Below is a full transcript of the Practical Horseman Podcast with Ned Glynn.
Opening quote—Ned Glynn: I don’t think there’s one correct way that you can train all horses. So really to get a horse to achieve its full potential, you have to learn that horse and you have to learn how it responds to different techniques and how it responds to being pushed and how it responds to getting rewarded. And so some horses need lots of work and lots of turnout. Some horses need less and need more riding. I just, I think they’re all individuals and, like I said earlier, trying to achieve their maximum potential, you have to understand them and you have to learn how they respond best. It carries over to my students as well. Like when I’m teaching students, each student is an individual and learns a different way slightly.
[Music fades in toward the end of Ned’s quote and then back out at the beginning of the introduction.]
Introduction—Sandra Oliynyk: Welcome to the Practical Horseman Podcast, featuring conversations with respected riders, industry leaders and horse-care experts. The show is co-hosted by Practical Horseman editors, and our goal is to inform, educate and inspire. I’m Sandra Oliynyk and this week’s episode is with Northern California hunter/jumper trainer Ned Glynn.
The owner of Sonoma Valley Stables in Petaluma, California, Ned is a respected trainer in hunters, jumpers and equitation. The foundation for his success is threefold: solid horsemanship and strong business and people skills.
As Ned explains during our conversation, much of that foundation stems from his parents. While initially not horse people, they supported his desire to make riding and training his profession. But they also encouraged him to expand his knowledge beyond those skills and explore different perspectives within the industry. So while he continued learning from a variety of top trainers, he apprenticed with both 1996 Atlanta Olympic course designer Linda Allen and renowned veterinarian J.D. Wheat. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of California-Davis.
All of these factors helped Ned launch Sonoma Valley Stables in 1996 and establish a training philosophy that centers on creating a consistent approach to training for his students and horses, whether they are preparing for a local show or international championship. This means solid flatwork fundamentals and not overfacing students or horses. The result is positive riders who have fun and happy horses who are fit and sound.
To fill you in on more of Ned’s background, he started riding at about age 10 when his parents sent him to a ranch camp. He followed his sister into eventing at a barn in Petaluma. His parents bought him his first horse for $2,500 from an ad in the local newspaper. With that horse, came a month of board and training with Northern California hunter/jumper trainer John Charlebois, which led to a working student position with Betty Kilham. With Betty, Ned was able to ride green and experienced hunters and jumpers and even polo ponies. In that work, Ned learned he had an affinity for working with and developing young horses. Ned then rode as a junior with Olympian Duncan McFarlane, and his wife, Gry. He also worked with the equestrian team at UC Davis and traveled to the East Coast to train and compete, where he met mentor Candace King, before starting his business.
Fast forward and Ned’s daughter, Avery, is following in his footsteps, having won the Taylor Harris Insurance Services Children’s Medal Finals at The Capital Challenge Horse Show in 2018 on a horse whom Ned initially trained as a jumper. Keeping riding and training in the family Ned and his wife, Rebecca Bruce Glynn, whom he married in late 2019, are now busy juggling their stables as separate entities—Rebecca owns and operates Sunnybrook Elite Riding Club just outside of Santa Barbara, California—a balancing act he also discusses in this episode.
Before getting into the conversation, I’d like to thank the sponsor of this week’s podcast, Bimeda. Bimeda might be the biggest animal health company you’ve never heard of, till now. Bimeda’s products have been trusted by veterinarians and owners since the 1960s when our Irish roots began. Bimeda is one of the largest producers of dewormers like Equimax, Bimectin, and Exodus. World-renowned equine athletes also rely on Polyglycan, a patented formula that replaces lost or damaged synovial fluid, and ConfidenceEQ pheromone gel which reduces and prevents equine stress. Consult your vet and visit BimedaUS.com to see where to buy.
Now, let’s jump right into the conversation with Ned where he first shares what it is about horses and the sport have kept him involved for so long.
Ned Glynn: It’s just such a special sport in that you’re pairing these magnificent animals along with an athlete together. So it just separates it from all our sports. I did play basketball through high school and I really enjoyed that it was a team sport, but more of an individual thing. Just the excitement of trying to get your horse and yourself to peak at the right moment and perform well together while you communicate at high levels is just, there’s nothing else like it in the world really.
Sandra Oliynyk: And then you mentioned John [Charlebois] and I’ve read that with John and Betty Kilham
Ned Glynn: Yeah, so John and Lumpy Charlebois were together at the time—Lumpy Kilham—and Lumpy’s mom, Betty, was at the farm that I was at, and she didn’t have a rider at the time. So fortunately, when I was 13 or 14, I got to start being a working student for her and basically riding all of her horses for her.
She did hunter–jumper horses and also polo ponies. So I got to ride the polo ponies, and I got to ride most of the hunter–jumper horses in the barn, young ones, going ones. There were some great competition horses, but there was also some nice up and coming horses. So I really found myself drawn to both, but I had a real connection with the young horses and helping her bring them along and get them to their first shows and do that type of thing.
Sandy: You’ve said that while you were there, that’s where you developed your core understanding that each horse requires an individual approach. Can you share what exactly that means to you and how you developed that?
Ned Glynn: Well, I don’t think there’s one correct way that you can train all horses. So really to get a horse to achieve its full potential, you have to learn that horse and you have to learn how it responds to different techniques and how it responds to being pushed and how it responds to getting rewarded. And so some horses need lots of work and lots of turnout. Some horses need less and need more riding. I think they’re all individuals and, like I said earlier, trying to achieve their maximum potential, you have to understand them and you have to learn how they respond best. It carries over to my students as well. Like when I’m teaching students, each student is an individual and learns a different way slightly.
So you have to adapt basically, I think, to both your horses and your student. If you’re going to get them to achieve at their highest potential, you have to be presenting what you want from them in a way they understand in a way that they can thrive.
Sandy: Can you speak a little bit more about who some of your other mentors have been in the horse business?
Ned Glynn: I was fortunate enough after college to go across country and meet up with Candice King, and I got to show with her for quite a few weeks at some of the bigger shows across the country. And she was a great mentor. She was, and still is, riding at the top of her game, but she had fantastic grand prix horse at the time and was winning at Spruce Meadows. It really broadened my, my vision of what was out there. I had really never experienced much more than California. So getting to go to New York and Virginia, Pennsylvania and show at some of the bigger shows with her was incredible. And it just upped my appreciation for attention to detail. They were the first ones there and the last ones to leave, basically making sure that if there was something that could be done for the horses to prepare them, you were going to get it done.
And not a rider, but I was fortunate to have a little bit of an apprenticeship with Dr. J. D. Wheat, who is a really famous veterinarian teacher from UC-Davis. And I got really fortunate that he was going into semi-retirement, and I honestly can’t remember exactly how we met, but he came to the barn and I was at right outside of Sonoma in California. And we just hit it off immediately, as far as talking to horses, talking about horses and talking about soundness and talking about longevity and talking about performance based on how the horse is feeling. And he would just come once a week or twice a month and we’d just pull horses out of the stalls, and he just asked me what was going on with this horse. And we talk about it and just come up with plans to make sure that they were feeling their best. It was just an incredible experience because I think he was a vet who truly loved treating animals, but also liked the performance as well.
So putting those two things together is so foundationally important for what we do. Making sure that horse is feeling good and has a long career is really as important as anything we can do for them.
Sandy: While I won’t say that’s] unusual, going to work with a vet, what prompted you to do that? You don’t hear about it too often.
Ned Glynn: I’ve been very fortunate. This whole life choice for me started back in high school before I graduated high school and went off to college. My parents were supportive of this choice, but they also knew that it was going to be important that I had perspectives from the different aspects of the horse world, not just riding. So I did apprenticeships with instructors. I did apprenticeships with course designers. I did apprenticeships with vets. I went to Europe and saw horses in Europe. I went to the East Coast and saw shows in the East Coast. My parents were great role models and were supportive but also wanted to make sure that I had a chance of success.
And I think that we discussed how important it was to understand the different facets of what went into producing competition horses from different perspectives. So that’s where it started, and then it just … I think I’ve always had a grasp that making sure I have an idea that my horses are getting the best care is so important for their lives, their wellbeing, their performance, that I was drawn to it. I wanted to know and see through these different perspectives what I could do better. And so I was just like a sponge whenever I had an opportunity to be with Dr. Wheat, I loved that. I still remember those days.
And then I got really fortunate and got an apprenticeship working with Linda Allen right around the, I believe,  Olympics in Atlanta. So I got to be an apprentice course designer there. I got to go do World Cup finals with her in Sweden. And she’s also an amazing horse woman who was a big influence on me.
She wasn’t riding at the time because of injuries, but she instilled in me that the course designer really is one of the most important people on the showgrounds. And it’s really the course designer’s role is to give every horse on that show grounds an opportunity to thrive and get better throughout a week.
She really considers herself a horse trainer as much as a course designer. So where she starts, divisions at what levels and the technicality and the difficulty of courses. You’ll just see … obviously she’s going to make it very inviting the first day and then it’s going to build, and I remember her telling me she was always hopeful that riders would be able to move up a division when they were done with riding one of her weeks that she was designing.
So she was very much a big part of what helped me learn schooling, exercise for horses, and also the respect that I have now, for course designers and what they’re really out there trying to do.
Sandy: You attended college at University of California Davis and I understand you helped with coaching the equestrian team?
Ned Glynn: Yeah. So, Davis didn’t have a business major at the time, so I studied economics. Again, going back to the fact that my parents put some good guidance into me that being a horse professional wasn’t just getting to ride or teach that there was a lot of business behind it.
So, I studied economics while I was there. Because I knew that I wanted to turn professional as soon as I was done with college, I did start coaching the equestrian team there, which was great, because it gave me experience teaching all levels of riders. We had advanced riders that were good enough to ride on the A-circuit, but we also had beginners. I recall teaching beginners on riding a donkey at one point while I was teaching at Davis.
It just gave me all sorts of experience, teaching different levels, different types of horses, different people. I did realize then that I had an affinity for coaching as well. So I knew at that point that I was passionate about riding and I loved it. But, I also, at a young age, realized that I thought I could communicate well with riders and horses and impart really good knowledge to them. I felt like my students thrived and respected me.
Sandy: I understand that while you were there you also worked with off-the-track thoroughbreds. What was it like working with the Thoroughbreds and what did you learn from that experience?
Ned Glynn: That was a little bit after Davis, more so. When I first opened my business, I had a couple of show clients, but I also had a couple of babies that I was breaking or re-breaking. I had quite a few horses that had had run races before as Thoroughbreds. There was more in the industry at that time.
One of my biggest wins was a Grand Prix up in Bend, Oregon, and it was on an off-the-track Thoroughbred by a Native Dancer. His name was Blackhawk—just a really spectacular horse. So, I think that they in general are a little bit more flighty than the warmbloods we work with now.
I just had to take my time with them a little bit. A lot of them had been started quickly and had learned bad habits. So just a lot of groundwork and just take my time. I started in the round pen a lot of days just getting them to trust a little bit and then making sure the steps were introduced to them slowly. Thoroughbreds are fantastic and are fantastic athletes and they take to it quickly. Some of them though, it’s not like the warmbloods that have been bred to jump generation after generation after generation, so I think you have to maybe take a little bit more time with the initial steps. You have to really make sure that the foundation is there and that they’re confident in what they’re doing. So, that was my experience with them was. I did really enjoy working with the Thoroughbreds, I just want to be sure that I gained their trust, I took my time, and made sure that their foundation was really solid before you moved them up.
Then the ones that were really good at it and acclimated to it well were fantastic and they were careful and fast and just really amazing animals.
Sandy: In terms of the hunters, jumpers and equitation, do you have a favorite?
Ned Glynn: I don’t know. People ask all the time. I’ll ask my students, “Do you have a favorite?” I think most people get a favorite if they have a horse that was really good at one of them. So, they have a relationship or a memory of a horse that was fantastic in one of the divisions. I would say my heart is a little more in the jumper ring. My experiences at Spruce Meadows with myself and bringing students there are some of my favorite memories of all time. But, I really like all of the divisions and I see the benefits of all of them.
Over the past 10 years as a trainer and groundsman, I’ve had much more success in the hunter ring, and I’m very proud of that. It’s very interesting, people ask how I train a hunter differently than a jumper, and there’s really many similarities. We’re trying to get the horses really balanced, sound, relaxed, trusting, and then jumping really square, athletically, in a balanced manner, landing balanced. All those things translate from jumpers to hunters. I think it’s sometimes one of the advantages I’ve had is that I had that jumper background and I’ve been able to bring that over to the hunter ring. I think that maybe the fitness level isn’t quite as high, you don’t need them to have quite as much wind to do the hunters. But in general, you want a very elastic, very balanced. You want them jumping very square, you want I’m catching both leads. There’s so many similarities. It’s just, the courses are different. And like I said, maybe the fitness level is different and the pace may be different, but in many ways there’s lots of similarities. I feel like my foundation in the jumpers really helped me translate into a great hunter trainer.
Sandy: Can you talk more about your foundation in the jumper ring and how you progressed?
Ned Glynn: Yes. So, after college, I started the business right away and I think I was more equally based in hunters and jumpers at the time and students. So, I was fortunate enough to have three or four jumpers. Normally, I would own one, but I had a couple of clients that were willing to support me on a couple. I did win two or three pretty big Grands Prix. Like I said, mostly just West Coast, Northern California, Oregon. I kept competing and bringing along … I found I had an affinity for young horses at that point. I then started buying horses at age 5 or 6 and I brought three or four along myself through like 8-year-old horses and then sold them.
I had a big business. What I realized that is if you really wanted to be a top Grand Prix rider, you really had to focus an enormous amount of time on those horses. And, it wasn’t fitting for me in my schedule, basically. When I started, I had a family, I had a huge business, a big property, and I found that I was better at focusing on what I was really good at, which was bringing along a 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds and then selling that horse and having someone else bring it along into the next level.
My last horse that I did that on before I stopped competing actually has become my daughter’s great equitation [horse]—Cocon 4—who she actually won the THIS Finals on at Capital Challenge. I brought her through the 7-year-olds and jumped her in the 1.40m. She turned out to be not super careful and not super fast, but just a wonderful horse. She is doing fantastic [now] and I think as third in our region in the Washington standings right now, so hopefully she’s going to be going back east again this year with my daughter.
Sandy: That’s great. That’s a nice full circle story.
Ned Glynn: Yes, for sure. For sure.
Sandy: Who were some of the most influential horses in your life and why they were influential?
Ned Glynn: I had a local bred horse that was my junior hunter named Central Park. That was just an amazing American bred Hanoverian. I believe Spruce Meadows used to have hunters. They were amazing out on the grass fields with these enormous railroad tie jumps. It was spectacular. And, I believe she won the Open Hunter Classic the last year they had hunters. That must be in the late 80s, I would think. She was an amazing horse. I did Medal finals on her, I did jumpers on her, I did hunters on her. She was really a hybrid of what horses were at the time. She would have fit right in today’s market as an international derby horse.
She was green—I got her when she was 6—and it was just a great journey. I was riding with Duncan at the time and he did a great job helping me. But, it was a great journey to go from bringing an American-bred, green horse that when it was started, someone had been a little heavy handed with it, so it was behind the bit all the time. So we took this kind of green, gawky, gangly, American-bred Hanoverian and really brought it to the top level of hunters and equitation on the West Coast. I actually, in one weekend, finished in the top 10 of the Foxfield Derby and the Foxfield Jumper Derby on the same weekend, which is just something that not many horses can do.
I then went on to sell her to Jaime Krupnick and she went on to win multiple Medal finals and then turned into one of the best AA hunters in the country. So, I think that that instilled in me that desire of bringing horses along and just taking your time and achieving their full potential. It just inspired me that if you do it right, there’s a chance you’re going to get this wonderful animal to achieve the top level that they can and have a long career. Those are things that just really excited me about working with the horses.
The other one I brought up earlier was the Thoroughbred off-the-track. Blackhawk was his name. Jake—we called him just Jake. He also was a green horse. He had only shown one or two jumper shows and we brought him from the Children’s Jumpers all the way through to, like I said, winning an Grand Prix in Oregon over a three-year period. He then went on to be a fantastic amateur-owner jumper for a woman who—funny story—I saw her this past weekend. So, that was 30 years ago and I hadn’t seen her Elizabeth in probably 15 years and the first thing she wanted to talk about was this horse, how influential it was on her life, which is really cool. They’re such special animals and when you can get them to achieve their full potential, it’s really rewarding. I like working with them, but I’m okay if I sell them and they go on and make someone else’s life better.
Sandy: What are some of the most favorable wins in your career, whether for yourself or a student?
Ned Glynn: Well, I think Avery, my daughter, winning Medal finals at Capital Challenge was really special. I’m thinking that was about three years ago now on this horse that I had developed as a jumper. So, there’s so much backstory to it. Avery was becoming a young teenager, and as a dad, we were butting heads a little bit. It gave me something in that period that we could work together on and it was a great hour a day for the years building up to that momentous win. We talked, right from her last 7-year-old class, about what she needed to do to become a better equitation horse. We worked hard together on it and then for it to come full circle and for her to go back east … unfortunately, I wasn’t there, but I was watching on my phone at the back gate of another show. I was so nervous in that work off. And then the [live] feed didn’t do a good job of telling us who the winner was because the volume had cut out. We really didn’t know for a while, so we were on pins and needles. But that moment when I realized that she had achieved this win on this horse that we’d worked so hard together on was … I’ll always remember that moment. That a huge one.
I also, the first time I went to Spruce Meadows, I had a horse of my own that I was riding, but I also brought a couple of students with me and they had recently moved up to the 1.40m—to the High Juniors. Both of my students on their 1.40m horses jumped clean rounds and got ribbons at their first Spruce Meadows on the grass, in the rain. It’s such a big stage and I can just remember how excited it was that they were prepared and we got there and the horses jumped amazing and the kids performed amazing on that stage. So much goes into that. They were two students of mine that had started in the short stirrup ring. So bringing them from the short stirrup ring through the High Junior Jumpers with double clean rounds at Spruce Meadows was really rewarding.
One of those horses—Alley Oop—my student was Eleanor Hellman, really was just unbelievable for two weeks up there. The horse really made a name for himself. I had all sorts of people who I had idolized and looked up to coming up to me trying to take him out of the barn. Fortunately, we weren’t going to let them go.
Sandy: In this sport, things don’t always go as planned and you don’t often win as much as you’d like. How do you deal with that?
Ned Glynn: Michael Page is one of my mentors also. I wish I’d get him out for more clinics on the West Coast, he’s not coming right now. But, when he asks a student, “What are your goals?” If they tell him like a specific class or a specific specific event, he’s really good at just instilling that you don’t want to put too much pressure on the results of one specific class or one specific event. Because, you can do everything right, your horse can do everything right, you can prepare correctly, you can train hard, you can have your horse give a hundred percent, you can give a hundred percent, the whole team can give a hundred percent, and on a given day, things might not go your way. So, I really try not to make a specific class or specific event my goal.
I am really trying to have my horses and riders prepared really to their full potential and then the results really seem to fall in place. They may not be specifically one or another, but the consistency and the wins just happen. So, yes, I’m disappointed because I’m very competitive. I don’t win every class. But, if I’ve prepared correctly, if my students prepared correctly, and we’re there, and we’re ready, that’s the win. You know, the win is the culture. The win is being present, being in the moment, being ready, and then, you know, the stars line up sometimes and you get the wins. And, if you are in the moment and you’re present and you’re ready, those stars line up a lot more often than if you’ve fallen down in your job as far as the preparation or having your horse in the right space.
Sandy: Do you ever get nervous when you’re riding? If so, how do you deal with those nerves with yourself and/or your students. ?
Ned Glynn: Breathing is the first thing. Taking a few deep breaths always is really helpful. I think, in general, I’m a pretty calm person. I think working on a consistent routine for preparation is really good if you can, so things are consistent. We start instilling that in our students from the very start. Trying not to get too emotionally up or down in preparation, or even with wins, so that you can start to develop some consistency and repetition and how you get yourself ready, how you perform and how you react to your performance. If you do those things correctly from the beginning and you do them each time, you’re kind of going with the same approach. I think it can really help alleviate a lot of the anxiety of different factors and variables.
So, I think breathing is really important. I think having a consistent approach to your preparation and your day is really important. And then, I think one thing that I’m quite good at is, as a coach, I instill confidence in my riders. That is really important for me, like through my tone of my coaching, to be sure that my student believes that I believe in them. So, you know, as my students get more nervous, I really, as a coach, try to go back to fundamentals, make it easy and make it positive. That’s kinda how I handle it. And, I think it works well with my students.
Sandy: Do you have a routine before a big competition? Whether for yourself or your students and does it vary per student and horse?
Ned Glynn: It really varies per student and horse. Some of the horses maybe need a hack or a jump in the morning before a big class, others don’t. I think each student, each horse, w develop that approach and that routine. It’s just so important that you do that consistently. It can’t just be for a big class. You may do a little more for a big class, but you don’t want to be preparing the horse one way for a couple of rounds and then all of a sudden change everything for another round. It’s really about fundamentals and consistency. If you do those things, then the big class doesn’t feel like it’s much different than the small class. And your rider, hopefully, who has gone through that routine has had success. Once you’ve gone through the routine and you’ve had success, you can just remind yourself that you can do it, that it’s achievable. So, I think there’s not a big difference between a big class and a small class. I think with the big classes, you can spend a little more time. You can make sure your nutrition is right, you can make sure that the timing of of your day gives you time to be focused on your course and your walk and having enough time before your class. But, in my opinion, there shouldn’t be a giant difference between what you’re doing to get ready for a big class and what you’re doing for your normal division classes.
Sandy: Can you describe your training philosophy?
Ned Glynn: I think the more experienced I get it just comes really back down to fundamentals and consistency. You have to make sure that the horses are sound and happy and enjoying their job. And you’ve got to make sure that your riders are prepared, experienced, and feel like they are practicing at the level they’re competing so that when they walk in the ring, you’re not asking them to do something they haven’t done before.
I really think less is more. I think making sure that the horses are out of their stalls enough and are fit and sound—I keep coming back to that. That’s so important. If the horses are happy with their job and they’re feeling good and they’re appropriately stimulated and they’re in a good space, then I just got to make sure that my riders get enough repetitions and my riders are enjoying themselves as well. I would say I’m a trainer that uses less words versus more. The big word I think you hear a lot from me is consistency and repetition. But those things, I think, you can really out-think yourself in this sport and try to change your routine or change your program based on what the new hot product is or the new supplement or the new training aid is. I think it all comes back down to just really solid flatwork fundamentals, happy horses, riders that are riding consistently and getting enough riding in. Getting to ride different horses is a huge advantage for riders.
I think less is more really, and I think that we can, in this sport, a lot of times, we overthink ourselves and try too many new things. I think you’ve got to just really stay consistent about having a relationship with your horse. Keep that horse happy, keep that horse sound, keep it stimulated with what it’s doing. Your riders have to be having fun. They have to be to be enjoying what they’re doing. If the horse is happy, the rider’s happy, they’re getting the repetitions, they’re competing at an appropriate level, the horse is sound—there’s a really good chance it’s going to be an enjoyable experience for everybody
Sandy: What do you think the fundamentals of flatwork are?
[00:33:19] Ned Glynn: [00:33:19] Well, the big one is forward and back, they got to listen to the first thing we do in every lesson. Every day that I teach is get the horse going straight and forward. It sounds so easy, but lots of … it’s tough for beginners when they’re learning their balance and they’re getting strength, but once you get past the beginning level, even the intermediate level, a lot of people in our sport trot around on a loose rein and actually are teaching the horse to get dull to their aids. They’re squeezing and they’re not getting a reaction. Then, they’re not backing that up. So, really getting the horse in front of the leg, getting the horse engaged, getting the horse balanced, and then maybe asking for some connection and for the horse to come round. But the first thing is forward and straight. It’s really amazing to me how many people—if you watch a warmup—how many people just ride around. Like I said, on a loose rein, just squeezing every stride with a horse that’s not listening. And then all of a sudden come Sunday, the second classic round is there and now they want their horse to be in front of their leg. So, we spend time in every lesson getting our horses to be responsive to the aids and getting our riders to learn how to do that and be consistent with it.
When you’re on a horse, you’re either training it or un-training it. And there’s a lot of un-training that goes on. I’ll tell my riders—they’ll do the flat portion and if they’re being a little lazy about it then we’ll go to jump and all of a sudden they’re shortening the reins and pulling their spurs up. That’s not the time to be shortening your reins and pulling your spurs up—when you’re actually going on course. It has to happen prior. Your horse has to trust that when you put your leg on there’s something that’s going to back it up. If that’s just more leg, if they don’t respond. You can’t be galloping to the last oxer on Sunday, see the long distance, and close your leg and expect them to move forward if all week they’ve been trailing around and not listening to your leg.
Sandy: Do you have a favorite exercise that you think is important or that you use with a lot of students?
Ned Glynn: I go back to grids a lot. I like to use the grids because it really helps with like … even just today we were working on a short two to a one-stride grid—vertical oxer, vertical. And then, I like to put something bending on the backside of it, to the left and to the right, because the flat work really carries over to the jumping. You have to have that horse in front of your legs, straight and balanced. When a horse starts to jump, a lot of times you’ll see them go with a drift or moving to their weak side. Straightness at the jumps is so paramount for what’s happening at the jump what’s happening after the jump. If they’re drifting left and you’ve got a right bending line that’s forward in the Medal finals, you know, it’s gonna cost you.
So, I like to do like a grid with some straight jumps and then have some sort of raised cavities or poles on the backside to the left and to the right. I want to see if I can get my horses doing it equally well through the grid and then going both directions, so that we feel like the horse is very straight and responsive and balanced turning either way off the jump. A lot of horses have one side they’re stronger on. So, working to get them square, balanced, and as balanced on each lead and going each direction I think is what I go to all the time.
Sandy: What do you see as important aspects in caring for a horse?
Ned Glynn: I think the most important one is getting them out of their stalls as much as possible. I’m really fortunate that I own my own ranch and it’s 15 acres and we have lots of paddocks, we have treadmills, we’ve a round pen, we have covered ring, we have outdoor ring. These horses weren’t built to be in stalls for 23 hours and then be out for an hour. It affects them physically and mentally negatively if you do that. So really, a horse in my program is going to be out probably four to five times a day. They’re gonna be on the treadmill, they’re gonna get a groom, they’re going to be in their turnouts for a minimum of an hour, up to three hours, they’re going to get ridden once or twice a day. So, I think that’s really foundational because I think, like I said, it affects their mental wellbeing and their physical wellbeing.
Sandy: You spoke about Avery—do you train her on a consistent basis?
Ned Glynn: Avery’s mom and I both train her some, but we did find that when she kind of hit the teen years, there was a little bit of a parent-daughter factor moving in. So, we actually have been fortunate enough … the horse industry is such a great industry because the good professionals all help each other. So, Avery now has multiple people that help her. My assistants do a great job with her—Heather Roades and Kylee Arbuckle. My wife, Rebecca Bruce … Avery does most of her Medal finals—either her mom will be there or I’ll be there—but she stables with Elvenstar and Jim Hagman and his amazing team. It’s kind of the perfect situation in that we can maybe give input to whoever’s helping her. So we’re behind the scenes because I would say her mom and I know her the best and know what she might need to be working on. But it coming out of our mouths, for a while there, became a little contentious. So we have the perfect situation that we have all these people to help us if we want to consult with them before, you know, we say, “This is what we’re seeing.” We have great relationships with all those people and they implement that for us.
It’s been great. Avery has developed fantastic relationships now in a couple of barns with different people. She was just back in Florida with Missy [Clark]—had an incredible experience. So, yes, her mom and I train her, but she has a lot of other influences and is thriving because of it.
Sandy: And speaking about, Rebecca Bruce Glynn, she’s a trainer and rider from Santa Barbara. I understand that you met on a blind date and married in the fall of 2019. Is that correct?
Ned Glynn: Yes.
Sandy: You’re both operating your own businesses—her’s is Sunnybrook in Santa Barbara. Could walk us through [your relationship]?
Ned Glynn: We have a mutual great friend named Jill Hamilton, who is a great trainer and friend who owns Millennium Farms down in the Portola Area. Becca was coming up to try ponies with Jill and about six weeks before, Jill reached out to both of us and said you two should. I think we both had reservations [about it] and Jill was great, she just kept pushing us both a little bit and she finally just said, “Listen, you two should go spend some time together because at the minimum you will come away with a good friendship.” And our first date was an amazing date and we are now married.
Becca is living here in Sonoma at my ranch. We are running both of our barns still. She goes at least one week a month back down to Santa Barbara—she’ll actually be leaving tomorrow. And then we try and coordinate our show schedules together as much as possible so that our barns can travel together. It’s really a great circumstance. Both Becca and I really believe in the teams behind us that help us with our barns. She has a great assistant, Shane, at home. Her mom does a lot of work at the farm. There’s a lot of similarities in that we are both still involved with our families with our businesses.
It’s working fantastic. Her business is great. My business is great. And two businesses kind of enhance each other’s. We really wanted them to have their own identities and have our assistants have their own identities and have our clients have their own identities, but they can also mingle. My clients can go to Santa Barbara if they want for a weekend. She has clients that come up here and train for periods of time. So, I mean, it’s really pretty spectacular to think that we have the two farms, one in Sonoma and one in Santa Barbara. When people ask me where I’d want to live in the world, those are probably two of the top 10 places or top five. So, it’s going fantastic. It’s work and there’s some travel involved, but I think it’s thriving and we’re really loving it.
Sandy: You said that you live at your farm. So, how do you balance your personal life with work?
Ned Glynn: That’s a good question. It takes scheduling basically and planning. It takes getting the calendar out at the beginning of the year and then once a month and making sure that we put a little time on like … this summer, Avery is going on a Lake Powell trip with Becca’s family and myself, and then my niece and nephew and their family. So, it takes forethought. You have to schedule things early and put them on a calendar. Otherwise, the sport just wraps you up because there’s another horse to be tried, there’s another new client that wants to see the barn, there’s another pony you’ve got to fly back east to try. So you have to put some small spacers.
I think if you choose this lifestyle, you’re not going to have a completely normal life as far as you’re not going to work Monday through Friday and have weekends off. That’s not going to happen. But, Becca and I are really realistic that it’s important for our relationship to add some time for the two of us. That we put on a calendar at least a month out, you know, once a month, a weekend or two days, where we can just do little staycations or some sort of dates. Things that just give us a little bit of a break from the constant running of the horse businesses and the shows.
So, forethought and scheduling. We both own calendars. And if you don’t do that, if you do not write something down on a calendar early and keep coming back to it, you will not follow through on it. It just doesn’t happen. We get too busy. The reason we’re successful is because we’re so driven and we’re driven to find another nice horse and we’re driven to give every horse and every client everything that we possibly can. So in the moment when something comes up, if something’s not scheduled, it’s really easy to find yourself adding a show, adding a trip to the East Coast to find a horse, you know? So, that is my advice to the young trainers—just put a few dates on that calendar at the beginning of the year, and then each month put a day or two on that calendar, because I think you come back a better trainer and you do a better job across the board for your horses and your clients if you have a little bit of balance.
Sandy: And, you hold the Sonoma Valley Stables Derby Weekend. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Ned Glynn: We have a beautiful facility, beautiful ring, beautiful jumps. I thought it was foolish to always be taking all these horses and trailers all over the state and all over the country to compete when we could actually host competition at the facility. We’ve had some small schooling shows and stuff for the past seven or eight years, but about three or four years ago, I decided, I thought it would be a great idea to make it a charity event and involve the community a little bit more. We’ve partnered with a great local food bank called the Redwood Empire Food Bank that does just incredible service to our community. And we have become—they told me last year that we are one of their biggest corporate sponsors and we’ve been able to donate to them over $100,000 over the last three years.
It’s an unrated horse show, it’s three days long. Right now, it’s just based towards hunters. We do divisions on Friday and Saturday and then we do three or four derbies on Sunday. Basically, all the things that I don’t like about some of the cookie cutter, big horse shows we tried to live alleviate. So it’s a one ring show, so trainers can really focus on the rider that they’re putting in the ring at that time. By getting community health and volunteers, we’re able to really produce a really enjoyable, high level competition with fantastic prizes, fantastic experience for the horses and riders, and then at the same time, we’re raising a tremendous amount of money for a fantastic organization.
It’s kind of timely because there’s a lot of discussion going on right now about mileage protection and do we need ratings or not? That’s a whole other avenue. I do think that we need some sort of a protection for ratings and for big horse shows, but at the same time, I put on this event for clients and it’s half the cost. For the level of people competing at my show, they get twice the experience. So, it makes me think that we can rethink our sport a little bit and maybe do more of what I’m trying to do here, because it opens it up to more people. More people are able to do what I offer than the average premiere horse show that’s five days and is cost-prohibitive for a lot of people. It’s really exciting. I’m proud of it and it’s going to grow. I’ve already gotten fantastic response from past years with people that are wanting to be involved.
Sandy: It seems like you have a great mix. Obviously, you’re a great horseman, you seem like a wonderful people person and obviously a very solid businessmen. How do you think you were able to achieve that?
Ned Glynn: I guess it’s nature-nurture. I think I’ve always been a good people person. I feel like that’s my kind of born personality. But again, it goes back to this path that I’ve been on. We didn’t just jump into it. I had influence from my parents who talked to me about what maybe I needed to get an order before I started this journey. And that really helped. Even with Avery, my daughter, I’m going to encourage her to go to college. If she can get those four years and go to college, just allow her to mature a little bit and learn some other skills, that’ll help her with her business. So, if she wants to be a top rider, she’ll still be able to put on a business, which a lot of being a top rider has to do with your interpersonal skills and your ethics and your business skills. All those things are really, really important long-term. I think my parents gave me a leg up and encouraged me to go to college and giving me a chance to build a foundation and the things we just discussed, so that when I started, there was already a foundation there and then I’ve just learned it along the way.
Sandy: Great. Well, thank you. This has been a wonderful, wonderful discussion. I really appreciate it.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode with Ned Glynn and a big thank you to the sponsor of this week’s episode, Bimeda. Learn more at bimedaus.com. You can subscribe to The Practical Horseman Podcast on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. While there, please rate and review the show. I’m Sandra Oliynyk and you’ve been listening to the Practical Horseman Podcast.