“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.”
- Sharon Ralls Lemon
Waldenbrook Farm – John French, Trainer
Over the past 20 years, John has guided both horses and students alike to mutiple successes in the hunter, jumper and equitation rings. Famous for his style in the saddle, winning attitude and dedication to the sport, John has taken home top honors from coast to coast on a number of different horses. His method to achieving a winning round is confidence. "Pick up the pace right away – don’t doubt yourself. To have a winning ride, you can’t think ‘am I going to find the distance’ you have to let that go. When you are tentative it interrupts the flow. Let the doubts go out of your mind – that’s when you ride the best. Take risks – believe in the ride," he said.
While success in the hunter ring is evident, a handful of years ago John also proved he had what it took to win at the international Grand Prix level. Over a five-year period, John went from Rookie Grand Prix Rider of the Year to qualifying for the World Cup Finals, placing in Britain’s Hickstead Grand Prix and representing the US on Nations Cup Teams in Great Britain, Belgium, Spain and Sweden.
Rose Hill Stables - Hilary Johnson, Trainer
Iron Horse Equestrian Center’s Hilary Johnson is classically-trained and has successfully competed in hunter/jumper, dressage, and three-day eventing. She owns and operates Rose Hill Stables, training children and adults to achieve their personal goals and encourage them to even greater accomplishments. A three-time recipient of the Starr Vaughn Trainer of the Year Award, even her novice riders consistently qualified for medal finals.
Hilary’s early career began with a Native American woman riding “half-broke Mustangs bareback and Western” until she was seven. She then moved to England for a short time where she began formal English riding lessons, and has been showing and training since she was eight, climbing to the Grand Prix level under the tutelage of CPHA’s Hall of Fame Inductee Chris Borba.
During her junior career, Hilary was mentored by some of the top riders in the business. She spent every summer, spring, and winter break riding and training at the world-famous Westmoreland Davis Equestrian Center in Virginia where she rode with Olympic gold medal winner Tad Coffin and master instructor Raul de Leon.
Hilary began teaching when she was 15, having worked as a rider and groom for many trainers in Alamo, California. She participated in the California State Horse Mastership where she achieved top scores. She partnered with Paul Bennett and opened Sun Grove Farms in the late 1990s until 2003 when an unfortunate riding accident took her out of riding – some thought permanently. Unable to turn away from her beloved sport, she attended Equinology, a school for therapeutic massage and body work, and worked with Lisa Laurie, DVM. It only took a year before she was able to reclaim her amateur status, riding a friend’s quarter horse to win the Champion Hunter Under Saddle in Del Mar, California. Encouraged by friend and former partner Paul Bennett, she started Rose Hill Stables in 2009.
Usually surrounded by a group of young girls who hang on her every word, Hilary is the perfect role model and mentor. A stickler for details, Hilary dissects mistakes in such a way that students learn from them in a positive atmosphere. “Horses have a brain. They don’t always perform the same. Students must recognize that every day is a new day.” Her patience, sunny disposition and encouraging style will have every rider confidently looking forward to the next lesson.