Hischer Climbs The Levels To AGA Title

Mar 5, 2007 - 10:00 PM

Janet Hischer’s American Grandprix Association Rookie of the Year title came as quite a surprise to the 45-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I had no idea–someone handed me a magazine and I saw my name right under Margie Engle’s and I couldn’t believe it!” said Hischer. “Everyone keeps calling me and congratulating me, but I’m just trying to stay focused on my business and riding.”

The third generation equestrian in her family, Hischer began her riding career at an early age. Hischer’s grandfather, a cowboy who emigrated from England to Canada and then rode his horse down to Arizona, worked as the foreman on the famous Wrigley Spearmint ranches in Arizona. The family owned a ranch but lost it during the Depression.

Though Hischer’s grandfather rode western, he wanted his children and grandchildren to learn to ride English, so Hischer’s mother borrowed books from the local library and taught Janet and her three sisters. At the age of 7, Hischer began competing, along with her sisters, at small horse shows through New Mexico and Texas.

Hischer has ridden and shown ever since, but throughout the past eight or nine years she’s expanded her enterprises at Twisted Tree Farm and moved up the ranks in the show jumping world. “I’d always ridden, and always liked it and knew that it was what I wanted to do,” said Hischer.

She intermittently dabbles in the hunter ring but prefers showing jumpers. “I used to show hunters a lot, and I know some people can do both hunters and jumpers, but it’s hard for me. I really work a lot on controlling my upper body, and competing in the hunters makes it hard to do that,” she explained, noting that if the right hunter came along she wouldn’t mind delving into it again on a more consistent basis.

To expand her business and provide top-class horses for her growing client base, Hischer has now begun to look beyond the Southwest. “We started visiting Europe on buying trips for clients and competing at Spruce Meadows [Alta.]. In fact, we’d been to Spruce Meadows every year from May to September for the past several years, but lately we’ve just gotten so busy with our business. Competition can be really tough there, especially if you’ve only got one grand prix horse,” said Hischer.

After competing all over the country, Hischer said for herself and her clients there’s no reason to travel to the East Coast because the weather on the West Coast is ideal during the summer. “It gets hot, but it’s a dry hot, not very humid like Florida. I’ve just never felt the need to go east, when we have it so good out here. I did travel to West Palm Beach with Todd Minikus seven or eight years ago, however.”

In addition to traveling to Canada last year, Hischer also competed in Mexico in Chihuahua and Monterey and was thrilled with the atmosphere she found south of the border.

“It’s a really fun place to show, the people are all very nice. The shows are amazingly big, almost as large as ones in the United States. A lot of U.S. riders don’t show down there very often, because it’s a hassle to get past customs, but it’s too bad because it really is a neat experience,” said Hischer.

Seizing The Opportunity
Hischer’s most competitive mount in the grand prix classes has been Rosie Bergdale’s Carpe Diem.

“Rosie bought him as a 3’6″ jumper, but then she injured her back, so I took over the ride. We started at the level 4s and 5s and just kept progressing from there,” said Hischer of the 10-year-old, Hanoverian gelding. “He really tries hard; he’s a small horse, and he feels a bit like an overgrown pony, but I think we do well together and I’m excited about continuing to compete him. He’s so easy and jumps so well, that I can focus more on my riding than on him,” said Hischer.

In July of 2006, Hischer and the gelding, known as “Buddy,” snagged second place in the $60,000 Grand Prix of Denver (Colo.). The pair also placed fourth in the $25,000 Sahuaro Classic Grand Prix in February, and placed well in the $25,000 Kachina Classic and $25,000 Sundance Welcome Grand Prix classes, both also in February.

Established in 1984, Twisted Tree Farm has grown over the past two decades. The facility is located in the foothills of Scottsdale. “It’s a really neat place with riding trails and over 80 cactuses,” she noted.

“We had a place in Texas, but we sold it and then my sister asked us to move out to Scottsdale. At that time we only had about three clients, but now we have more than 25. We’re lucky to have an excellent staff; one of our trainers, Alicia McNeil, is exceptionally good with teaching children,” said Janet.

The multiple trainers at the farm mean that riders at all levels of experience are welcome. Janet’s students also include junior riders who compete in smaller grand prix classes and many adult amateurs riding at the lower levels.

“My niece Georgie Murray won a few grand prix [classes] over the past few years, and she’s even shown in Europe,” said Janet. “Janet’s one of the most dedicated and determined trainers that I know,” said McNeil. “She’s caring and loyal and really wants her riders and horses to succeed and always has their best interest in mind. Not many trainers can compete as much as she does and still have a large number of students and a successful business.”

Hischer has plenty of support from her husband of 25 years, Larry. “Although he doesn’t ride, he enjoys going to watch me at shows, and he likes building things around the farm,” said Janet.

In addition to building the Hischer’s private barn, Larry has also been instrumental in the development of several barns in their hometown. “Larry is the reason the farm looks so good; he’s the talented craftsman of the barn! He and Janet have such a good partnership; he helps her haul horses and comes to all the shows and supports her 100 percent,” said McNeil.

A Different Approach
Janet has accumulated her knowledge through training with some of the best in the business, including Minikus and McLain Ward. She’s now training with Peter Bulphuis, of the Netherlands, and thoroughly enjoys his soft and quiet approach to riding.

“Riding with Peter has really made a difference. He’s very disciplined and persistent in his equitation training. Sometimes I feel like I push too much when I ride, but since I’m a visual learner, I just try to watch and imitate him. He keeps it simple so that I can focus on the little things,” she said.

Working with Bulphuis and receiving positive input on her riding has helped Janet become more competitive in the show ring too. “Because I’ve already done it all by myself, it’s great to be able to gain confidence and really be at the top of my game,” she noted.

Janet’s current goal is to find another grand prix horse that she can compete while she continues to work with Carpe Diem. “If I had two horses, then I wouldn’t use them up, so to speak,” she said. “Previously, when I’d been shopping [for horses] it was for clients, but now I’d like to find something for myself, especially a horse that’s already in advanced training so that it wouldn’t take so long to get up the levels.”

Category: Horse Shows
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