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Trainer in East Bay CA

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  • Trainer in East Bay CA

    Hi All,

    I'm new to the forums! I just returned home to CA after 5 years away and am looking for some insight into finding a local event trainer. I am currently boarding my mare at a facility in Castro Valley and have found someone to take dressage lessons with but would love to find a trainer to jump with and who may be at some of the events in CA for coaching (though I won't always expect a coach to be there). I don't know much about the east bay scene as I used to live up near Santa Rosa when I was eventing, which was almost 10 years ago now! I'm perfectly happy training on my own for the majority of the time but a lesson 1-2 x a month would be great...

    Anyone have any info or ridden with James Alliston or Alexis Helffrich? They seem to be fairly close. Or others? I would like to keep trailering to less then an hour from Castro valley if possible.


  • #2
    I highly recommend Alexis. He's a great coach who will gradually develop demanding exercises to get more out of your horse than you think is capable. James is a phenomenally strong rider that you will learn so much from watching him get green/difficult horses around, but not as sure about how he is as a coach (he rides so many horses at the shows, I don't know if his feet ever hit the ground).


    • Original Poster

      Thank you! Do you ride/board with Alexis?
      I did go watch at woodside this month and noticed how many rides James had, wowza! I was thinking maybe he had other staff to help with coaching students at events? I was most recently eventing in the PNW and my trainer usually had 3-4 horses going but almost always fit in a course walk with us and tried to warm us up for XC or SJ if she was around. I don't need my hand held the whole time, but def appreciate a corse walk


      • #4
        I don't train with Alexis, but know many people that clinic with him. James definitely coaches too, I'm just more familiar with his riding skills.


        • #5
          Jackie works out of Applecreek and in Woodside.


          • #6
            Nothing but good things to say about James and Alexis. +1 the recommendation for David Acord, too. He's one of the more positive, effective trainers I've ridden with. You have some great options!
            Urban Thoroughbred


            • #7
              I rode with James when he first moved to California - he's wonderful. Can't go wrong. I believe he has a partner who helps with the training/coaching. I don't know Alexis, so can't say anything either way but haven't heard anything bad. David Acord is definitely not my cup of tea, but he has some very loyal clients.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for all the info everyone! I'll try auditing or going for a lesson with them soon


                • #9
                  I audited a clinic with James & thought he was a superb teacher.


                  • #10
                    I've trained with various people and once I found Alexis, I stayed with him. Looking at his resume, he got his degree at Saumer (credentials equivalent to Level 4 instructors here), and was a working student for Andrew Nicholson for a couple years, all before starting his own training practice. From the practical side, he has the gift of understanding what a horse needs from its rider and being able to explain it in way the rider can immediately apply. But the proof is in the pudding - He's taken many students from BN all the way up to the upper levels, including slightly older adult amateurs. If you want a trainer who's going to help you help your horse be it's best, there's no one better in the Bay Area. You'd have to go North for Andrea Pfeiffer.