All In

Daniel Patton mixes business and pleasure, and the ranch pleasure industry is better for it.

By Larri Jo Starkey

On any given day, Daniel Patton has a phone pressed to his ear for most of the time.

He’s a connector who links buyers and sellers, amongst many other things. He’s picking up calls, running multiple businesses, weighing deals, considering the potential gain or loss of millions of dollars—and in the back of his head, he’s contemplating whether or not he should buy that mare.

You know the mare—the one with the perfect stretch at the trot, the willing disposition and the athleticism to perform at the highest levels. Will she cross on Daniel’s stallion? Will she be a producer?

All this contemplation led to the creation of Daniel’s ranch in Ostrander, Ohio, where he breeds and raises horses with an eye to performance.

Getting Started

Growing up in Minnesota, Shawn’s sister Rogalyn begged for a horse to show in 4-H; their father, Roger, went all in on her passion, buying a stallion and several mares. They started raising halter horses in the 1960s.

“It developed into an entire family undertaking, with all of us baling hay, feeding, cleaning and partaking in chores,” Shawn said. “Eventually, each year Rogalyn would show a yearling stallion, my sister Julie would show a yearling filly, and I would show a yearling gelding at Minnesota Quarter Horse shows.”

Roger enjoyed prepping his halter horses, but found existing grooming products left a lot to be desired. He wanted a product that would not only make his horses’ coats shine, but also be good for their coats.

“The products we used before Pepi actually damaged and dried out the hair,” Shawn said. “And the smell was so bad. They wanted something that smelled better, was made with natural ingredients and added oils for the horses’ coats.”

When Daniel was young, he won six tickets to a water park. On a barter-and-swap radio program, he sold those tickets for $130, which was the price of a Bureau of Land Management wild horse adoption fee.

He found a place to keep a horse, and by the time he was 10, he was a mare owner. That entrepreneurial drive and a refusal to take no for an answer has propelled him through life. Though Daniel was unable to keep his mare, through her he met mentors who schooled him in the arts of horseracing and breeding: Bryant Leigh, Ray Hall and Walter Merrick.

Yes, that Walter Merrick—the breeding genius behind Quarter Horse racehorses such as Easy Jet. Walter would reach inside his pocket, pull out a little notebook and scribble in it with a stubby pencil while sharing his philosophy of horse breeding.

Mares matter, the horseman told young Daniel.

“He taught me to be a broodmare guy,” Daniel said. “He said, ‘Sell everything that you have, and buy the best mare that you can, and if you’ve just got that one horse, you’ve made the right move.”

The lesson stuck. Years later, when Daniel began his own breeding business, he remembered Walter’s advice.

“One of the things that he taught me was that you develop the best broodmare band that you can at the time, but you constantly evolve. You constantly work to make it better,” Daniel said. “And no matter how attached you get to a mare, if you find something that’s better and you need to move on to be able to get that one, do it.”

But all that came later.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2023 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.