Our Story

A Little Background About Us

A barn is a sanctuary in a unsettled world, a sheltered place where life’s true priorities are clear. When you take a step back, it’s not just about horses — its about love, life, and learning.

We honor our horses for their brave hearts, courage, and willingness to give. Indeed, horses have the hearts of warriors and often carry us into and out of fields of personal battles. Those who know them understand how fully a horse can hold a human heart.
— Lauren Davis Baker

Aimee & Sean first met and started dating in 1993.  Both of them have always shared the dream of having a small farm to raise their family.  Each had a long history of caring for animals.  Sean raised some livestock and various other animals growing up in rural Almont, where he spent 4 years in the Almont High School FFA.  Aimee grew up in neighboring Dryden, and likewise always had and interacted with animals.

They were married in 1999, and purchased some vacant acreage from Lapeer farmer Art Chaney.  Soon afterwards, Aimee was pregnant with their first child, so they decided to speed up their plan to build a house and barn on that property.  They moved in just before Christmas in 1999.  

Sean & Aimee had 2 children in the first few years at their new home on Lippincott Road.  In 2000, their son Caelan Patrick was born.  3 years later, they welcomed a daughter, Teagan Riley.

A few years later, Mr. Chaney died, and Sean & Aimee acquired what was left of his farm.  They rehabbed his old barn, and made several additions.  The stage was set to fill the barns with animals.

First came some sheep, chickens and goats.  Months later, they acquired a couple of horses.  Over the years, through purchases, trades and rescue assignments, their herd grew rapidly.  All told, they typically keep somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 animals - including horses, ponies, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs & cats.  

One thing that both Aimee & Sean firmly believe is that every horse must be something more than a pasture ornament, as long of course as it is physically able to.  So we keep a vigorous schedule so that each horse is at least worked or ridden every other day.  The Amish, who do the farrier work for the O'Bryan's, comment how they can tell these horses are used by the how worn down their hoofs are.  This is a good thing.  A horse with a purpose is never a bad horse.

So here we are, 25 years later, and 20 years after we first bought our land, and put up the first barn.  The kids, the animals, the trees, and even Aimee & Sean have grown up together here.  There have been many challenges, lots of triumphs, and a good share of heart break.  But we have made a life for ourselves and the animals we have been entrusted with -- and in the process, the kids have grown up in an environment that is quickly vanishing.  

As our son and daughter grow older and finish school little by little, they are becoming more dependable caretakers of the animals and property.  Our hope is that one day 20 or 30 years from now, they will look back on their childhood, and realize how fortunate they were to be raised in this special place.

In the meantime, Sean & Aimee will continue to enjoy these animals.  In 2014, they started a new chapter with the acquisition of some of the finest Rocky Mountain Horse bloodlines in the country and the acquisition of some additional farm property to add to their pasture space.  Their hope is to expand this breed of trail horse here in Michigan.  So stay tuned.

Mountain Horses

The History of the Mountain Horse

The humble beginnings of gaited Mountain Horses evolved alongside the Appalachian heritage of the people who settled in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. The Kentuckians’ principle objective was to breed a multi-purpose horse that could work the land, be ridden in style and comfort, and serve as an important economical asset. The horses had to be tough to survive the rugged mountain lifestyle, versatile to perform multiple tasks, and have a gentle, willing nature.

Gaited Mountain Horses descend from the Narragansett Pacer, Spanish Jennet, and ambling Galloways of Colonial times. These breeds were well known for their comfortable gaits and willing attitudes, which were an absolute necessity if you spent countless hours in the saddle as your primary mode of transportation.

According to oral history, there was a gaited colt brought from the Rocky Mountain region of the United States to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky around 1890. He was referred to as “the Rocky Mountain Horse” by the local Kentucky people because of the area of the country from which he had come.

Code of Honor

Code of Honor

Little is known about this foundation stallion, but oral history indicated he was chocolate-colored with flaxen mane and tail, and he possessed a superior gait. The stallion was bred to the local Appalachian saddle mares in a relatively small geographical area where the basic characteristics of the strong genetic line we know today was established. This prized line of horses increased in numbers as years went by, branching out in similar, yet distinctively different ways. These are the horses known today under the registries of Mountain Pleasure Horse, Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, and Rocky Mountain Horse.

That means that every horse has to be broke, and possess the correct gait - or it will not qualify. Very few animal registries have such strict requirements, and this ensures that a registered horse means something.

Many people seem confused by the various terms for what appears the same horse.  This has to do with having more than 1 breed registry that overlaps with many of the same horses.  Each breed registry has their own breed standard and series of requirements that allow a horse to be registered.  2 things that impress us about both the Rocky Mountain Horse Association and the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association is that any horse registered and certified to be used for breeding must be visually inspected by a breed representative to see that it qualifies for conformation, color & gait.  Think about that - every single mare or stallion MUST be certified.  That means that every horse has to be broke, and possess the correct gait - or it will not qualify.  Very few animal registries have such strict requirements, and this ensures that a registered horse means something.

Honor, Chase & Legend

Honor, Chase & Legend

The Gait

The distinctive, easy riding gait is difficult to describe, but once you’ve experienced it, you won’t settle for anything else. The horse does not trot; but instead moves each foot independently and laterally – left hind, left front, right hind, right front absorbing the bounce of the gait in its ankles, rather than passing that bounce along to the rider.

The Rocky Mountain Horse Association’s definition of this gait is “an evenly spaced, four beat lateral gait with moderate forward speed and extension, without exaggerated knee and hock action.”

The gait is natural. It is maximized by careful selection and responsible breeding and refined through proper training, consistency, and repetition. One of the joys of breeders of Gaited Mountain Horses is to see a young foal “hitting a lick” as it keeps up with its mother’s long strides.

As a rider gets to know his or her mountain horse, they will find the horse can be ridden at varying speeds while maintaining the same smooth, comfortable gait. And there’s nothing quite like the “pick-a-pock-a” sound of a Mountain Horse gaiting down a blacktop road.

Versatility of the Mountain Horse

Today, Rocky Mountain Horses and Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses are being used as pleasure horses, ranch horses, for a trail, competitive or endurance riding, and for show. These horses have a lot of natural endurance; they are sure-footed on rough ground and, because of their gait, they require a minimum of effort by both horse and rider so that together they can cover a greater distance with less tiring.

Stallions

Celtic Ridge now owns 3 of the absolute best Mountain Horse stallions in the Midwest.  These are horses with strong foundation horse breeding.  Magnum, Johnson's Tobe, ChocoDock, Dock, Kilburn's Chocolate Sundown, Buddy Roe and many others appear in each stallion's bloodlines.  Most importantly, these stallions have the temperment, confirmation & quality 4 beat gait that the Rocky Mountain Horse and The Kentucky Mountain Horse are known for.

2016 International

The 2016 Kentucky Mountain Horse International took place at the Kentucky Horse Park in September.  This is biggest horse show of the season for Mountain Horses.

Our 7-year-old stallion, Purdue's Incredible Hawk, has had a successful show season - his first full season, under the training and horsemanship provided by Chad Chambers of Double C Farm in Kentucky.

There are four show gaits for Mountain Horses.  These are based on how high the horse front legs reach.  They start at Country Trail class, and then Trail Pleasure, Classic Pleasure, and Park.  Hawk is shown in Classic Pleasure classes.  

The first day of the 3-day show, Hawk won two 2nd place finish.  We were pleased with how well he had done, considering the high quality of the other horses, and the amount of time and effort that all of the trainers and horses put in to prepare for this show.  

Friday afternoon, Hawk and Chad entered the Horse Park arena for the Classic Pleasure Championship class - and Hawk was on fire.  His presence immediately drew the crowd's attention, and soon the judges followed suit.  By the end of the class, Hawk won an impressive victory against 12 of the best classic Mountain Horse stallions the breed has to offer.  But that was just the start of Hawk's big weekend.

Saturday night was Grand Championship.  The black ties were out, and the excitement in the Horse Park was hard to describe.  This is the moment those connected with Mountain Horse shows wait for.  We knew Hawk was an amazing horse - but were satisfied by the trophy he had already earned.  But Hawk and Chad weren't finished.

The Grand Championship class draws only the best.  Hawk had never shown against several of these horses.  No one seriously expected his first appearance on a stage this big to result in him placing.  But I guess we didn't know that Hawk had another big surprise in store.

The field was crowded with 13 horses.  Each horse had many ribbons and years of experience.  But then came Hawk, charging into the arena, and again demanding his attention.  His fluid movement and charging engine were immediately noticeable - and he soon won the crowd's support.  The horses lined up at the end of the class, and the judge's cards were tallied - and when Hawk's name was announced - everyone connected with this horse was filled with emotion.  

Hawk circled the arena for his victory lap, after receiving his Grand Championship ribbon, trophy, and the wreath of roses.  The crowd was on their feet as Hawk and Chad made their final lap.  I know some people are quick to overuse words when a horse wins an accomplishment - but Hawk is 100% heart.  A gentle and unassuming horse that becomes something spectacular when it is his time to shine.

Needless to say, we are excited to see what 2017 brings for Hawk.  You can bet it will be pretty Incredible!