California Riding Magazine • June, 2011

Across The Rails: Jenifer Duron
San Diego hunter/jumper program makes journey to horsemanship fun, safe and affordable.

Students at Jenifer Duron's Across The Rails Riding Academy have home court advantage during the frequent shows at the hunter/jumper training barn's base at the Del Mar Horsepark, a.k.a. Showpark. But the location is only one of many advantages to riding with Jenifer. An East Coast native based at Showpark for the last six years, Jenifer applies A circuit quality training to competing on the Greater San Diego Hunter Jumper Assn. scene and the every day work of becoming true horse people.

She specializes in young riders, five to teens, who want to become well-rounded horsemen and are willing to do the hard work that entails. "I believe in the whole lifestyle that comes with horses," Jenifer explains. "I've found a way for my students to ride very seriously and competitively in a way that doesn't affect their school or family lives and is quite a bit cheaper than what most barns offer."

Training programs at Across The Rails include full grooming, but students are expected to prepare and put away their own horses or ponies before and after lessons. "I believe in full horsemanship, rather than just tossing the rider up on the horse right before their lesson," Jenifer says. With their parents' cooperation, some students get weekly chores and extra responsibilities around the barn.

Safety trumps all at Across The Rails. Whether a rider is brand new to the sport or comes to her program after several years at another stable, the student is carefully taken through all phases of safe horse handling. "It's very important to me that riders are taught to handle their horses in an organized and controlled manner, whether in the cross ties or on course, to eliminate as much risk as possible from the sport," she explains.

Within Across The Rail's framework of safety and ship-shape horsemanship, there is plenty of room and time for fun. To minimize wear and tear on the horses and ponies, nobody jumps until at least the Wednesday following a show. Those are great times for post-lesson group trail rides around the extensive Showpark grounds or a bareback ride.

Saturday instruction and openings for lesson-only students are back on Across The Rails' menu of services. For the last few years, Jenifer had not offered Saturday lessons for two reasons: she wanted to have some family time herself and it made for a smoother schedule when there were conflicts with competitions. Jenifer's growing staff recently began offering Saturday lessons.

Jenifer and assistant trainer Katherine Anderson have impressive resumes. A Massachusetts native, Jenifer first competed at 5 and competed on the local and A rated circuit back East. Although her parents were well-off, she was always encouraged to work hard for the privilege of riding and competing horses. She earned much of the money for show expenses throughout her youth and the values she learned in the process have influenced her approach as a professional. Before settling in at Showpark, Jenifer spent several years in Northern California. She worked at the Brookside Equestrian Park and ran Rudy Leone's school horse program in Sacramento.

Katherine Anderson has been with Across The Rails for three years. As a student of the Foxfield Riding Academy, she too enjoyed a youth centered around developing horsemanship.

Customized training programs are another of Across The Rails' hallmarks. The barn usually goes "off property" for shows a few times a year, typically to the Oaks in San Juan Capistrano and always to the GSDHJA Championship Show at year's end. Jenifer can often accommodate riders who want to compete a bit more, but when a student decides they want a full time A circuit itinerary, Jenifer focuses on helping them find the right training barn to do that with.

Jenifer likes to maintain a relatively small program, but she always welcomes inquiries and can usually take on a new rider who is a good fit for the program. "We have a great group of kids. I tell the kids they don't have to be best friends, but they do have to be polite, respectful and supportive of each other. When we compete, we show as a team. We hope to win first, second and third, but it doesn't matter who's in what spot."

For more information on Jenifer Duron's Across The Rails program, call 858-504-0050 or visit www.acrosstherails.com.