BY TPH STAFF, PHOTOS BY KATE HOULIHAN PHOTOGRAPHY
As the day winds down, Erin Duffy watches the sun set over the Pacific Ocean while she finishes her last lesson. This idyllic Malibu, California location serves as the backdrop for her boutique barn, Erin Duffy Show Stables (EDSS), where passion and expertise are hard at work to make her clients’ equestrian dreams come true. Erin is a woman described as thoughtful, articulate, kind, and fun. As a trainer, she is known as a true horsewoman who inspires enormous confidence in both her riders and horses so that they develop a lifelong love of the sport and rise to their greatest potential.
Duffy’s core philosophy is two fold; positive reinforcement and sports psychology are paramount for the rider while every horse in the barn receives training and care at the level of top international horses. “I teach my students and horses what to do versus what not to do,” she says. “I want both to experience continual confidence. A good horse makes a good rider. It is important that they stay responsive through supportive and constructive teaching. You always want the horse and rider to believe in their capabilities not their weaknesses, and then keep them moving forward at an appropriate pace.”
EDSS is the sole tenant of Malibu Vista, a private, five-acre farm owned by Drew and Janice Leonard. The facility offers 22 stalls with paddocks, a ring, state-of-the-art footing and all the amenities that top show horses require. Clients have direct access to both the beach and hills of Malibu, as well as world class dining and shopping.
“When I opened the barn in 2010, I really thought about how much time was invested in the sport for everyone in the family, not just the rider,” Duffy says. “I wanted parents and spouses to enjoy watching the juniors and amateurs in a great environment while also staying active themselves. My clients hike together in the mountains behind the barn, cross the street and run stairs to the beach, paddle board and surf. You can go to Soul Cycle, yoga or just enjoy a great meal. This location offers a great experience for all.”
Duffy is aided by long time assistant, Isadora Duhaime- Trowbridge, a Canadian from Montreal that trained under Olympian, Ian Millar. “Isadora is the backbone of this barn,” Duffy says. “She is almost full time at home, so that riders and horses experience consistent, top-notch training even when I am away at a show.” In addition, FEI world-renowned show jumper, Francie Steinwedell Carvin, is at EDSS part time and involved in all aspects of the barn.
“Francie’s knowledge in this world is unparalleled,” Duffy says. “She continues to be one of the sport’s great riders and has invaluable experience to offer coming from a background where she won the Medal and Maclay, numerous Grands Prix, successfully completed many Nations and World Cup team finals as well as other top honors. We have long respected one another’s training and philosophies, so I thought what a great addition to the mix.”
Equally adept in all three rings, Duffy mindfully keeps her barn at a size where she can be intimate with her horses physical condition and training program, while designing a highly individualized coaching plan for her riders. Her style fosters loyalty with clients who praise her approach to horse management and rider development.
“With Erin you get all three of the qualities one would look for in a trainer,” long-term client, Marcelle Frey comments. “She is a great rider, great teacher and provides impeccable horse care. My kids have been given a tremendous riding foundation while learning self reliance and adapting a work ethic that carries through all aspects of their lives. Erin helps them to define and reach for their own personal goals and ambitions, not someone else’s. At the same time, she teaches them it’s not about how much you have but what you do with what you have. There is no greater life lesson than that.”
Frey’s teenage daughters have ridden with Duffy since short stirrup, through the pony divisions and now horses. Her youngest child, Ella, took several years off riding after ponies. Returning to the show ring this March in her first experience on a horse, Ella has had a successful year in the Children’s Hunter and Equitation divisions, currently ranked fifth in the World Championship Hunter Rider Regional Standings.
trainer. “As an amateur, it is important for me to be able to trust her with the care of my horses. I cannot be with them every day and it is important to know that they are in a great program.”
Attwood-Dupont praises the custom made approach Duffy takes to training her horses and riders. “The size of Erin Duffy Show Stables benefits young horses. She never has a one-size- fits-all approach.” Atwood-Dupont’s 16 year old hunter, Arcadia, also thrives under the care of Duffy and Agins. “[Arcadia] is so happy in mind and body. In another program, he may not still be jumping 3’6″. Erin does things the right way and I never have to worry.”
Attwood-Dupont explains,”I don’t think I have ever gone for lessons and jumped the same course twice on any one of my horses. Each lesson is custom made to our specific development plan.”
Green jumpers are Duffy’s ultimate sandbox. At present, she is focused on amateur client, Natalie James’, Fleur and Be Grande. “Natalie returned to the sport as an adult after a 20 year gap from riding as a child. She is dedicated, brave and loves to import her horses from Scotland where she grew up, which makes it fun. Natalie has come such a long way over the past year. This summer, she showed in Europe with great success. I like to think my program, in part, gave her the confidence to do that. It is enormously satisfying for me.”
A native Californian, Duffy grew up riding under the tutelage of Cyndi Merrit and Judy Martin, winning top junior accolades including the L.A. County Medal Finals, the California Professional Horseman’s Association Medal Finals, and was second to Olympic medalist Meredith Michaels- Beerbaum in the USET Finals. From this success, Duffy launched into a professional career working for Mary Tyng at the L.A. Equestrian Center in the roles of rider and trainer. At this large facility, Duffy explains she “got her feet wet right away,” riding multiple horses in multiple divisions throughout California. Duffy went on to work for prominent owners and trainers in California as a young, up-and-coming rider. Rounding out her early professional experience was a year spent in Europe, working for renowned Dutch horseman Jan Tops and the legendary Stephex Stables in Belgium.
If you happen to be driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, stop by and visit this friendly equestrian paradise. There, you will find Erin training in her signature hats and scarves. Alas, the only sunbathers to be found are her beloved dogs Jack and Lilly. And, of course, the horses…
ERIN DUFFY’S STYLE PICKS:
Essex Classics shirts:
“They are super cool with ventilation, breathable, and feel easy. I love the white shirts with the prints inside the collar. They are really fun and give you a pop of color when you want it.” Essexclassics.com
Charles Owen Ayr8 helmet:
“It’s a really great fit, stays cool. I love the leather look and it has always held up really well in a fall.” CharlesOwen.com
Tom Ford sunglasses: “They are classic. My favorite style is the Whitney.” TomFord.com
Jamie Malibu Boutique, casual clothes that suit a laid-back Malibu lifestyle. “Brands like Zimmerman, Sundry, and Frame Jeans are some of my favorites.” Jamiemalibuboutique.com
Scarves: “To keep the sun off my face I always wear a light weight scarf. My favorite brand at the moment is Pas De Calais. Barneys.com