“I feel extremely lucky to be able to say that I began my career in showjumping with the guidance of Ann and Vinton; I also feel that I owe much of my success to them. It’s very rare to find a barn that is successful in every ring: hunter, jumper, and equitation; however, Ann and Vinton aren’t normal trainers. They helped me to thrive in each ring, whether it be winning the ASPCA Maclay regionals or a top 10 finish in the Grand Prix at Thunderbird.
Like most athletes and coaches, we sat down every year to discuss our short and long term goals, and from day one, I told them that I want to be the best rider in the world, and I want to go to the Olympics; and from day one, instead of telling me that my dreams were unattainable, they said: “okay, here are the steps we will take to get you there.”
Our goal in the hunters and equitation was never to be the best hunter/ equitation rider out there; we had a much bigger plan that extended past what those disciplines could offer me. I mean, of course I really wanted to win finals, but we more used them to help me become the best jumper rider I could be. My hunter career was short lived; I never really liked doing the hunters, but Ann and Vinton insisted that it would help me improve my rhythm and accuracy, which they weren’t wrong… But as soon as they felt I learned the skill set adequately, the closest I came to the hunters was the WIHS Hunter Phase. Similarly to the hunters, we used the equitation to develop my connection with the horses and smoothness throughout the course to benefit my career in the jumper rings, however unlike the hunters, I did enjoy the equitation. The equitation classes also helped me develop the skill to excel under pressure, which is more of a mental skill than a physical one. As Vinton has put a lot of time and work in developing his mental performance, he has been particularly influential in this aspect of my career. He would set up exercises at home that would require me to ride through pressure and distractions, he recommend sports psychology books to me, we would analyze my mindset, and him and Ann helped me learn how to control my mindset. In fact, the morning before Maclay Regionals in 2015, I was in tears because I felt I couldn’t figure out how to canter, or trot for that matter, a circle; I was making an oval… Ann came to me and said: “G, you either need to change your mindset or scratch from regionals because you’re not being fair to Cruise in this mindset.” With that being said, her and Vinton helped me turn myself around, and I ended up winning Regionals later that night. It took me years to acquire that skill; I’ve worked with other top equitation and jumper trainers, and I can tell you with certainty that none of them, would put such a priority on an athletes mental game; however the physical aspect is only half of the sport. As McLain Ward said to Horse Network, “when things aren’t going as well [sports psychology] gives you a set of skills to fall back on and get you through those difficult times quicker.”
And finally, I can’t begin to describe the impact that Ann and Vinton have had on my jumper career. I still remember my first jumper class on my little paint mare; I thought I was flying… I had 3 time faults… Throughout the years, they taught me how to transfer the connection and smoothness from the equitation into the jumper ring with the added factors of speed and height. It is very rare for someone to work with the same people throughout almost their entire junior career, as I did with Ann and Vinton, but I wouldn’t have had it any way. Some of the highlights to my jumper career while working with Ann and Vinton include: competing for zone 10 at Prix Des States, a top 10 finish in the Grand Prix at Thunderbird, being a contributing member of the winning team for the 1.40 meter Prix Des Nations at Spruce Meadows, and a top 5 finish in the 1.45 meter High Junior Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Furthermore, unlike most trainers, they didn’t just teach me about the athletic aspect of the sport. They made sure to put an emphasis on the horsemanship aspect; a part of the sport that is often forgotten. Growing up, I would come to the barn after school, and my ponies weren’t made ready for me by a groom or by them, it was my responsibility to groom and tack my ponies up. Over the summers, we would have “camps” where me and a friend would be in charged of every aspect of taking care of our ponies and horses, Ann and Vinton would set it up so that we would get lessons from the vet and farrier to learn about shoeing, soundness, and overall health of the horse. They taught me work ethic and instilled in me that the horse’s well being comes first. To this day I take pride in being involved with my horses on the ground, and I can’t say that I would understand the importance of developing a relationship with my horses on the ground and being involved in my horses daily program if it hadn’t been for Ann and Vinton.”
– Genevieve Meyer, Coral Reef Ranch
“I am so pleased to have met Ann and Vinton after many years of frustrating training experiences here in the NW. I don’t know what I am more appreciative of……their professionalism, honesty and business skills or knowledge and competence in training. The littlest of things are greatly appreciated. They actually have printed rate sheets and issue printed invoices to their clients itemizing all charges. The fact that they have competed at the highest level with success puts my mind at ease, as they do not need to make a name for themselves by campaigning their client’s horses. Also, I no longer worry about how I’m going to “fix” bad habits. They have so much experience and knowledge that I have left all the worries by the wayside! I would highly recommend coming out to the barn and watching them teach and ride. It is so nice to have trainers who value and respect their clients. My horses and I are thriving in this environment of professionalism and competence.”
– Kathy Haugk
“Training with Ann and Vinton has changed the way I approach each ride, in and out of the show ring. From the excellent daily care and conditioning my horse receives, to their detailed and demanding training, I trust them with absolutely every aspect of care and training. Their commitment to their horses and clients is evident in every part of their business. They don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather work with each individual horse and rider pair to fully understand their goals and needs and help build a plan to long-term success. Not only are they amazing trainers, but they are genuinely good people. I look forward to every day at the barn and never hesitate to call or text. They have taught me to demand more from myself and more from my horse, raising my standards and my abilities more than I thought possible in just a few short months. I feel incredibly lucky to train with them and hopefully they are happy to have me, because I can confidently say now that I am here, they are stuck with me for years to come.”
– Kate Shurtleff
“Training with Ann and Vinton is teaching me so much. They tailor every day to what each horse and rider combination needs to reach their potential and goals. Their combined training styles allow me to communicate with my horse to develop the best partnership.”
– Julia Jarzembowski