August 2021 - Horseland SD, A Premier Boarding Facility in San Diego Now Under New Management and Offering Openings To New Boarders, Trainers & Instructors
Written by photos by Nate White
Friday, 30 July 2021 04:00
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photos by Nate White

Calling all horse owners and enthusiasts in and surrounding San Diego! Horseland SD has openings for interested boarders, as well as opportunities for trainers in search of an elite equestrian facility that can house up to 20+ training horses.

The facility sits on 14 acres in the heart of the Tijuana River Valley. For 70 years, Horseland has provided a safe and welcoming environment for horses and their riders, regardless of discipline or skill. Though new ownership was established in 2017, the intention for Horseland remains the same - to carry on the tradition and history of the farm, and to always provide a safe and enjoyable home for horses and their owners/trainers.


With that mission in mind, new owner, Alejandro Vigil recently hired long-time horseman, Adam Rickart, to manage the boarding operations of the farm. Rickart, originally from Minnesota, was raised within the Arabian horse community and has worked for National level trainers, as well as shown and won many championships as an amateur in elite, national competitions.

Rickart shares, “I look forward to this new adventure, and managing such a great facility that is open to all breeds and riding disciplines. My priority is to maintain a farm that is an enjoyable and safe environment for all of its residents: horses, trainers, boarders and lesson participants.”

Additionally, Vigil and Rickart are collectively offering opening(s) to trainer and/or riding instructors with interest in leasing 10-20+ stalls for their training and/or riding lesson operation at the Horseland property. With excellent riding/jumping arenas, presentation areas, turn-out, a EuroXisor and a variety of stalling accommodations, Horseland can meet the needs of any trainer, specifically those specializing in western, hunter or dressage-related disciplines.  

Individual Boarders with horses are also welcome at the farm, with boarding options to include indoor stalls (12’ x 16’), indoor/outdoor stalls (12’ x 24’), and open air corrals (16’ x 24’). Trailer parking is also offered to boarders; and for trail-riding enthusiasts, easy access can be found to over 70 miles of trails (including the beach)! Boarders have access to shared general facilities as well, including tack rooms, wash racks, arenas and turn-out.

Whether trainer, instructor, or owner/boarder, Horseland SD can offer a safe and happy home for your horses and the facilities to accommodate all levels of skill and involvement. For more information, visit and/or contact Alejandro Vigil at 619.880.9747, Adam Rickart at 763-244-5254, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

July 2021 - Day Creek Ranch West & Silver Crest Stable Welcomes Kamila Dupont Dressage
Written by by Kamila Dupont
Friday, 02 July 2021 02:29
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by Kamila Dupont

I started riding as a kid with a horse in Florida. As a teenager, I moved to Westchester County NY with my family, and joined Pony Club at Sunnyfield Farm. The seed for Dressage was sown when I began lessons with a German Riding Master, Richard Waetjen.

It was to be years later, watching Hilda Gurney ride in the Montreal Olympics that the buried dream became a full-blown reality. I started training with Hilda in the early 1980’s. I went professional and got sponsors and was fortunate that they provided wonderful horses for me to compete. In 1983, I received a USET European training grant and went to Germany for the first time. What a mind-expanding trip that was! In 1984 I competed in the Olympic Trials. By 1990, I felt I needed help with our horse Nebelhorn and wanted to train in Europe, specifically Germany. Fortunately, I was able to work with the legendary Herbert Rehbein. Not only did I learn how to ride better, I was able to see the reason for their success in equestrian sports. It is a combination of the depth of their breeding programs, their work ethic and a national program to educate and promote youngsters in all the disciplines. Every small village has a riding hall where children learn the classic principles of riding, and every big town has facilities where there are schoolmasters who can bring them into the more serious sport of Dressage. I stated riding dressage when I was 15, some of the Germans start when they are 10, hey! even 5!     

Kamila and Perignon last summer, Intermediare 1

Short version, I had two extended stays in Germany, the first one for two years, the second one for 5 years, separated by 7 years in-between in Florida and California.

I made the “A” List for the USET and was allowed to compete for the US in International Competitions in Europe from 2001-2005 as well as German National Tests. In 2006, when my contract with my sponsor was up, I chose to return to California. Re-inventing myself took a while, but my hard work has paid off and I continue to show and train partnerships to the USDF Medal Levels.

Teaching was always a personal passion, hopefully I will continue to educate and inspire others on their journeys. My latest project is called Wellness Through Dressage. Helping horses and rider maintain radiant health throughout life is the focus of my daily work. In the past, I was driven to succeed in competition, now I have a reached a point where my goal is the long term well-being of myself, my students and their horses.  

To reach that goal, I dreamed of a facility where I could bring this lifestyle to fruition. As fate would have it, Hunter/Jumper trainer Shauna Pennell had a dressage arena at her new barn and invited me to join her.  A philosophy we share is that Life is all about balance. The right amount of work, rest and play is at the heart of happy horses and humans.  Collaborating with trainers from other disciplines is always rewarding and I’m looking forward to being at Day Creek Ranch with Shauna.  

Visit for more information.


July 2021 - Windsor Welcomes Laura Guajardo Brown
Written by by Cheryl Erpelding
Friday, 02 July 2021 02:24
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by Cheryl Erpelding

Windsor Equestrian Center in East San Diego County underwent a change of ownership two years and ago and is steadily making improvements to the grounds and building its riding school and training program.

Last month Laura Guajardo Brown joined the team as the head trainer. She is a lifelong horsewoman and was born in Mexico where she learned to ride and came up through the levels in three day eventing even making the Mexican Three Day Equestrian Team for the 1987 Pan Am Games. She flew with the team to the event, but was pulled from the squad at the last moment for another male military rider. If she had competed with the team, she would have been the first female rider and civilian to have done so. She went clear at the event and rode as an independent international rider. Laura also competed in the 80s at Rolex at the Advanced level under her former married name Laura Antmann. She has also completed many FEI level courses and has taught and trained in Mexico several Olympic level horses and riders.

Laura also is a huge fan of Friesians and owns a stallion named Camelot De Audibert. He is a five time world champion whom Laura adores and loves to perform with.

Laura brings a lifelong experience in the horse world and enjoys bringing horses along. She is currently training some of the Windsor horses that are for sale and she enjoys teaching the riding school riders.

Windsor offers lessons in both English and Western on quality lesson horses. The facility also has several nice horses for sale.


Laura enjoys performing with her 5 time World Champion Friesian Stallion Camelot. Visit her website:

Laura competed at the Advanced Three Day Level at Rolex back in the 80s under her married name Laura G. De Antmann on Agamernon. She previously competed a stallion named Fina Estampa as Laura Guajardo Brown in 1986. Laura competed for 20 years in eventing and has trained five horses to the advanced level.

Laura rode as an international rider at the 1987 Pan Am Games, but not as a member of the Mexican team.

Laura Guajardo Brown with the Mexican Olympic Team in 1987. Although she made the team as the first female and civilian, she was pulled out at the last moment by the Chef d'Equipe for another Mexican rider.

Laura schooling a nice mare that will be offered for sale soon in Windsor's large lighted arena.

Windsor Equestrian has a busy riding school program with solid lesson horses to help new riders learn how to ride both English and Western style of riding.

Windsor has undergone many improvements including this nice clubhouse for the facility.

Laura Guajardo Brown bringing along a green prospect that will be offered for sale soon.

July 2021 - Dropping Stirrups
Written by by AQHA Professional Horseman Lynn Palm with Christine Hamilton
Friday, 02 July 2021 02:08
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by AQHA Professional Horseman Lynn Palm with Christine Hamilton

Learning to ride without stirrups is a huge confidence builder as a rider.It’s a way to gain a deeper seat and better balance through your seat without squeezing your thighs or legs.

When you first start to ride, you want a shorter stirrup so you have a tighter leg. But as you get to be a better rider, you want to elongate your leg so you can sit deeper in the saddle to get a full swing and more use of your leg and foot. That’s true whether you are riding English or western events. Riding without stirrups will help you achieve that.

It also helps your confidence and skill if you lose your stirrup or stirrups in a class or in a maneuver. With or without your stirrups, you know how to maintain your balance as a rider.

To practice riding without stirrups, you can cross your stirrups over your horse’s withers so they don’t flop around and hit your foot. You do that also in a class if the judge calls for an entire pattern to be ridden without stirrups. If you are asked to drop your stirrups on the rail or if you are asked to do only part of a pattern without them, don’t cross them over.


Troubleshooting Dropped Stirrups

When you drop – or lose – your stirrups, one big problem can be picking them back up - especially with an English stirrup. When a rider cannot pick up a stirrup, it’s usually because she is lifting her leg as she tries to pick up the stirrup, bending the knee.

In a western saddle, you can lift your leg up to pick up your stirrup because that nice, big, thick western fender of leather keeps the stirrup in place.

But put a rider in an English saddle with that little-bitty stirrup leather, and if she lifts her leg, it releases the stirrup leather and the stirrup moves around.

To do it right, keep your leg in the correct position and just move your ankle. When you drop a stirrup, you have to turn your toe out and let the stirrup out. When you pick it up, you simply turn your toe in, grab the stirrup with your toe and wiggle it into position at the ball of your foot.

If you feel like you are losing your balance, a common instinct is to squeeze or grip with your legs. But when you do that, it pushes your weight upward and you’ll have a harder time maintaining your balance. Instead, lengthen your leg.
Rider’s Tip

If you want to be a better western rider in dropping and picking up your stirrup, put yourself in an English saddle and that will really teach you the art of picking up your stirrups without changing your leg position.
How To

As a beginner riding without stirrups for the first few times, you should probably work on a longe line with an experienced person helping you.

Begin by dropping and picking up your stirrups while standing still at least five times after you mount. Do this in an arena without looking down or using your hand to help your foot find the stirrup.

Then, graduate to dropping and picking up the stirrups at a walk. When you can do that, progress to the sitting trot, posting trot and then the canter.

For a fun training exercise in dropping your stirrups and picking them back up, try this: Ride a figure 8, but not a lazy 8 – it’s more like two circles with a straight line in the middle. Drop your stirrups at the center of the figure eight and ride one circle without them, then pick them up again at the middle to ride the next circle with your stirrups.

Or to really challenge yourself, drop your stirrups at the center line and pick them up at the first quarter of the circle, drop them again at the half-circle mark, then pick them up at the three-quarter-circle mark and then drop them at the center line again.

Another variation would be to pick up your stirrups or drop them every five strides. Count out loud as you do it. When you get this down, you know you have it mastered.

Start all of these at the walk, then progress to the sitting trot, the posting trot and the canter. Make sure your circles are fairly large – at least 70 feet in diameter or larger.


February 2021 - Tammy Chipko and Shelburne Farms
Written by by Cheryl Erpelding
Tuesday, 02 February 2021 21:10
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Off to Nice Start of 2021 with USEF Small Hunter HOY Award

by Cheryl Erpelding

When hunter/jumper trainer Tammy Chipko received the USEF email saying she had won the 2020 Small Hunter Horse of the Year on Santanita LS, she emailed them back saying, “There must be a mistake.” USEF replied, “We don’t make mistakes.” The struggle to show in 2020 with the Covid19 outbreak curtailed many horses’ trips in the show ring, so Tammy’s successful rounds at Thermal’s hunter/jumper winter shows landed her with the year end coveted top prize. The 13 year-old La Silla mare (a Mexican Sporthorse) whom she had originally bought for the jumper ring from Simon Nizri seven years ago, was intended for the jumper rings, but Tammy soon realized she was really better suited for the hunter ring. Winning champions and reserves in the five weeks of the popular h/j circuit in 2020, it was all that was needed to seal the USEF HOY title. Santanita LS was purchased by the Coopers and Zeppelin Farms this past year.

Tammy has reestablished her professional training status in 2015 after competing successfully as an amateur and she has been riding and working out of her hunter/jumper barn in Hidden Valley just north of Los Angeles since 2002. Before she purchased the beautiful 20-acre farm, she and boyfriend Harvey Kallen were searching for a smaller 4-5 acre place, but the stars lined up and they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy the larger working horse farm, and there has been no looking back. The farm is quite a horse’s dream with all of its wonderful amenities and has been the home for several top h/j trainers for many years. The horses are able to be turned out all day and tucked in their stalls at night in one of the three barns. A galloping track, bridle trails, and four arenas give everyone room to work their horses in an inviting environment for both horses and riders.

Tammy didn’t show as a junior but was hooked on horses from the first time she got in the saddle at age three. She mainly rode her own backyard ponies in Agoura, where she paid $25 for a pen for the ponies and worked hard babysitting and washing cars to pay for the feed and care for them. She took care of their feeding and cleaning and learned the full spectrum of equine care while growing up.

Tammy went on to work at Raizy Goffman’s Camelot and worked under Mike Hebert. She also worked with Mike Edrick and has spent time at a hunter/jumper barn in Virginia. After working for Mike Edrick, Tammy took a 10 year break and worked as a software engineer recruiter. When she came back to riding she bought her first horse at age 30 and at first she rode with Mike Edrick for a couple of years. Then she made the decision to continue her education under Karen Healey. Her accomplishments under Karen’s watchful eye were so many including the World Hunter Championship Rider and a long list of many top awards.

Santanita LS and Tammy Chipko win USEF’s 2020 Small Hunter Horse of the Year. Photo: McCool Photography

Some of Tammy’s successes are as both a professional and amateur rider. She has won: World Hunter Championship Rider both Regional and National; USEF Horse of the Year; USHJA Horse of the Year; numerous Hunter Derby wins and Year End Awards; top placings and winnings up  through the Grand Prix Level including many top finishes in World Cup Qualifiers finishing 5th in Qualifier Standings. Some of her top winnings include: Friends of the Meadows Cup;  RSA Cup;  and Genoa Cup all at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Tammy also has an accomplished background producing top young horses, bringing home Championships in the 4-year-old, 5-year-old and 7-year-old Jumper Finals. Tammy has great sponsors, Heritage Gloves and CWD Saddles and really appreciates their continued support.

Friends of Tammy that were looking for help with their horses eventually brought Tammy back to teaching and reestablished herself as a hunter/jumper trainer in 2015. Some of her clients shared their thoughts about Tammy and her Shelburne Facility.

Erin Prutow wrote: “Shelburne Farms is an absolutely stunning facility located in Hidden Valley. With decades of experience in the hunters, jumpers and equitation rings, Tammy Chipko is a seasoned professional who is more than capable of bringing your riding to the next level. Equally as adept at training as she is teaching, she brings horse and rider together in a fun and positive environment, ensuring each horse learns not only how to excel in the show ring, but also that each rider learns to maintain and sharpen their skills so that both can level up. There is no equivalent in the Los Angeles area that I would recommend more.” 

Karoline Sauls stated: “It is with much enthusiasm that I am pleased to recommend the training & care services of Tammy Chipko and Shelburne Farms for hunter/jumpers and equitation!!

Tammy was my first hunter/jumper trainer in the 90s when she was the assistant trainer at Camelot Stables, this is where we first met and became fast friends.  I’ve had my horses, sometimes as many as seven or eight, in her care at Shelburne Farms since they opened in 2002.  Needless to say, I’ve known her for a very long time and have trusted her with my ‘boys’ for many, many years.

Tammy is someone of high integrity, who puts the care, health and safety of the horses and riders above everything else and is highly knowledgeable in both holistic treatments, nutrition, and vet care of horses.  Not only are our lessons fun & challenging, but she also offers the most competitive rates in town!  We have several riding rings with great footing, and several large, modern, state of the art barns.

Tammy Chipko on Mini Coupe. Photo: Captured Moment Photography

Tammy is a great rider herself, who will bring out the best in your horse both at home and in the show ring.  She is extraordinarily talented in the hunter ring which is proven by her many championships in hunters over the past several decades, but has also competed in showjumpers to the World Cup level.
I’m happy to recommend Tammy for any level of riding – beginner to Grand Prix level jumping!”

Armita shared: “My daughter started training with Tammy Chipko when she was 13. We moved to Shelburne Farms because we wanted her to have an opportunity to grow, not just as an equestrian but also as a young adult. It was the best decision we ever made. Tammy has been an incredible mentor, she truly has a special gift for helping others reach their potential. Shelburne is an incredible facility with extraordinary people. We are so grateful to call this beautiful barn home.”

Tammy will be at the Thermal horse shows with clients this month showing and she will have some top level sale horses which can be seen at the show or viewed on her website, Tammy welcomes all levels of horses and riders and can easily help a rider at the local county shows, have fun at a home barn fun show, or go to the big A shows. She invites anyone that would like to tour the facility contact her and set up an appointment.


January 2021 - The Trainers of Peacock Hill
Written by by Kate Sanchez
Friday, 01 January 2021 20:00
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Lauren Mitchell & Hayley Buckingham

by Kate Sanchez

Nestled in the heart of Orange County, CA lies the private and peaceful Peacock Hill Equestrian Center, home to both Le Cheval Sport Horses, owned and operated by Lauren Mitchell; and HBE Dressage, owned and operated by Hayley Buckingham. Although running different programs, both Mitchell and Buckingham work with one goal in mind: putting the horse’s well-being first, while creating horse and rider teams which can grow to see success together.  

Lauren Mitchell & Hayley Buckingham. Photo: Lindsey Long Photography

Le Cheval Sport Horses

Le Cheval Sport Horses is a hunter/jumper and equitation program where Lauren Mitchell emphasizes her commitment to keeping both clients and horses happy, while developing their skills to the greatest extent. “The cornerstone of Le Cheval Sport Horses is the positive environment which fosters learning, good horsemanship, and friendships,” Mitchell says, “For my riding school, I like having riders come to me ready to take the next step in riding and help them find a horse of their own to own or lease.”  Mitchell has three assistants working with her: Patty Foltz-McCarty who helps coach, Olivia Blanck who helps with riding and coaching, as well as stable manager, Jennifer Bissett, whom the trainer says keeps everyone organized and on track.

Introduced to horses by her aunt at a very young age, Mitchell has been training for fifteen years now. She describes herself as horse crazy ever since her first encounter with the animal. And coincidentally enough, on her 7th birthday, Mitchell’s parents surprised her with riding lessons with Foltz-McCarty. “It is incredibly special that I now get to train alongside her as a professional,” she comments. With a strong drive to succeed, Mitchell adds that she always worked for her trainers as a working student to cover lesson costs and spent all her free time at the barn. At 18, she got a job as a groom and began starting young horses.  Demonstrating just how big of a work ethic she has, once she turned 21, Mitchell decided to start her own small training and lesson business while continuing to work part time under other trainers, as well.  

Lauren Mitchell. Photo: Rick Osteen Photography

Lauren Mitchell coaching a student. Photo: Lindsey Long Photography

Mitchell’s philosophy at Le Cheval Sport Horses is rooted in having a specific routine for horse and rider alike. “As long as I can remember, my life has revolved around horses and helping others with their equestrian goals”, she says. With a focus on structure and consistency, the trainer emphasizes having a routine and working on specific activities such as basic dressage, cavalettis, gymnastic work and exercises you would see on the course. She also finds it important to incorporate fun activities like trail rides and a change of environment and touts the beautiful trail system at Peacock Hill in allowing for these things to happen.  Mitchell feels as though, “Cleanliness, communication, horsemanship, and proper stable management are imperative,” in her program and she’s committed to the happiness, development, and well-being of both horses and riders in her barn.     

When it comes to training numbers, Mitchell utilizes the phrase, “’quality over quantity” to describe her clientele. “I never want so many horses in my care to where I do not get to have a part of their journey and training,” she says. “I prefer one to two riders per lesson so I can focus on each individual and be attentive when a question arises. There is no substitute for one-on-one attention.” That becomes very apparent as Mitchell works to shape and create successful horse and rider teams which she can watch grow together. “I truly enjoy the balance of riding my client’s horses and then coaching them together as a team. It makes me feel like I help them communicate and succeed in their partnership,” she states. Focusing on a foundation of strong fundamentals first, Mitchell also believes each horse is an individual which has its unique strengths and learning styles.  

There is no doubt that Mitchell stays busy with her daily tasks, but she is looking to the future with high hopes, as well. Some of her goals for next year include helping one of her students work toward her goal of qualifying for the Maclay Medal Finals, as well as getting herself into the show ring next year. “I also plan on organizing and attending elite clinics at Peacock Hill Equestrian Center,” she shares, “I believe in this sport especially, that we never stop learning and that is what I love most about it.”  

HBE Dressage

HBE (Hayley Buckingham Elite) Dressage is a training and sales business in which Hayley Buckingham has been instructing and riding professionally for six years.  With the help of groom, Guillermo Rocha, HBE Dressage focuses on each horse getting one-on-one attention daily, as well as training that’s personalized to meet the needs of each horse and its owner.

Buckingham credits her mom with first sparking her love for horses, and she’s been riding since she could sit up. “My parents leased a Shetland pony for me when I turned four. ‘Rowdy’ was very naughty and would toss me off daily,” she recalls, “Obviously that encouraged me more than scared me!” Buckingham then took lessons at the riding school at the Huntington Beach Equestrian Center and never looked back. At age nine, she started riding her mom’s retired FEI horse, Angelo, with Colleen Walker, and her dressage career began. Soon, she found herself moving up to her horse, Hayley’s Comet, who helped her earn a bronze medal as well as CDS Junior Championship and Equitation Championship titles. Buckingham had the opportunity to work with several individuals, including Carol Robertson whom she credits with giving her confidence and helping her earn a silver medal and the DASC Prix St. George’s Championship; as well as Amy Miller whom she says has been an “amazing influence” on her riding career.  In 2016, she was offered a job by Sarah Lockman at her barn operated out of Peacock Hill Equestrian Center. “I was elated that she asked me to be part of her team,” the trainer recalls, “She helped me grow as a rider and businesswoman and encouraged me to build my own business when the time was right.” Buckingham touts Lockman’s work ethic and adds that she modeled her full-service barn on how she taught her, “…to keep clients very happy and keep the horses in great health and top shape.”  

Hayley Buckingham & Donna Rubina. Photo: Terri Miller Photography

Hayley Buckingham with her client, Svetlana Fomina, and her horse, Ragnar.

A classically trained FEI Dressage rider, Buckingham has a knack for young horses and says that no matter what level, the animals always come first. “My clients tell me often how much they appreciate how kind I am with their animals and I try to be as patient and understanding with my clients as well. I move at a pace that is comfortable for both horse and rider and take time to solidify each concept before moving on to the next. I think the training scale is very important along with understanding the horse’s needs,” she says. Buckingham likes to keep a full barn, working with horses of all shapes and sizes. Like Mitchell, she teaches lessons individually to devote as much attention to detail as she can. “I enjoy teaching and riding full time,” she adds, “…from the crack of dawn to after sunset.”   

When asked what she loves most about her job, it’s simple: seeing her hard work and dedication play into the development of the horses and their riders. Instilling confidence in her equine and human clients is essential, and she tends to enjoy a challenge from time to time as well. “Making horses amateur-friendly is my specialty!” she shares. Taking a difficult horse that no one wants to ride isn’t a chore for the trainer, but rather seen as an opportunity to help build their confidence and show them how to love their job. Similarly, Buckingham enjoys starting from scratch with riders who may be timid or frightened by their horse. “Teaching horses to trust and love their job is a staple in my program, as well as teaching my clients to be confident in the aids they’re giving,” she adds.     

Buckingham heads into next year with big goals, the main one being to continue to operate her business with happy clients and even happier horses. “I plan to develop aspiring young horses in my program into successful FEI horses,” she says. Meanwhile, personally, her biggest goal is to earn her Gold Medal on Donna Rubina, a horse she started and brought up the levels, owned by Susan Ortiz. Buckingham will continue to participate in clinics to further her riding education and expand her knowledge in dressage. She looks forward to welcoming new horses and riders into her program.  

Both Mitchell and Buckingham praise the beauty and serenity at the Peacock Hill Equestrian Center and say it’s unlike any facility they have ever seen. The two trainers run their businesses in a first-class manner, always putting the horse’s wellbeing, and clientele communication at the forefront, while remaining dedicated to horse and rider success both in and out of the show pen.

Visit www.peacockhillequestrian.comfor more information.

Lauren Mitchell can be reached at 949-584-4393 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Hayley Buckingham at 562-217-0981 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Hayley Buckingham & Lauren Mitchell. Photo: Lindsey long Photography


December 2020 - Got Game?
Written by by Scott Lico
Wednesday, 02 December 2020 03:28
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It starts with having a game plan.

by Scott Lico

“Proper planning prevents poor performance.”

I heard this quote years ago and never forgot it. I think this holds true for everything in life. From dieting to starting a business, if something is not properly thought out and planned, the likelihood of success is much smaller.

This certainly holds true for the competitive show jumper. Listen to someone such as McLain Ward speak about his horses’ program, and you will see not only does he have a plan for tomorrow, he has a plan for the next two years!


I’d like to be a bit more specific and talk about having a game plan. A game plan that will give you the best chance possible to have a successful performance at your next competition.

To start, you need a clear idea of what your goals are for you and your horse at the show. Is it to win a championship or a classic, or perhaps move up a division? Maybe it’s just to ride as confidently and accurately as you know you’re capable of. Whatever it may be, you need to have some idea of what you are looking to achieve. This will determine the strategy for the week.

For example, my aim with my current horse is to take the first day or two as training days, and then look to be competitive in the Grand Prix that weekend. I use training rounds to develop confidence in the horse with the jumps and atmosphere they will be facing. I plan to really use the ring and give my horse plenty of time on the approaches to the fences. Of course, I will usually end up with some time faults, but for me, the first goal is that my horse is confident in her new environment. Not to be competitive. Your goals may be different than mine. Regardless, having a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve is crucial.

Establishing the right frame of mind going into the competition begins the night before your class. First, I like to spend time reading, preferably something that will get me focused, such as a book on riding or sports psychology.

A great book that I recommend every rider read is The Golfer’s Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella. Dr. Rotella works with McLain Ward and pretty much everything in his book can be applied to the rider’s mind. After reading, you should spend some time watching videos of yourself riding well. These videos will bring back positive memories in the saddle and give you confidence in the capabilities of yourself and your horse.

This serves to help with the positive thinking every rider should be striving to have. I believe many riders make the error of only working on their physical riding skills while neglecting their mental skills. Spend some time working on your thinking game and I promise you your riding will improve.

Photo: Kim F Miller


This may sound silly, but on the morning of your competition, make sure you eat! Many of my students over the years have struggled to feed their mind and body the nutrients they need to put on a good performance. I am convinced this is due to nerves. I know when I get nervous, I tend to lose my appetite but I always make sure to start the day with something nutritious to get me going. I like a protein shake and some orange juice along with a multivitamin and mineral. Find something that works for you. You wouldn’t not feed your horse, would you?!

Make sure to arrive at the show nice and early. This will prevent you from feeling rushed.  Just like rushing your horse, rushing yourself is the kiss of death. Following your arrival, and after checking in on your horse and possibly giving them a light flat session or lunge, a good game plan always includes a thorough course walk.

When walking a course, pay special attention to details: the locations of the start and finish timers, distances between fences, turns, time allowed, spooky fences, scope tests and jump-offs. During this time, I also make a plan of what jumps or turns I will tour in the arena with my horse when we enter the ring. The strategy for your course will ultimately be determined by you and your trainer, tailored to fit both horse and rider’s strengths and preferences for the day. Take the time to go over this plan in your head; memorize it and visualize riding it. It must be clear in your mind.

Embrace The Nerves

Now that you have your plan for riding the course, it’s time to mount up. You may be quite nervous and that’s okay. Try to relax by taking deep breaths and reviewing your plan. Aim to be loose, free and confident.

Remember that every top athlete gets nervous and learns to welcome it. Accept the butterflies, and you will actually ride better! I personally used to struggle with being intimidated by other competitors in my class as I moved up the ranks. Top riders I looked up to, or even were taught by, would be in the same division and, at first, I wouldn’t think I had a chance. But I learned to cherish these competitors. Having them is good for my riding, and if I believe in myself, I can beat them!

When on course, be sure to stay in the present with your mind sharply focused on the jump or turn ahead of you. A lot of riders let their minds wander or become even blank during their round. As you can imagine, that will hinder you from riding to the best of your ability. Also, have a trusting and decisive attitude with how you approach your course and fences. Believe fully in your horse, yourself, and your plan.

Following your round, spend time reviewing your ride in your head or with your trainer. I usually walk for around 10 minutes after exiting the ring to cool down my horse, providing me with the perfect opportunity to do so. I will also spend some time watching video footage and critiquing myself when I have free time that day. Hopefully, everything went perfectly but if you happen to have made a mistake, allow yourself to spend 10 to 15 minutes thinking about it. Your best teacher is, of course, your last mistake. After you figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, accept it and then forget about it! As hard as it may be not to, do not sit around and dwell on it. A rider needs to be able to forget the bad rides and remember the good ones.

Improving one’s chances of a successful performance starts with having a solid game plan. A plan that you are confident in and that will ultimately bring out you and your horses’ true capability. Whether it’s for your class tomorrow, a weekly training program, or the year ahead, put the time and energy into creating a plan that will help you succeed at whatever goals you may have.

Author Scott Lico is a USHJA Certified trainer and Grand Prix rider based at Hacienda Del Valle in the Los Angeles area’s Sylmar. For more information, visit

December 2020 - Courses for Horses
Written by by Alice Chan
Wednesday, 02 December 2020 03:06
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The importance of staying curious.

by Alice Chan

As a relatively new horse-owner—three years and counting—I knew early on in the journey that there was an entire library of equine knowledge that I’d likely never acquire, but I sure was going to try. On my quest to becoming better informed, I’ve attended many a riding clinic, have consistently had my horses in training, and exhausted my poor vets’ (yes, plural) patience with my never-ending questions.


Imagine my delight when one of our wonderful vets, Dr Carrie Schlachter, together with veterinary colleagues from her newly established practice, Animals In Motion, announced she would be hosting a four-week-long educational series entitled: The Horse Course. Totaling 12 hours, the course includes lectures and hands-on experience with AIM’s herd of horses who are there expressly to support the practice’s teaching efforts.


We recently moved our two horses home to live with us, so acquiring some basic health management techniques seemed like a good idea. The course covered fundamentals such as taking vitals, spotting colic, better understanding nutrition, recognizing lameness, worming and vaccinations.

Each class starts with a detailed lecture, with plenty of opportunities for Q&A with the presenting veterinary, and lots of laughs along the way. I discovered that most of my equine medical knowledge dates from the 1950s (don’t ask me why). Once our classroom time was done, we would head on over to the barn to apply what we learned. If you haven’t figured out how to listen to a horse’s heartbeat, here’s your chance - and spoiler alert, it’s not quite as easy to find the right spot as you’d think.

Likewise, we learned how to apply standing wraps correctly, as well as six-layered pressure bandages in the event of an injury. And we heard that today, a broken leg isn’t necessarily a death sentence, and you may want to use drain pipe material as a temporary splint in the event of a nasty break.

We became skilled at identifying common parasites, and how to avoid picking them up (e.g. at shared water troughs and grazing spots at trailheads and showgrounds) and were invited to bring in a poop sample which we then analyzed under a microscope to assess for parasites and how to count them.

During the nutrition class we were taught how to read the labels on feed bags, as well as understanding the importance of a forage-heavy diet. We were shown how to assess a horse’s body condition score—which we then practiced on the AIM herd. Looks can often be deceiving: a large barrel doesn’t necessarily mean the horse is carrying fat, and vice versa.

Perhaps my favorite class was about lameness, having had all too many experiences. We got to evaluate a number of videos of different horses to see if we could spot where the lameness was originating from, and heard about the preventative and curative treatment options that are available for the modern sport horse.

All in all, this was a highly educational and engaging experience and I look forward to taking the Horse Course 2 in the future.

If you’d like to attend the next Horse Course, the clinic’s Wednesday night lectures, you can visit the website below. The in-person classes take place in Penngrove, Sonoma County, and there are often opportunities to join remotely.

For more information, visit

April 2020 - Blackjack Farm
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 March 2020 23:25
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Hunter/jumper program caters to adults and their unique learning preferences.

Loving horses aside, adults are at the barn for very different reasons than their junior counterparts. At Blackjack Farm in San Diego County’s Vista, they specialize in catering to just those reasons.  

The most prominent characteristic for adult learners is that they are internally motivated. That means they are doing something because of their own values or interests. They simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn and actualize their own potential.  


When Blackjack Farm owner Robin Martinez came back to riding as an adult, she was about 30 years old, ready to buy a horse and start competing again. She was certainly internally motivated.


But right off the bat, her experience back in the horse world wasn’t very good. She didn’t feel like she fit in a group lesson with a bunch of teenagers and private lessons were few and far between. As an adult, working in a corporate structure for years at that point, the communication style she was accustomed to was a 180-degree change from what she experienced at the stable. Direction was given as an order rather than an explanation, with the most common direction being the phrase, “Do it again!” It seemed to her that the focus was much more on style than on substance and the communication methods left a lot to be desired.   

Robin knew from her own experience as a corporate trainer/facilitator that teaching adults is about a partnership between the student and the instructor. Adults learn much differently than their younger counterparts and therefore must be taught differently. Adults need to understand the why of things and how ideas fit together. This characteristic drives many trainers crazy, but this is who adults are and how they learn. “I know this is how I wanted to be taught when I was the client and it’s exactly how I teach now,” says Robin.

Robin and Dionicio Martinez.

“It has been my experience that the American method of teaching is focused mostly on replicating a style rather than on principles that lead to a consistently reproducible outcome of an effective rider and a rideable horse,” says Robin. “This lack of a system in teaching jumping riders is problematic in general but especially problematic for adult learners. I really believe it is the cause of so many adult amateur riders finding themselves frustrated and without any real progress to their riding. It’s what stood in my way as a horsewoman and a rider. It was the basis of my frustration that eventually inspired me to do things differently.”

Robin’s teaching style is one of well thought-out communication, with the goal always being that the rider understands the theory behind what they are learning. After 20 years of experience with adult learners, Robin knows that you can’t just say “do it again” and expect that the person is going to learn something that will affect lasting change or improvement.  

At Blackjack Farm, horsemanship comes first, and the principals of riding are an integral part of that. “To me, good riding is a part of good horsemanship. It’s not a separate thing. Learning the foundational flatwork that is the basis of how all horses are taught, mastering how to put the horse on the bit, understanding proper use of the horse’s body and the rider’s position, really understanding the aids and what you are actually saying to the horse with each thing you do, these are essential parts of good horsemanship.”

Blackjack Farm at sunset.

The focus at Blackjack is on teaching adult amateurs and young people who want to be in a more adult atmosphere. Full and half training programs are available as well as in-barn lease options. Robin teaches out of her beautiful North County facility that she owns and manages with her husband Dionicio Martinez. Together, they eat, sleep and breathe horses. Life is full and the future is bright.  

The vibe at the five-acre facility is “peaceful, productive and positive,” and the training emphasis is jumpers and adult amateur riders. Blackjack Farm has a 12-stall barn, nine oversized in-and-out stalls, premiere all-weather footing, show quality jumps, large turn-outs, a groomed track and a Eurociser.

For more information on Blackjack Farm please visit

December 2019 - Learning To Fall
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 December 2019 08:36
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toc training

Minimizing injury risks is the focus of four Landsafe Equestrian clinics in California this month.

by Kim F. Miller

Nobody doubts that riding is a physically dangerous sport, but there is disagreement over what can be done to reduce risks. Some accept the risks and carry on and some accept the risks and do everything possible to minimize injuries when the inevitable falls or necessary sudden dismounts occur.

The three-year-old program Landsafe Equestrian is firmly in that latter camp. Staging four clinics in California this month, during a larger West Coast tour, the program was created by riders Danny and Keli Warrington. It is steadily growing the ranks of proactive riders intent on improving their odds of walking away from potentially terrible falls without devastating injuries.

The core of the two-day clinics are gymnastic exercises and work on a mechanical horse programmed to dislodge riders in a realistic simulation of the speed and impact of a real fall.

The first day starts with two hours of gymnastics skill building. The emphasis is on rolling safely and with a body shape most able to protect the head and neck and to decelerate the impact. Later that day, these new skills are transferred to the mechanical horse. The second day revisits those skills, then spends more time on the simulator working with various of types of falls and dangerous situations: like the right way to roll off and away from the horse in a rotational fall and developing the instincts for when to eject from the saddle when a horse rears.

In all phases, the goal is building muscle memory, body awareness and control and the rider’s confidence in activating the training in the heat of what Danny calls the “Oh crap!” moment. “It’s a training program designed to teach the best practices of fall prevention and response,” he explains.

Danny is a former steeplechase rider turned FEI level eventer. His first wife, Amanda Warrington, died of injuries sustained during a 4* competition in 1998. He has since been a strong voice for riders taking personal responsibility for “playing the sport safely,” as he wrote in a moving 2008 Chronicle of the Horse article. Keli has an extensive background as a gymnast.


s horsemen, both are eventers, and that’s the discipline that first embraced this still-new Landsafe Equestrian program. In 2018, the United States Eventing Association offered members a grant-funded discount on the cost of participating in the clinics. With its cross-country phase in which horses and riders gallop over permanent obstacles, eventing has been in the rider (and horse) safety spotlight for many years so its embrace of Landsafe is not surprising. More recently, the United States Hunter Jumper Association reached out to Landsafe, Danny reports. The training will be incorporated into USHJA educational programs in the fall of 2020, he says.

No need to wait until a governing body formally adopts the program, Danny stresses. Some professionals make Landsafe participation a prerequisite of joining their training program. Danny hopes the safety training will become as ubiquitous in equestrian sports as it is in many mainstream sports.  Gymnasts, he notes, learn to fall safely and avoid their sport’s most common injuries in their earliest phases of participation.

Any riding style has its risks, and Landsafe seeks to reduce those across all disciplines. Rotational falls in which the horse hits a jump between its knees and chest, causing the horse to flip over the jump, are the most dangerous. “The risk of having a serious injury is once every 55 falls,” Landsafe reports. “A rotational fall, however, increases the risk to once every five falls.”

Even as the Landsafe clinics fill to capacity, skepticism persists. The biggest doubts concern any program’s ability to train the mind and body to respond in the split-second moment of a potential or actual fall and how much can be accomplished in a two-day session. In what little time he has for such doubters, Danny begins by stating that any form of training is better than none. Landsafe’s two days of core-building somersaults, vaults and controlled falls off the simulator do build muscle memory, he asserts. Repeating the course annually or with some regularity is ideal. Adopting or continuing an active, play-oriented lifestyle is a big help in maintaining the strength and body control lessons learned in the clinic. Activities that increase hand-eye coordination are also valuable.

Part of the Landsafe education is countering myths, like the idea that it’s best to relax the muscles in a fall. “What we are teaching is body shaping as it applies to decelerating the force of impact when hitting the ground,” he explains. “This is rider education regarding falling safely. It teaches riders not only a better way to navigate a fall, but also using these skills, in many cases, may reduce chances of injury or prevent a fall all together.”

Danny feels the training is perhaps even more needed now than in the past because many young people spend more time in safe, sedentary activities than in rough and tumble outdoor play of earlier times.  Such physical activity contributes to body awareness, balance and strength that are critical to the muscle memory reactions Landsafe emphasizes. Participants of all ages and auditors will benefit from the clinic, Danny asserts. Even though an older rider might not be so swift with the somersaults, they can still learn skills to minimize the risk of severe injury in a fall.

He equates Landsafe to seatbelts and child safety seats when they were first introduced. “Your kids won’t want to do them, but you’ve got to get them into them.” He expects that acceptance will eventually follow the same trajectory as those everyday safety precautions.

February 2020 will mark Landsafe’s third year of giving clinics. “I can’t believe this isn’t mandatory,” is one of the most common participant comments, Danny relays.

For the contact information on each clinic, visit


Landsafe Equestrian Clinics this month in California


  • Dec. 7-8 at Kingsview Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Woodland.
  • Dec. 15-16 at Red Fox Farm in the South Bay Area’s Gilroy
  • Dec. 22-23 at Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano
  • Dec. 28-29 in Twin Rivers Ranch in Central California’s Paso Robles. Eventing star Buck Davidson, Jr., is partnering in this clinic with cross-country jumping coaching. He’s a longtime friend of Danny Warrington and was one of the first international riders to instantly understand and promote Landsafe’s benefits, Danny explains.
August 2019 - Can Your Horse Handle the Vet?
Written by by Katharine V. Mertens, DVM
Friday, 02 August 2019 01:49
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Horses can be trained to cooperate with veterinary care.

by Katharine V. Mertens, DVM

Think of all the things horses learn to do for us: they pull, carry, jump, spin, slide, in a variety of gaits over all types of terrain. They are able to do these things willingly because they understand the job at hand.

In contrast, few domestic horses understand the “job” of being a veterinary patient. Veterinarians, and owners, may not realize how easy it could be to teach them.

December 2018 - Getting Started in Working Equitation
Written by by Nicole Chastain Price with Kip Mistral
Friday, 30 November 2018 02:13
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Have some serious fun!

by Nicole Chastain Price with Kip Mistral

I  am often asked how a rider new to working equitation can get started, and I have several suggestions for people just beginning to explore the sport to see if it might be right for their horses and themselves.

As a first step, I would suggest that riders interested in learning more about and getting started in working equitation should consult one of the websites of our two governing bodies in the United States, which are WE United and The Confederation for Working Equitation. There you can read about the history of the sport, its definition and the requirements. We offer multiple levels in working equitation: Children, Introductory, Novice A, Novice B, Intermediate A, Intermediate B, Advanced and Masters. We also have multiple phases: Dressage, Ease of Handling (How well you do the Obstacles), Speed (Obstacles at Speed) and a Team Cattle Phase. The Introductory level does not include a Speed Phase. At this stage in the U.S., the cattle phase is not usually offered, and if it is it is an optional phase.

December 2018 - Mette Rosencrantz Returns to San Diego
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 November 2018 00:31
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Accomplished dressage trainer brings her program to Arroyo Del Mar.

When Mette Rosencrantz got the call from Steffen Peters about the opportunity to relocate her business from Los Angeles back to San Diego’s beautiful Arroyo Del Mar, she
didn’t hesitate to make the change. She has been working at Equinox Equestrian Center owned by Karen Izzi-Bristing but she needed more room for her expanding business.

She came to work at Helena Polanitza’s Seabreeze in San Diego in the early 80s and getting to move back to San Diego will be like coming home. Arroyo Del Mar is the home base for Steffen and Shannon Peters training business and they also are the management team for the elite 22-acre dressage training facility that is home to several dressage trainers.

December 2018 - Sylvia Zerbini Clinic
Written by by Linda Holst
Thursday, 29 November 2018 23:44
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Cavalia Odysseo star shares liberty work strategies with everyday horse owners.

by Linda Holst

There is a distinct romance that is displayed by Cavalia’s Odysseo star Sylvia Zerbini and her “equine guys” (16 striking Arabian stallions and geldings), during their Grand Liberte performances throughout North America, Europe and Australia. Each horse performs their part of the synchronized dance in proper sequence at liberty, coordinating their movements with the other horses under Sylvia’s ballet like direction. Everyone who sees her is mesmerized as she moves with the posture of a dancer and years of finely tuned skills that have been mastered to create this beautiful equine orchestra.

August 2018 - Growing San Diego Program
Written by CRM
Friday, 27 July 2018 03:29
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Carmel Creek Ranch welcomes Sarah Dowling & Stepping Out Stables

With her “build it and they will come” attitude, hunter/jumper trainer Sarah Dowling leapt at the chance to expand her growing business to San Diego County’s Carmel Creek Ranch. Sarah’s business, Stepping Out Stables, has a booming riding school at Poway Equestrian Center and now looks forward to building an additional hunter/jumper team at the Carmel Creek Ranch location. Sarah had previously worked as an assistant trainer at Foxlair West, previously located just a short drive down 56 at Seabreeze Farms, where she grew her 2015 riding school from just one student to 36 in less than a year with a number of them competing in local shows and the GSDHJA Championship Show.

May 2018 - Hidden Fox Farm Welcomes New Faces
Written by CRM
Sunday, 29 April 2018 17:25
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Haley Morrissey brings a new dimension to established San Diego program.

photos: Erpelding Photography

Founded by Mike & Katy Boswell in 1999, Hidden Fox Farm is a family-oriented hunter-jumper barn tucked down in the oak trees of the Crest community in East County, San Diego. Katy has been a fixture of the San Diego horse community for decades, gaining her proverbial spurs working at Blackland Farm with Sally Black, founding the ECHO horse show series, and developing competent horse people who’ve gone on to success at every level of riding.  As a new year gets fully underway, Katy and the team at Hidden Fox Farm are excited to introduce a new Assistant Trainer, Haley Morrissey, a well-rounded equestrian professional with experience in many facets of the horse world.

April 2018 - Cherry Hill Farm & Jamie Lund
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 19:55
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Showing the love in every lesson and every ride.

"Um, she agrees with me about politics?” Carrie White-Parrish jokes, earning a laugh from the rest of the crew, as if this is a common line. As if they’re all part of the same gang, and already knew it would be her answer. Then she sobers. “Oh, you mean why do I love her as a trainer?”


April 2018 - Sandhu Stables
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 19:51
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Revived Bay Area stable sets spirits soaring.

by Kim F. Miller

Aman Sandhu enjoyed horses and riding as a boarding school student in his native India. He left them behind when his family immigrated to the United States during his teens. In May of last year, a long-held dream of returning horses to his life came full circle in the purchase of 30 acres in the East Bay Area. Simultaneously, Aman revived a boarding and training facility that had been dormant for 15 years and at risk of development in the residential sprawl that’s overtaken much of Contra Costa County’s Tassajara Valley.

February 2018 - On The Move
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 21:04
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Amber Smigel relocates to Trails End Ranch in Orange County.

With reining trainer Dallas Wedel moving his business to San Diego County, the opening at Trails End Ranch was perfect for dressage trainer Amber Smigel to move her growing training business. She was already familiar with Trails End Ranch, as her retired dressage horse PopGunn happily lived out his retirement years at Jo Ann Kass’ beautiful Orange County equestrian facility.

February 2018 - Mark Leone Clinic
Written by by Karine Brooks
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 20:59
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Adjustability lessons are a take-away of SAHJA session with top horseman.

by Karine Brooks

Every year the Sacramento Area Hunter Jumper Association offers an educational clinic to its members. This year, the clinic took place at the beautiful Starr Vaughn Equestrian in Elk Grove and was free to 36 lucky SAHJA members, with the help of fundraising and an educational grant from the USA Equestrian Trust.


January 2018 - Blackjack Farm
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 01:26
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A horse and rider oasis in North San Diego County.

Robin and Dionicio Martinez bought their beautiful horse facility as their own private ranch in North San Diego County in 2011. Robin was competing successfully as an amateur and Dionicio, with no previous horse experience before meeting and marrying Robin, was finding out just what the life of a fulltime horseman was all about. Having left her corporate job a few years previously, Robin was looking to refocus her life in a way that allowed her to put her passions first.  With Dionicio at her side, she felt that this was the opportunity to really go all in with horses.

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