Court Farm – Training with Janet Manley
By Ingrid Edisen
Hy Court Farm, nestled in the quiet of
Bastrop County has been an eclectic presence in the Austin area for
many years. The partnering of a Scot and a Brit in exploring the
blending of Classical Dressage and Vaquero Horsemanship has truly
created a “melting pot” of people and ideas.
Hazel Clinton and Janet Manley joined forces in 1998
with a vision to create an environment to study, teach and explore
every aspect of quality horsemanship with experience in genetics from
the University of Edinburg, Hazel Clinton began her life long ambition
of breeding, raising and training horses. The timing seemed
perfect for these two British transplants to put heir ideas together in
creating a program to promote the art of Classical Horsemanship through
education, training and breeding. Through the blending of philosophies
and methods of the great masters upholds a stewardship to the horse and
Janet Manley looks long and lean in the saddle and British to the core,
with her blond locks cut sensibly short and bright blue eyes.
Since the mid-’90’s she settled in the Bastrop area, just east of
Austin, and taught students the finer points of dressage, eventing,
jumping and now, foundation training and sporthorse
versatility. Hazel Clinton of Hy Court Farm was so impressed with
Janet that she formed a venture with Janet which today consists of a
well used 50-acre training and breeding facility in Cedar Creek.
Janet admits she has come full circle. When she started out as a
sixteen year old in 1980 and apprenticed under one of England’s best
international event riders, Sue Dutton, she had no idea where her
career path would take her. It was almost ironic that two years
later she was given what she now considers “the key” except she did not
recognize this gift for what it was at the time. By then she had
entered The Talland School of Equitation in Gloucestershire,
England. The school’s founder was author and teacher Molly
Sivewright who is still involved with the school today. Molly
wrote one of the classic texts, “Thinking Riding”, that is still in
“Molly was the first who taught me to look inside a horse,” Janet
said. But Janet explains it took her a long time to appreciate
exactly what that meant.
Janet finished her British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor
Certification. She began fashioning a resume that reads like novel in
itself. With her formal certification complete, she had the
ability to travel back and forth between the U.S. and England and work
at a variety of barns in different capacities. One of her jobs
was as a groom for Richard Meade, four time Olympic eventer for
England. She also served as the assistant manager for a
sixty-horse breeding operation in the U.S. Back and forth she
went, each time gaining more horse experience.
In 1990 she chose the Austin area as her permanent home and began
freelancing. Word spread and since then she has had a full slate
of students. She was instrumental in getting Third Coast Eventers
off the ground and became active in all aspects of showing and
But along the way, something happened. Janet confesses that she
knew how to get a horse over a water jump or down a bank jump, simply
how to “get the job done” no matter what. She began to watch
herself from another vantage point. She recalls the day one of
her students brought her a gray off-the-track Thoroughbred and she
entered the round pen to begin working with it.
“The horse took one look at me and tried to jump out of the pen,” Janet
said ruefully. “It was my energy. The horse could
tell.” That same horse trains with her to this day and calmly
watched us with his head hung over his paddock fence from a few feet
away as we conducted the interview.
She began to ponder how great riders like Lucinda Green had figured out
how to think like a horse, give the horse room to think and set the
animal up for success.
Her transformation began about ten years ago. She attended a
clinic and was spellbound as she saw one rider among the twenty-five or
so in the arena exhibit an excellent soft seat and making the horse do
tension-free canter pirouettes. “It was some of the finest riding
I’d ever seen,” she admits. Who was the rider? Buck
Brannaman. She began seeking out more education along these lines
and went on to study with him, Linda Hoover, Ray Hunt and Tom
Curtin. And so she weaved solid American horsemanship
principles and practices into her previous British Horse Society
A lesson with
Janet is a quiet affair. Her voice has a soft trill to it that is
pleasing to the ear. She pauses briefly from time to time to
explain what’s going on INSIDE the horse these days. The
lesson is more like a dance with frequent moments for the horse
to think things through. The consistency and logic of her thinking
makes lessons with her fall into a class all by themselves.
Finally, decades after she was told the secret to any good training by
expert Molly Sivewright, she adheres to it repeatedly.
For more information, you can reach Janet at www.Hycourtfarm.com; 4656
FM 535; Cedar Creek, TX 78612; (512) 581-3032; firstname.lastname@example.org.