Halie Robinson is returning to her geographical roots, relocating her Huntridge, LLC from Santa Barbara to Moorpark, California this October.
But it’s definitely not business as usual.
The notoriously driven 24-year-old is flipping the script on the “big barn” model with an intentionally crafted boutique business that caters to serious students of the sport. The new Huntridge, opening October 1st at a previously inaccessible private facility, offers immersive training, personalized attention and world-class sale horse prospects to a select few highly motivated individuals.
It’s a markedly different approach than the one that Robinson grew up in. The 2017 USEF Talent Search–West Champion carved out a name for herself riding for top trainers—Elvenstar Farm’s Jim Hagman in Moorpark, CA, New Hope Farm’s Dave Belford in Wellington, FL and European horse dealers Johnny Bijlard and Chris Sorensen, among them. With Huntridge, she’s taking the best of those experiences and making them her own.
“I don’t want to be just another barn on the road,” she explains. “I want to make sure that I am providing everyone with as much attention as I possibly can, and at the highest quality.”
Horsemanship at the Heart
Nestled at the base of Ventura County’s rolling, terraced foothills, Huntridge’s new, 13-acre facility occupies a well-manicured corner of a 22-acre avocado farm. The property boasts a two acre retirement pasture, sprawling turn out paddocks, and 58 in-and-out stalls in a state of the art barn. Robinson will rent a portion of these to a renowned dressage trainer and plans to keep her own business to 20 stalls or fewer in order to stay focused on hands on care and highly individualized training.
“I always keep in mind that the reason we all do this is for the love of the horse,” she says. “I had unique opportunities as a junior [at Elvenstar]. All of the things I did at the barn, both on and off the horse, Jim always said, ‘This is going to make you a better rider, and more successful in the ring, because you’re going to be a better horseperson.’
“I was very involved in the management of horses that I rode for Jim, and I always believed when I walked into the ring, they gave me 110 percent because they knew that I really valued them,” Halie continues. “I think in the moments that matter—those two-minute rounds that everything comes down to—the horses know the people that have their backs.”
That passion for all aspects of the sport is something Robinson tries to impart on her own students. Huntridge is a place where riders come to be hands-on about horsemanship.
“It’s important to have that well-rounded, overall understanding of your partner, because that’s what they are, and that’s what you owe to them,” she shares. “I think knowing [those things] makes you a better athlete yourself.”
Nor does that commitment to horse care stop with competition. In addition to her training and sales business, Huntridge will offer a new retirement complex overseen by Robinson’s mother, Joan.
“It will be really nice to [be able to provide senior] horses with as much enjoyment as possible for their last remaining chapters,” she says.
“My mom is the biggest horse lover, and I come from an animal-loving family. I think the best horses are the happiest horses. Yes, they might be athletes, and they might cost a million dollars, but at the end of the day, they’re still horses, and they deserve to have the best [you can give them].”
West Coast Sunshine, East Coast Type-A
During her junior years, Halie Robinson earned accolades in all three show rings. Today, she’s still stoking those competitive flames, even if she’s not always in the irons herself.
“I enjoy competing, whether I’m on the horse, or standing on the ground, telling you what to do,” she jokes, noting that versatility is another value she tries to pass on to her students.
“I think the hunters teaches you the basics, and how to ride smoothly. The jumpers are more of a thrill; you learn how to dig in and ride the more technical courses. In the equitation you polish everything up. It all translates into one another.”
For her own part, however, the smooth gaits, lofty jumps, and neat-as-a-pin turnout of the hunter ring will always be Robinson’s first love.
“I’m a stylist so the hunters, as a professional, is what I really enjoy doing. I love bringing up young horses and watching them learn how to make it look more effortless and more seamless over the years.”
It’s a skill Robinson honed while working alongside top hunter trainer Dave Belford. Along with lessons gleaned from Belford’s extensive coaching experience at the country’s most prestigious venues, Robinson says she found a kindred spirit in management styles.
“I’m very much a perfectionist, and having my own business has been this really wonderful way for me to channel all of that,” she says.
“Dave’s program is very well structured—he produces amazing hunter after amazing hunter. To see his business be so detail-oriented really inspired me to make my business the same.”
A Local Trainer with a Global Network
While the pandemic has forced many in the industry to take a step back during the spring season, Robinson has been busy putting the final touches on her new facility, reimagining her business, and talking sale horses with dealer and Canadian Team rider Chris Sorensen, her mentor of more than three years.
Halie met the Netherlands-based horseman while studying at the University of Amsterdam and riding for European horse dealer Johnny Bijlard in 2017.
“You don’t learn the import business unless you’re there and you’re doing it. It was really special to me to be [in Europe] at such a young age, and working with these dealers that had such giant careers scouting horses for the United States,” Halie says.
“It takes a special kind of understanding to pick out a horse that can pack around an amateur at Indoors, under the lights. They have to have the mind. I wanted to see how all of that works, and now it’s a big part of my business.”
If her time in Europe taught her anything, Halie says, it’s the two traits that any top hunter needs for success in America: a brilliant mind, and the right canter.
“As a junior and a professional, the horses that ended up being really special had those characteristics,” she explains. “They have to be so brave in order to be successful here, with the things we ask them to do. Whether one is more talented than the other is one thing, but I always look for the brain to be willing.”
A Modern Day Role Model
“I’ve been lucky to get to experience a lot of different programs. You can learn from everybody,” Halie continues. “I feel fortunate that top professionals have put their time and effort into me, so I can supply that to my own customers, as well as provide them my network.”
Another way Robinson is separating herself? Setting an example that young clients can aspire to, both in and out of the ring.
“I had so many wonderful role models myself,” she says. “I look back and appreciate them so much. They all taught me the importance of tenacity. I think that the most successful people have a lot of grit, and they are willing to work really hard.
“A lot of things I did—training with Jim, going to Europe, working for Dave—it seems to have come full circle, giving me the tools that I need now moving forward,” Halie reflects. “I look back on that and I’m so grateful for it. It’s given me the motivation to keep learning everything I can and the desire to share that knowledge with others who want to be competitive at a high level.”
Huntridge LLC’s new location in Moorpark opens on October 1, 2020. To learn more and inquire about training and sales programs, visit huntridgellc.com or contact Halie Robinson via phone at 805-680-1797 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.