California Riding Magazine • November, 2014

Flying Changes

New Owner For Mill Creek

The Mill Creek Equestrian Center was due to change hands at the end of October, announced Cory Walkey. A much-loved figure on the West Coast eventing scene and well beyond, Cory purchased the Topanga Canyon property 42 years ago, when she was just 26, and built it into a well run, yet low-key training center that launched the careers of many top riders. With "great excitement and sorrow," Cory told friends, "a very nice family who love the land and horses is looking forward to spending time with their family and grandchildren at this little piece of heaven called Mill Creek."

New owners, the Kim family, "are not horse people, but plan to have Mill Creek run the way it has been for the last 42 years," Cory explains. "Mr. and Mrs. Kim are hoping that all riding instructors, stable and office staff, boarders and riders will continue to stay at Mill Creek. Mr. Kim has asked me to stay and assist in the running of Mill Creek, but allowing me plenty of time to travel, read, relax and visit with friends.

"The Kims love Mill Creek almost as much as I do," she continues. "Mrs. Kim wants to plant more flowers, fruit trees, grapevines, avocado trees and many pepper trees around the hills. They are so lovely and kind. They tell me all the time that they will not change anything and that Mill Creek will always be mine."

Twizted Syster To Tamra Smith

Shortly before trekking cross-country to contest the Fair Hill International CCI Two Star in Maryland, eventer Tamra Smith announced that her mount there, Twizted Syster is hers for good. The 7-year-old Irish sporthorse mare was sent to Tamra by her friend, Heather Morris of Texas, because the mare suffered allergies in that part of the country. The plan was for Tamra to sell "Chloe" but that didn't last long.

"I have thought the world of Twizted Syster since Heather and Mike Huber found her in Europe.  When Heather asked if I would take her to be sold in California due to her allergies in Texas, I was very excited to have her at my barn. Over the last several months, I have developed a partnership with this talented horse which I am very excited about, and I am thrilled and honored that the individuals in this syndicate group came together on my behalf so that I can keep the ride on her for years to come," Tamra states. The mare was purchased for her by a syndicate now known as Twizted Systers LLC.

The pair celebrated their new arrangement by a very impressive fifth place finish in the Two-Star at Fair Hill in mid-October. Congrats!
Tamra runs Next Level Eventing in Temecula.

Bright Star Lost

Members of the hunter/jumper circuit were heartbroken by the death of 17-year-old Northern California rider Shelby Drazan in mid-October. Having just won the USEF Zones 8, 9 10 Hunter Seat Regional Medal Finals for the second time, she was in the midst of another great show season and is described by those who knew her as a wonderful young woman. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Shelby's family and many friends.

Hawley Bennett-Awad Makes A Move

Hawley Bennett Eventing moves to Sweet Oaks Ranch, located directly across the street from one of the top international events in the country, Galway Downs, in Temecula. The Canadian WEG and Olympic rider moved to California in 2004, when she set up shop at Terry and Linda Paine's Kingsway Farm, also in Temecula. She enjoyed a long run with the Paines, highlighted by her successes with Gin & Juice. The mare stays with the Paines, marking the end of a relationship that included representing Canada in the 2010 WEG and the 2012 Olympics.

Sweet Oaks Ranch will offer full board and "state of the art amenities" for new and current HBE clients beginning November 1. A 20-stall barn, gated entrance, two large arenas with covered viewing areas, grass turnouts with shelters, a eurosizer and a round pen are among the many amenities at Hawley's new base. The proximity to Galway Downs equals extra schooling opportunities and trails.
Hawley can be reached at

Bill Gates Buys San Diego Ranch

U-T San Diego reports that Microsoft founder Bill Gates bought Jenny Craig's 229-acre Thoroughbred training center in Rancho Santa Fe. Even better, he reportedly plans to turn it into a show grounds for hunter/jumper competition. In use for the last few years for training and, primarily, rehab, the facility has four 30-stall barns, a three-quarter mile training track, white fencing and two apartments. Jennifer Gates has been a frequent presence of late on the West Coast, riding in the Longines Los Angeles Masters Grand Slam, the Sacramento International and now headed to the Las Vegas National this month.