October 2008

Janet Manley Training
Hy Court Farm – Training with Janet Manley
By Ingrid Edisen

    Hy Court Farm, nestled in the quiet of Bastrop County has been an eclectic presence in the Austin area for many years. The partnering of a Scot and a Brit in exploring the blending of Classical Dressage and Vaquero Horsemanship has truly created a “melting pot” of people and ideas.

    Hazel Clinton and Janet Manley joined forces in 1998 with a vision to create an environment to study, teach and explore every aspect of quality horsemanship with experience in genetics from the University of Edinburg, Hazel Clinton began her life long ambition of breeding, raising and training horses.  The timing seemed perfect for these two British transplants to put heir ideas together in creating a program to promote the art of Classical Horsemanship through education, training and breeding. Through the blending of philosophies and methods of the great masters upholds a stewardship to the horse and the industry.

Janet Manley looks long and lean in the saddle and British to the core, with her blond locks cut sensibly short and bright blue eyes.  Since the mid-’90’s she settled in the Bastrop area, just east of Austin, and taught students the finer points of dressage, eventing, jumping and  now, foundation training and sporthorse versatility.  Hazel Clinton of Hy Court Farm was so impressed with Janet that she formed a venture with Janet which today consists of a well used 50-acre training and breeding facility in Cedar Creek.

Janet admits she has come full circle.  When she started out as a sixteen year old in 1980 and apprenticed under one of England’s best international event riders, Sue Dutton, she had no idea where her career path would take her.  It was almost ironic that two years later she was given what she now considers “the key” except she did not recognize this gift for what it was at the time.  By then she had entered The Talland School of Equitation in Gloucestershire, England.  The school’s founder was author and teacher Molly Sivewright who is still involved with the school today.  Molly wrote one of the classic texts, “Thinking Riding”, that is still in use. 

“Molly was the first who taught me to look inside a horse,” Janet said.  But Janet explains it took her a long time to appreciate exactly what that meant.

Janet  finished her British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor Certification. She began fashioning a resume that reads like novel in itself.  With her formal certification complete, she had the ability to travel back and forth between the U.S. and England and work at a variety of barns in different capacities.  One of her jobs was as a groom for Richard Meade, four time Olympic eventer for England.  She also served as the assistant manager for a sixty-horse breeding operation in the U.S.  Back and forth she went, each time gaining more horse experience.

In 1990 she chose the Austin area as her permanent home and began freelancing.  Word spread and since then she has had a full slate of students.  She was instrumental in getting Third Coast Eventers off the ground and became active in all aspects of showing and training. 

But along the way, something happened.  Janet confesses that she knew how to get a horse over a water jump or down a bank jump, simply how to “get the job done” no matter what.  She began to watch herself from another vantage point.  She recalls the day one of her students brought her a gray off-the-track Thoroughbred and she entered the round pen to begin working with it.
“The horse took one look at me and tried to jump out of the pen,” Janet said ruefully.  “It was my energy.  The horse could tell.”  That same horse trains with her to this day and calmly watched us with his head hung over his paddock fence from a few feet away as we conducted the interview.
She began to ponder how great riders like Lucinda Green had figured out how to think like a horse, give the horse room to think and set the animal up for success.

Her transformation began about ten years ago.  She attended a clinic and was spellbound as she saw one rider among the twenty-five or so in the arena exhibit an excellent soft seat and making the horse do tension-free canter pirouettes.  “It was some of the finest riding I’d ever seen,” she admits.  Who was the rider?  Buck Brannaman.  She began seeking out more education along these lines and went on to study with him, Linda Hoover, Ray Hunt and Tom Curtin.   And so she weaved solid American horsemanship principles and practices into her previous British Horse Society training.
A lesson with Janet is a quiet affair
A lesson with Janet is a quiet affair.  Her voice has a soft trill to it that is pleasing to the ear.  She pauses briefly from time to time to explain what’s going on INSIDE the horse these days.  The  lesson  is more like a dance with frequent moments for the horse to think things through. The consistency and logic of her thinking makes lessons with her fall into a class all by themselves.  Finally, decades after she was told the secret to any good training by expert Molly Sivewright, she adheres to it repeatedly. 

For more information, you can reach Janet at www.Hycourtfarm.com;  4656 FM 535; Cedar Creek, TX 78612; (512) 581-3032; janet@hycourtfarm.com.

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