By Judy Wardrope
Photography: Private collection
At 75 years of age, with a lifetime of being involved with horses and passing her 50th anniversary in eventing, Mary Hazzard has to be considered an educational resource. She grew up around horses and fondly recalls the Morgan that would wait for her to return from school. She still rides as many as three or four horses a day despite having a double mastectomies, a broken neck, two hip replacements, a shoulder replacement, four cardiac procedures and assorted other injuries.
“It’s mind over matter,” she says, adding, “I’m not happy if I can’t ride; I get grumpy.” She stopped competing at age of 68, and was campaigning a young horse at the time.
In the beginning
Hazzard completed a tour of duty in Vietnam as part of the US Army Nurse Corp in 1967, returned to Pennsylvania and began riding horses for Dr. Jacque Jenny from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, who owned ex-flat racers and ex-steeplechasers as well as doing layups for competition horses. As a result, Hazzard did the ‘legging up’ of such USET jumpers as Snowbound and Sinjon. She also assisted when Dr. Jenny was doing his ground-breaking orthopedic research, including developing the equine recovery pool.
In 1968 Dr. Jenny’s friend, Bengt Ljungquist, conducted an eventing clinic and Hazzard attended, riding Bounder, a full sibling to a showjumper. “It all began then!” she declares.
She was given the ride on Cabalistic xx (Mystic II xx - Plucky Flower xx x Panacean xx) because the horse was deemed an unrideable rogue, having bucked off all comers and never getting to the track. Hazzard says, “I learned about neck straps, and, after about a year, I stayed on him most of the time. He was my ride in the 1978 world three-day championships and was one of two horses that jumped clear on cross-country and showjumping,” adding, “If they can buck, they can jump!”
Hazzard also owned a Thoroughbred mare named Bad Fix (Flashy Fleet - Windy Heels) that she evented. “She developed an eye problem and Dr. Jenny’s friend, Dr. William Hazzard MD (an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist) took care of her. I evented the one-eyed mare at the selection trials, and she was unphased by the handicap. So to thank Dr. Hazzard, I married his son, William Jr.”
When Hazzard decided to breed Bad Fix, she found that she could not afford the fee for Mystic II (sire of Cabalistic; Eclipse Award steeplechasers, Life's Illusion and Soothsayer; several other successful steeplechasers; and Springer, a Canadian Equestrian Team jumper). However, she found that Frank Chapot was standing a Mystic II son named Babamist (1969) for Mr. Valentine. The Babamist/Bad Fix cross produced Mystic High, the 1988 United States Combined Training Association’s mare of the year. “She was a Badminton and Rolex veteran,” says Hazzard.
When Mr. Valentine died, Hazzard acquired 90% of Babamist (Mystic II x Flushing II), while the trust retained 10%. She then moved him to her farm and the rest is eventing history.
Babamist raced on the flat, over fences, hunted, evented and bred mares. Hazzard says, “He was a gentleman of the first order.” As a sire, he tended to stamp his get, siring such notables as Little Tricky (Rolex Kentucky veteran), Heyday (Pan-Am gold medalist, Olympic silver medalist, world championship bronze medalist, and young-rider gold medalist), Mystic Mike, My Turn, Snowy River (member of the USET team at the European championships at Burghley 1997), and Mystic Milo, the first horse – under Hazzard’s guidance – to jump the Rolex Kentucky footbridge. Babamist was not only a world-leading sire of eventers, he has sired more Kentucky four-star horses than any other stallion. He also sired the champion show hunters, River Bend and Field of Dreams. Hazzard says, “I like to put my horses where they are best suited.”
Mystic Replica xx (1995), who competed to the two-star level, replaced his sire in Hazzard’s breeding barn and is still available, showing the longevity and fertility of his sire. Mystic Replica (out of a mare by Judge J B) has sired horses the likes of Red Pepper (intermediate eventing champion and Grand Prix jumper), Astrana de la Galerna (two-star eventer in 2018), Chusinmyconfession (one-star eventer at age seven in 2018, and Hazzard thinks she will be a four-star horse), etc. And now the grand-get are starting to make their presence felt: Vandiver (four-star eventer by Windfall and out of a Mystic Replica daughter). There’s no doubting the claim that the farm has raised more international event horses than any other farm in the United States of America.
Hazzard’s residence, Lanefield Farm near Unionville, Pennsylvania, was established in 1971 as a training and breeding base. The goal of Lanefield Farm is to promote equestrian sports (including eventing), preserve open space by promoting agriculture, and ensure the welfare of the horse. The horses, young and old alike, live outside in large paddocks that can include hills, ditches, cross-country jumps, banks and mature trees.
After 50 years as a nurse-anesthetist Hazzard is now retired. Yes, while training, competing, breeding, instructing (Pony Club and others), going to competitions as an owner, and organizing international events, she worked full time.
In addition, she is the co-inventor for adhesive-bonded horseshoes, which she promotes through SoundHorse Technologies, located on the farm. “SoundHorse is devoted to helping horses and teaching farriers another technique of shoeing.”
The farm’s slogan is: “If you want an event horses, breed to one.” Hazzard admits that her goal is to breed four-star eventers, but she places her horses where they are best suited without letting her ego get in the way...
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