by Cheryl Erpelding
After moving from Orange County to the San Luis Obispo area in 2017, hunter/jumper trainer Theresa Petyo Wallace and her husband wanted to design their horse training facility with the horses’ comfort, safety, and well-being as their main priority. Their joint philosophy is, “The horses give us so much that we wanted to be able to give back to them in every way we can.
Our goal is to provide the horses with everything they need to keep them happy throughout the training process.”
Theresa began riding with her mom at the age of 5 and owned her first pony when she was 7. Her pony was a western pony whom she taught how to jump. Her first trainer was Caroline Bonham with whom she rode from the age of 9 through 14 where she competed with her Off the Race Track Thoroughbred in jumpers, and also catch rode the hunters and equitation horses whenever she could.
At 15, Theresa joined Allison Sherrad’s Scarteen Showing and Sales as a working student, which at that time was a very busy and successful hunter/jumper barn in Orange County. When she headed off to Cal Poly Pomona, a cutting horse trainer spotted Theresa in the jumper ring, and brought her into the cutting horse world, where she learned to start young horses: halter breaking, long-lining, and giving the youngsters their first rides. She also roped for fun, helped in the branding pen, and even won a few buckles along the way. Learning horsemanship from the ground up is the best way says Theresa.
With a well-rounded horsemanship foundation under her belt, Theresa started her own training barn, Turning Point Farms Inc., in Coto de Caza at the age of 23. She hosted many clinics with some of the best professionals in the business at the time because she knew the importance of continuing her education. One of her first mentors was rider and judge Dale Pederson, who taught Theresa about training hunters and the importance of paying close attention to the many details that go into creating a winning pair in the hunter ring. Theresa also had a good eye for scoping out talented riders from the beginning. Nick Haness was one of the first riders she tapped into to catch-ride her ponies.
Theresa got involved with the Orange County Horse Show Association and the Orange County Interscholastic Equestrian League, where she served on both boards for several years. She was a proponent of the IEL and was instrumental in growing student participation. Many of the students who rode with Theresa received scholarships to top colleges.
Theresa’s primary focus has always been on her clients. She rode their horses in the open classes to prep them for junior and amateur divisions which ensured their success. Their horses did very well and brought home several championships at many of the biggest venues on the West Coast. The successful venture averaged 35 horses and ponies in training along with a large lesson program for 20 years.
Theresa says she was lucky enough to become friends with Robert and Hillary Ridland of Blenheim Equisports with whom she mentored and eventually had a good working relationship when she moved 12 of her training horses from the Coto barn location to the private side of the Oaks so that they could team up and help each other. She really wanted what was best for the horses and riders and knew that the Oaks facility had the best to offer and was thrilled at the opportunity to train her horses there. Working with the Ridlands expanded Theresa’s knowledge of horse show management and gave her up close and personal exposure to training show horses at the highest level. Theresa also helped several top trainers with some of their trickier horses and was always ready to help those horses reach their potential.
She met her husband, Jesse in 2009. After she became a Wallace, they bought a 180-acre ranch together in San Luis Obispo. They started a retirement facility on their ranch and many of the Turning Point Farms’ horses eventually retired there. Theresa loves having them at her home and it is so wonderful to have her former champions enjoying their golden years hanging out in the pastures with their equine friends, living the life they deserve, and having all their needs met and more.
In 2016, an opportunity to work with John French at his new location in Paso Robles came up. Theresa jumped at the chance to work with the leading hunter/jumper rider and trainer helping with the young imports and training horses. Theresa was eager to spend more time on the Central Coast to be with her husband and her ranch and help with John’s growing business in Paso Robles. She shifted her time to be closer to home while she helped her assistant at Turning Point Farms by finding horses and driving down to Southern California to teach and show when she could.
In 2018, Theresa became pregnant and her assistant committed to purchasing Turning Point Farms. A year later, John decided to move to the East Coast and Theresa found herself on the path to starting a new venture at her SLO farm – Sage Ridge Sporthorses. As a side note, unfortunately, the sale of Turning Point Farms didn’t go through ending an 18-year run of Theresa’s successful Orange County business.
Last year Theresa opened her show barn at her beautiful ranch. It has everything she has ever dreamed of and is packed full of amenities and design features that all horsemen can appreciate. The custom-built barn has 15 stalls with runs with unique optimum airflow stall fronts that have rotating grain bins, designed and built by Theresa’s husband. The stalls have comfort mats and the barn has an automatic fly spray system. There is a viewing room where family and friends can observe lessons and training sessions. The facility boasts a Eurociser, and in-ground Theraplate, an indoor warm water wash rack, and ample grass pastures to make for happy horses.
The jumping arena is sub-irrigated with all-weather footing and has a complete set of beautiful jumps. Everything was built with safety and comfort in mind for both human and equine athletes to help them achieve the optimum experience and performance at every level.
Theresa and her students have a long list of achievements on the West Coast from hunters to the Grand Prix arena, to the Young Rider Trials, to winning the 2022 West Coast Talent Search Finals.
She loves helping horses and riders of all levels and she strongly believes that happy, comfortable horses perform the best at any level. Theresa says, “Horses thrive off of a routine and a system and we strive to give that to them in a comfortable environment. We strive to not overdo the showing. We have goal meetings and formulate a reasonable show schedule to accomplish these goals. We prepare at home over some of the same jumps we see at the shows. We set courses and training exercises to prepare each horse and rider for what to expect in the show ring. This method has proven successful with several top placing at the major west coast medal finals. Grand Prix placings and hunter championships.”
To learn more or to set up a tour reach out to Theresa via her website: www.SageRidgeSporthorses.com or call or text 949-677-3276..