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A Brief History of Dodon Farm

 

Steuart on his pony, EricDodon is a 550-acre tract of land in Davidsonville, Maryland near the Patuxent River, about ten miles west of Annapolis.

Steuart Pittman, Jr. and his six siblings are the 8th generation of the family to own the farm. Three generations of Pittmans currently reside on the farm including Steuart's mother, Bobby; Steuart, his wife Erin and their twin sons, Andy and Sam; Polly and her clan in their house by the pond; and Romey and her family way back in the woods. Polly and Tom are working on a new venture at Dodon - The Vineyards at Dodon. So far, the wines are excellent - what could be better than wine and horses?

While much of the farm and family history was destroyed along with the old house in a fire in the 1950s, we do still have records to tell us what our ancestors did here, and of course there is a family graveyard where ghosts appear from time to time to check up on us.

May-Do-Well and LucayaFor most of its history, the farm produced tobacco. When that market began to fade out we raised beef cattle. But the farm always had horses. In 1753, colonial Maryland's Governor Sharpe appointed Dr. George Steuart of Dodon "Colonel of the Horse Militia." Dr. Steuart and his friends bred Thoroughbreds and held match races at what is now the Parole Shopping Center. His most famous horse was Dungannon, who he imported from England to run against his rival Lord Calvert's horse. Dungannon won but the silver cup (The Annapolis Subscription Plate) somehow ended up in a museum in Baltimore. During the Civil War, we understand that horses were bred and trained at Dodon to serve in the Confederate Army.

From 1890 until 1929 Dodon was owned by the Catholic Church. Two of Steuart Sr.'s great great aunts donated the farm to the Church, forcing their brother and his family to leave the farm. The priests held a Dodon Fair each year, and held mass each Sunday for local residents, but they considered the place too remote and some said that the old house was haunted, so they decided to sell it. The brother's daughter (who had grown up at Dodon) returned to buy the property back, thereby restoring it to the family. She was Steuart Sr.'s grandmother, Annette Steuart Pittman. Bobby on Blackie

Steuart Pittman, Sr. grew up mostly in New York, but spent vacations at Dodon as a teenager with his beloved pinto horse, Patches. When he inherited the farm he oversaw the production of tobacco and then later raised beef cattle all while practicing law in Washington, but his passion was the horses. Fox Hunting gave him a reason to ride and a reason to breed on a small scale. One line of his homebreds began with Molly, who pulled a plow on the farm and was crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce Amy, who was crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce May-Do-Well, who was crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce Steuart Jr.'s first event horse, Lucaya. Lucaya later become a field hunter for Steuart Sr. and then Bobby. Both have hunted for decades with the Marlborough Hunt, sometimes starting from Dodon. Both Bobby and Steuart Sr. stepped down from their horses in their early eighties, though Bobby is still an active member of the Hunt Club.

Jesse and foalThe area around Dodon has been developing in recent years, but Steuart Sr., Bobby, and the seven children sold the farm's development rights to the county and the state. The deed to the property now disallows any future development outside of a handful of homes for family members.

The name Dodon is said to come from the French, "Dieu Donne" meaning "from God." It may also be a derivative of the Greek, Dodona - a prehistoric oracle in Greece dedicated to Zeus and the "mother goddess," Dione. It was said that by listening to the sound of the wind in the oak trees of Dodona, one could hear the future.

Read the Wikipedia entry for Dodon Farm here.

Article on the Roedown Races and revival of the Annopolis Subscription Plate from the Capital Gazette. April 4, 2008.

 


FACILITIES

In addition to miles of trails through the woods (with stream crossings, logs and other obstacles), miles of hilly gallops around the hay fields, Dodon Farm Training Center boasts a 5.75-acre Cross Country Jump field complete with water jump, banks, ditches, Trakehners, corners, benches, coops and a variety of other obstacles.

 

Outdoor Arena

100' x 250' outdoor sand jump ring

Ditches and Trakehner on the east end, banks on the south and west.

 

Indoor

In 2012, we built a new 80 x 200 indoor arena with sand footing. In 2015, we added solar panels to the southern roof - enough to provide energy to the barns, all the houses on the farm as well as the Vineyards at Dodon!

 

Pasture

Dodon has 40 acres of pasture divided into 11 paddocks for turnout. We believe in providing as much time in pastures as possible. Training horses are kept in stalls with fans during the daytime in the summer and nighttime in the winter. Turn-out groupings are made based on compatability of the horses and are generally 4 or fewer horses.
  The main barn at Dodon has 16 12x12 stalls with Stable Comfort Stall Mattresses plus an additional 9 12x12 stalls in shed rows with traditional stall mats. We also have an overflow barn with 7 additional stalls if needed.

Grooming Stalls
The main barn also has 2 hot water wash stalls, a feed room, bathroom, office/tack room and 3 grooming stalls.

 


About Steuart

Steuart began riding as a child in the hunt field, in pony races, and at local shows. He was introduced to eventing through Pony Club and learned the fundamentals of dressage as a teenager from his inspiration and mentor, Ellen Shepherd, one of the first US importers and breeders of European warmbloods.

In high school Steuart evented through Preliminary on his Thoroughbred mare, Hurricane Hannah, a California-bred race horse who came to him straight from the vet clinic after having a chip Steuart on Hurricane Hannahremoved from her ankle.

After graduating from University of Chicago with a degree in policital science and Latin American studies, Steuart worked as a community organizer, first in Chicago and later in Des Moines, Iowa. He moved back to Dodon in 1990, so that he could start riding again and worked in Washington, D.C. first as field director for National Low Income Housing Coalition and then as national campaigns director for ACORN.

It was during Steuart’s time commuting to jobs in the city that he started buying horses off the track, eventing them, and then selling them on. It was the success of those first resale horses that made it possible for Steuart to quit his job in Washington and get into the horse business. His business model was exclusively training horses for sale until people began asking for lessons and for him to train their horses. That resale business allowed Steuart to show dressage horses through fourth level, ride jumpers at A shows to Level 6, and event through Advanced.

Due to the sales nature of Steuart’s business most horses sold at Preliminary level or below. His decision to make a racehorse into a breeding stallion (Salute The Truth) gave him the opportunity to keep one horse long enough to reach the advanced and CCI*** level of eventing.

Steuart’s riding education included long term coaching from Jim Wofford and Bruce Davidson. He also benefitted from clinics and lessons with some of the top dressage instructors in the country including Linda Zang and Gunnar Ostergaard. Steuart was the first Maryland trainer to be certified by the United States Eventing Association Instructor Certification Program. He is certified to coach and instruct through Preliminary and CCI* level.

Steuart's ProfileSteuart is today best known as the founder and president of Retired Racehorse Project, a charitable organization that is run from his basement at Dodon Farm to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds and build the bridges to second careers. RRP’s focus in to educate trainers and the public. It is an extension of Steuart’s passion for producing sympathetic, competent trainers. He believes that Thoroughbred horses are the best teachers because they are the most responsive, athletic and fun horses on the planet.

Steuart was also president of Maryland Horse Council for four years and still serves on the organization’s executive committee.

Most of Steuart’s current writing is done for Retired Racehorse Project, but a variety of essays written by Steuart Pittman on training issues can be accessed by clicking Steuart Says on the dodonfarm.com menu. We encourage you to send comments back to Steuart via e-mail at

 

About Michelle

Michelle Warro came to Dodon in 2008 after having worked primarily in hunter/jumper barns in New York and Maryland. While most of her time is spent riding twelve or so young horses per day, Michelle is a truly brilliant student herself with very ambitious competition goals in the sport of eventing. She eventually reached the CCI* level with the horse she brought with her to Dodon in 2008 and then produced Not Without Me, an ex-racehorse on whom she placed 4th at the MidSouth CCI* and has had a consistently good results at Intermediate. She plans to move “Banks” up to Advanced in 2016.

MichelleMichelle proved her training skills by winning the eventing division over a huge field including top professionals at the 2015 $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky on Charles and Cynthia McGinnes’ four-year-old Best Things InLife.  Like all of the horses Michelle works with, she encouraged his strengths, gave him time to improve where he was weak, and brought out the very best he was capable of when it mattered most. She has an uncanny feel for the learning process of horses, and they absolutely love her.

Michelle’s students love her because she is so committed to their success. No matter how many horses she has ridden that day her energy level is high and her engagement complete when she teaches lessons. She is sympathetic but demanding. Her students progress and they have fun doing it.

 

About Erin

Erin has had a fascination with horses for as long as she can remember. Growing up horseless but next door to a ranch in Colorado encouraged her to finally get into the horse world for good as a college student. She dreamed of veterinary school from about the age of 4 onwards, but high school chemistry scared her into pursuing a degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado instead. After volunteering at Colorado Horse Rescue for several months, she decided to try again for her childhood dream and enrolled in Colorado State University's Equine Science program in 1996. After finishing her second bachelor's degree there, Erin entered into a graduate program in Equine Nutrition instead of going to vet school.

Erin and KateErin's research at CSU was aimed at investigating the effects of rapid growth on bone development in weanling horses. Upon completion of her MS degree at CSU, she took at job at the University of Maryland as the coordinator for their Equine Business Management Program at the Institute of Applied Agriculture. She stayed there for nearly 10 years, teaching yearly courses on Equine Nutrition, Equine Reproduction, Equine Behavior, Pasture Management/Hay Production, Equine Health Management and Agricultural Marketing. Erin was also an Extension Horse Specialist for 8 years, coordinating the seminar series at the Horse World Expo among other outreach activities. Erin was the Vice Chair of the Maryland Horse Industry Board where she was appointed to her second term as the representative for the Equine Academic Community. Her term with the MHIB ended in 2015. Erin left the University in June 2011 to pursue working with the Retired Racehorse Project and to become the Business Manager for Dodon Farm.

Erin and GeorgiaErin doesn't have much time for riding, but when she does, it's on her favorite horse, Georgia (dam of Frankly True by Salute The Truth)s. Erin is available for individual Equine Nutritional Consultations and speaking engagements. Her areas of expertise are in Equine Nutrition and Weed Control in pastures.

You can contact Erin via email at

 

 




Copyright Dodon Farm
Updated September 17, 2016
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