Robin Leathe Neil is the life of the party at East Hill Farm and she promises to continue the tradition at Bespoke Farm this winter.
“I am definitely the comic relief at the farm,” she said. “We had a Monopoly board set up in the indoor one winter with obstacles and drinking involved. It was so much fun! We had teams and then a pot luck after. I was on the Central Vermont Dressage Association board for years and I was in charge of the competitor dinners. Last year was my last, and I did a flamingo theme. Yes, I dressed as a flamingo and we had games.”
Robin’s been laughing it up while riding with Ruth for about 10 years. It started when Ruth helped her warm-up at shows and now Robin drives an hour each way three times a week to East Hill Farm in Plainfield, Vermont, from her home in Quechee, Vermont.
Her 13-year-old Canadian Sport horse mare Whiz Bang Boom, aka Whizzy, will accompany her and her husband, Gary, to Florida for the winter to continue training in the sunshine. The couple will live in Ruth and Bo’s apartment attached to their house in Loxahatchee, just down the road from Bespoke Farm. When Ruth’s mom, Jeanette Hogan, travels to Florida to escape the cold, Robin and her husband will relocate to Delray Beach.
“Ruth has Whizzy and I on a total retraining program because Whizzy is very anxious and a worry wart,” Robin said. “When I got Wizz she came with the habit of sticking her tongue out and that causes you to lose points because it’s showing resistance. And so Ruth has put me in this phenomenal program. In the beginning, we just bombed out. It was just the most horrible showing I’ve ever done. So all summer long, Ruth put together this program and we’re working on my riding in order to gain points to offset Whizzy’s tongue anxiety issue. Although its a hard habit to change, when we are both relaxed and Wizzy takes my contact properly, her tongue actually goes in!”
Not only is Robin an avid horsewoman, she was a former tennis pro on tour, she ran across the country for Team Nike, she studied and lived in Spain and Costa Rica, she speaks fluent Spanish, she developed and wrote software programs for a Fortune 500 company, she was an international industry analyst, a Spanish teacher and a vocal director for musicals.
“I have done a lot of stuff!” she said. ”My passion has always been horses.”
Robin loves telling stories about Ruth.
“Two years ago, I ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon [in Pomfret, Vermont] in the rain, then went to show with Whizzy at East Hill Farm. The show was ahead of schedule and Ruth ended up riding Whizzy, who was very naughty. Ruth had me get on Whizzy after and gave me a lesson until we had a break through. It was tough! I told Ruth I couldn’t get off because my legs were toast! She forgot I ran 13 and 1/2 miles earlier in the day and we both cracked up laughing. It took a couple of people to get me off my horse!
“This summer, she had me cantering without stirrups on the buckle! I started laughing out of fear. After I realized I could do it, we were both smiling!”
Robin knows that although Ruth pushes her, she is a treasure.
“Ruth has the patience of a saint to work with us adult amateurs and what we gain from her extensive knowledge is mind blowing. She believes in us and knows we can do it – even if we don’t think we can.”
Looking for a new training plan? Ruth occasionally has training slots become available. Contact Ruth directly at email@example.com to be added to her Vermont or Florida waitlist. In the meanwhile, sign up for the newsletter to get first alerts on openings!