PHOTOS BY George Kamper
Hunter Harrison and Double H Farm are well known in the horse world. He is chairman of the National Horse Show Association of America and one of show jumping’s most important sponsors of the last decade. He also serves as special liaison for horse show management to the North American riders group and has been an advisor or sponsor of Spruce Meadows, The Alltech National Horse Show, The Global Champions Tour, The American Gold Cup, and the Winter Equestrian Festival.
The EQ team was excited to meet Harrison at his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Harrison is, as Ridgefield magazine has said, “a big man in many ways.” He’s tall, with a deep voice and an easy southern-drawl. He welcomed us with a warm smile that immediately put us at ease.
Double H Farm began in 2002 with its home base in Wellington, Florida. It was originally a private show stable for Harrison’s daughter, Cayce, when she was riding as a junior. Moving from hobby to a business venture, Double H Farm has developed to include breeding, buying, and selling horses, as well as supporting international show jumpers.
When we visited, Harrison had retired as CEO of Canadian National Railway (CN), where the press had named him “railroader of the year” as well as CEO of the year. Following his service at CN, he retired to Connecticut and Florida, where he dedicated himself to running Double H Farm.
A bright, welcoming media room.
But this June, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) named Harrison its new president and chief executive officer, drawing the long-time railroader back out of retirement to lead what was once his biggest rival.
So with Harrison now at CP, Cayce and Quentin Judge began to run the farm’s training, breeding, and sales programs in 2008. Quentin and Cayce married in October 2011 on the Grand Prix field in a breathtaking wedding.
Cayce Harrison and Quentin Judge married on the Grand Prix field in a breathtaking wedding. (Photo courtesy Harrison Family)
It’s been a good year for Quentin. He’s had multiple top finishes, including the International Bromont in Quebec and the Orangeville Show Jumping Tournaments in Ontario. At the American Gold Cup in September, Judge and HH Rosine de Beaufour finished second in the 7-Year-Old Young Jumper Final. He is representing the United States for the first time this year at the Nations Cup competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
From left: Rodrigo Pessoa, Quentin Judge, Jeannie Harrison, Hunter Harrison, and Cayce Harrison. Horses from left: HH Cantate, HH Let’s Fly, and Night Train. (Photo courtesy Harrison Family)
Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil began riding for the farm in 2006 and is still showing several of their top horses around the world. A highlight of the summer was the Olympic Games in London, where one of Double H Farm’s top stallions, HH Rebozo, traveled to compete with Pessoa and had great results. Pessoa was also the flag bearer for Brazil at the opening ceremonies of the games. In October, he won the French Grand Prix Ville de Caen on a Double H mount.
A Personal Tour
Our visit began at the barn, which, Harrison explained, was once part of one of the oldest dairy farms in New England, known locally as the McKeon Farm. “We bought the property from Sam Edelman (of the Esprit and Sam & Libby shoe brands) in 2003, and we put our own spin on Sam’s plan for the property,” he says. Now there are 22 stalls in the main barn and 41 across the property.
Built from local stone, it is environmentally friendly and climate-controlled by a state-of-the-art geothermal system.
Double H was originally one of Connecticut’s oldest dairy farms.
Harrison’s granddaughter, also named Hunter, joined us as we visited the “party barn” upstairs, outfitted with pinball, a pool table, and views of the fields and indoor ring. Harrison proudly pointed out the gold medal from the Athens Olympics won by the great horse, Sapphire, which was owned by Harrison at the time and ridden by McLain Ward. The beautiful room is filled with wall-to-wall trophies, medals, and awards won by Cayce, Quentin, and Double H horses.
Next we clambered aboard a four-seat Polaris ATV, and, with Harrison at the wheel, began an ascending tour of the 97-acre property. We were amazed by the landscaping and details as we wound our way past the 135 by 280 foot outdoor ring with perfect ESI footing…then the impressive 3.5-acre grand prix field, complete with two open waters, double liverpools, a table bank, a slide bank, a grob, a ditch, and a hedge jump. The field is overlooked by a viewing stand and edged in magnificent stone work.
After we passed the foaling barn, we came upon another, smaller barn and learned why Harrison is such a well-loved neighbor. An adjacent neighbor asked if he could buy a small piece of Harrison’s land to have room for his own barn. “I told him, ‘tell me how much it’s worth, do the contract, and I’ll sign the papers,” says Harrison. “We’ve been friends ever since.”
The ATV climbed the hill past waterfalls, stone verandas, and lush perennial gardens until we reached the timber and stone residence. The home is obviously Harrison’s pride. Built from local stone, it is environmentally friendly and climate-controlled by a state-of-the-art geothermal system.
As we walked through the house entertained by Harrison’s humorous guided tour, we passed through indoor and outdoor kitchens; dining, living, and cinema rooms; and a wine cellar. But Harrison’s eyes lit up upon entering his favorite space — his golf room. It features a large putting green, golf simulator, and a veritable museum of memorabilia, including a flag from the Masters, signed caps and balls, and photos of Harrison playing with a who’s who of the golf world. “I was a two or three handicap about 20 years ago, before Cayce’s riding got in the way,” Harrison remembers. “I used to call the horses ‘our little league.'”
And now, with yet another CEO job and a quickly-growing horse business, Harrison, Cayce, and Quentin will find little time for golf.
Published Winter 2012