Creating aha moments for her clients in & out of the jumping arena.
by Cheryl Erpelding
Alixe Garcia, originally from British Columbia, Canada, has been working as a successful hunter jumper trainer in San Diego County for over 20 years. She loves watching her riders progress and get better but not as much as she loves watching them build a strong partnership with their horse. Helping both horses and riders realize their true potential is her true passion.
Several of her clients shared glowing stories about Alixe:
Dr. Amanda Gosman shared: “I have been riding with Alixe Garcia since 2011, and I can honestly say she is one of the most intelligent and effective coaches I have ever had in the 45 years that I have been riding. I am a surgeon and professor at UCSD, and I have had the opportunity to work with many talented educators. Alixe is one of the most naturally gifted educators I have ever had the opportunity to learn from. She is able to articulate and simplify her coaching in an effective manner that is easy to understand and execute. Every lesson seems to have an ‘aha’ moment when she is able to help you make an adjustment to the way you approach your riding and your horse that results in immediate improvements. When I started with Alixe she helped me take an off the track thoroughbred to a be a champion in the hunters. During COVID I had the time to start riding more frequently and she found me a perfect match of a young warmblood jumper from Canada. She is a stellar match maker and exceptional horse trainer. I feel like every time I ride my horse after he has been schooled by Alixe during the week, that I am riding a new horse with new gears and skills. He arrived wild and green and now he is like driving a sports car. Her investment in the horses in and out of the ring is meticulous and yields amazing results. As a busy professional riding on the weekends with Alixe is the highlight of my week and provides valuable balance to my life. She has created a great supportive family-like culture among the clients, and we enjoy spending time together at the barn, at shows, and socially. One of the unique aspects of Alixe’s program is the Canadian flair. She has an unmatched Canadian work ethic and her connection with her Canadian equestrian community has been an excellent source of horses and training opportunities. I am so grateful to Alixe for all she has invested in me and my horses to be the best we possibly can and to make my equestrians dreams come true!”
Julie Silva writes: “I would like to tell you how Alixe helped me purchase my daughter’s horse. She was amazing in our search, as we looked high and low until we found a perfect fit – Bostyn. We surprised my daughter during DVG’s annual Halloween party! Alixe has all the girls come to the barn dressed in a costume then gives the girls an hour to get their horse In costume! The kids have so much fun planning this event with their horses! She told my daughter that there was a change in her assigned horse and the horse she will be riding is in stall number one. When Amy went to stall number one, Bostyn had a big red bow and the name tag said, ‘Owner – Amy White,’ the tears flowed freely and everyone was so happy for her! Then they spent the day in the ring playing musical chairs with horses and pumpkins, bobbing for apples, relay races on horseback and the costume contest! Alixe has been one of the most important people in my daughter’s life for the last several years! She has taught her horsemanship lessons and more importantly, life lessons. My daughter has thrived in her presence and the way she runs a barn filled with hard working girls surrounded by horses and love. I will be forever grateful that we found Alixe and DVG.”
Clyde Chandler said: “Alixe has been a fantastic coach, role model, and mentor for my daughter Casey. In just two years of working with Alixe, she has coached her from a beginner rider to competitive show jumper. But even more importantly than the riding skills, Alixe has been a wonderful role model and mentor to Casey. Her growth in confidence and resiliency both in the ring and out has been a real gift, and I am tremendously grateful for all that Alixe has done to foster her growth. The ‘barn family’ and culture that Alixe has created at DVG is outstanding. We have a community that is supportive and enjoy time together in and out of the ring. At shows every parent and every rider does their best to watch all of riders in each of their events and cheer them on!! I feel tremendously grateful to have my daughter coached and mentored by Alixe.”
Alixe rode as a junior, coached by her mom Linda del Valle Garcia-Heywood, who ran a busy sales barn. Alixe’s exposure to the sales business gave her tons of experience riding lots of different horses. She did well as a junior and won many top awards. At 16, a severe ankle break kept her from riding and showing, which allowed her to focus on academics. After graduating a year early with honors she went on to graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations.
After school, Alixe relocated to San Diego County to work at Kenny and Nancy Nordstrom’s Blue Fox Farm, one of the leading training and sales barns in San Diego County since the 80s. Both Kenny and Nancy are nationally acclaimed hunter/jumper judges and course designers. Alixe worked closely with them and Cathy Robinson who retired from training to focus on judging nationally at USEF shows. After Kenny, Nancy, and Cathy retired from their training business 20 years ago, Alixe took over the business and credits all three of them for helping her grow in her career along with the numerous clinicians she brings in annually. Michel Vaillancourt (Canadian Olympic medalist), Bridget Flynn (Canadian Equestrian team member) to name a few.
Alixe offers a full service hunter/jumper training barn and can bring a new rider from the lesson program up through the national medal finals depending on the rider’s goals. Rachel Deupree, who starting riding with Alixe at age 12, and is now 27, heads up the DVG successful lesson program introducing their students to the sport of riding. Their riders compete at the local Greater San Diego Hunter Jumpers shows, but they predominately compete at the A shows. They also have an Interscholastic Equestrian Association program for their high school riders.
Recently Alixe has teamed up with her best friend and now fiancé, Charlie Esau, who is son of the late Chuck Esau who trained many successful hunter jumper riders in San Diego County. Charlie has been working in the horse show industry for many years and recently moved back to San Diego from Tryon International Equestrian Center, North Carolina. Charlie is a long time horse show announcer and is working towards his USEF jumper judge’s card and course designer card. He’s currently working with Alixe at Blue Fox Farms where he designs the courses, helps to manage the barn, and transports the horses. Both he and Alixe are looking forward to their wedding this spring and planning a destination wedding with their 11-year-old daughters, Abigail and Anna, who will make up their soon to be newly blended family. A party in San Diego at long-time friend and colleague, James Waldman’s estate will take place later in the year.
In recent show years Alixe has found a passion in developing and bringing along young horses. This past year she had 3 showing in the 5-year-old young hunter division. She says “I love helping their young brains understand what we as riders want of them so that they learn to love their job. I try to find a balance so that learning is fun by teaching them the path of least resistance. You really have to listen to them and figure out how they’re going to understand what you’re telling them. Each horse is unique so what works on one might not work on the next; that challenge makes them interesting and so fun to ride.”
Just this past year, Alixe became a newly licensed USEF judge for hunters and equitation. This training has expanded her education and has affected her coaching for the positive as she can see her riders through a different set of eyes – the winning show ring perspective.
Alixe is grateful for her incredibly amazing clients, and she feels very blessed. To find out more about Alixe and Charlie’s DVG Stables, please visit www.DVGShowStables.com or call Alixe: 760-715-1999.