July 2017 - Calling All Future Riders
Written by Kim F. Miller
Thursday, 29 June 2017 21:36

Heritage Los Angeles riding school gets a new owner and a big goal sheet.

by Kim F. Miller

Tori English signs her e-mails with the Winston Churchill quote, “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.” And it’s not just a quote for her: it’s the inspiration for her purchase of the Traditional Equitation School at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

Tori’s daughter Madeline hits the trail.

“Tori

She began riding at TES in 1986, at 11, and, except for a break to attend college, she’s continued to be a student up until she bought the whole kit and kaboodle. “It was a lifelong dream of mine,” says Tori. She’d spent 20 years working very long days as a TV editor and, as it became clear that her now 7 year old daughter, Madeline, shared her passion for horses, Tori began to politely pester previous owner Steve Weeks to sell her the school.

It took a while, but when Steve decided to focus his energies or revamping the Griffith Park Pony Ride business he owns, he finally relented and Tori took the TES reins in May.

Motivated by the desire to bring more new people to the sport, Tori has big plans for TES. It’s already humming along with an average of 25 horses and a busy slate of lessons, camps and four schooling shows a year.

Affordability is a priority and Tori sees the Interscholastic Equestrian Association middle and high school league as a terrific avenue for that. She envisions it will take about three years to realize her vision to have TES host multiple IEA teams. “I’ll be reaching out to any school that would like to have a team here.” That includes private and public schools, home school families and groups of friends from various schools that want to form a squad. Hosting six IEA shows a year is part of the plan, too. She foresees a requirement that team members will take two lessons per week and compete in one show a month during the September through February season.

That strikes a nice balance between reasonable costs for middle class families and giving kids enough hours of involvement to apply for a waiver from PE classes at most schools.

She notes that the IEA has a scholarship program and that fundraising opportunities are another part of her plan to keep horses and riding accessible. In buying the legacy program, Tori has a great head start. TES already has a Girl Scout riding program in place, “which we plan to make more robust.” (Boy Scouts are welcome, too!) And it hosts classes for UCLA Extension students and through Los Angeles City College, both of which combine riding with classroom horsemanship education.

Riding schools are often a student’s introduction to equestrian sports, so a good experience is critical. At TES, that starts with safe, calm, quality horses. The School’s come from various backgrounds and breeds, but all are pampered equally as the program’s most valuable assets. Workloads are monitored by software that tracks each horse’s lesson use, which is limited to one hour a day for most. Mondays are off-days and each week typically includes three days in turn-out and two in the sun pen. Renee C Wanner, DVM, provides sports-medicine oriented veterinary care, and farrier Beth Carter cares for their feet, whether that means going barefoot behind or having corrective shoes all around.

Two full time grooms and working students care for the horses that range from a beautiful Warmblood mare, Georgia (by the famous black & white Paint, Art Deco), to two from a polo pony rescue and a new candidate that’s on trial after a career in the hunter show ring.

TES offers hunter, equitation, jumping, dressage and western lessons. It has the distinction of being certified by the British Horse Society, which involves having a BHS certified instructor on staff and having the facility and horse management methods inspected and given a BHS “seal of approval.”

TES opened its doors in 1979, at the Bell Canyon Equestrian Center, then moved to LAEC in 1986, the year Tori found it. She continues to be friends with TES’ owner at the time she started riding there, Patricia Kinnaman.

TES’ ability to offer students an affordable way to keep riding as they advance through the levels is unique. Tori intends that TEC will continue to be a program where riders can continue indefinitely, even as they progress in their abilities and if they choose to lease or own their own horse. A dressage rider, Tori has owned her own horse for the last 14 years and continues to train with the TES instructors and to keep her horse in its care program.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to buy the School is that I’ve seen the sport decline,” Tori explains. “I want to help build the sport back up again by bringing in a lot more people from the outside.”

With TES’ summer of camps and lessons in full swing, the ambitious horse woman has hit the ground already galloping toward her goals that are great for TES and the sport itself.