Dressage rider Chris Hickey is now employed as head trainer at Betsy Juliano’s Havensafe Farm, which has locations in Middlefield, Ohio, and Wellington, Fla. Hickey’s position at Havensafe is the one George Williams vacated at the end of the Florida show season. Hickey announced he was leaving previous employer Hilltop Farm on March 28.
“It started to come together this winter, midway through the Florida season,” said Hickey, 45. “Betsy and I are really good friends and have been for a long time. She was making a change. She and I just started talking about what she was looking for, and what the position was she wanted filled. It just came about that it was a good fit for both of us.”
Though many of Hickey’s previous mounts were owned by Hilltop Farm, he did take top small tour horse Ronaldo, owned by Cecelia “Cece” Stewart, with him to Havensafe. Most of his time is now spent riding Juliano’s horses, including Riccidoff and Horizon, and training Juliano on her own mounts.
Riccidoff is a 9-year-old Hanoverian (Riccione—Don Sarina) gelding who competed at Prix St. Georges with Williams in 2013, and Horizon is a 7-year-old Oldenburg (Hotline—Revue) mare who showed at second level with Williams.
“She wanted somebody that was a little more exclusive,” said Hickey. “I won’t be [teaching] a lot of lessons; I won’t have a training business. I came to Havensafe with my one client, Cece, who owns [Ronaldo]. I was looking for something where I could really just focus on the horses. I like being involved with the decisions and care of the horses.”
Hickey hasn’t competed Juliano’s horses yet as he’s still learning about them. He’ll get help from USEF Developing Coach Debbie McDonald and Morten Thomsen.
“George rode those horses for many years and did a good job, but it was George’s program, and everyone has their own program. I hope I’ll show Riccidoff a little and get him ready for Betsy to ride. Horizon is a lovely mare. She’s forward-going and sensitive, and I really like that in a horse. She’s a worker bee.
"It's a great opportunity,” he continued. "She wants to take the horses as far as they can go, and we hope to have more horses in the future."