How long you have been in the industry: I started riding lessons at 4 years old. I got my first horse job when I was 18 years old and started training professionally when I was 22 years old. I have been in the industry now for 50 years.
What got you got into horses: When I was three years old my dad went to a farm and horse auction and he took me with him. I saw all the horses and ponies and started bidding on them. When I turned four my parents started me in lessons because the pony rides at fairs weren’t enough anymore. Not to mention, my grandfather was a member of the U.S. Cavalry during the Mexican Expedition and during WWI in France. He later became an avid polo player after he received his commission during WWI. So horses and riding are in my blood.
What is your philosophy on horse training: Horses are majestic animals with an enormous capacity to learn. Keeping that in mind horses need to be treated kindly and with respect. Training is a process which involves teaching the horse manners and movements not breaking their spirit. Each horse is an individual and should never be pushed before he is ready to move to the next level of training. Horses should not be dominated, but instead their training techniques should encompass consistency, steadiness and even-temperedness. Horses need to be trained so their owners can ride them not just their trainers.
List the 4 most important things that come to mind in working with horses: Leadership, patience, open-mindedness, and flexibility.
What is your horse training specialty: I create riders that can RIDE horses. I specialize in training the rider to understand and communicate with the horse. When the rider works with the horse the horse can work better.
Why you love working with kids: After 50 years of riding and working in the horse industry I have gained a lot of knowledge. I want that knowledge to go on and grow. The kids are the future of the horse industry. They need to know how to take care of and train horses properly. So I need to teach them everything I know and they will carry on where I leave off.
The establishment of First Class Horse Complex and how it came to be: After training for another farm for about five years I decided it was time to start my own training center. At first I had a partner, but after two years I went totally out on my own and First Class Horse Complex, LTD. was born. When I choose the name I thought everything had to be done the best possible way by the best people in the industry so I put First Class in the name. And I wanted everyone to know I was all about horses, so I put Horse in the name. Finally, I wanted the name to encompass everything about horses, not just boarding, training and lessons, so I put Complex in the name. Then I had room to grow and expand my business and love of horses all at the same time.
What you envision your equine future to be: I believe I will be riding and teaching about horses for the rest of my life. As time goes by I will be doing most of my teaching at my facility utilizing the internet to connect with everybody who cannot make it to Bristol, WI.
What are the best words of advice you have been given in the horse industry: That even after you win a World Championship you’re still going to have a stall to clean. And you should like your horse well enough to take care of him on Sunday morning. There are no bad horses just bad riders.
What's your favorite horse breed: The Paso Fino horse.
What's your favorite movie: Pirates of the Caribbean
What's your favorite food: Guacamole
How many animals you own: 23 of various species
Favorite pastime: Fishing
Come visit First Class Horse Complex and meet Carolyn!