Dayle Binder: Equestrian & Entrepreneur of Showtime Farms
Dayle Binder has loved horses from an early age. However, as a little girl in Miami Beach, she wasn’t raised around horses.
As fate would have it, today, Dayle Binder owns Showtime Farms, a horse farm located in Southlake, Texas focusing on hunter, jumper, and equitation training and showing.
To watch Dayle Binder speak about her story, watch the video.
Dayle Binder and Her First Foray Into Motherhood
You were married at 18?
Yes, I was. I came from a different time zone, where you did not live with your boyfriend. I was in love, and he was older than I was. I was in college in Boston, and he was a record producer. We wanted to spend the summer together, and my father said no. So, he said, “I love you, let’s get married.” I said, “Okay.” And so, we had a big Jewish wedding at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach.
And you had a daughter?
Yes, after we were married five years. I was still just 23 and decided to start a family. I had a little girl, Julianne. She died after eight days. That was the first time I experienced tragedy.
How did you react?
I felt and still feel damaged forever. It’s very difficult, still difficult, almost 41 years later. It is hard to lose your child, and I was never able to have children again. She is in Heaven somewhere.
“Yes, I have an adopted son. I decided that I wanted to have a family again, as a single mother. One day, I wasn’t afraid to do it. So, I went to Siberia, and I adopted Michael.” – Dayle Binder
Dayle Binder and Her Journey for Her Son
You have a son.
Oh, yes, I do. Michael, Michael Jared. Jared is for Julianne. And sorry, I get emotional about it. Yes, I have an adopted son. I decided that I wanted to have a family again, as a single mother. One day, I wasn’t afraid to do it. So, I went to Siberia, and I adopted Michael.
Did you know anything about him before the adoption?
No, there was a lot of paperwork leading up to the adoption, but it was okay. It was like a journey that I took steadfastly. I just took one step at a time. When it was all done, the agency said, “Okay. Do you want a boy or a girl?” And I said, “I don’t know. I guess a girl. I’m a single mom. Why?”
If I was pregnant, I really would not have a choice.
She said, “Well, no one really wants the boys,” because adoption is female driven. They said, “Well, what do you want?” I said, “I’ll take a boy then.”
Because I was previously married, and I was so old, I was 49, I didn’t have many choices of countries. I had Kazakhstan, Guatemala, and Russia. So, I chose Russia. They asked if I wanted to see one child’s picture or many? I said, “Oh, no, I couldn’t pick. Just one will be fine.”
Four days after I finished the paperwork, which took about six months, they sent me a little picture of this boy, my Michael, who, at the time, was eight months old. The picture was of him at four months old. They then sent me a video that was 30 seconds long of him in a crib, you know, staring out into space.
There wasn’t much history on him. They said, “You have a couple of weeks to get to Siberia if you would like to meet him.” So, I did a little research on what information they gave me, and I boarded a plane to Moscow, and then Moscow to Siberia. He was eight months old when I met him.
You were by yourself when you did that?
It’s crazy. It was like going to the other side of the world. It is such a long journey. I felt like, after living in New York for 20 years, I could do it.
I just put my backpack on and marched around Moscow, and then on to Siberia, and just owned it. I couldn’t wait. I bought things, Russian things, so I would always have things for him, and I went on a journey for him.
When you saw him, did you know he was yours?
You know, families are just made in different ways. I saw him. I looked at him. I said, “You are my son.” I just wanted to take him home then, but you can’t because it is a long process.
He was in an orphanage, and they did the best they could, but he didn’t have formula. He was tiny, tiny. I think he weighed like 14 pounds. I had never really been a mother, but it was still hard to leave him.
I knew instantly, and I told them I wanted to adopt him and wanted to take him home. I also wanted to take four more orphans home with me because all these children need parents. After the visit, I had to go home and leave him there while the process was completed.
Once again, I was very lucky, and the process just kept working for me. Four weeks later, I went back on a plane and brought him home.
Do you believe the formative months are critical?
Oh, yes, I do. I don’t know how these children survive without being held when they cry or receive nourishment when they need it. Miraculously, somehow, once they get it, they all catch up.
You know, with hugs and love and milk and food, they all kind of grow. I mean, Michael took his first step when he should.
He didn’t speak, though, until he was two.
Were you worried about that?
Very. I was calling everyone, but he had nothing to say. The minute he was ready, he spoke in a full sentence at two, and that was it.
He is very bright. He’s in National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, and he’s in the STEM Academy. He rides horses, and he’s highly competitive.
I have been unmarried his whole life, so I’ve devoted myself to being his mother. He’s where I threw all my love and attention, other than my farm.
So, it’s kind of been hard to have anybody because anybody I date, they’re like, “Oh, we’re at the bottom of the list because of your child, your job, your animals, and then whatever you have left over.”
Dayle Binder and Her (Now) Ex-Husband
The loss of your daughter, did that divide the marriage?
Yes. It’s a very defining moment of a relationship, of support, particularly if either one feels like they don’t get the support they need. I realized that I was all by myself; I felt that way. I was all alone, and he wasn’t there for me.
That’s when I grew up, and I realized I didn’t want to live like that for the rest of my life, with someone that could not feel that pain, help me through that pain. Even though he was probably going through it, I resented him, and we couldn’t survive it together. I was young.
Have you any interaction with him since then?
We’re very close actually. It will always be a tie we have. I think he feels it, but I realized I needed somebody with more communication skills, who was more emotionally tied to me, and I was not going to settle.
The Marriage that Led to Showtime Ranch
How did you end up with a ranch in Dallas, Texas?
I had always wanted to learn to ride. As a little girl in Miami Beach, there were no horses. New York City, no horses. But, for some reason, I was always an animal lover, and I wanted to ride.
I bought a weekend house in Pennsylvania. I took lessons, Western Pleasure, and I had a little salon that I worked at half the week. It was called The Face Place.
I owned that, and then I would go into the City and do work there. I was a makeup artist for high-end weddings and Hollywood movies. My (now) ex-husband came in one day, and I was giving him a facial. He said that he was a trainer and had just come back from the ‘88 Seoul Olympics. He said, “Do you want to learn how to ride English?” I said, “I just saw a horse show, and they had top hats and everything and, yes, jumping, that sounds great.” So, my first lesson was on an Olympic horse.
Evers Forever was his name, and he was my first lesson. And I fell in love with it. I was in my mid-thirties.
You reinvented yourself at this point twice. Then what happened?
I am glad you’re keeping up with them. (Laughter) I am. I started riding every day. He and I became best friends. He taught me to ride, and I was loving it. I went to my first horse show with seven-year-old kids, and I didn’t care I was just having the most fun.
I worked, rode, worked, and rode. My ex-husband was offered a job here in Texas, working at the Equestrian Center in Las Colinas, so I moved here with him, and we weren’t married. It was 1990. I cried. People asked me, “How did you get here?” I tell people, “A spaceship opened up and dropped me off on the Planet Dallas.”
Because if someone had ever told me I would be in Texas, I’d say where’s that? I was very much just an east coast girl. I didn’t know anybody. I had a puppy named Riley. However, Paul and I started a business here.
“So, my first lesson was on an Olympic horse. Evers Forever was his name, and he was my first lesson. And I fell in love with it.”
– Dayle Binder
And that was almost 28 years ago?
Yes, it was. Twenty-eight years in January.
And how long were you in that marriage?
We got married in 1993, and then in 1999, he left. It was the hardest thing for me because he was my soulmate, and he was my best friend. We spent 24-hours a day together. I guess I was the last to know. I didn’t see it coming.
I feel really stupid because his girlfriend was dating my stepson. I thought that it was the stepson that she was interested in. And, as it turned out, no. I didn’t leave my house for three months.
Keeping the Ranch Afloat
15 years ago, you adopted a child and built a successful ranch in Dallas Texas. How did you do that?
Well, I really didn’t have a great plan, which upset almost everyone. I was not sure how I was going to raise Michael because this place was barely getting back on its feet.
I became a horse show secretary, up until the day I went to Russia, to save the farm on my own.
Now, what is that, a horse show secretary? What does that mean?
When you go to an equestrian competition, the United States Equestrian Federation has protocols with all the paperwork, points, monies, etc. that are handled. Every horse show manager must report specific things, and every person who goes to a show has to pay bills. There is a massive amount of organizational paperwork that a horse show secretary must submit.
You were basically running a series of events to keep this place afloat. Is this position like the event planner of the horse show?
It is exactly that. Some horse shows would have 300 horses. Some would have 1500 horses. Horse show managers would hire a team of show secretaries, and eventually, I became like a head show secretary that would run the office of the team of secretaries.
Dayle Binder and the Showtime Farm Animals
Let’s talk about your animals. How many horses are here at the barn? Goats?
37 horses and probably about 20 in my goat herd, before they have their babies.
What is Showtime Farms soap?
I am a woman very stimulated by all my senses. I love my goats so much, and they produce this amazing milk, which I drink. One breed that I raise, the Nigerian Dwarfs, have the highest butterfat content.
If I put down cow milk, whole milk, and my goat milk, I dare you to compare. You probably would pick the goat milk. It tastes like half & half. It’s really good. I started making cheese with it, but I am not a commercial dairy, so I don’t sell it.
I have a girlfriend who I think is a super-smart, interesting woman. She owns a dairy called Latte Da. She sells commercially to restaurants in Dallas, farmer’s markets. I let her do all of that. I make it and give it away. I make great cheese, and my friends and my barn family can have all they want. They request it, and I take it to shows. We have fabulous cocktail hours with the cheese. So, it makes it fun for me too.
The soap I started with another friend who’s sort of been a goat mentor. It is something we enjoy doing together. I go to her house, and she lets me make the scent because I love playing with the scent. We mix the oils together, and we try scents. It is really fun.
We are just at the tip of the iceberg. We are going to work with color and variations next, and it is just like a little genie lamp right now. I cannot wait to play with it more. Everyone seems to really like it.
What made you do that?
Oh, because I don’t listen. I just have this desire to learn everything on my own, and I chose a lot of hard paths that aren’t necessary. I really tried very hard now not to do that.
I assess things, and I really like balance. I don’t want to stress. I don’t want it to be hard. I think I’m a little wiser about not having to experience every single thing because some of them are not fun.
What do you want to be remembered for?
This place – Show Time Farms. A lot of people’s dreams come true here. The fact that, in the middle of suburbia, you can have a place where you can ride your horse and compete at almost every level possible. Everyone is a champion.
I think about what this place has done for children. I always tell parents with kids that work in the barn, that their kids will be good kids. They will be honest. They will learn hard work – having to get up in the morning, having to feed, having to care for an animal, to be supportive, to love something other than themselves.
They will have a living, breathing entity that will depend on them, and in turn, will change their lives forever. I feel like keeping this place alive, keeps the dream alive. I hope I will be remembered for that.