam, SPS Pappagena by Prince Thatch XX.
We first met Don Principe when he was home from the pre selections for licensing on our first Hanoverian Breeder Orientation course. The selection committee did not find him special enough to send on to the licensing. But his breeder had the utmost faith in him and his quality. Don Principe was not gelded as was normal at that time if a colt did not get licensed. Don Principe had his semen frozen and his breeder had her husband, Hans Heinrich Bruning, do two trial breedings with it. There was total success and in 2003 offspring were born.
Don Principe was sent to Hans Heinrich Meyer zu Strohan at Hoya to begin preparations for the Stallion Performance Testing. In the spring of 2003, Don Principe finished third in dressage at the testing.
The spring of 2003, Wendell and I had come to the conclusion that we needed a stallion for our growing broodmare band. After extensive research, we decided that the Donnerhall line was what fit our breeding goals. Wendell then made several appointments to see 13 stallions in Germany from private stations to Celle and Adelheidesdorf. It turned out that our first appointment was to see the stallion that impressed us two years earlier, Don Principe. As I was videoing , my husband came out to offer to video for me so I could watch without the camera. I declined the offer and told Wendell that THIS was the horse we would purchase. Wendell was annoyed and told me we would not buy the first one we saw. I agreed to look at the others, including the then 2 yr old Danone I. After looking at all the prospective stallions, we concluded that Don Principe was the right choice.
A bit of a side story of this meeting- After the initial ride, I asked to help untack him and take out his braids. The shock of the staff was quite apparent but they allowed it. As I took a step back from Prince (that was what I was already calling him in my mind) he lifted his front leg and placed it gently on my foot without putting weight on it to keep me in place, he turned his magnificent head and “hugged” me. He was super to groom as well. Because of how docile he appeared, we did a surprise visit on a Sunday morning when the barn was technically closed. We knew there was video surveillance and expected a groom or security to come to us. I was in Don Principe’s stall, picking up his feet, offering a carrot, just placing my hands on him-he was affectionate and happy. When the groom came out, she told us how all of the grooms and students wanted him on their weekly roster to groom or to ride. That he truly was exactly what we were experiencing a true “Gentle Man”.
We purchased Don Principe and left him in Germany for a year hoping to get more breedings and have better opportunities than what awaited him in the USA. Unfortunately, although Don Principe qualified for the Bundeschampionate, his rider was thrown by a different young horse and had a spinal injury, so Don Principe did not compete. This was when we decided to bring Don Principe home to the USA.
During the time that Don Principe was with Hans Heinrich, Jim Koford happened to be in Europe. Jim came to Hoya and was able to ride Don Principe. He was happy to become his rider when he came to the US. It was obvious to anyone that was present that Prince instantly connected with Jim.
Once here in the USA, Don Principe went to be trained by Jim Koford in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Jim qualified Don Principe for regionals and also for the FEI Young Horse 6 yr old finals in Kentucky.
His stud career began at that time with fresh shipped that Jim and his assistant, Becca, collected for us. Prince already had several offspring that were conceived by frozen before his arrival in the US. Don Royal MF (Roy the Boy Toy)and Dante MF were among the first. Don Royal MF was sold to Canada as a two year old. There are offspring in Canada, Germany, Australia and Russia.
Don Principe is the sire or grandsire to several of the USDF “Traveling Trot” perpetual trophy winners including EM Duet MF, EMC Dansuse MF, David Bowie MF – also top foal at Dressage at Devon, EMC Danae MF- winner of the 3 yr old prospect at Dressage at Devon 2017. Two Grand Champions at dressage at Devon- Dansuse MF and Danae MF. Sire of the 2021 Olympic team for Russia, ES Doctor Wendell MF.
Sire of many USDF regional and National Champions including the PSG Champion, ES Doctor Wendell MF.
Don Principe is the sire of several licensed and approved sons- ES Doctor Wendell MF, David Bowie MF, Don Pharrell MF. Grandsire to ES Debonair MF, ES Dionysus MF, Bruce Springsteen MF, Doc Dancer MF.
Don Principe and Jim went on through the years to many Championships at all levels. Their first Grand Prix was awarded over 70%. Prince and Jim also competed in the Developing Grand Prix . While at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2008, Prince was stabled in the stall dedicated to the legendary Secretariat across from the Hall of Champions. In the paddock across the way was the Great Cigar. The two stallions were fascinated with each other and appeared to become friends. An auspicious coincidence as Jim Koford and Don Principe won a clean sweep of the KDA CDI*.
Along the way, due to unforeseen life altering circumstances, Don Principe had several riders. First was Hans Heinrich Meyer zu Strohan, then Jim Koford. At that point, Jim won a grant to take another horse to Europe to train and we did not have the funds to send Prince along. So Don Principe went on to Olympian, Courtney King Dye. During his time with Courtney as they were getting to know each other, Prince won his first CDI. Then a horrific accident resulting in a TBI to Courtney, again from a fall off another horse. At that time, Courtney’s assistant, Jennifer Marchand, took over the ride, and despite not having experience at the level, qualified Don Principe for the USEF Festival of Champions at Intermediare. During one warm up, they had four Olympians ringside coaching, including Courtney’s first time out publicly after her accident. After Jen, Don Principe came home near to us in NC to Jennifer Baumert. During his time with Jennifer, Don Principe travelled back to Germany to train with former Team USA coach and 1996 Olympian, Klaus Balkenhol. Upon his return, Prince went down centerline at Dressage at Devon for the second time, the first was with Jim Koford.
After a while, our concern was that Don Principe was not getting the breeding bookings that we had wished for him. He was moved to Hilltop Farm for better exposure to the mare owners. But his competition career continued with Michael Bragdell who earned his USDF gold medal on Prince. From that point, Prince reconnected with Jim and they continued to compete earning scores as high as 76%.
As retirement came closer, it was obvious that Prince would not take to it well. So Don Principe partnered with Katlyn Blythe. This pair represented the USA on a Nations Cup Team with Prince contributing the high score in the freestyle needed to secure silver. They went on to become the 2017 Brentina Cup National Champions.
The thing that Prince loved to do the best was the freestyle. During his early time in the USA, Don Principe performed a Christmas freestyle for a benefit, and also did a performance to “Anything You Can Do I can Do Better” at an Equine Expo in Raleigh, North Carolina. Marlene Whitaker composed the two freestyles that Prince performed in competition in his lifetime- “The Patriot” and “Tusk”.
The Patriot was uniquely for Jim and Prince. They danced to the pipe, charged the cannons and came home triumphant. Jim and Prince also were part of the Challenge of the Americas freestyle quadrille.
Tusk was fun for everyone. Jennifer Baumert rode to it at the Equine Affair and won Dressage under the Stars. Both events were in costume. His highest scores always came from freestyles. Michael Bragdell and Jennifer Marchand also rode to Tusk. Katlyn Blythe won the Brentina Cup on Don Principe’s freestyle score.
At this point, Don Principe was at home on Marydell Farm. Another young woman, Cait Kincaid, took the reins and earned her bronze, silver and started her gold medals with Don Principe.
Don Principe shared his knowledge with everyone who ever sat on his back. He took me, old and handicapped, on long lazy trail rides and let me piaffe at will when we were out. “Prince” loved visitors to his palace as we called the barn we built for him.
Many, many people played important roles on his journey. I know I will forget some as he had a long and special journey. I cannot express my thanks enough.
To Dr. Rich Metcalf who was Don Principe’s primary care giver. You helped both of us these last few weeks. Always there to answer questions or show up when I felt the need for more medications.
To Sean Gaul, a farrier with a heart of gold. You understood my need to be present, ask questions, make suggestions. You did not have any ego issues when I asked other farriers for advice or to even shoe Prince.
To Don Kapper, Don Principe’s personal nutritionist who kept him in top shape throughout life changes.
To Anita Williamson who came and sat with me when I needed a sounding board these last days. You came and offered information, but did not lecture. You cried with me when we put Diora to sleep three days earlier and came to be with me during the most difficult decision I have ever made for my Heart Horse.
Dr. Tim Ober and Dr Vern Dryden. Both of you offered insight into impossible issues.
To Arlene White- you taught me how to do body work and laser. You were always there for Prince when he was in Florida and there for me when I had questions. To Eva Peterson for your love and care for Prince.
Dr. Joy Baker for her Chiropractic service. Dr Karen Renyolds also for Chiropractic and acupuncture in these final weeks.
To Shirley McQuillen, Fran Smith, Beth and Marty Haist, Nicole Watts
To Katherine Michaels “Trini” who was his dedicated groom while with Courtney and who came to spend some last moments with Prince and brighten his passing.
To Borne’ saddlery, Choice of Champions and EquiCrown Canada who sponsored Don Principe during his career.
To all the photographers who have given us the memories- thank you for your contribution to this post: Arielle Perry Bohneer, Sharon Packer, SportHorse Photography, Betty Cooper, Stacey Lynn, Alicia Freese, Bob Tarr and so many others.
I have lost “the Other Man” in my life as Wendell called Don Principe. He was the horse of a lifetime and he is responsible for building Marydell Farm into the entity it is today. We were blessed, humbled and honored to have you as part of our life journey. I will forever miss my sweet Prince. Run free as fast as you like now without pain. Your legacy will live on in your offspring and their offspring.