THE ORANGE Valley Estate is one of Jamaica’s most prestigious horse breeding farms, boasting an impressive track record of top performers such as ViceRoy and Golden Wattle.
The farm, owned by the Henderson family since 1955, became a racehorse stud farm in the 1960s. It was owned and operated by businessman Ian Henderson and managed by one of the greatest riders in the Jamaica, Calvin O’Sullivan. Management of the property passed to Ian’s son, current owner Alec Henderson, and his wife, Jacqui in 1991. After over 31 years of breeding, Orange Valley Estate continues to play its part in providing quality horses for the horse racing industry. in Jamaica.
Henderson says he and his family are dedicated to the care and protection of the horses in their care.
“We love what we do. Our passion shows in our dedication to their care, especially when things go wrong.
“As we all know horses are very delicate, we pride ourselves on acting quickly with as much knowledge and information as possible,” he said.
He attributes their success in breeding top performing horses to years of experience in the business.
LUCK AND NUMBERS
“Besides our usual practices, it’s luck and numbers, winners come in all shapes and sizes. However, the environment in which the horse is raised also has an impact. It is important to take care of the foal as soon as possible in order to establish the necessary confidence. The more confidence there is, the easier it is to manage them as they grow. Therefore, how you handle a horse can make or break its career as a potential racehorse,” he explained.
Henderson and his family also had to overcome growing pains during the early stages of operating the farm. Nonetheless, it boasts the support of its highly experienced and dedicated management and coaching team. He recognized the contributions of Hall of Fame groom Herman Neish, his son Dannavan and his nephew, Calvin Samuels.
Henderson also shared some of the significant investments that have been made to provide the best care for horses on the farm. These included implementing new technology to monitor pregnant mares, hay production and upgrading the property’s fencing. The property is now one of the most innovative, best-equipped and self-sufficient stud farms in the English-speaking Caribbean, producing up to 13,000 bales of hay per year.
“Just keeping the farm going when many others have given up is a big achievement in my mind. It takes ongoing management and dedication,” Henderson said.
“It has been painful at times and my wife and I have made huge sacrifices. But it was worth it and we can’t wait to pass the baton to our children.
In the meantime, he hopes to continue providing the best horse care on the island to his clients.