Starting her own barn had never been on Keen Behringer’s to-do list. It was simply too risky when there were more dependable options.
“I would’ve been more comfortable just getting a job and collecting a paycheck,” Keen said.
But then the barn she was training for closed in early 2013, and everything changed. She soon found herself navigating the uncertain landscape of starting a business, battling countless obstacles along the way. Now, four years later and against all odds, she has Sublime Saddlebreds to show for it. It stands as a testament to not only her own dedication, but the dedication of countless friends and family members – a place where integrity and personalized care unite to bring out the best in both horses and riders alike.
"I've taken a number of business calls while hanging on Tigerlee like this,” Ali DeGray said, her right arm flung over the withers of the reigning Amateur Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions Memories Of Cabo, as he rested in his stall at the American Royal.
The chestnut gelding and Ali had a nearly undefeated first season together, winning in nine of their ten show ring appearances, from River Ridge to Louisville, and earning another two blues that very week in Kansas City. He was, by all accounts, one of the most celebrated show horses of the year, but to Ali he is only “Sammy,” just as the multi-titled World’s Champion CH Tigerlee is simply “Tiger.”
Fanfare doesn’t mean much to Ali. At 26 years old, she is keenly aware that she comes from a privileged family, one that is able to provide her with horses like Sammy and Tiger, and give her the opportunity to show them at the highest levels, but there is much more to her than her background and show ring record would indicate. She is a woman of substance; fiercely in love with her horses and other animals, hard working, approachable, filled with unlimited appreciation for all her life’s blessings and determined to utilize those blessings to enrich the lives of others.
“You have to make a decision: motocross or horses.”
Ten-year-old Milo Jones had just asked for a new bike, and his mother’s reply made it clear that the bike would come at a cost. As much as he enjoyed motocross, it was not a cost he was willing to pay.
“Then I guess I’m doing horses,” he said, and that was that.
Though a career in horses might have seemed the obvious course for a child as smitten with them as Milo, his path to becoming one of the industry’s leading professionals was far from direct. Yet, with every road he started down, there was something that kept guiding him back. It took him a few years and many travels to realize that thing was true passion.
Milo grew up in Colorado in a family of equestrians, so horses were part of his life from the start. He began accompanying his mother on trail rides at the age of three, and soon started lessons at a local hunter/jumper barn. When he was six years old, his mother took him to visit a barn she had seen advertised in a brochure. That barn turned out to be Martin Cockriel Stables.
Trainer Martin put Milo aboard a nineteen-year-old Saddlebred, and allowed the young boy to ride the horse by himself in a full bridle. Milo was sold, and still remembers the feel of that mare today.
“I never wanted to ride anything else,” Milo said. “There’s no comparison.”
Martin referred Milo to a man named Les Pedicord who also had Saddlebreds in Colorado, and Milo learned the basics of saddle seat under his strict eye.
“He was very ‘old school,’ and he took his time with me,” Milo said.
Elisabeth spends lots of time in the Kubota at Visser Stables, dragging the ring between horses.When I arrived at Visser Stables that Wednesday afternoon to meet Elisabeth Goth, I was surprised to find her at the wheel of an orange Kubota RTV 500, dragging the indoor. I’m not sure where I expected her to be – socializing with other customers on the sidelines? Giving orders from the doorway? – but this wasn’t even close to what I had envisioned.
“Hop on,” she invited me. “We can talk while I drag.”
She stepped out to let me aboard, and when she did, I saw that she was wearing three-quarter length workout pants. I climbed, mystified, across the seat, settling next to someone’s cell phone and an empty coffee mug, and discovered it felt surprisingly natural to be bouncing along in a Kubota beside a woman I’d watched from afar since childhood. But that’s Elisabeth; she has no interest in putting on airs. Every ounce of her energy is focused on one solitary goal – being the best horsewoman she possibly can, and doing it all with class.