In 1987 Evelyn Gutman founded Bonhomme Stud Farm on an idyllic farmstead in Bramsche, near Osnabrück. Between then and now lie decades of breeding, success stories, but also setbacks, masses of experience, a heavy blow of fate and the irrepressible vision of having created a quite special place, where it is possible to align professional sport with respect for the living being.
Bonhomme Stud Farm has been committed to this goal right from the start. Evelyn Gutman established, at Bonhomme Stud Farm, a breeding station of a very special kind. One of the original stallions at that time was none less than the founding stallion Sandro Song himself, whom Evelyn Gutman discovered as a two-year-old stallion, at that time not yet classified for breeding.
As the facility in Bramsche gradually became too small, due to the growing stock of horses, in 2005 the stud farm changed its location from Lower Saxony to Brandenburg. Bonhomme Stud Farm is now to be found in the north of Werder/Havel, just outside Berlin, surrounded by forests, extensive meadows and the scenic Havel lakeland.
The preservation of this philosophy gained particular momentum upon Bonhomme Stud Farm being taken over, in 2009, by Evelyn’s daughter Rebecca. Her declared aim was to celebrate professional sporting success, without, in the process, budging even a single millimetre from the original idea. Quite the opposite! Rebecca developed Bonhomme to become a modern breeding station, acquired further pieces of ground, so as to allow all the horses to have even more freedom to roam, and placed the highest importance on collaborating closely with staff who shared her love and passion for these magnificent creatures.
At Bonhomme Stud Farm, she established and practised the philosophy of treating the horse with respect. She succeeded in unifying her idea of training and keeping the horses in such a way as to do justice to their nature and age with the highest international sporting success. Her passion and perseverance have made Bonhomme Stud Farm a special place. Not infrequently she would refer to it as her own personal “Continental Celtic stronghold”. “Everything is just a bit different here”, she laughed whimsically.
Tragically, Rebecca died in 2022, much too early, at the age of just 54, of a remorseless illness. Rebecca’s cheerfulness, her visionary power, her resilience and her quite special humour will be missed by us deeply. This loss is unbearable.
It is now the boundless driving force of the entire Bonhomme team to continue this great legacy left by Rebecca and Evelyn Gutman in their spirit.
What this means for us is to always handle the horse personalities entrusted to our care in a fair, respectful and trusting way. A matter of significance to us is the conditions in which we keep our stud stallions and sport horses. It comes naturally to us that our horses are all exercised 2 – 3 times per day. Besides being trained under the guidance of the rider, our sires and sport horses enjoy their daily freedom. Bonhomme Stud Farm offers a large number of grass and sand paddocks, as well as meadows, which offer adequate space for the recreational pleasure of all our horses. Whether we are talking about stallions, Grand Prix stars or youngsters, at Bonhomme Stud Farm all the residents enjoy daily freedom.
What is of import is to treat the horse partner fairly. Sport means, for us, together achieving great goals based on a trusting, harmonious unity with our such multifaceted horses, who are full of character.
The time factor played a key role in Rebecca’s thoughts about training our horses. “Do give the horses time!” That request Rebecca would utter ever so often. Individual training, without any physical or mental over-exertion, was her top priority. Paying attention to this principle was so important to her that she quite decidedly gave it priority over any commercial interests.
Said principle already starts, with us, in the earliest youth of our horses. Born at Bonhomme, our horses can look forward to a happy, unencumbered youth, surrounded by the herd. At the earliest partway through their third year, often also only when they are four years old, our protégés learn the basics of the riding horse, before they are let back into the group kept in the meadow to await a further stage of development. We involve our horses in tournament sports at the earliest at the end of their fourth year, however mostly only when they are five years old. At this point, most horses have solidified their mental and physical strength so far that they can slowly test the waters at a tournament and do justice to what is required of them there.
The concept for our stallions is identical, however, in this case, the implementation requires even more fine feeling. Due to the stallion licensing and the subsequent stallion performance test system, the young stallions face one or two mandatory dates. We are of the opinion that the performance test requirements posed overchallenge most horses at this age. We make every effort to design the preparation for these events in as gentle a way as possible, and accept that this may lead to the subsequent final grades being lower. Irrespective of any economic losses, we therefore treat our three- and four-year-old stallions to an extended summer break. Our three-year-old stallions are not shown under the saddle at stallion shows, and also in regard to sports, our philosophy is this: at the earliest at the end of the fourth year, however preferably when the horse is five years old, our sires commence their hopefully long and promising tournament career.
We give the horses time to develop in line with their age. And we take the time to promote their natural inclinations, without using force. Only in this way do the horses really partner with us, remaining healthy and able to perform well into old age. The number of our international sports success stories, fit sport horses and, not least, our elderly stallions who always still happily enjoy each day, speaks for itself.
We are convinced that long-term success is only attained through good, solid work, and that, besides respect and trust, precisely also includes time and patience.
Nevertheless, we do not, in the process, lose sight of the aims of the sport. We just simply look at riding sport from a somewhat different perspective –the perspective of our inspiring stud farm founders Evelyn and Rebecca Gutman, whose great dream of Olympia, linked to precisely this special philosophy, we hold very clearly before our eyes.