Rachel Tavelman & Franklin's Tower.
Photo © Randi Muster
In an article two years ago, hunter/jumper trainer Elizabeth Blaisdell-Knox noted of her riders that "goals change with time and life, so our program flows with those changes." This year, however, it's Elizabeth's changing goals that have triggered her move away from a sizeable business at the Del Mar Horsepark to a smaller operation run out of a beautiful, privately-owned training stable in San Diego County's Vista. The name, Harvest Moon Stables, stays the same.
Harvest Moon's new digs feature a brand new, huge arena with state of the art footing, 16 stalls, several of which are oversize, and a lovely, shady environment. It's the perfect setting for the next phase of Elizabeth's training career. She has long wanted to focus on riders with the highest A circuit ambitions. And, since the birth of her and her husband Jamie Knox's daughter, Ella Jane, last November, Elizabeth also wants a lifestyle that allows her to focus on her family.
The smaller client base will allow her to do both. On top of those reasons, the trainer has always wanted to operate out of a privately owned stable, as is more the norm back East where she came from. "I certainly learned how to work within a public facility, but my heart has always been in having my own place," Elizabeth notes. The ability to rearrange the jumps every day and to always have a ring of her own are just a few of the pluses that will enable her to "train the way I want
Located in Vista, the stable is conveniently situated between the 5 and 15 freeways. It's right next to the Palomar Vista arena, where Elizabeth's riders and horses can get some county show mileage when they want to. Most importantly, "It's a quiet, happy, low-stress place," says Elizabeth.
A handful of Harvest Moon riders and horses moved out to Vista and Elizabeth and her family live on the property. She has room for a few more clients but plans to keep a tight rein on the barn's size so she can focus attention on each client and their horses. "If you want to compete successfully at the higher levels, I think you need that."
In addition, Elizabeth will continue with horse sales. "That offers a unique advantage to the sellers and my students," she says. "My students will have access to other horses to hack and/or school. They may occasionally be able to show those horses, which enables the seller to market their horse without bearing the costs of competing themselves." Elizabeth's long time assistant Jennifer Black will be helping out at the new facility on a part-time basis.
On The Rise
Successful for several years, Harvest Moon was even more on the rise in 2010. Rachel Tavelman had a terrific year with her ponies, Stella and Franklin's Tower. She and Franklin's Tower ended their season with a bang at WIHS, where they won the $2,000 Large Pony Hunter Stake and were the Reserve Champions in the Large Pony Hunters. That was after Rachel and both ponies earned high scores and high ribbons at the Capital Challenge and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. The accomplishments are all the more impressive because that was Rachel's first year at Indoors. At home, Rachel won Zone 10 year-end championships in both the Large Green Pony Hunter and the Large Pony Hunters. The talented young rider is now making the transition to horses, and at presstime, was headed to the wonderful Devon Horse Show
The big successes these last few years and the move to a private facility represent what Elizabeth considers a perfect progression in her career. They are natural steps from where she started as a successful junior competitor on the East Coast, where she was a contender in the medal finals her students now aspire to.
After college, she took a "real job" in politics, working for Governor Beasely of South Carolina while riding as an amateur under Grand Prix star Aaron Vale's tutelage. Eighteen months in that job was enough to inspire a permanent return to the horse world, where she joined forces with Washington trainer Cara Anthony at Potcreek Meadows Farm. Anthony was a regular on the Grand Prix circuit at the time and Elizabeth quickly assumed many of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the training barn. From 1999 to 2003, she retraced her junior years' footsteps, taking several Pot Creek youngsters to the big shows and the medal finals back East and coaching them to several state championships. That was in addition to showing herself in the Open Hunter, Jumper and Grand
As for her own riding now, Elizabeth gets to indulge her passion for finding and bringing along talented young horses. Most will be for sale or ready for her students to try. She'll continue competing, but mostly as a means of preparing her students' horses for success later in the week. "Mainly I love the kids and the young horses," Elizabeth explains. "I love watching them thrive."
For more information on Harvest Moon Stables training and sales, visit www.harvestmoonstables.com or call Elizabeth Blaisdell-Knox at