James Alliston: Looking Back on a Great Year

James Alliston went out on his own early this year, and since then he’s established a successful lesson program while continuing to further his career as an upper-level rider. Many thanks to James for checking in with a year-end recap, and be sure to read to the end to see who he’s aiming for Rolex in 2014! Go West Coast Eventing.

This is Seven, a 4-year-old owned and bred by Kelly Hall.

From James:

This year has been eventful and memorable, as I started my own business in March. It feels like yesterday and has involved some long hours and a lot of ups and downs, but I am pleased with how it has gone and excited for the future. I would like to say a huge thank you to my wonderful clients, who make my job so rewarding and enjoyable. There seems to be a great team atmosphere amongst everyone, which is wonderful and makes not only the shows but also the day to day training fun.

The barn is unique in that it encompasses all levels of riding, from the grassroots riders in the lesson program to the advanced. Likewise, the horseflesh ranges from Milton and Daylight, the lesson ponies, to four-star horses, which I think is cool. I believe that a good riding school hinges on the lesson ponies, and I am very lucky to have Milton and Daylight, who are so reliable and integral to the success of the lesson program. It has always been a goal from the outset to establish a strong lesson program, and my partner Helen Bouscaren has done an unbelievable job in getting it going and bringing along riders from the grassroots level.

After Rolex, most of my focus was on developing the new business and also new young horses to make sure I have a sustainable string of horses for the future to take over from the older horses who cannot go on forever. I am very happy with the group of youngsters I have ready to go next year. They all seem like they have the qualities to be very good, and I look forward to seeing how they develop in the future.

The search for quality prospects is ongoing, but in the off season at this time of year, I do much more driving around looking at horses for clients and myself. I am fortunate in that there are a number of fantastic breeders somewhat nearby and also a couple of racetracks to source prospects. I feel that one of the beauties of eventing is that great horses can come in all shapes and sizes. Just looking at how many different breeds and types of horses there are at any four star is testament to that.

Next year, I hope to continue what I started this year. On the West Coast, nearly all of the shows are spread over three or four days, so it is perfectly possible to balance riding with teaching. In fact, I really enjoy doing both and going as a team to the shows. On a personal note, I will hopefully aim Tivoli and Parker for Rolex again, and the prospect of that is certainly something that motivates me and makes me want to work hard over these next few months.

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