Susan Evans, Trainer
ARIA Certified Instructor
I have the horse “gene”. Since the first time I cantered on a horse when I was seven years old (bay mare, Duchess, in the main arena at Tamarack Stables outside Washington, DC, more than (gasp!) fifty years ago), I knew there would always be horses in my life. My first horse was a palomino Quarter Horse mare that our family bought when I was nine, and she was my pride and joy. We spent countless days riding the acres of pasture where she was boarded, and I was never happier than when I was in the saddle. We soon added a Tennessee Walking horse to the mix, and our entire family was able to take turns riding. It was wonderful, and I spent my childhood at the barn.
Even after leaving for college, my passion for riding never faded, and I rode whenever I had the chance, on borrowed or leased horses—any mount I could find. I also took lessons when I could afford to, and showed here and there when I got the chance. I’ve always had a great rapport with animals, and horses in particular, so it always seemed that people new to horses would soon come to me with questions. It’s easy to see when someone looks a little lost—you can quietly give him a hint or two about how to fix his problem, and you soon become known as a good source of accurate information. All these different facets of horse knowledge and experience naturally led me into instructing others how to ride.
Due to the time and energy it takes to be a single mom, I’ve never had a very big practice, but every student I have ever taught has told me that they really understand whatever point I am trying to get across. If you don’t “get it” one way, I have one (or two or ten) other ways to help you understand the point of what I’m trying to teach. I LOVE horses and riding, so I feel very passionate about getting my students excited about learning how to ride and care for their horses. I realize that not everyone wants to have an in-depth down-to-the-chemical-level discussion about protein, saddle soap, de-wormers, or supplements (like I do), but that doesn’t mean I can’t help students understand the importance of good nutrition, tack care, and preventive maintenance. Enthusiasm and knowledge are a powerful team, and students will learn just about anything if you present it in a fun and informative way. That is how I like to teach.
Elizabeth Evans, Trainer
I’m a twenty seven year-old high-school graduate, and I’ve ridden hunter/jumper and dressage since I was six years old, and got my first horse, The Little Brown Pony (the greatest first horse I could have asked for), when I was ten. I have been active as the Assistant Trainer at Mischief Farm since I was twelve, and soon afterwards jumped my first four foot fence—that’s when I discovered that show jumping was my true calling in the saddle.
I ride the horses in training at Mischief Farm every day. I also show in the jumper classes at local shows, as well as occasional jumper/event derby, on four of our horses and occasionally on clients' horses. I try to regularly attend local clinics, and have ridden with Linda Allen, Jeff Cook, Liz Denny, Melanie Smith-Taylor (inaugural USHJA Emerging Athletes Program in 2009),
Will Simpson, and Anne Kursinski (2012 EAP). When chosen to participate in the inaugural USHJA Emerging Athletes Clinic in May 2009, I rode with clinician Melanie Smith Taylor, the 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist, and it proved to be one of the best clinics I have ever attended.
I also participated in the inaugural USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge in 2012. I qualified for and attended the HQC National Finals as part of the Zone 10 Team. After an exciting two days of lectures and a hands on practicum, the Zone 10 Team won the silver medal. The same year I also became a national ambassador for the HQC program. In 2014, I attended the HQC Finals as a lecturer and also coached one of our Mischief Farm students to a team bronze medal for Zone 10. Another part of the HQC that I take part in is the 30-Day Horsemanship Stable Challenge. This is where students take a practice quiz to earn their trainer points; the highest scoring trainer in each zone is the winner. I took part in the challenge the inaugural year (2013) and won for Zone 10. Since then I have defended my title by also winning in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
In 2012 I started designing and painting jumps for our own use. Everyone who saw the jumps said that I should go into business. At the start of 2013 I started offering my services to the general public.
Over the years I have shown in multiple disciplines including show jumping, eventing, and dressage. I am currently working with my horse Sotogrande (barn name: Soto), a 20 year old, 17.1 hand KWPN Dutch warmblood gelding. He has the abilities and has opened doors for me to help take me to the next level on my road to being a Grand Prix rider. Since my goal is to show jump at an international level (The Olympics, the World Equestrian Games, Longines Global Champions Tour, etc.), I feel that I now have the connections and education that can help me start my journey.
Mischief Farm Webmaster and Site Designer
Sierra Canyon School Interscholastic Equestrian League Team Representative
USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Program Ambassador
Inaugural USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Finals Participant, Zone 10 Team member and Silver Medal Winner
2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Winner, USHJA 30-Day Horsemanship Stable Challenge for Zone 10 (the only trainer in the country to win all four years)
Executive Team Member of Young KWPN-NA starting in 2017, and took charge in 2019
We believe in the “win – win” philosophy.
We want our riders to win, our horses to win, and our staff to win. This attitude is the most effective way to improve your riding skills and train your horse to his ultimate potential.
Here at Mischief Farm we believe that, above all else, this should be fun, for both riders and horses. We want our horses to have a well-rounded education, and to do everything expected of a well-trained horse. Every horse should be capable of going on trail, jumping (soundness permitting), doing flat work, going cross-country, and attending shows. We feel very strongly that all of our horses should have a solid base in dressage, regardless of the career they end up with. This sets them up for success, and makes them far more willing and able to do what is asked of them. The horse's physical comfort is also extremely important, as no horse can perform well if he is uncomfortable in his body or his tack. We inspect all our horses every day for health and soundness issues, and have an excellent veterinarian, farrier, and equine massage therapist available to address any problems. We also check tack fit for every ride, to ensure that the horse’s equipment will not restrict or interfere with his ability to do his job. We consider ourselves to be "conservative minimalists," and use only the basic tack necessary to ride or work our horses. We use this mentality throughout all of our training: “ask little, ask often, reward the try.”
Our riders also benefit from this approach. Whether you want to just improve your knowledge and ride the trails, or have aspirations to go the “A” show circuit route, we can help you become a more effective rider, and increase your horse/human communication skills, both on the ground and in the saddle. We start all riders with the sensible basics of dressage: a proper seat, correct body position, quiet hands, and an understanding of how to move and interact with your horse. As riding instructors, we see ourselves as your coach and cheerleader, and feel that encouragement and positive reinforcement are far more effective teaching tools than fear and intimidation. Once you are confident at the walk/ trot/canter, your future riding career is entirely up to you. Our students ride dressage, trail, cross-country, and jumpers, and many do local and rated shows. Tell us where you want to go with your horse, and we can help you get there.
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