California Riding Magazine •September, 2013

Mill Creek Equestrian Center
A New Chapter

Mill Creek Equestrian Center in Topanga Canyon welcomes top hunter/jumper trainers Traci and Carleton Brooks. Eventing and Mill Creek have been synonymous for the last 50 years. "We are not giving up eventing, but cutting back a little maybe," says owner Cory Walkey. "Mill Creek has always been considered one of the top event barns on the West Coast."

That association changes with the arrival of top-flight hunter/jumper trainers Carleton and Traci Barmen Brooks. Mill Creek will now be the West Los Angeles base for their Balmoral Farms. Their arrival opens opportunities for new students, and for riders who've been developing in the Mill Creek Riding School. That pipeline of future stars will continue with its approximately 200 lessons-per-week pace. In addition, veteran Grand Prix dressage rider Mette Rosencrantz continues her FEI training program at the Center.

Cory assures all that she is not abandoning the business. Instead, she's leaving the Riding School and the boarding operation in the very capable hands of her long time staff and entrusting Carleton and Traci with those who want to take their riding to the highest levels. She'll continue to supervise everything, while also taking some well-deserved time to travel and play. Pandas, orangutans and gorillas are currently on the 67-year-old's itinerary, then off to China and the African continent next year.

An inaugural recipient of the US Eventing Association's Cornerstone Instructors Award, Cory was honored last December for her 50 years of developing event riders. She was moved and humbled to receive the award. Simultaneously, it triggered her decision to step down from the constant 110% effort required to maintain a full-time eventing schedule.

"It's been a great run and I want to thank everybody involved along the way," she notes. "The barns and the riding school are full and everything is humming along: I just decided I don't personally want to be drained to the last drop."

Hunter/Jumpers: Here We Come

She describes Carleton and Traci's arrival as an exciting new chapter for Mill Creek. Both are well known for their success on the A hunter/jumper circuit. Carleton is an ace with developing young horses and campaigning horse of all ages and Traci brings years of coaching and training experience to the partnership. "We are going to blend in with what Cory already has going at Mill Creek," Carleton explains. "Cory wants to see kids getting started in the Riding School then being able to go as far as they want to without having to leave the facility. We are the next step on the ladder."

"We had students from Mill Creek in the past and they are so easy to teach because they had such a great foundation," Traci observes.
During his 30-plus years in the sport, Carleton, aka "CB," has developed hundreds of young horses and taken an equal number of hunters to top national honors. "I love bringing horses along and figuring out what makes them tick," he says. En route to Kentucky to judge the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals as we went to press, Carleton is a sought-after judge, clinician and consultant, along with coaching and training.

Traci has an extensive teaching background and a keen ability to match horses and riders. Together they focus on fundamentals and making sure students of any experience and ability enjoy the process of learning. "Our approach is centered on the basics," Carleton explains. "Form is function and we go from there."

As for prospective students, Traci and Carleton welcome "anyone with a passion for the sport." They maintain an active show schedule and count on reliable staff to maintain continuity for clients when they are away at competitions. Sales and investment horses are also part of Balmoral Farms.

Cory looks forward to being part of a different discipline in the horse world. She believes that many Mill Creek Riding School graduates will appreciate the opportunity to test the competitive waters at local hunter, jumper and dressage shows and events.

No matter how far Cory travels in her semi-retirement, her legacy is locked in at Mill Creek. The shade-tree saturated site nestled in Topanga Canyon is home to 90 horses and thousands of equestrian dreams, both realized and in the making. "I am looking forward to sharing Mill Creek with such top professional, honest and talented trainers."

For more information, call 310-455-1116 or visit www.millcreekequestriancenter.com.