Long before we were liking, sharing, and retweeting them on social media, horse trainers were sharing humorous quips and inspirational quotes in lessons, at clinics, and in day-to-day conversations. The best ones start as off-the-cuff remarks that become axioms that form their training programs and shape the way they communicate with amateur and youth riders. HH has decided to start asking trainers and clinicians to share some of their words-of-wisdom, advice and inspiration in a monthly column simply called “Best Quotes.” To start this year off we asked the following trainers to sum up this past season in a few words here is what they had to say…



“For Stone Ranch it was a year of growth and improvement rewarded with success AND healthy, happy horses. Doesn’t get much better!”

-Karen Stone

“It is not the end of the day, it is in fact all about the journey AT THE END OF THE DAY…”

-Bridget Strang


“It has been real, it has been good…thank goodness it has been real good.”

-Erin Bownds

“I’ll be darned.”

-Kris Nixon


“An amazing journey!”

-Cindy Cruciotti

“Every year I get to do a job I love is a great one.”

-Jill Pelzel


“I think the 2016 season was the season of evolution. The Horse Park had fun events that included Pony Club and IEA. CHJA also branched out to offer more Derbies and Mini Prixs and 4-Bar type classes. But really in my trainer head it was the…don’t you dare take the long spot season.”

-Alexia Honegger

“All up with only a few diagonal problems.”

-Corky Shaha


“We didn’t show a lot, but what we did…we did well!”

-Kim Dixon

“Smile BIG star.”

-Harriet Bunker


“One of the best years I’ve had in a long time, and I’m exhausted! When do we get to do it again?”

-Amy Henze

“The best season EVER!”

-Lindsay Lippincott


“This show season was full of ups and downs, mostly ups! I am so proud of every one of my students! Looking forward to next season. Onward and upward!!”

-Amanda McConnell

“The 2016 show season was a successful year of change! I am very proud of my riders and horses!”

-Andrea Van Meenen


“To have a plan, and stay committed to your commitments.”

-Steve Johnson


“Character building.”

-Karen Banister


“Ain’t no shakes for a stepper!”

-Glee White

“The only exhibitor you should try to be better than is the exhibitor you were yesterday.”

-Jen Duffy


“This last year was the most inspiring season of my career. I pushed myself to do things I never thought I could!”

-Kelly Buringa


8 Ways “Brain Training for Riders” Changed My Life

By: Laura Strassman


Andrea Waldo has written the book that I wish I’d had many years ago.

Fear and anxiety issues are things I’ve struggled with as a rider. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to turn to professionals for help when things got beyond the self-help point. (Full disclosure: I have ridden with Andrea a couple of times, and I had an unmounted session with her a couple years ago.) Her new book is the latest tool in my arsenal.

Brain Training for Riders offers plenty of science into why the brain reacts the way it does, how to best effect positive change, and exercises to enhance your mental performance. It’s a fairly academic piece of work—Andrea was a practicing psychotherapist—so expect depth. (There are explanations for everything, including how to use the book.)

Here’s eight lessons I took away from her book.

1. It’s not you, it’s evolution

Just as horses have a flight-or-fight reaction, so do humans. Waldo calls out our “lizard brain,” which handles the most basic and primitive tasks for us and tries to keep us safe from perceived threats—physical or mental. For instance, the lizard brain helps you jump out of the way when your horse kicks out at a fly and you are in the path of his hoof.

I was getting nervous out in the field when I loosened the reins up—it felt like I was not in control, even though nothing bad happened. I had to do it enough to teach my lizard brain that this feeling was ok.

2. You can overcome evolution

While you can’t eliminate your fight-or-flight response, nor do you want to, you can learn to control it. To do that, it’s important to acknowledge that your brain’s fear is real and there for a purposeBrain Training for Riders explains that you can’t shut down this response by saying, “Stop.” You have to offer an alternative:

  • Breathe
  • Rationally figure out what your core fear is. It might not be that the jump is bigger, it might be that you are afraid of your trainer’s disapproval.
  • cide you can live with your fear—literally. Or make a Plan B: don’t go over the jump at 3′, go over it at 2′ until you’re bored.

As I have been getting back into cross country, I’ve had to get comfortable riding with speed. I spent a long time cantering in a circle in the field over the same three logs on the ground—I’m talking 12 inch logs—until I got used to the feeling.

 3. Don’t be a Negative Nellie

You can’t control fear and anxiety by using negative thinking, says Andrea. You have to tell yourself and your horse what you want, not what you don’t want.

For example, if your horse is spooking in the corner, you might ask him to leg yield and focus on keeping a rhythm—something you want him to do. The same technique applies in training your brain.

She suggests using forward-thinking positive language. “My hands were much quieter today than yesterday.” “When my horse spooked, I remembered to sit up and tell him what I wanted.”

The other day my horse spooked, my trainer said “well sat,” and I was able to just move on from there.

4. It’s not about relaxing, it’s about focusing.

“Focus is the ability to stay present in the moment and concentrate completely on the task at hand.”

The latest research, as highlighted in Brain Training for Riders, shows that mistakes are a critical part of the learning process. We progress by making an effort, making a mistake, then correcting that mistake.

In order to learn, you need to live on the edge of your comfort zone or current abilities. You must get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

For me to get comfortable with speed on the cross-country course, I’ve had to push a little bit past my comfort zone each time I’m out there until a pace is “known.” Once that happens, I push I’ve had to do the same thing with my rein connection on cross country. I’ve had to give up that dressage-y connection that feels like you are in control and let the horse use his neck. Pushing my hands forward felt wildly uncomfortable but I just kept doing it—living with that feeling until my lizard brain said, ‘Oh, this feeling is fine, nothing bad happens when we feel this.’ little more.

5. Practice is a process

The latest research, as highlighted in Brain Training for Riders, shows that mistakes are a critical part of the learning process. We progress by making an effort, making a mistake, then correcting that mistake.

In order to learn, you need to live on the edge of your comfort zone or current abilities. You have to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

For me to get comfortable with speed on the cross-country course, I’ve had to push a little bit past my comfort zone each time I’m out there until a pace is “known.” Once that happens, I push a little more.

6. Set the right goals and support them

Andrea’s advice on setting realistic and actionable goals is another that resonated with my riding. Setting goals that make sense is different than having a dream or a vision.

I thought my goal when I started this first season competing with Fezzik would be to compete at the beginner novice level. I realized after our first ever attempt at cross country that my goal was to compete and complete a three-phase event off the farm. It took us the season to do that.

Once you set your goals, you must support them with a plan! Set milestones and make a Plan A and Plan B to achieve them.

I started by setting a milestone to go to an event off property without competing. The next was go to an event and compete in the dressage portion and get exposure to the jump warm up. I didn’t just jump into competing.

7. Sometimes you really do need a professional—in psychology, not riding.

You should probably seek out an expert for help, if:

  • You are nervous anxious/panicked over small things.
  • Your reaction is out of proportion to the actual thing that has happened.
  • Breathing exercises and exposure don’t do anything to help

When I had a full-blown panic attack because my horse cantered, I knew I needed a professional therapist to help me. There are things you can do that will help!

8. The trainer’s job isn’t just “heels down and head up”

Every emotional, relational, and social issue in a rider’s life shows up in the riding arena. What’s more, as the world has changed, so has our understanding of motives and learning processes. Brain Training for Riders provides a great deal of practical advice for trainers that goes beyond “heads up, heels down.”


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About IEA

By: Lindsay Lippincott

  “IEA is a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of being an equestrian. It teaches me what it truly means to be a person who perseveres. IEA has shown me my competitive side along with my self-confidence. IEA has also given me skills I can use outside of horses, like commitment, time management, determination, and adaptability. I love IEA because it teaches emotional maturity, and has brought me closer to good friends who I get to make and share outstanding memories with. Being on a team is the best part of IEA because you know that with every ride you will always be with people who have your back and who are there to cheer you on.” Carly Ems, member of the Mile High Equestrian Team

IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) was formed to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and high school students (grades 6th-12th). IEA was created from the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association, IHSA. It is based on Hunt Seat Equitation, judged solely on the rider, and not the horse. Horse ownership is not required to participate in IEA. Through IEA, participants learn how to become a better rider and it’s a great way to feel the team atmosphere. Students also have the opportunity to earn scholarships towards their college education.

“I love IEA because you get a new horse every time you show and always have to plan your ride for each horse! It makes you a better rider and builds up confidence as well! I have so many friends on my team and some that aren’t even on my team!” Maci Miceli, member of the Mile High Equestrian Team

At an IEA show, the competitors are allowed to watch the horses warm up. Then they will draw a horse’s name, and that is the horse that rider will show.  Each competitor warms up the horse before they enter the ring to compete in jumping only.   There is no warm up for flat classes.

“For me as both the leader and a rider of an IEA team, I have learned how far my skills as a rider have come and how being a leader, I can help everyone on my team. As a leader, I ensure that everyone knows the rules, that they’re on top of the courses and horses they have, and how to have the best sportsmanship. It is important that everyone remembers to have fun no matter what, be kind to others, always have a positive attitude, and no matter what place you get you as a rider, you need to feel good about your round. If you don’t, then be able to point out what you did wrong so you can improve on it for the next competition.


GROUP PICTURE: (left to right) Lindsay Lippincott, Coach; Jada Fields (12th grade Captain); Rachel KennedGy (7th grade); Maci Miceli (8th grade); Chelsea Bond (6th grade); Hailey Johnson (9thgrade); Faith Jenkins (7th grade); Kaitlyn Grubb (8thgrade); and Carly Ems (10th grade).

What I love about IEA is mainly the team relationship you achieve. Since this is such a different way of competing and we all can feel like we’re not the best rider because the horse we got is not the easiest, the saddle we get doesn’t let us reach our highest potential, or we put up a good round and either we get the place we wanted but it wasn’t enough points or the judge just didn’t think the round was that good; we still say you did awesome. That’s why I love IEA; you become a true team more amongst riders and friends instead of amongst rider and horse.”
Jada Fields (Captain of the Mile High Equestrian Team)

This is Mile High Equestrian’s fifth year competing in the IEA organization. This team is comprised of equestrians who compete in the hunter/jumper and equitation disciplines and represent riders from Castle Cliff Farms under the guidance of the team coach, Lindsay Lippincott. Several riders of the Mile High Equestrian Team have qualified to advance to the Region 8 Finals competition to be held Feb 2017 by winning 15 points though the regular season. To learn more about the IEA program, please check out the website!

IEA Goals (from the website):

  • To encourage recognition for middle and secondary school equestrians and to promote the equestrian as an athlete.
  • To provide riders with organized competitive opportunities.
  • To introduce new riders to equine sports.
  • To promote the IEA among its constituencies.
  • To provide riders with opportunities to further their education in equine sports and equine-related matters.
  • To encourage liaison with other equestrian associations for the betterment of equestrian sports.
  • To encourage a higher standard of coaching and instruction.
  • To provide information concerning the creation and development of mounted and non-mounted equestrian programs.
  • To establish and enforce IEA rules, standards and policies.
  • To keep pace with the continuing progress of equestrian sports and to encourage good horsemanship.
  • To generally promote the common interests of riding instruction and competition, and education on matters related to all segments of the horse industry.
  • To develop team and individual sportsmanship.
  • To establish a foundation to support the continuing mission of the IEA.




The points are counted. The prizes are ordered. The evening is planned. All that’s needed is you! The Annual Awards and Recognition Banquet will be held on Jan. 7, 2017 at the Radisson Denver, 3155 S. Vaughn Way in Aurora. Be sure to RSVP and upload photos of you, your award-winning steed or your friends enjoying all the fun of being at a CHJA-sanctioned show.

So many great things are coming in for our Silent Auction to benefit the Colorado Hunter Jumper Foundation! In fact, we just received two VIP tickets to all show jumping events at the FEI World cup in Omaha this coming Spring. How cool is that? We still are accepting items. Contact Franci Martin at to make a donation or if you have questions about the banquet.

Other SILENT AUCTION items include:

  • Denver Nuggets Tickets
  • Colorado Avalanche Tickets
  • CWD Jumping Boots
  • Mastermind breeches
  • Paul & Lydia bag donated by The Hacked Horse


Be sure to vote for your CHJA Board of Directors


It’s time for you to select seven new members of the 2017 CHJA Board of Directors. To vote online, simply log into Only one ballot will be permitted per member account. If you submit more than one ballot with the same CHJA number, only the first ballot will be counted.

The seven elected representatives will join sitting Board members Jenny Alsberg, Tracye Ferguson, Devon Hussey, Carol O’Meara, Meg O’Meara, Jill Pelzel, Sarah Watson and Val Williams. Online voting will close on Fri., Jan. 6, 2017 but you will still be able to vote at the banquet.

List of those running are:

·         Jen Duffy

·         Laurie Grayson

·         Bark Arkin

·         Carole Kenney

·         Andrea Van Meenen

·         Karen Banister

·         Erin Bownds

·         Rebecca Johnson

·         Dan Schiefen

·         Kristina McCombie

Colorado Hunter Jumper Association Banquet
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Go to to reserve your tickets!
HOTY/Stirrup Cup info: Please note that USHJA will mail all individual year-end ribbons and awards.


By: Kristina McCombie

Without Horses: Balanced or Boring?

This article all started because I was bored. And I mean BOOOORRRRRREEEEEDDDDD. It was Saturday, a day I look forward to every week, a day of freedom, a day where my husband expects me to be at the barn all day. Except today I was at home, locked inside due to the bitter Colorado temperatures and the mountain (okay, 10”) of snow outside my window. “Is this what normal people do every day?” I thought to myself as I looked around my house, desperately seeking something to do. Normally someone who is totally pressed for time, today I couldn’t make the time pass quickly enough. I should have enjoyed this time, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I didn’t get to go to the barn!

Work/Life Balance

As teachers, we always joke that the only resource we need is time. There is never enough time to do everything we need to do, let alone to have a life outside of the classroom. I have promised myself that no matter how deep in work I get, I will always make time for myself (and not coincidently, that time will be spent at the barn). While I am fortunate to live very close to my job, I live about 40 miles (one way) from the barn. I understand I am not alone – Colorado is not exactly teeming with places to ride that also happen to be close to jobs and neighborhoods.

“Couldn’t you move your horse closer to your house?” people ask. And the answer is, yes I could. But I love my trainer, and my horse loves where he lives, so I sacrifice the long drive for a happy horse and a great program. As horse people, we often make sacrifices like this, sacrifices that others (including my dad) see as completely insane. But the barn is my sanctuary, my happy place, my serenity. When I go there after a long, hard day of work, my worries melt away and not a moment feels like it is wasted. Whereas work is my ying, the barn is my yang. But that freedom, that balance,comes with some major sacrifices.

On a school day, if I leave at 3:23pm or earlier, I can still make it to the barn and ride in the daylight. Leave a minute after that, I’m in the dark. After ten years of driving to my barn, I have the traffic down to a science, barring any type of weather or unforeseen accidents. I cannot tell you how many meals I have eaten in the car, or how many emails I have mentally drafted while driving. I have changed at stoplights (very stealthily of course) and pulled into the barn running on fumes more times than I’d like to admit. My car has six times the miles that my friends cars have, and smells (and looks) like a tack trunk. For many, this crazy schedule wouldn’t be worth it, but for me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Teachers are also huge on “the why.” WHY are we teaching this, WHY do students need to learn this, WHY am I still here at 9pm?! Many have asked me why I tolerate this schedule. The answer is easy: it is my passion, my hobby, my heart. Every day that I get to ride is special, every time I climb on the back of my horse I am free, I am restored. Riding is incredible that way. It is so fulfilling, and yet so challenging – you can never be the best. Someone will alway be better than you, but instead of letting it drag you down, you use it to inspire you.
Though I may only get 20 – 30 minutes of good riding time on the after school rides, I never take them for granted. I’m always working to be a better rider, and to make my horse better. I know I will never be champion at Devon, or compete at Indoors, or win the Ariat Medal, but that doesn’t drive me. The motivation comes from having a life outside of the classroom, having a goal to make myself better, to keep my horse happy, and in return, to restore the balance and toll my job takes from me. I can only imagine how many other hard-working men and women feel the same way.
When I think about the many things that I could have if I didn’t ride – I laugh out loud. Would finances be more secure? – definitely. Would I have more time to do things like clean the house? – for sure. Would I drive a nicer car? – perhaps. Would I have time to binge watch Netflix shows so I could actually have something in common with my peers? – probably. Is any of that worth giving up riding? – absolutely not. To my fellow workers/riders – I understand the struggle. I too have missed the parties, rescheduled the meetings, and wished for just an hour more sleep, but I wouldn’t change it for a minute, and I bet you wouldn’t either. To all those who work and ride – stick with it. It’s worth the struggle.
So as I sit here on this beautiful and peaceful Saturday, I can’t help but wish I was out there riding. Despite the cold, despite the snow, I need my horse fix. I wonder how people who don’t have the responsibility of a horse do it? What would it be like to not have somewhere to go, something to do, some bill to pay (haha)? I don’t know, and I’m sure I don’t want to. I’ll keep my crazy schedule, my meals on the go, and my traveling tack trunk over a quiet day on the couch any day. Besides, I just remembered I brought my tack home – time to clean and condition!
A final note: None of this would be possible without an understanding job, and an even more understanding husband. I have definitely asked for meetings to be rescheduled if they fell on a “barn night” and am known to zip out the door on Tuesdays and Thursdays – sometimes in breeches. My husband supports this crazy schedule, and does everything he can to support me. For that, I am forever grateful.