As I walked into the barn on a Sunday afternoon, laptop and notepad in tow, Teresa Martin, owner of Santa Rosa Equines, greeted me with a smile. She was shoulder deep ultrasounding one of her mares. Her husband, Don Martin, held the mare’s lead at the front of the stocks and gave me a friendly nod.
“I guess you knew I would be out here, rather than in the house,” she said with a laugh. “Do you mind if I finish up? We just have one more to ultrasound for the day. Make yourself at home.”
Martin, who owns and operates a full-service horse breeding operation on the couple’s homeplace, never takes a day off.
The breeding operation facilities are located outside of Vernon, Texas, in Farmers Valley. Santa Rosa Equines offers stallion management, stallions standing at stud for breeding, artificial insemination of mares to outside stallions, foaling out mares, sale fitting, and year-round boarding. The operation has been more than “30 years of hard work in the making,” and they are not slowing down for retirement any time soon, Teresa Martin said.
After the Martins finished ultrasounding, Teresa Martin sat down in the breeding barn’s lab to visit. Her husband returned the mare to her pen and continued with the daily duties necessary to keep the operation running smoothly. Teresa Martin explained how busy they had been as springtime rolled around.
“This is not a job for lazy people,” she said as she settled into one of the lab’s chairs. “It is hard work and long hours every single day.”
Those who know Teresa Martin describe the grandmother of two as both a “night-owl” and “early-riser.” She never stops moving and typically can be found in the barn or out checking on horses.
She often brings her granddaughter, Maddie, along to the breeding barn with her. The 5-year-old loves spending time around the horses with her “Maw-Maw” Teresa Martin said. She beamed with pride as she talked about Maddie helping her wash mares and chattering about embryos, which the little girl refers to as “Oreos.”
Teresa Martin said being successful in the horse breeding industry often means giving up your life and making personal sacrifices.
“It’s worth it though,” Teresa Martin said with a look of satisfaction. “Nothing could replace this lifestyle.”
Anyone who knows Teresa Martin recognizes her passion for the industry and strong work ethic said Jayson Jackson, a horse trainer and Santa Rosa Equine client. The Martins have poured their lives into building a trusted operation that produces quality, all-around performance horses. Today, when most would expect the couple to retire, they enjoy the success of their operation and continue to put in the long hours required to keep it going said Jackson.
“[Teresa Martin] will go the extra mile for anybody and everybody wanting to do business with them,” said Jackson. “They do their best to treat [clients] right and do the right thing.”
Jackson said the Martins care about the success of everyone in the industry, even above their own success.
“They love the horse industry and believe in the horses [in which they invest],” Jackson said.
The Santa Rosa Equines’ facilities consist of a breeding barn, an eight-stall stallion barn, a 26-stall mare motel, five pipe-and-cable-fenced paddocks, and 47 acres of improved Bermuda grass pasture. In comparison to some equine operations in the area, Santa Rosa Equines is a small-scale operation, but this fact sets it apart in the industry, said Teresa Martin. Breeding approximately 400 mares annually, Teresa Martin not only knows clients and horses personally, but also pays special attention to detail, noticing even the slightest change in a horse’s behavior, said Anita Janssen, a Santa Rosa Equine client and cutting horse breeder.
“She treats and loves [my mares and foals] like they are her own,” Janssen said. “She communicates well, and she is always excited about the new things they do. She will send me pictures and videos of them. You can tell she really cares about [the horses], and it means the world to me.”
Janssen has one mare living full-time at the Santa Rosa Equines facility. The mare has some reproductive challenges requiring special management, Janssen said, and she trusts Teresa Martin to do a better job managing those issues than she can on her own.
“She pays great attention to detail,” Janssen said. “She knows every horse on the place, and she takes the time to know them intimately. She knows how they act. She knows how they are physiologically. She knows their idiosyncrasies. You just do not find this level of care anywhere else.”
J.T. Kelley, the owner of Santa Rosa Equines’ standing stallion, Desire Ray, has been working with Teresa Martin for the past 15 years. Their friendship began through a mutual love of the equine industry, Kelley said. In 2013, Kelley purchased the 2006 model stallion and partnered with Santa Rosa Equines to start his breeding career.
Kelley also sends his own mares to Santa Rosa Equines for breeding, as Teresa Martin is willing to do what no other breeding farm will, Kelley said. In the past, when he took his mare to a large-scale breeding operation, he had to be the one to check on the horse. Weight-loss and subsequent delayed breeding went unnoticed until he visited the operation to check on the mare.
“On that operation, my mare was just 1 of 500 [mares],” Kelley said. “This situation would never happen with Teresa. She is out there every day checking on every horse. You do not get that on those larger operations.”
Another example of Teresa Martin’s dedication to taking care of her clients is when Kelley purchased two straws of frozen semen from the Polo Ranch’s deceased $4 million NRHA stallion, Gallo Del Cielo (“Rooster”). Kelley said he gave the straws to Teresa Martin to artificially inseminate one of his mares.
As frozen semen requires a great deal of precision to be effective and is extremely time sensitive, Kelley said he assumed breeding his mare would require the use of both straws of semen.
Teresa Martin went above and beyond to ensure Kelley’s mare had the best possible chance to get in foal using the frozen semen, he said. Kelley said the mare ovulated around 1 a.m., which Teresa Martin knew because she had checked the mare throughout the night.
“Teresa had to get up at midnight to go out and inseminate the mare to get her in foal,” Kelley said. “She got her bred with a single dose of frozen semen. The fact she was able to do that with a deceased horse and limited semen availability was pretty cool.”
Kelley said if he had taken his mare to a large-scale operation, “she probably would not have gotten in foal, and she definitely would not have on one dose.”
Thanks to Teresa Martin’s diligence, Kelley’s mare is now expected to foal within the next 30 days, Kelley said. They now plan to use the extra straw of semen to artificially inseminate again and hopefully get a second foal by Rooster, Kelley said.
Teresa Martin’s passionate dedication to the horse industry is a labor of love for her clients and the horses entrusted to her, Kelley said.
“She always says, ‘We’ll try it for the horse,’” Kelley said.
Kelley said Teresa Martin believes in the horses she breeds and wants to see her clients succeed, even when it means she must make personal sacrifices.
“Teresa’s grandson was born a couple weeks ago, and she was not sure she would be able to make it to the hospital because she had mares to breed,” Kelley said. “[Santa Rosa Equines] truly is a labor of love for her.”
For those interested in going into the equine breeding industry, Teresa Martin said the key to having a successful business is building relationships and doing things the “right” way.
“Treat people the way you want to be treated,” she said with a smile. “It is the same with horses. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.”