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About Samantha Burton Henley

Sam is the Head Trainer and Facility Manager at Sandy River Equestrian Center owned by Suzanne Martin Lacy in Axton, Virginia. Sam came to Sandy River Equestrian Center in 2004 from the O'Connor Event Team, where she was the Competition Manager for the O'Connors and David O'Connor's Head Groom. In that capacity, she has traveled all over the world caring for 4-Star and Olympic level horses.

Samantha Burton Henley

Samantha Burton Henley

In addition to the experience with the O'Connors, Sam has been a Head Groom for the 2004-2006 Area II NAYRC Teams and the Head Groom for the 2006 Canadian WEG Team. At Sandy River, Sam is an instructor and trainer for many up and coming young horses, young riders and their horses. Sam also works with adults. She assists Suzanne in creating a world class training center at SREC which hosts YRAP camps, pony club camps, and and various event camps. Sam is the Program Administrator for the Equine Management Training Center, a professional groom training program. Sam resides at Sandy River with her daughters, Danni and Riley.

Sandy River Equestrian Center 

Sandy River Equestrian Center was established in 1990 as a boarding, training, and lesson facility with an emphasis on eventing. In our program, we emphasize safety, soundness, and responsibility.

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All students are required not only to groom and care for their horses, but are responsible for the conditioning and maintenance of their horse. Students are prepared for the appropriate level of competition by competing at various disciplines: dressage, show jumping, and cross country. Not only are we a competition barn but we also have a facility to accommodate those who want to just learn to ride, trail ride, or be in a lesson program.

Our training program has various levels, fitting the needs of the horse, be it ground work, tuning-up, or polishing for a competition. The program is designed to create happy and confident horses.

Our facility provides full care board. We are very aware that each horse has individual needs regarding their diet, be it water and hay, special feed, and/or special supplements.

Our farrier has many years of expertise in shoeing horses with problem feet and unusual settings. We also have two equine vets within 45 minutes of our facility, and are within 2.5 hours of two major teaching facilities: North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech.

The staff at Sandy River has an excellent reputation in the eventing world and continues to be active in the horse community and in local associations. The staff has a goal of working to provide a safe and fun environment for all of our clients and students. Learn more more about the facility here. 

Equine Management Trainer Center 

The Professional Groom Training Certificate program is a total of eight weeks long: six weeks of classroom and practical training followed by a two week internship. The hands-on curriculum covers all aspects of equine management. The program's curriculum was developed in conjunction with many professionals including Olympic riders, veterinarians, farriers, professional grooms, and more and is affiliated with the Eventing Riders Association of North America.

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The program, offered through the Equine Management Training Center (EMTC), is taking groom education to the next level. Based at Sandy River Equestrian Center in southwestern Virginia, EMTC offers a comprehensive certification program sharing the knowledge and skills necessary to become a professional groom and manage all aspects of equestrian life. Potential employers are waiting for students to complete the training so they may be hired immediately upon program completion. Check out more information and upcoming program dates here.

Ask a Pro Q1

We asked Sam how she streamlines clipping her horses', how to keep tails untangled, and keeping dusty off your horses' coats. Check out her tips here

Ask a Pro Q2

We asked featured pro Sam, what her "olympic level" four major tips are when it comes to grooming and horse care, whether you're a local horse show circuit or coast to coast competitor. Click here to get her insight! 

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