Reprinted from The Northern Virginia Daily 
Saturday, October 10, 1998

Greener Pastures
By Dawn Dobersztyn

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Thoroughbred horses run together on the Wildest Expectations Farm in Frederick County Christine L. Bunker of Wildest Expectations checks on her horses.

A horse named Nelly with a blood disorder made Christine Bunker's dream come true

   It started when she was a child.  Instead of dolls, she played with plastic horses.  Instead of playing hide-and-seek, she spent hours playing Wild Horses on the Prairie.
   And when she was old enough to work, she pedaled her bike 12 miles to clean stalls in exchange for riding lessons.
   Christine L. Bunker wasn't raised on a farm and wasn't encouraged to pursue a career in horses, but she followed her passion for the animals and today breeds some of the top horses in the world.
   For the third year in a row, Ms. Bunker has taken her horses to the prestigious Dressage at Devon, Pa., the largest breeding show in the world.  And for the third year, she has come away with top honors.
   Her 20-acre farm outside Stephens City, where she lives with her husband, Christopher is modest, when compared with the farms her horses have beaten.  but for Ms. Bunker, her home, stable and three pastures are more than she ever imagined she'd have, which explains the name she gave the farm: Wildest Expectations.
   It all started with a horse named Nelly Des Ongrais.
   Ms. Bunker was working for a company that shipped horses around the world when she met a German couple who had moved to America to show a horse.
   After a few years, the couple decided to move to England.
   "Nelly had an injury, so they couldn't sell her, and she had a minor blood disorder, so they couldn't ship her either,"  Ms. Bunker said.  "They asked if I knew anyone who wanted a horse."
   Although she lived in an upstairs apartment in New York, Ms. Bunker said yes and instantly became a horse owner.
   Nelly is a Selle Francais, a sport horse breed developed by the French.  The horses are known for being big with good movement and a calm temperament.
   A few years ago, Ms. Bunker decided to breed Nelly.
   "My dad and I had a conversation in Middleburg and he asked me if I'd ever thought of breeding Nelly," she said.  "I told him it was phenomenally expensive to breed her to a stallion in France."
   But after determining that the foals could sell

 for twice what the breeding would cost, her father offered to put up the money.  He suggested Nelly have two offspring, one to sell and one to keep.
   Ms. Bunker picked the stallion for both foals.
   "I was breeding for better feet and a better butt and I got something phenomenal," she said.
   Nelly's firstborn was Haricot Du Glenn, followed by I'dbedelighted and Justa Kids Dream, all of whom Ms. Bunker delivered and raised herself.
   Nelly is expecting a fourth foal.
   The first offspring is for sale and is worth many times more than the $5,000 Ms. Bunker expected, as are his siblings.
   In 1995, Ms. Bunker took Haricot Du Glenn to Devon, where they placed in the middle of the pack against such farms as Iron Spring Farms, owned by the Campbell's soup heirs.
   Ms. Bunker said she didn't think she had a chance against the multi-million-dollar operations that brought horses in tractor-trailers and had professional crews that worked with the horses year-round.
   She had her pickup and horse trailer and a group of devoted volunteers who knew little about horses, but were willing to help in any way they could.  Together they proved that size and money didn't matter.
   In 1996, Ms. Bunker amazed herself and everyone else when I'dbedelighted won best Selle Francais at Devon.
   She repeated her win in 1997, winning best young horse, best filly or mare and best Selle Francais overall.
   And in September, she won all three again, and Justa Kids Dream won in the All-Breed Class.
   "[This year] I had her placed behind Heismans Image, a horse that was purchased for $38,000 with hopes it would go to the Olympics.  But she beat that horse by 10 points," she said.  When she found out she had won, she was in tears, she said.  Today she smiles about the win.
   "We kicked butt, we did so well," Ms. Bunker said clicking her fingers.
   Ms. Bunker never thought she'd own a horse because of the expense.  Yet her entire childhood seemed to prepare her for ownership.

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   "When I turned 7 years old my parents gave me two pairs of jeans and 10 riding lessons.  It was all over from there," she said.
  "I'd baby-sit for $1 an hour and it went toward $10 riding lessons.  In junior high, I'd bike 12 miles and shovel four stables for an hour of riding time.  I'd do whatever I could to be able to ride."
   She later worked for her doctor, who had three horses.
   "She let me ride and I took care of her horses for two years.  I'd turn the horses out and feed them both before and after school.  I'd clean the stables, brush them and ride them," she said.  "I'd get $20 a week, but I thought I was stealing from her because I got to be with the horses."
   Ms. Bunker earned a bachelor's degree in computer science, but her summers were spent at a  New Hampshire inn, where she ran a horseback riding program for guests.
  She also spent six months training horses on a cattle ranch in Texas and worked for a Boston racetrack, where she learned a lot about injuries, grooming and exercise.
   "I earned $125 a week working from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week," she said.
   She also worked for an airline and at a thoroughbred farm in Maryland.
   "I've given up a lot of stuff to be able to have horses but a lot of people don't have something they enjoy doing as much as I love horses," she said.
  She still has to work to have them.  Besides running the farm, Ms. Bunker is a full-time flight attendant for United Airlines.  "I work two-day trips so I can see my husband and my horses every day," she said.
   There are six horses at the farm:  Nelly, her three offspring and two horses owned by Ms. Bunker's sister.
   Ms. Bunker said she plans to expand the farm.  Her sister and cousin plan to buy adjoining property, which would expand the the farm to 60 acres.  She will breed, train, show and sell horses, she said.
   When Ms. Bunker reflects on her life, she feels like a child who has won everything.
   "I have a husband I love and adore, a job I love and beautiful horses that are on my own farm," she said.  "It's just way past my wildest expectations."