Do what you love, and success will follow!
That is the spirit in which David and JoAnn Hayden established Dark Hollow Farm more than 30 years ago, and the results have far exceeded anything they originally imagined.
Nestled on 155 acres in the rolling hillsides of northern Baltimore County, Maryland, Dark Hollow Farm's Thoroughbred breeding operation got off the ground, quite literally, in the mid-1980s with the arrival of a modest claiming mare aptly named SAFELY HOME, who produced three outstanding stakes performers, including Eclipse Award-winning sprint champion and Hall of Famer SAFELY KEPT ($2,194,206).
Dark Hollow has since launched numerous additional stakes winners and auction sales stars, yet it remains true to David and JoAnn's goal, as a close-knit operation in which the owners, along with farm manager John Foster, attend to much of the hands-on care and decision-making. Once strictly a private farm, Dark Hollow now also provides year-round broodmare care and auction sales services for a select group of clientele.
"To say that we treat these horses as our own is a fair and accurate statement," says David Hayden.
"And that is really saying a lot, because JoAnn is out there all the time, keeping tabs on them as if they were our children."
The Haydens' love of horses started years before they purchased their first Thoroughbreds when they were initially captivated by show horses. David made his career in the advertising business, as the founder and sole proprietor of David Hayden Advertising, Inc., a firm whose major clients included prominent farms in Maryland and Kentucky as well as Pennsylvania Day At the Races. For years, the advertising firm's offices were situated atop the main barn at Dark Hollow, until Hayden's retirement from the business in 2011.
JoAnn Hayden, every bit as knowledgeable and enthusiastic as her husband, retired from 32 years of service as a teacher in the Baltimore County schools to take an even greater role in the day-to-day operation of Dark Hollow. Thanks in large part to JoAnn's efforts, Dark Hollow expanded. In addition to the Haydens' home property (65 acres), and 20 acres under lease, Dark Hollow now encompasses a nearby 70-acre site, named Safely Home, that is has been developed into a state of the art facility to house primarily weanlings and yearlings.
"Breeding and owning horses has been a fabulous experience for us," says David Hayden. "JoAnn and I are always delighted to share the fun and excitement with other people."