Balancing a personal life (or a resemblance of one, at least) and a professional riding career is not a task for the faint of heart. For Auburn Excell Brady of San Juan Capistrano, it’s all a juggling act that she’s happy to take on in order to find success within the sport of eventing, and it’s an opportunity to give riders of all ages and levels an opportunity to succeed with horses.
Auburn currently operates out of two facilities in San Juan Capistrano, Sycamore Trails and The Oaks. The Oaks was a recent addition to her program, adding another top quality facility with which to attract more clientele.
And her clientele is anything but colorless. Auburn spends her time coaching up and coming young riders, adult amateurs and Pony Club kids because she feels it is vital to encourage people of all walks of life to experience eventing.
“I was always really interested in Pony Club because of the horsemanship and horse management aspect of it,” Auburn says. “I really appreciated that these kids were learning and getting an education about horses. I wanted my riders to gain more knowledge about horsemanship, having a couple of hours each week to study and learn together in a group is developing knowledge and a skill set as well as a fun bonding opportunity.”
She now operates Excell Equestrian’s Pony Club Riding Center out of the Sycamore Trails facility, and with the help of assistant trainers Stephanie Atkinson and Rebecca Farley the program is thriving with kids who are hungry to learn everything they can about horsemanship and riding. The well-oiled machine also runs thanks to the help of Joanne Thorman, who keeps everything running smoothly at the barn as well as with the Pony Club, with the help of the parents of the Pony Club kids.
“This team really allows me to focus on moving forward with my goal of finding a partner I can ride at the upper levels,” Auburn said. “It really helps me balance all the aspects of running a competition barn and creates an environment for success for everyone involved. I have found that I need a good team of professionals to help steer the ship!”
With the addition of The Oaks to her facility roster, Auburn plans to have a select group of clients and horses that train out of the state of the art farm. “My plan is to train and prepare the competition horses at The Oaks — it’s just a great facility that caters to the equestrian world. I really enjoy gathering inspiration from other professionals. It’s also great because we have access to training with (show jump riders Joie Gatlin and Morley Abey), who are masters of their disciplines. I really appreciate them bringing me to The Oaks and all of their show jumping coaching.” Auburn also works with Wilma Blakely for her dressage, ensuring that her education is as well-rounded as it can be.
“Sycamore Trails will continue to have the training and Pony Club program out of it, so there is literally something for everyone with our program.”
What is the recipe for success when it comes to balancing so many plates in the air? “It really comes down to having a team of good people,” Auburn says. “I try to be really consistent with the team so that everyone knows what to expect, and I try to be really clear with parents about their child’s progress and expectations. We make a plan each week and we communicate really well so that everything can run as smoothly as possible.”
“I have definitely had to learn to be patient,” she continues. “I am all about developing partnerships, both with my horses and with my team, and that is a process that takes time. I’m a goal driven person — I’m still looking for my horse of a lifetime to take on that top level. But I have to be realistic and know how to manage my business here to set myself up.”
Auburn is also quick to credit her husband, Sean Brady, who has stood by her side in solidarity through thick and thin and the normal, unpredictable ups and downs of the horse world. “I really couldn’t do any of this without his support, I got really lucky,” she says.
At the end of the day, Auburn has learned how to scrap her way through to achieve her goals. An upcoming trip to Argentina looms to find some new prospective competition horses, and her business continues to grow. She has found a way to pursue her personal competition goals while also helping others start the journey in which she found so much satisfaction many years ago.