Elizabeth "Lizzie" Easton enjoys hearing that from old friends she's running into since returning to the Southern California hunter/jumper circuit. A Zone 10 Young Riders and Prix des Nations star, Lizzie spent the summer of 2006 at Spruce Meadows and stayed on in Canada. She turned professional in 2007, first working for another professional, then opening, with her husband James Peters, her own training and boarding facility in the Alberta town of Okotoks, Rising Storm Stables.
A change in the permitted uses for their Canadian facility served as a great reason to return to California. Lizzie and James bought a 10-acre facility in San Marcos and christened it Rising Storm Stables in February of this year. As she develops a full service A-circuit-oriented training barn, Lizzie returns to her geographic roots with considerable Grand Prix mileage and several years experience of developing horses and riders.
As a result, she's clear what she has in mind for new students: a jumper-focused training program that doesn't take any short cuts. "I like the focus of starting out in the hunter and equitation rings," she says. "Everybody needs the good riding foundation built by going around in the hunter and equitation ring. That's where you develop your knowledge of what your horse is doing underneath you and why, developing the hand to leg connection and your feel." It's a slower road to the jumper ring, she acknowledges, but one that will take clients further. "These are the fundamentals you need to carry you all the way to the Grand Prix arena, rather than topping out in the 4'6" divisions."
The step-by-step philosophy is the one she was raised on as a rider, with the capable guidance of Judy Martin and Devon Gibson being her most influential mentors as a junior. Lizzie continues to get help from Judy, a veteran Grand Prix coach.
She learned a lot during her first five years as a professional. "I learned the importance of quality care for your horse and of listening to what your horse is telling you through their body's reaction to things," she summarizes. "For example, if my stallion throws a fit, some people would say to get after him. I think, if he's throwing a fit, there's a reason for it: he's in pain or reacting to some aspect of his care that is not being handled right. I want to find out why."
At the same time, she's recognizes a distinction between conscientious care and "doing things for superfluous reasons."
"You've got to find that balance that acknowledges that horses are horses: they are animals with needs that need to be addressed. They can't live in a bubble." At Rising Storm Stables, she now gets to incorporate that realization into her role as a stable owner and manager. "Having gone from a boarder to a facility owner, I can tell you it's a lot of hard work."
Regular turn-out time and warm-ups on the Eurocizer are some of the tactics Lizzie uses to keep the lives of her show horses as natural as possible and their minds and bodies fresh
Lizzie loves to bring young horses along and her current upper level jumper, A Perfect Storm, is a great example of her skills in that department. He's a homebred, by Pikadero and out of Lizzie's mare, A Storm Is Rising, who was her first three-foot medal horse. Before she left California, A Perfect Storm earned top honors at the Young Jumper Futurity 4-year-old Championships in 2006. He's 10 now and doing nicely in the 1.4 M jumper division. At the moment, they are returning to that height after sitting out a season when Lizzie got injured and needed knee surgery in January.
While the training barn and boarding facility are Lizzie's main focus, she and James hope to build up a boutique breeding business and they are off to a great start. The couple recently purchased Larrox Z, an 8 year-old Zangershiede stallion that Lizzie expects to introduce in the 1.10 M division soon. And A Pending Storm, A Perfect Storm's full brother, is a 2-year-old Hanoverian/Thoroughbred with lots of potential.
The 10-acre Rising Storm Stables has plenty of room to accommodate its tenants' ambitions. "We are in the process of giving the whole place a facelift," says Lizzie. Fortunately, it already has good bones: a 20-stall indoor main barn, 26 pipe corrals, four large turn-out paddocks and five arenas. A Grand Prix jumping field tops the owners' to-do list.
For more information on training and/or boarding at Rising Storm Stables, call Elizabeth Easton at 760-492-4609 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.