Students at Mark Farndale’s hunter/jumper training barn can count on getting a classical riding education and a solid background in overall horsemanship. But don’t confuse that with a stern environment. “If we, meaning the horses and the riders, don’t have some fun, one or the other of us becomes miserable,” says Farndale.
Based at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, Farndale is a Southern California native and is well known on the West Coast circuit. His horsemanship education began at Foxfield Riding School and continued at Morven Park International Equestrian Institute in Virginia, where he earned an instructors degree. For the past year and a half, he’s been very happy to include Lisa Kursinski as his associate at Farndale Stables.
Lisa is a successful International competitor and coach. She is equally comfortable in the hunter and jumper rings and has won numerous championships from Baby Green through the Regular Working Hunter divisions and, lately, the Grand Prix jumping field. The younger sister of Olympic show jumper Anne Kursinski, Lisa is an extraordinary horseman, Farndale says. Brought up in the horse world by Jimmy Williams, George Morris and other luminaries, Kursinski has a wealth of knowledge and skills that nicely complements Farndale’s. Together they are more than qualified to meet their clientele’s needs.
Even with two great trainers, the stable is more boutique than big business. Farndale prefers to maintain no more than 15-20 horses on average. “We are not a factory,” he notes.
Students at Mark Farndale Stables include amateurs and kids, aged 8 to 50-plus. The mix includes two talented young boys and several amateur riders who are returning to the show ring, where they were very successful as juniors.
Hunter, jumper and equitation riders comprise the riding clientele, but Farndale and Kursinski are also well versed in dressage as the basis for a proper riding foundation for any discipline.
Horses As Partners
In addition to training and coaching, Farndale has had great success importing Warmbloods from Europe. These include the Oldenburg gelding Quapito that he campaigned successfully on the HITS Desert Circuit. Another successful import is Watercolor, a German mare that Farndale has been competing in dressage. How she got there says a lot about Farndale’s approach toward horses.
The mare’s breeding suggested a career in dressage, but Farndale, per the owner’s preference, campaigned her successfully in the lower height Hunter and Jumper divisions. “When the mare rose to the 3’6” fence heights, it was clear she was not enjoying her job,” the trainer recounts. “So we just said, ‘Let’s put you back in dressage.’” Which they did with great success. Last year, Farndale piloted Watercolor to a sixth place in the CDS Open First Level Championships. The Hanoverian mare by Wolkentanz II is currently for sale.
“That was a case of listening to the horse,” Farndale notes. “We really pay attention to them because we believe that they are our partners, not our slaves.” All horses in their program enjoy various forms of body work, including acupuncture, chiropractic, craniosacral work and Reiki massage. The trainer laughs that he’s become more sympathetic to his horse’s aches and pains as he’s accumulated a few himself. “I know that I am cranky when I’m hurting and I want to keep our horses from feeling that way.”
For horses and riders, the insistence on having fun means encouraging students to take time to hand graze their horses and take regular trail rides. The extensive trail network in Griffith Park is right next to LAEC and, for those not up for the bridge crossing access, the Center has a nice perimeter trail around its 64 acres. “We don’t just sit on the rail and do drills,” says Farndale of he and Kursinski’s method of
It is definitely a show-oriented business, but not to the point of crazy point chasing or risking the horse’s welfare for the sake of a year-end trophy. The stable’s location at LAEC makes it convenient and relatively inexpensive to compete regularly. Shows in San
Juan Capistrano and San Diego are often on the
For more information on Farndale Stables, call 323-216-0769 or visit www.markfarndalestables.com.