“One of the 50 most influential horsemen of the Twentieth Century…” (The Chronicle of the Horse, 2000).
The only rider to have ever won both a gold medal in eventing and a Tevis buckle in endurance.
In 2006, Denny was inducted into the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Dartmouth College Athletic Hall of Fame and of the Vermont Academy Athletic Hall of Fame.
Denny Emerson, eventer, trainer, coach, author, leader, activist, has been a significant, influential force in the equestrian community for a half-century. Beginning with his first competition, the Stoneleigh Prospect Hill School Gymkhana, at the age of 12, Denny has forged a career with horses which culminated in his receiving the both the USEA’s Wofford Cup for lifetime service to eventing, the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP) Lifetime Achievement Award, induction in 2006 into the USEA Hall of Fame, and included leadership in such organizations as the USEA (twice president), the USET (vice-president of Eventing for seven years), the USEF (on the Executive Committee), and Chairman of the Breeder’s Committee of the AHSA.
Now in his 48th consecutive year of competing at the preliminary level or higher, Denny has achieved much success in the sport of eventing. At 20, Denny rode in his first event, a preliminary three day event at GMHA. By 1965, Denny had moved up to intermediate, on Lighting Magic, his first event horse, and in 1971, on Cat, he rode in his first advanced event, at Dunham, Quebec. Denny’s advanced career would last for 29 seasons, during which time he brought 14 horses to that level, an average of about one advanced horse every two seasons.
Denny and May Emerson’s Tamarack Hill Farm: A leader in American eventing for over 40 years www.tamarackhill.com.
Macella O’Neil and her partner Charles White started Diamond Mountain Stables (DMS) in 1983, returning to their hometown of Calistoga after they had both gone to college. Macella graduated from UC San Diego with a double major in history and biology and was poised to continue her education, but decided to take a “short break” and indulge her love of horses and start DMS w/Charlie and his love of business. The rest, as they say, is history!
It’s been quite a journey from local 4-H leader to World Cup competitor. Along the way Macella has coached year end winners in every division: ponies, equitation, hunters, jumpers and won medal finals as well as put students on the highly competitive Zone 10 Young Riders teams. Enormously popular as a clinician, Macella has taught clinics all over the world as well as judging when time allows.
In an effort to participate in the industry that has given her so much, Macella has been the president of the NorCal Hunter Jumper Association for several years and was the NorCal liaison to the Pacific Coast Horse Association and an AHSA rep as well. For fifteen years Macella, and the entire gang at DMS (really Charlie!) ran the enormously successful Napa Valley Classic horse show which raised a great deal of money for local charities and no doubt is one of the reasons that Macella was named as one of the outstanding women of Napa County in 1999.
But Macella’s true claim to fame is in the saddle where she has won in every division but specializes in developing young horses into top jumpers. In California, O’Neill has been the leading NorCal jumper rider five times, (finishing second three times, including 2009). At the national and international level Macella has been named Leading Rider at the HITS winter desert circuit, won numerous Grand Prixs, including one in Germany and in 2009 qualified Melanie Rapp’s beautiful grey, “Incandescent” to compete at Las Vegas in the National Grand Prix @ the World Cup Finals.
Rebecca has been a listed rider with the Canadian High Performance Event Program for the past decade. Now based in Marlbourgh UK, her International highlights include:
2012 London Olympic Games
2012 Blenheim CCI*** (11th)
2011 Pan American Games (Team Silver, 6th Individually)
2011 Rolex CCI**** (10th)
2010 World Equestrian Games (23rd Individually)
The Professional Rider for the Fork Stables, in North Carolina, USA Dec 2006 through June 2012, her business background also includes 3 years of importing and marketing Irish and Argentine Event Horses for Dunlavin Eventing (Virginia, USA), and working as one of the founding organizers (with Sinead Halpin & Dana Voorhees) behind Derbycross – a showcase hybrid of North American Eventing.
“I ride in Sackhouse saddles for all three phases. I love the attention to fit that is specific to me, but more importantly these saddles keep my horses back comfortable so they can move and jump at their best.”
Nick is a world-renowned show jumping rider whose career has spanned nearly 38 years, winning thousands of classes and hundreds of Grand Prix’ events, and over £6.5m in prize money.
A very serious injury in September 2000 forced Nick to retire from show jumping in 2001 but he made an amazing recovery and made the courageous decision to compete again, the stuff of legends. He is once again at the very top of the prestigious sport of international show jumping.
Nick Skelton’s brilliant horsemanship is demonstrated by the fact that no other rider has won so many major competitions on so many different horses and he is as well known and popular at Olympia and Hickstead as he is at Gothenburg or Paris or Spruce Meadows.
Nick holds the British equestrian high jump record, when he jumped over 7′ 7″ on Lastic in London back in 1978 and has competed at six Olympic Games, most recently in Beijing in 2008. He has won ten European Championship Medals, six World Championship Medals, a World Cup title and over 60 major Grand Prix titles. Four times he has won the Du Maurier (latterly called the CN International) in Spruce Meadows, Calgary, a class which awards some of the highest prize money in show jumping history. Nick won in 1985 riding St James, in 1993 riding Dollar Girl, in 1998 riding Hopes are High and in 2008 he teamed up with Arko III to scoop the first prize.
The famous horses Maybe, If Ever, Apollo and St. James took Nick to the pinnacle of his profession and brought him numerous top prizes back in the 1980’s, including winning the Hickstead Derby three times. Those successes were followed by a host of victories with other horses who all kept him in the spotlight: Major Wager, Top Gun, Grand Slam, Phoenix Park, Dollar Girl, Limited Edition, Showtime, Tinka’s Boy, Hopes are High, Russel and Arko III.
Now riding for Team Beverley on horses belonging to Gary and Beverley Widdowson, Big Star and Carlo 273 and competing at the London 2012 Olympics on Big Star, where he was part of the Gold Medal winning team.
Jamie Miess, 17 y/o, event rider who trains with and is a groom for Lindsay Staiano-Williams in Monroe, NC. Jamie & In The Zone came in 9th in Jr Novice Division @ AEC’s this year. They were 6th in the USEA end of the year points @ the Novice Level. Jamie has moved up to training this year with her project horse, Domineren. Jamie aspires to move up through the levels in USEA eventing. She would eventually like to become a trainer and ride in Rolex. Jamie is a tall rider and has had a lot of trouble finding saddles that fit her and her horses. Stackhouse saddlery came out to the farm and measured Jamie and her horses. They were honest and helpful about where or not we could make one jump saddle and one dressage saddle work for both horses. Jamie loves her Stackhouse jump saddle as she can now put her stirrups up the the proper length without her knee coming off the saddle. She feels more secure and safe cross country in a saddle that allows her to ride correctly. She loves her dressage saddle as the flap is long enough to accommodate her long leg. Again, her Stackhouse dressage saddle allows her to ride correctly in a dressage saddle. In the past, Jamie had to ride to the saddle as her leg was too long for most saddles. Stackhouse Saddlery has been a wonderful group to work with and their quality is excellent.
Mary Virginia Smith
When I became a professional in the hunter/jumper industry, I was lucky enough to be mentored by high quality professionals who believe that horses who are muscled correctly and fit for the job they are asked to do are sound, happy, and a pleasure to work with. I believed very much in this system for building a horse from the ground up, with an emphasis on stabilization and, in particular, developing a correct and complete topline. While I was able to achieve some remarkable results, about 5 years in it became obvious that something was missing. Certain horses seemed to progress to a point and then stop. Some horses could achieve a level of performance that, while I knew them to be capable of more, they were unable to move forward. Some horses were visibly back sore and many were grouchy about grooming and especially about being saddled.
When I began to ask around of vets and trainers, many options were offered: medication with drugs like robaxin, any number of ‘therapeutic’ saddle pads, various stretches, liniments and analgesics, and investigating saddle fit. The problem was no one seemed to know exactly how to pinpoint and address a problem with saddle fit and everyone wanted to sell you something. Finally I met a veterinarian who could explain to me the basics of what makes a saddle fit properly and how to assess saddle fit on individual horses. Armed with this new knowledge, I set out to find what I was certain was easy to find: a well made saddle that would comply with this common sense criteria. 6 months later, I had learned a few things. First, most saddlers are not interested in saddle fit. They are interested in selling a product to the rider. The horse is a secondary consideration. Second, many have no idea what makes a design work or not work for performance horses. Third, many of the things that make it so that a saddle can be mass produced also mean that a good fit is unlikely.
I was very frustrated by this seeming lack of accountability to the product, and most importantly, to the horses. I wanted someone to work with me to ensure a proper fit and to stand behind not just the fit of the saddle but the workmanship and the quality of the materials. Every other professional on the team that stands behind every high performance horse takes accountability for their work. The vet comes in the middle of the night, the farrier replaces lost shoes, the trainer develops a program for the horse, the owner coordinates it all and pays for it. Why were none of the saddlemakers interested in seeing the horses they saddle be comfortable in their work and achieve their best selves?
Luckily right about that time I met David and Lesley. From minute one, I knew I had found what I was looking for and more. David and Lesley love what they do, they stand behind their saddles and they are genuinely committed to the horses having the best saddle they can have. That first encounter was 10 years ago and we haven’t put a saddle that wasn’t a Stackhouse on a horse in my program since. The results speak for themselves: after recovering from the woes of their previously ill fitting saddles, all of the horses began to make remarkable progress in their training programs. Horses who were so back sore you could hardly brush them began to relish their grooming. Horses who previously danced around, made hate faces and nipped when saddled now stand quietly to be tacked.
Under saddle, the horses were much more willing to pick their backs up and round in their work, especially over the jumps. Horses who had always had a sharp front end over the jumps but a fairly flat bascule began to jump me and their delighted owners out of the tack. The flat work became much more supple, and the connectedness of the back end to the front improved immensely. Horses who had avoided jumping bigger fences for fear of pain began to eagerly look for the jumps. Over the course of the next year, their physical forms changed so much that many of them were hard to recognize with their newfound phyisiques and athleticism. Most importantly to me, the horses were much happier in their work. Sullen horses went forward brightly and nervous hot horses settled visibly. Many stopped clenching their jaws due to the unpleasantness of being asked to do a job that was inherently uncomfortable. It was a joy to witness and to this day correcting saddle fit on new horses in my program is one of the most effective training decisions that I can make.
10 years in with many of the same horses, I can truly say the horses are much sounder, require less maintenance, are more trainable and happier in their jobs than ever before. Although the initial investment in a saddle can seem like a lot, my customers have more than saved the entire cost of the saddle in supplements, medications, joint injections, training for back related problems and saddle pads over the years. And rather than having a problem to deal with, they have the pleasure of a horse who is sound, happy and willing. Isn’t that what every owner wants in the first place? There is no better money spent than on that for a quality saddle.
Beyond being an absolute necessity for the horses, these saddles are an absolute pleasure for the riders as well. The first thing I noticed when I put my first Stackhouse on my own horse was the incredible stablility that a well fitted platform offers the rider. While I had never been aware of it before, ill fitting saddles shift and move quite a lot. The improved fit immediately improved my feel and my awareness of what the horse was doing underneath me. Additionally, these saddles are exquisitely balanced for the rider, with the stirrup bars in the proper place to position the rider directly over the middle of the horse. No more struggling to get with the motion of the horse from the backseat of the saddle. For amateurs, this benefit alone makes the saddle worth it’s salt. So many of my customers who have transitioned to these saddles rave about their increased security and awareness. One rider even told me that it was the first time she understood what it meant to truly put a leg on a horse. My customers love these saddles as much as their horses!
The saddles themselves lack nothing in quality and detail, using the finest materials available. My first saddle which sees about 4 hours of riding a day for at least 5 days a week is still in excellent condition. And Stackhouse Saddles stand behind their products. David and Lesley are not happy until both the horse and the rider are happy with all aspects of their experience. This kind of knowledge and accountability is rare in any field, and non existent with other saddlemakers I have encountered. From start to finish they are a pleasure to work with and they continue their relationships with their customers for the lifetime of the saddles. In 10 years, we have been nothing but delighted with their work and with their outstanding knowledge and professionalism. I heartily recommend their product and services and look forward to many more years of happy horses and riders to come.
Jamie Doolittle, Young Rider
As a young rider competing and working my way up through the eventing levels it is important for my position to be correct and secure, and for my partner to feel physically good. Stackhouse saddles put the rider in a perfect position and are custom made to fit each horse and rider. After riding in Stackhouses for several years I have to treat my horses backs and believe that veterinary problems related to poor saddle has been eliminated. David and Leslie are extremely experienced, their customer service is excellent, and they are always willing to teach you about fitting your horse to the correct saddle. I strongly recommend Stackhouse saddles; they are the only saddle I will ride in.
I started riding as a little kid, running (sometimes quite naughty) ponies through the woods and fields of my parents property in upstate New York. After taking a break from horses through high school and college I began to take more formal lessons while at Cornell University as a much needed distraction from the intensity of graduate school. When I moved to the Boston area to work as a Landscape Architect I found a local barn and started riding more intently, leasing a horse for a year and doing my first sanctioned events with him and then finally taking the huge step of buying my first horse as an adult. Jango (Mr.Bojangles) was fox hunting in Aiken when I bought him in spring of 2008 and together we have taken a few steps up the eventing levels over the past three years. Last year’s competition accomplishments included competing in the long format Training 3 Day event at GMHA, where Jango won “Best Conditioned Horse” and making a successful move up to Preliminary. This year we are hoping to continue having fun competing at Prelim and perhaps work towards qualifying for a CIC 1*. We spent a lot of time and rode a lot of miles together conditioning for the long format last summer, and I know that Jango and I would never have been as happy had we not had the incredible Stackhouse saddles that David and Lesley built for us. Working with David and Lesley has been a highlight of the past few horse-filled years and I look forward to knowing them for many more to come.
Tracy Hewlett owns and manages Holly Hill Farm in Benton, Louisiana. It is a 280 acre equestrian center which boards 100+ horses and specializes in eventing. There are 5 instructors for lessons and training as well as a regular schedule of dressage shows, hunter/jumper shows, horse trials and clinics. There is also a breeding facility on the farm standing several thoroughbred stallions and an Irish Sport Horse stallion. Tracy’s husband, Bobby Hewlett is a veterinarian and manages the breeding program.
Tracy grew up riding near Rochester, N.Y. and became interested in eventing through Pony Club there. She started her first off the track thoroughbred when she was 14 yrs old and competed him through Prelim. The horse could not go to college with her so Tracy played a year of polo at Cornell and then found another student’s horse to ride. Graduate school followed at Texas A&M and the purchase of a thoroughbred to get back into dressage and jumping again. That is where Tracy met her husband and moved to Louisiana. The farm was purchased and the collecting of horses began. Tracy found a love of retraining ex-race horses for the eventing world and there was an endless supply from the local racetrack. It also certainly helped to have a veterinarian husband to check them all out first. The children also became involved in the equine business. Their oldest, Robert is now a veterinarian practicing in Australia. Their two daughters, Heidi and Paige grew up riding in Pony Club and eventing. Both competed successfully at North American Young Riders Championships and went on to compete through the Advanced level. Heidi graduated from Centenary College and is now a rep for a orthopedic medical sales company and still rides and competes. Paige is a junior in college and also is still involved at the farm with training, lessons and competing. Tracy now leaves the upper level eventing competition to the daughters and is happy to spend her time managing the farm and starting the young horses in schooling shows, clinics and peaceful, long trail rides…
Deborah Place, BHSII owns and operates Peppergrass Farm along with her husband, Bob Place. Having worked in other highly successful, top-end riding establishments throughout her 30-year career of riding and training horses and riders in Dressage and Eventing, she has taken this experience and knowledge to build a professionally run equestrian facility that offers a safe boarding environment and successful training program. There are too many to list here, but Debbie has numerous success stories from beginning horses and riders to Prix St. Georges Dressage and Intermediate Eventers.
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Nicole is a young rider based at Dream Catcher Farm in Charlotte, NC. She has had many successes in her young career, her next goal is the young riders finals in Lexington, KY.
Stackhouse Saddlery combines the production of beautifully handmade saddles with experienced, expert craftsmen that are also wonderful and accommodating people. As a Young Rider, it is essential for me to know that my tack fits my horse perfectly, and with Stackhouse Saddles, I know it always will. If my horse is comfortable, it gives me the opportunity to ride and perform to the best of my ability. I cannot imagine riding in any other saddle!