Welcome to Normandy Manor Farm
Normandy Manor Farm Origins
Reprinted from L.I. Horse Directory Magazine, November 2002
When musician and horse breeder, Deborah Borra decided it was time to
expand her breeding operation, she realized that Long Island was not
going to be the place to continue. High cost of hay, grain - limited
grass turnout, proximity to veterinary support were all considerations.
Encroaching building and neighbors took it’s toll on what started as
three acres, three mares and one stallion.So, she did what most Long
Islander’s only dream about doing. She packed up the farm and moved to
the Genesee Valley in Western New York State.
"I looked for several years before deciding on this particular area. I
settled on this region because it has everything a horse person needs
to support a breeding or training operation. The area is no stranger to
horses. It is the home of the Genesee Valley hunt, The Stuart Horse
Trials, Walnut Hill Riding and Driving, Western New York Dressage
Association. Famed racehorse breeder Gail Gray (Graywood farms) ran her
operation in the area for years as did Ted Zornow, former president of
the Trotter Association and owner of one of the largest standardbred
farms in existence.
It was Ted’s property (formerly known as "Avon Farm") that has become
the new location for Normandy Manor Farm. Ted was a well respected
member of the Rochester area, owning several thousands of acres in the
area. His farm housed more than 300 horses at one time during the
height of standardbred breeding. The sports complex at the University
of Rochester is named in honor of him. "Moving into his house and
carrying on a tradition of breeding on his former farm has been an
honor. I not only acquired a beautiful farm, I acquired a lot of family
as well since his son and daughters and grandchildren still reside in
the area. It almost seemed like destiny that I should find this
property - Ted Sr. and his son both graduated from the University of
Rochester and I also graduated from U of R (Eastman School of Music).
We had a lot in common right from the start and it made for an easy
transition."The barns had been in constant use, however, the house had
been closed up for 15 years with everything left as it was. The 20 room
house needed updating, but it was well built with a lot of charm. " I
bought pretty much everything in the house that the family was willing
to sell me and moved in."
Living in the "country" is much different from living on Long Island.
People are much more neighborly and drive by to formally introduce
themselves. " On the day I was to leave Long Island to move, I
accidentally broke my leg while loading a horse onto my trailer so I
made the move in a wheelchair. Word traveled fast that the "new girl in
town" wasn’t able to shop for herself and I had neighbors driving by
asking if I needed them to pick up groceries. I also accumulated some
of the best home baked pies I ever ate!"So, moving to the area for Deb
was like moving in with "old friends".
A few changes were in order however, like trading in a wheel barrow for
a John Deere tractor. The size of the farm warranted a large machine to
get around the 8 barns located on the property - "a wheel barrow just
wasn’t going to cut it." It’s not uncommon to see "the green paint" as
the locals call it riding through the fields. "On Long Island, I
practically had to gift wrap the composted manure to get rid of it. Up
here, farmers ask you if you wouldn’t mind spreading it on their
fields. It’s a win-win situation".Deborah Borra began her breeding
operation in 1994 pretty much by accident - "I purchased a yearling
colt named "Bailey’s Irish Creme" who was by the Swedish stallion
"Brando" from Cazenovia college to replace my beloved horse "Diesel"
who had passed away earlier that year. " I had suffered an illness in
1993 that left me unable to walk for months, let alone ride a horse. I
had no intentions of raising young horses at the time but there was
something about this colt that struck me. Little did I know that within
three years time, I would be owning the stallion Brando and a band of
broodmares to breed to him - or that it would be this little colt that
would inspire me to get my stamina back. I showed up at the Cornell
Equine Research park with the whole mess and began what was to become a
whole new career - breeding. I clearly remember Dr. Chris Schweizer and
Dr. Michelle Kutzler (both breeding vets at Cornell) wondering who in
their right mind would embark on such an undertaking without much
breeding background. They admitted to me years later that they didn’t
think I’d last through the year - but they were wrong and it’s been
eight years and now they are two of my best friends. I credit them with
being great teachers." Deborah has since taken many accredited breeding
courses that carry continued ed credits for practicing veterinarians.
"I wanted to become as knowledgable as I could with regard to breeding
and foaling. I take the responsibility of the lives of my animals very
seriously."Normandy Manor Farm (as it was called on Long Island) now
consists of 230 acres and breeds mostly Swedish Warmbloods. Located on
the property are 8 barns, breeding shed with lab and various
outbuildings (like the original grist mill and school house). It is a
picturesque haven for horses who graze over the 90 acres of pasture.
The riding ring sits high on a hill with a view over the valley to the
town of Avon. A tumbling brook greets visitors as they drive down the
winding lane into the farm. It is truly a place of peace and harmony
for both people and animals.
Breeding is the main thrust of the farm which houses 15 quality
broodmares. All of the mares are "marebook" mares and many are imported
"diploma mares" - the highest honor a mare can achieve as a prospect
for producing exceptional foals. These mares are the foundation of the
breeding program and their bloodlines were all carefully chosen for
specific qualities. "I am asked a lot why I chose to breed Swedish
horses and the answer is simple: The Swedish horse is one of the most
versatile breeds out there. If you carefully study Swedish bloodlines,
you will find that the horse may have Hannoverian, Holsteiner, Dutch,
and even some excellent Thoroughbred lines in them besides Swedish
blood. The Swedes have very carefully over the years infused some of
the best bloodlines from other warmblood breeds, while developing a
superior sport horse. Swedish horses are extremely smart, athletic
horses which excel internationally in dressage, jumping and driving.
You are allowed to breed a papered Swedish mare to an approved stallion
from other warmblood registries and still be granted full Swedish
papers. You are also allowed to breed a registered warmblood mare from
another approved registry to an approved Swedish stallion and be
granted full Swedish papers. This makes for some very exceptional
As an example, last year the farm bred an imported Robin Z daughter
(Robin Z is currently Sweden’s top jumping competitior and sire) to a
Quidam de Revel son named "Quite Easy" (another of Sweden’s upcoming
jumpers) and produced a filly who has not only the Swedish jumping
lines but the bloodlines of Quidam as well who is a Selle Francais. The
filly is also line bred with Alme lines, whose blood is found in a high
percentage of internationally competing jumpers.The farm breeds
exceptional dressage prospects as well.
In 2002 the farm produced it’s first foal crop at the new location
consisting of 7 foals. It has been an official Swedish Warmblood
Inspection site two years in a row, introducing many breeders in the
area to the Swedish horse and to the rigorous testing that they must go
through to be inspected and graded. "When I first moved in, rumor had
it that a "Swedish warmblood" was moving in, thinking that it was me!
Many locals in the area didn’t realize it was a breed of horse since
the thoroughbred breed was so prevelant in the area".
Unfortunately, Brando passed away at the age of 24, one year after
moving to the new farm. "His memory lives on with us as he was the
founding sire of our farm. He was such a great stallion to work with.
He was smart and kind and had a great work ethic. He was patient with
me as a new stallion owner and I am reminded of him daily when I look
at his wonderful foals. This year at the inspection, his daughter
"Brando’s Myrical" was the highest scoring filly at the inspection,
scoring 24 points and was class I. He passed along elegant, correct
conformation - and foals who learned quickly with a great sense of
"The farm now stands two approved Swedish stallions - "Kardinal" who
stands a full 17 hands and has the famed "Utrillo" bloodline (Utrillo
was #1 on the BLUP index as sire of jumpers and 8th as sire of
conformation horses, and "Falcon" who is by the sire "Ganesco" who was
awarded the 1987 Breeder’s Trophy and is the father of four approved
stallions. Kardinal was the Champion Stallion, Mature Horse in 1995 at
NEDA and Reserve Champion and First under saddle at the Lexington Breed
Show and Second Best Suitable Dressage Horse at Devon in 1992. He was
competing FEI level Dressage ridden by David Collins when an injury
prevented him from further competition.
"Kardinal’s offspring are incredible - they have the kindest
temperament I’ve ever seen in a foal. He produces beautiful necks and
elastic gaits in his foals - and he gives them his kind head and eye.
It is clear that his foals are talented.
Falcon has the honor of producing the top scoring son SEAHAWK - the
only foal on the 1989 national tour to receive a 10 for gaits. Falcon
himself is an elegant, light stallion with extremely balanced gaits. He
was brought to the East Coast from Washington State specifically for
breeding. At the age of 20, he is still getting mares in foal on one
insemination. Normandy Manor Farm is expecting 8 foals for the 2003
season. The farm will have several spots available for outside
broodmares to be boarded and foaled out for clients. Mare management,
artificial insemination, stallion collecting and fully monitored
foaling is also available for 2003.
It has become a full service breeding operation working in conjunction
with local breeding veterinarian Dr. Jeff Jamison. The farm will also
make several diploma mares available for lease which can be inseminated
to the stallion of the client’s choice directly at the farm. This is a
cost effective way to get a bloodline you want without going through
the expense of importing and purchasing the mare. "The exciting thing
about this farm is that you don’t have to go to Europe to buy imported
bloodlines - we have many of them right here without the importing
cost. We are only 40 minutes away by plane via "Jet Blue
Airlines"(leaving from JFK) and 20 minutes from the Rochester airport.
It’s faster to get here from Long Island than it is to drive into New
York City". Prospective buyers can fly in for the day or spend the
night and take in the local sights.
You can tour the farm at "NormandyManorFarm.com" to get a closer
look.When asked if Deborah misses Long Island, she told us this: "Long
Island has some of the best trails to ride on (Caumsett Park and
Connetquot State Park immediately come to mind). It has some of the
most educated horse people in close proximity to socialize with. There
are wonderful training facilities and shows available. Long Island has
many great things going for it with regard to horses, however, horse
owners must be vigilant in keeping it that way. Nassau-Suffolk
Horseman’s Association has been doing a great job keeping trails open
for years, but without input from all horse people, these things are at
risk to be taken away and would be a shame to have happen. I moved
upstate to have more space, which was not going to happen for me on
Long Island. Do I miss it? I miss some of my good riding buddies. I
don’t miss the traffic or the lack of open space. I feel as if I’ve
been given a second chance at life - able to live out my lifelong
passion - living with horses on a day to day basis."