It has been said that when one door closes another one opens. I believe this to be true to a certain extent. Sometimes that new door is disguised or locked or made of concrete, and you end up bruised and broken from trying to get it open. Sometimes you have to create an alternative door for yourself.
So much has happened since FIS Prince Charming (“Peanut”) and I competed at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event a few years ago — some doors closed and some new ones opened, but now my journey forward will be heading through a door that I’m designing myself in a new barn in a whole new neighborhood. I’m moving my program to Kentucky.
Enjoying the journey – patience, persistence and perseverance
For more than half my life I’ve been traveling back and forth every six months (give or take) between Middleburg, Virginia and Ocala, Florida to ride and train with the best in the sport — trying to chase the dream, trying to come out on top.
I was lucky enough to essentially start my riding career under the direction of one of the world’s best riders. “Enjoying the journey” is something Karen O’Connor started to emphasize to me as a kid. Twenty-five years of her training later, those words still guide me every day.
In addition to riding, I’ve also traveled around the world to groom at major international competitions, including the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games, Kentucky and Badminton, to name a few. I’ve watched my friends earn their red coats and stand on podiums and, although I don’t have one yet, I am determined to get there!
Along my journey, three other words have defined my world: patience, persistence, perseverance. These words exemplify what it is to be an eventer — especially one like me who is chasing the dream of making a team and representing my country. Like many others, I have worked my whole life towards that goal, working multiple jobs and getting little sleep, to cover my bills for this sport that I love so much. My parents have always been as supportive as they can be financially, but I’ve worked hard to help pay for this sport since I was 13.
There have been many adventures on my journey so far and many lessons learned. Peanut, who has had panic attacks and has flipped over on me in the dressage, was the most challenging, but he got me to my first CCI4* and taught me patience.
Kenzo de la Roque had severe Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM) so could have no hay, no grass, and had to walk every four hours at a show, including through the night. He tore a suspensory multiple times and then put a hole in his eye, ending in surgery. With all his issues, my vets said quit, but I persisted. It was worth it — Kenzo gave me my first three-star experiences and qualified for Kentucky before he had to retire.
The vast majority of my horses had little to no training before I got them. Some were homebreds that I started and produced from the ground on up. Some were off the track and had to be let down and retrained to event. I take great pride in the fact that I have put in the blood, sweat and tears to make 20+ horses in my career so far.
Seven became FEI horses, three of which got to the Advanced level. And each one taught me to persevere, to keep going when I thought I couldn’t take another step, to fail and try again … to learn that just because I want it more than anything, and I’ve worked my butt off for it, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right now.
The road to personal success always includes some giant potholes that can break you. This spring I had to ultimately make the decision to retire my beloved Peanut due to an injury that won’t allow him to come back. I’m also having to transition my homebred Advanced mare Cece to the world of soft sand and poles because her body just doesn’t want to hold up to the extremes of our sport. There were also smaller ruts that slowed me down, like horses that didn’t want to play anymore or those that just weren’t good enough.
Part of me learning to enjoy the journey — while the horses were rehabbing or the babies were growing — was learning to take all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained and pass it on to others. Although teaching used to intimidate me, I have come to really love it! It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
New girl in town
I am still chasing the dream of making a team and representing my country, but losing my Advanced horses means I’ve found myself starting over again and riding down a new road.
As of April 2, I will be moving my program to Lexington, Kentucky. I have acquired stalls in a barn at a stunning 140-acre facility in Georgetown called Queenslake Farm. My new website is almost finished and will be up and running very soon at www.lisabarryequestrian.com.
I have several wonderful students that will be moving in with me, but I am officially open for business and will be accepting any and all new students — no level or experience restrictions. I will also have a few of my retired upper-level horses available to lesson on or for partial lease (for those whose riding qualifies).
I will teach and ride on site, but I am also willing to travel to you. I will have room in my barn for horses in training or for sale. I will also be looking for my own next superstar to produce and would love to meet others who would enjoy helping me. I welcome anyone who dreams of being a part of a team as an owner or syndicate member to contact me at [email protected] … we do have a lot of fun on our adventures!
Come join the journey with me!