Liz Denny Show Stable: New location fits well-known rider/trainer's fresh focus on horsemanship and show ring success, Riding Magazine June 2008 more...
On The Move: Veteran trainer and rider Liz Denny moves on to focus on competitive clients, Riding Magazine December 2007 more...
Liz Denny Establishes New Show Barn, November 6, 2007 more...
Liz Denny Show Stable: New location fits well-known rider/trainer's fresh focus on horsemanship and show ring success, Riding Magazine June 2008
Venturing off the beaten path has been a good thing for hunter/jumper trainer and Grand Prix rider Liz Denny. Liz admits that leaving the venerable Flintridge Riding Club in La Canada/Flintridge for the new Spirit Equestrian Center in Ventura County’s Somis wasn’t easy.
Quality coaching and a horses-first approach were the hallmarks of Liz’s program throughout her tenure at Flintridge. That emphasis remains. Her move to the elite training environment at Spirit Equestrian allows Liz to pursue the next phase of her career: building a clientele united by their common dedication to the sport and serious competitive goals.
“My own philosophy is that riding is always a work in progress,” Liz explains. As she pursues her Grand Prix jumping career with MMC Electrifying and her newer ride, Rien, Liz invites like-minded equestrians along for the journey. “This move fits perfectly with what I want to do in my own riding,” she says. “Riding is my passion and I’m hoping to attract people who share that passion.”
She’s only been at Spirit for six months, but Liz says the move is already paying off. “Things are definitely going in the right direction in that I’m able to be more tightly focused,” says Liz, whose professional resume began in the early 1980s and is highlighted by six years working for the late master horseman Jimmy Williams and his assistant Susie Hutchison. Inquiries from fellow professionals and prospective students are steadily coming in as word of her relocation spreads.
Liz’s clients are her best promoters. One of those is Alison Locke, who is having the time of her life in the High Amateur Owner Jumper division. In her 50s and new to the 4’9” division, Alison is thrilled that she and her horse, Polymiro, are more than holding their own against the younger set. A really good run throughout four weeks of the Thermal circuit and a Classic win at the Oaks Spring Tournament are among her recent highlights. “It’s fun to beat the kids!” enthuses Alison, who gives much of the credit to Liz.
A Straight Shooter
Alison first met Liz when the trainer was just starting out. She followed Liz’s career over the years, and began riding with her a few years ago. “Liz was a natural choice for me,” explains Alison. “She has a very consistent, methodical approach that includes a lot of horsemanship. She is very analytical in how she approaches the horse’s training and she is a terrific rider: very sympathetic to the horses.”
Marie Knowles, who is a partner in Spirit Equestrian, is also one of Liz’s students. She began riding just five years ago after retiring from corporate life. “To say that I’ve progressed is an understatement,” says Marie of her two years riding under Liz’s direction. A-circuit championships reflect that progress, but a deep enjoyment of riding is Marie’s most meaningful measure. “Liz really keeps you focused on the fundamentals, which makes you get better all the time. I am solid in the saddle and my ability to communicate with my horse and thus get more out of him has increased considerably.”
Marie’s horse Novello is a bit spooky. “I’m not nervous because I know how to handle him,” she says. “Consequently, he’s less spooky!”
Straightness, correctness, and thoroughness are priorities in Liz’s approach to the all-important flatwork aspects of training, and these characteristics also apply to her professionalism, Alison reports. Integrity is a big part of Liz’s appeal, she adds. “She is really honest with people about their skill sets, their strengths and weaknesses, and about horses. She always does right by her clients, and she is very straightforward about fees, commissions and costs.”
There is no escaping the high cost of hunter/jumper competition, but Liz’s clients get the most bang for their horseshow buck by being prepared to do their best when they compete.
“I believe in choosing the quality shows, rather than going to a large number of shows,” Liz explains. “I believe in making time for exhibiting and time for preparing: doing your homework. If all you do is compete, there’s no time for homework, and you don’t get as much value from going to each show.” It’s an old-fashioned approach, but it’s the one Liz grew up with and the one she believes is still best even in an era when students can attend several shows every week if they choose to.
“I want my students to become horsemen,” Liz adds. “I think that is something that can be missed if you are just going from show to show.”
Confidence Comes First
Although Liz will be competing at the highest jumper level herself, she welcomes students campaigning or training seriously at any level and in all three divisions: jumpers, equitation and hunters. As the students of a Grand Prix rider, clients see and experience what works and what is required at the highest echelons of the sport.
Building confidence in horse and rider is the cornerstone of Liz’s program, regardless of the experience level or division. “Creating effective riders is the main idea of my program,” Liz says. “My students usually have the goal of moving up to the next level. That starts with focusing on the skills the riders have already developed, then devising a plan to advance their abilities.”
Emphasizing and building basics creates confidence, Liz says, and that takes patience. “I’ve have taught people that have lacked confidence. As they get better at the basics, through repetition, they get that confidence to move up. I have a lot of former students who’ve come through that process. They are still competing at the highest levels, though they didn’t start there, and I’m proud of that.”
Having the right horse is essential to every rider’s progress and Liz takes pride in her matchmaking abilities. “I start with knowing my students and their riding personalities very well,” she explains. “And, I only work with agents that I trust.”
“I’m not one to buy ‘throwaway’ horses, but there is a progression for riders that often involves a few different horses,” Liz continues. Maintaining or advancing the horse is as important as advancing the rider. “When we go out and find horses for ourselves or our students, one of our big goals as professionals should be to maintain the horse’s training level,” she says. “In this day and age, you see some horses become unraveled, and their training goes south. It should be part of our art as professionals to prevent that from happening.” A horse that has helped its rider to the next level often stays in Liz’s barn to do the same for another student.
Liz is putting her considerable experience finding and maintaining well-trained mounts to good use by taking on a few sales prospects.
Recruiting the right team is another key to refocusing Liz Denny Show Stable, and Brad Goldstein is emerging as Liz’s right hand man. Well known on the hunter/jumper circuit for his mobile tack shop and repair business EquuSport Custom Saddlery, Brad is also a gifted rider and teacher, Liz says. When he’s not at shows with his own business, he assists Liz at Spirit Equestrian, teaching and schooling equine charges. Julia Begun has signed on as barn manager, and Liz loves her farrier team of many years, Bob and Jeff Phalen. They visit Liz’s horses at Spirit Equestrian twice a month and attend to emergency issues as needed.
With her own Grand Prix success a big part of her new direction, Liz continues to refine her skills by working with veteran jumper coach Judy Martin. They’ve been working together for 10 years, meeting mostly at shows. For herself and her students, Liz likes to keep learning, and from the best. She is bringing renowned course designer and former Grand Prix rider Linda Allen to Spirit Equestrian for an Aug. 9-10 riding clinic. Outside students are welcome as participants and auditors.
Liz’s Grand Prix efforts are greatly aided by her sponsors. MMC Electrifying’s owner, MMC Electric Investments, LLC, has been behind Liz for many years. And she is equally grateful to owner syndicates Smokey Horse, LLC, and Rien Partners, LLC. Liz’s product sponsors are Brad’s company EquuSport Custom Saddlery; Rolling Meadows’ J2 joint supplements; CWD Saddlery and Rohan, a new Omega-3 supplement that promotes overall health in horses.
Location, Location, Location
Spirit Equestrian is located in the heart of the greater Los Angeles/Ventura metro area, only a 45-minute drive from the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Situated amidst avocados and lemon groves in a unique microclimate known for its temperate Pacific Ocean weather, Spirit provides an ideal training environment. Spirit Equestrian’s partners have renovated the facility into a first-class training venue. State-of-the-art amenities include over 100,000 square feet of jumping arenas and three full-court dressage arenas that were built to the highest industry standards. The footing was great to begin with and Liz reports happily that Spirit’s management is committed to continuous upgrades. Spacious stalls featuring StableComfortTM flooring, grass pastures, large turnouts, a European exerciser, 24-hour gated security and emergency care are among Spirit’s many attributes.
Spirit’s owners want trainers that meet equally high standards. “Bringing Liz aboard tells the industry that Spirit Equestrian is providing a training facility that supports excellent trainers and their clients and horses,” Marie says. Fancy clubhouses are not on the docket, but everything that serves the horses’ welfare and the riders’ ability to make satisfying progress is. “The vets that work here tell us we are doing things right,” Marie says.
Liz brings 30 years of experience to her new location. Since becoming the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association’s Reserve Grand Prix Rookie Rider of the Year in 1991, she has been a consistent winner in the West Coast’s biggest classes. She and MMC Electrifying had a strong start this year at Thermal and the Oaks, and they are targeting the 2008-2009 World Cup league starting this fall. Liz is looking for big things from 10-year-old Rien, owned by the Rien Partners, LLC. The Darco son shares bloodlines with McLain Ward’s great jumper Sapphire and joined Liz’s barn early this year. They won a Level 7 class at Thermal and posted double clean rounds in a 1.45 meter class during a Spring Classic in San Juan Capistrano.
Summer plans for Liz Denny Show Stable include a three-show jaunt to New Mexico. Beyond that, the agenda will feature the World Cup classes and the competitions that will best enable Liz and her students to pursue their respective goals. And, of course, lots of time doing the gratifying work of progressing at home at Spirit Equestrian in a peaceful, productive set-up built to bring out the best in horse and rider.
Liz Denny can be contacted at 818-426-5128, via email at email@example.com, or visit her web site for more information: www.lizdennyshowstable.com.
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On The Move: Veteran trainer and rider Liz Denny moves on to focus on competitive clients, Riding Magazine December 2007
“People build confidence by having good experiences.” That observation from top hunter/jumper trainer and Grand Prix rider Liz Denny defines her philosophy and explains why she has gained both success and respect during her nearly 30 years as a professional in California.
Liz has a long history with the Flintridge Riding Club. She worked for the late Jimmy Williams and his assistant Susie Hutchison from 1990 to 1996. She then opened her own training barn there and has been busy and successful with that ever since. This month, Liz moves north to become the resident hunter/jumper trainer at Spirit Equestrian, the newly renovated training facility in Ventura County’s Somis. Liz admits it is hard to leave Flintridge. She built a loyal clientele there with her own training barn over the past 12 years and has great memories, experiences and knowledge from her time with Jimmy and Susie.
As a trainer, Liz is all about helping students achieve their goals. In moving to Spirit Equestrian she is pursuing a goal of her own: to narrow her training focus to students with A circuit goals. “My teaching methods have always been geared toward competing,” she notes. “That’s how I want to gear the future of my business.”
Common goals are the main reason Liz chose Spirit Equestrian as the base for her newly focused Liz Denny Show Stables. “They want trainers of a certain caliber, to attract students who want quality, show-oriented training,” she says. It also helps that Spirit Equestrian is owned by Marie Knowles, a student of Liz’s for the past year and a half. Knowing Marie, Liz was confident about the way in which Spirit Equestrian would be operated. “They’ve done a great job with the facility,” Liz enthuses. “The rings and the barns and the whole renovation are great. They are also very supportive of what I’m doing.”
As its name suggests, Spirit Equestrian is a peaceful, quiet place that sits amidst groves of avocado and lemon trees. State of the art amenities include 100,000 square feet of new jumping arenas with what Liz describes as “excellent footing,” grass paddocks and turnouts, spacious stalls with comfort mats, a European hot walker and 24-hour security and emergency care.
Liz’s admiration for what Marie and her husband Richard Knowles have done with the facility is returned in Marie’s respect for the trainer. “Liz is a model of professionalism,” says Marie. “Her carefully organized program encompasses thoughtful horse care with custom-tailored training for each horse and rider. Liz always gives the very best of herself to her horses and students.”
Over the years Liz has maintained a business of 25 to 30 horses and she hopes to continue at that level in her new location. She welcomes a range of experience levels in new students, but seeks the common denominator that they be riders who think it’s fun to be serious about their sport. “I try to teach people to their personal best and I try to work with each student’s riding personality and athleticism,” Liz explains. “Some people want to do things sooner than they are ready, and some are fearful and timid. My hope is to work with everybody within their comfort and safety zone to achieve their goals.”
“I want to keep it positive, yet a bit of a challenge for each rider.”
Liz likes the jumpers. The marketing slogan for her business lists the hunter/jumper divisions in the unusual order of jumpers, equitation, hunters and Grand Prix. “It’s not the normal sequence you see that in,” she acknowledges. “I really like teaching equitation because it leads to a great riding foundation and to good jumper riding.” If that path includes stops at any and all major equitation finals, Liz is happy to take her students there. With riders who’ve done well at the Maclay and USEF finals back East and all the West Coast finals, Liz knows the ropes at these high stakes competitions.
Hunters are welcome at Liz Denny Show Stable, too. She considers them particularly valuable for riders who are relatively new to the show circuit. “They give you a great foundation,” she notes.
She knows the jumper division well. Since finishing reserve in PCHA’s Grand Prix Rookie Rider of the Year standings in 1991, Liz has continued her winning ways in the big ring. She has won significant classes, including World Cup qualifiers, throughout the West Coast and is currently enjoying success with the young Grand Prix horse MMC Electrying, who she rides for longtime sponsors MMC.
A lifetime learner mindset has kept Liz’s training approach fresh over the years. She’s a big believer in having her students, and often herself, clinic with experts that have included George Morris, Conrad Homfeld and Rodney Jenkins. Judy Martin has helped Liz with her Grand Prix horses for many years, too. For more information on Liz Denny Show Stables, please visit www.lizdennyshowstables.com or call her at 818-426-5128.
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Liz Denny Establishes New Show Barn, November 6, 2007 Press Release
Grand Prix rider and trainer moves business to state-of-the-art facility in Somis, California
November 6, 2007 - Liz Denny, well-known competitor on the West Coast Grand Prix show circuit, proudly announced today that she has established her own training and show barn, Liz Denny Show Stable, LLC, at the newly opened Spirit Equestrian in Somis, California. Denny brings an impressive 30 years of experience as a rider, instructor and top Grand Prix competitor.
Training and teaching since 1980 at the legendary Flintridge Riding Club, Denny was part of the staff of renowned professionals Jimmy Williams and Susan Hutchison. For the past 11 years, she managed her own hunter/jumper training business at the private club where she achieved much success both as a rider and trainer.
“Spirit Equestrian is pleased to welcome Liz Denny Show Stable as our “A” circuit hunter/jumper show barn,” said Marie Knowles, owner of Spirit Equestrian and one of Denny’s dedicated amateur clients. “Liz is the model of professionalism. Her carefully organized program encompasses thoughtful horse care with custom-tailored training for each horse and rider. Liz always gives the very best of herself to her horses and students.”
Nestled among beautiful avocado and lemon groves in Ventura County’s Somis, California, Spirit Equestrian is Southern California’s premier equestrian center. The newly renovated facility boasts several state-of-the-art amenities including over 100,000 square feet of new jumper arenas with excellent footing, several large grass paddocks and turnouts, spacious stalls with comfort mats, a European hot walker and 24-hour security and emergency care. Ocean breezes and beautifully landscaped grounds provide a welcome respite for both horse and rider.
Denny describes the recent move as a perfect fit for her growing business and personal riding goals. “Spirit is truly a one of a kind facility built with excellent horse care in mind,” says Denny. “Moving to Spirit Equestrian enables me to continue an active training program geared toward top competition in the jumper, equitation, hunter and Grand Prix arenas.”
Originally from Greenwich, Connecticut, Denny moved to Southern California with her parents at age 10. During her junior years, under the guidance of respected trainer, Joe Lifto, she filled the barn with tri-colors from her wins in the hunter, jumper and equitation divisions. She quickly made a name for herself as she moved up to the Grand Prix ranks and was named PCHA Reserve Rookie Grand Prix Rider of the Year in 1991. Denny has had numerous placings at all of the top West Coast Grand Prix venues including wins at the Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix in 1992 and at the Los Angeles National World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix in 2002.
Denny is especially proud of the many accomplishments of her students, including high placings in the ASPCA Maclay National Finals and AHSA (USEF) National Medal Finals, both held on the East Coast. On the West Coast, her riders have successfully competed in the USET Talent Search, WCE and Foxfield Medal Finals. Her junior and amateur students continue to enjoy championship ribbons in everything from the Short Stirrup division to the advanced jumpers.
For the 2008 show season, Denny plans to continue her winning ways as both a teacher and Grand Prix competitor. Her relatively young Grand Prix mount, MMC Electrifying, owned by MMC Electric Investments, LLC, posted impressive results in 2007 and hopes are high for the Holsteiner gelding in 2008.
Liz Denny Show Stable is currently welcoming dedicated riders and competitive horses to join their exceptional training and “A” circuit horse show program. To learn more about Liz Denny Show Stable, LLC, and to arrange a guided tour of Spirit Equestrian, contact Liz Denny directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (818) 426-5128.
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