Dolly (in blue) is a great supporter of eventing in WA.

Stories from other business owners like you, to share their inspirations, challenges and triumphs!

Back to the ponies this week, and a feature on WA equestrian personality, and all round fabulous person, Dolly Van Zaane.  If you are into eventing, you will have seen many of her DVZ horses our and about doing well.  Here’s her story, and how she runs three very different components of her business:

Where did the idea for your business come from, and when did it start being a business rather than a hobby for you?
I never really had an idea to start with. Horses have been my professional life since 16 years old. It just developed and breeding began as I never had the money to buy a float, the expensive saddle etc. From breeding one foal and selling it, it developed from there. I added in 2001 the PrimeVal supplement business and 3 years ago the importation of the Frozen Semen.

What was your biggest challenge while still in start up mode?
With the PrimeVal it was the legal side of things which reared its ugly head about 1.5 – 2 years after the first importation, due to large company not liking that I was encroaching and taking a large part of the market.

The horse breeding was never really start up. The Agisting side was harder, as there was a real need to develop that as it represented immediate income, which I needed after my partner left to live overseas.

The frozen semen side needed a little capital to import it and then it was marketing, marketing, marketing!

What is your biggest challenge right now, and heading in the future for your business?
Keeping ahead of the trends. Eventers is where it is for me, but need to work on educating them towards buy young stock and not wait till they are under saddle.

It costs more now to put mares in foal while we are getting less money for them. Trying to be cost effective is hard.

With PrimeVal it is to expand the market, which right now is working well with only word of mouth and the FB page, which I am working to grow further.

What is the one thing that you wish you had done differently in the early stages of your business?

I think you have to make the mistakes to get better at it. I honestly don’t think could have began differently. As there was never a start up date, but I grew into it and it is a lifestyle for me, not simply a 9-5 business.

The PrimeVal and frozen semen businesses are doing fine and especially the frozen semen has room for expansion, but I am very happy the way it is going.

I think starting slowly so you stay in control is a good idea, and try and grow over time is best. Then you grow with the business without you getting panicky about it.

Where do you see your particular segment of the pet or equine industry heading in the future? (innovations, changes in philosophy, regulations, perceptions etc)
With the breeding, I need to keep on trying to predict the trend.

Agistment: just keep on marketing and continuing to give super service :)
The frozen semen: keep up with the latest stallions and what to produce and where they compete, and also marketing, marketing!
PrimeVal, this supplement is always needed and just have to keep at it.

What does “Success” look like for you?
I used to think success was financial, but that is a bonus in the breeding industry. Success is that after the years of planning a breeding, you can see it born, and 4 years later it is out competing, and doing well. Repeating this over and over again, that to me is success.

The added businesses compliment my breeding/agisting business very well. It also keeps me in front of people and that works either way.  Making the different facets grow and more successful, that is success.

That I can live of it , to me is success :)

What is your biggest tip for other small business owners in the first few years of their own businesses?
Stay grounded, learn as much as you can, do research, the need to know who your competition is and very much understand your target market.
Never give up, believe in yourself and your business. Give exemplary service, even if it means loosing money sometimes.



I’m originally from The Netherlands and started working with horses from 16. Having worked in a rinding school, then in South Africa on a small stud and later on a large stud in Belgium, and arrived in Australia in 1978 in Qld, where 2 years later I owned my very first horse! This mare, Monate, is where a lot of my horse today go back to. After ten years over east I arrived in WA to run the horses at Barrabadeen Stud. Three years there and then moved to live on other farms, and bred a couple of foals just for me. And then it just grew!

websites: and

Facebook links:

DVZ Stud (includes the FS)


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Written by Anita Marchesani
I've come to small business the long way round- but enjoyed and learned from every single step. I learned about the power of Media during a BA and while working in Film&TV. I learned about the hard graft while groom for an international eventer in the UK. I learned organisation and staff management from running hundreds of weddings both here and in the UK. I learned from the mistakes of my first business that failed, to create an e-commerce success story, and now I'm here to help you have even greater success in your business. Oh, and I dance to really loud music like a crazy bastard.