Eileen Brent Beckman, of Otteridge Farm in Bedford, Virginia, was inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame last week at Virginia Tech.
Beckman, well-known for breeding and raising champion hunter ponies, was nominated for the honor by the Virginia Horse Council.
Born in 1918, Beckman was not raised in a horse-riding family. But the love of horses still prevailed. In the 1940s she bought and rode a thoroughbred hunter, Ramos, to great success. After serving in the Red Cross — where she met her husband, Carl — and living in Chicago for a bit, she would move to Virginia and establish the famed Otteridge Farm. There at the base of the Peaks of Otter, she taught riding lessons and bred champion hunter ponies.
Beckman is a founding member and past president of the Virginia Pony Breeder’s Association and also is in the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.
Beckman was a firm believer that breeding success lied in researching pedigrees. She told The Chronicle of the Horse in 2007, “In the beginning, I really had no idea what I was doing. I would look and see what everyone else was doing and just give it a try. But I think that I’ve been blessed with a pretty good eye. My husband used to say, ‘Eileen you come home with the worst looking things and they turn out just fine.’ ”
Among the farm’s many success stories were Otteridge Dreaming Of Blue, Otteridge Dress Blues, Otteridge Black Hawk, Otteridge Pow Wow, Otteridge Foxtrot, Otteridge Up In Lights and Otteridge French Twist.
Otteridge Farm has always placed a great emphasis on breeding ponies with great temperaments and that can be handled by children. Poor temperaments are not tolerated in their breeding program and there are no stallions standing at the farm.
Eileen Beckman died in May 2010 at the age of 91. Otteridge Farm’s tradition as a top-notch breeding program continues, with Beckman’s family, including daughter Randee Beckman and grand-daughter Katie Gardner, at the helm.