Legacy Farms – Creating A Legacy Right From The Start
At Legacy Farms, Dr. Kimberly Janson and her son, Michael, are co-partners in buying, training, competing, selling, and leasing equine athletes from the U.S. and Europe.
It’s rare to get a glimpse of a business at its start when you know that business is going to achieve incredible things, but that’s what I had a chance to do. I had the occasion to sit with the owners of Legacy Farms – according to their website, “a business born out of the Janson family’s passion for horses and winning. With decades spent learning horses from the ground up and tremendous success in the show ring, they have set out to build a business that brings great horses to great people.” The degree of passion, respect, and admiration this family has for each other and for this incredible business is crystal clear. Co-founded by Dr. Kimberly Janson and her son, Michael, the whole family plays an active role in its operation. In my interview with them, they are quick to mention how everyone brings something different to the team.
Throughout her adulthood, Kim (pictured above with Hero v/d Bovenhoekshof) stacked one degree atop another, earning two master’s degrees, a Ph.D. in Business, and is now CEO of Janson Associates. Michael jumps in when it comes to his mother: “It’s great having an executive coach in the business, but the biggest thing my mother brings is her decades of horse experience. There’s so much institutional knowledge that comes with horses … so many problems you deal with that aren’t in the manual that comes with buying your first horse. She is always our first phone call. She has been through everything under the sun – that’s huge for us.”
Michael’s finance degree from Boston University, paired with his deep horse acumen, makes him a strong businessman. (Featured above on MarleyHero v/d BovenhoekshofHero) Most importantly, his passion and patience make him an incredible leader in this business: “We’re passionate about horses – it makes me jump out of bed and gets my blood pumping. Each day I want to do more! I want to spend all my waking energy working with and training horses.”
Dylan, Michael’s girlfriend of more than a dozen years, with her Ph.D. in neuroscience, employed by Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, brings an analytical understanding of breeding, disposition, and confirmation. In addition to working and training the horses with Michael, she has a passion for breeding, breaking, and training ponies. Michael’s sister, Hannah, brings her marketing expertise and different perspective as a D1 rider in the NCAA as well as her skills in “finishing” young horses.
Big Mike — husband and father — brings brawn, steadiness and is fondly referred to as the “glue of the operation.” As a police officer, his eye for detail comes in handy when detecting subtle changes in the horses and their health. The family affair includes the matriarch – “Popo.” Betty Hill is the original horsewoman of Legacy Farms and, at 96, drives her golf cart around the farm to stay abreast of all the developments and cheers everyone on. The family component even extends to Dylan’s family, including her mom Kathy and niece Piper!
The collaboration and strong decision-making among them is clear. “It’s been Team Janson from the start. Having competed at the national level for the last 20 years, we’ve made great friends in the industry,” says Kim. “Everyone knows us as ‘Team Janson.’ It’s been important to me that we show up supporting each other and united as a team, and that permeates every facet of the operation.”
Hannah shares, “What I think really makes the operation tick is my mom’s and brother’s blend of horse and business experience. With his financial background, Michael is great at budgeting and running an effective operation – from managing the training schedules of the horses to the people management. My mom (Kim) is excellent at managing the big picture: the long-term strategy, future purchasing decisions, and overall logistics.”
Legacy Farms buys and trains the finest athletes they can find in Europe and the U.S. They also selectively breed in Europe with their approved Zangersheide stallions. Located in Berkley, MA, and Wellington, FL, they spend their time training these horses to ultimately lease or sell them as finished products. Michael also develops exceptional young horses with the goal of creating a string of partners that can take him to great heights – quite literally – with aspirations of competing across the world.
In the past year, Kim and Dylan (featured below on Greymeadows Pecorino, aka
“Poppy”) also launched a new branch of the business – ponies! “We are very selective,” says Dylan. “The ponies we choose for our program must have an incredible character. We feel a tremendous responsibility to provide people with safe ponies – that can also win.”
As I observed what makes this business different, I can report there are several distinguishing factors. The first is the high learning agility in the business. Michael constantly experiments to improve training techniques and care of the horses. “If I can understand the horse a little bit better, I feel really good,” says Michael. “I enjoy working with the young horse, getting them to take one step in a direction they wouldn’t take the day before. That makes me feel great! The next week, it may be a different story. This is the most humbling sport – it requires resiliency.”
Another distinguishing but related factor is a commitment to problem-solving. There is brilliance in the entire team, including two Ph.Ds. Michael emphasizes this point, “Dylan, with her big brain and Ph.D. in neuroscience, brings a different lens to problem-solving and understanding the horses’ behavior.”
The third, yet most critical component, is; it is always about the horse. Legacy’s philosophy is: The horses’ needs should always be met above and beyond. The team thinks it is essential for the horses to be healthy, happy, and stimulated with toys and activities that enrich them. “The horses have a point of view, and we respect that. We work hard to learn from it and meet them where they are and, ultimately, join up and create good partnerships with them,” says Michael. We aim to strike a balance between allowing “horses to be horses” while at the same time tapping into their potential as top-level athletes. Michael’s emphasis on this holistic approach drives everything, including the farm layout and the horses’ activities.
Hannah continues, “I think the dedication to that balance sets Legacy apart. On top of that, building a deep relationship with the horse has always been a fundamental idea my mom drilled into us growing up.” (Featured above, Big Mike and Hannah, celebrating Hannah’s win as a member of Oklahoma State University’s championship Equestrian Team in 2018.)
They treat their horses like true athletes with physical conditioning and support from the best medical partners. The farm is a clean and predictable environment for the horses: Feedings five times a day, stalls cleaned four times a day, and sweeping of the floors a minimum of 30 times a day. Horses look forward to their 30 minutes on the treadmill, grooming, vacuuming, exercising, time outside, and bath. In addition to the vet and farrier, most horses routinely see a massage therapist and chiropractor, all clearly treatment fit for true, valued athletes.
In keeping with her Janson Associates business, top talent is Kim’s focus. “You have to find great athletes to have top talent. And you have to have a horse with a good mind who wants to learn and win.” Our goal is to see Legacy Farms represented by top horses and ponies out on the circuit. Michael shares his vision of having 100+ horses in their business in real-time. “We’re doing big things and are building something that investors and clients want to be part of.” When asked about his goals, Michael says, “I want to build a legacy and provide people who enjoy horses with just the right horse.”
To learn more about their amazing athletes, reach out to Michael at Legacy Farms.
To find out more about Kim’s services, reach out to her at Janson Associates. Plus, she has a new book available for sale: Determining Leadership Potential: Powerful Insights to Winning at the Talent Game.