See this story and more in the 2017 Young Horse Issue by CLICKING HERE!
STORY BY SISSY WICKES • PHOTOS BY JENNIFER RUBIN
Rebecca Effron is the product of her Carolina upbringing. Hard working, humble, a lifelong learner, she has spent her life immersed in horses. As a child, she was obsessed with knowledge. “If it had anything to do with horses, I wanted to know it,” she explains. At eight years old, she learned to ride at a local barn, joined 4H, and made it her mission to learn horsemanship. She involved herself in every aspect of a horse: how they think, how their bodies work, how we best interact with them, how to train them. Today, Rebecca Effron is a consummate manager, horse care specialist, trainer, and rider. Along with her extensive experience, Effron is also a gifted teacher, innately connecting with her students. Equally dedicated to the well-being of horse and rider, Rebecca offers a rewarding experience for all levels.
Camden, South Carolina is the home of Rebecca’s new business, RAE Equestrian. Classic Carolina, Camden is rich in history, steeped in all things equine, and loaded with Southern charm. RAE Equestrian is situated on a 30 acre tract of prime land known as Southern Oaks Farm. With a variety of paddocks, a sand ring, jumping field, and large, beautiful barns, the facility lends itself to a mix of equestrian activity. “Southern Oaks is a great facility where we can do all kinds of things, including lay-ups and rehab,” Effron notes. “We have older horses on lay-up, some rehab horses, kids and adults, ship-in lessons, ponies, jumpers, and hunters. We can do it all!”
Effron notes her extensive education in and experience with horse care. After high school, she attended North Carolina State University and earned a B.S. in Animal Science. “I really wanted to go to vet school,” she explains, laughing. “But, I also really, really wanted to ride. I wanted to ride and be around horses more than I wanted to study.” While at NC State, she placed fourth in the IHSA National Finals. With her usual penchant for education, Effron graduated and set out to learn about to the horse show world.
Sand Castle Farm, owned by the Dammerman family, is an archetypal premier show horse operation. Trained by Betsy Joyce, the horses of Sand Castle won in all rings at top horse shows throughout the East Coast. For six years, Effron learned at the elbows of the best. Rider, manager, veterinary and farrier liason, she was responsible for the care and training of top hunters and jumpers. “I was lucky enough to gain a high level of exposure through this job. I paid attention and learned from the best – like George Morris, Chris Kappler, and the best veterinarians, farriers, and professionals.” Effron had the opportunity to show the Sand Castle horses in order to prepare them for their amateur riders. In addition, she was able to bring along “project” and sales horses in order to learn that aspect of the business.
In 2014, the Sand Castle operation began to quiet and Effron moved to The Vasquez’s Messenger Hill Farm near Chicago, IL. An immense sales and client based show barn, Messenger Hill taught her the other side of the business. “I went from one end to the other. From a very personalized, one-on-one operation to taking forty horses on the road.” Effron was hired as the “show manager,” which meant that she was responsible for all of the moving pieces involved in the traveling circus of horse showing. She calls the job “an exercise in organization. It was my job to make all of the parts fit together.” From the mid-West to Florida, from Derby Finals to Equitation Finals, Effron learned the ropes of running a huge commercial barn. “I went from meticulous care and management to juggling the balance of horse care with many horses on the road. Your priorities have to shift with so many horses and clients.” Effron also learned the ropes of preparing horses and riders to compete at the highest level. “I am so appreciative that I was able to participate in Derby and Equitation Finals in order to understand what it takes to get there and be a contender,” she acknowledges.
In 2016, Effron decided it was time to strike out on her own. She missed the intimacy and personal connection of a smaller operation. Establishing RAE Equestrian, she decided to set up her business back in her native countryside. Having established a great working rapport with Quarter Horse enthusiasts, Kory and Angie Merrill, she was soon invited to set up her business at their Southern Oaks Farm. Angie praises Rebecca’s talent as a teacher. “We invited her to set up her business at Southern Oaks because she is a true asset. She has a special way of communicating with young people and really sold me as a mother.”
Effron trains Brecken Merrill, the fifteen year old daughter of the Southern Oaks owners. Brecken has become enamored with the hunter discipline because of her work with Rebecca. Patient and sincere, Effron makes riding fun for her students. While Brecken has been around Quarter Horses all of her life and an occasional equestrian, she is now inspired to train and compete with Rebecca as her coach. On a newly leased Oldenburg, Brecken plans on participating in her first classses over fences this show season.
From Camden, RAE Equestrian riders are able to show at a variety of competitions within a close radius. From hunter and jumper shows to Quarter Horse shows to fox hunting and cross country riding, the area offers it all. Tryon, Aiken, Southern Pines, and the Georgia International Horse Park are all easily accessible.
Effron emphasizes her “personalized” approach to teaching riders and training horses. “My program depends on what the riders’ goals and capabilities are. I can be serious and hard core or we can go and gallop around in horse country or go to a fun, local show. What is important to me is that the horse and rider are happy and healthy.” Effron stresses that her beginner clients are as important as her higher- level clients. And, above all else, horsemanship is paramount. Systematic and organized in her professional approach, she strives for excellence at all levels. “My goal is for people to be successful, for them to achieve their personal best.” As a competitor and rider herself, Effron can empathize with the needs of her riders.
In 2017, RAE Equestrian will attend horse shows throughout the Southeast. In addition, Effron will attend the USEF Pony Finals with Lainie Rubin and her flashy medium pony, Makloud. The pair moved to RAE from the Columbia, SC area in early 2017 with the lofty goal of qualifying for the national finals. As Effron explains, “It was a long way from short stirrup to where they wanted to go. I explained that we needed to get the pony feeling as good as possible before we could move up to this level.” Effron used the coordinated efforts of her venerable team of veterinarian, farrier, and chiropractor to identify ways to improve Makloud’s physical condition. Once he was sound and solid, she addressed building the skills and performance of pony and rider. As Lainie’ mother, Jennifer, states, “Rebecca believes that a healthy partnership between horse and rider cannot simply focus on one or the other. True partners depend equally on the strength and fitness of the other, and Rebecca’s focus on developing two independently strong students (the horse and rider) makes the partnership and bond of the two that much stronger.” She extolls the personal commitment and time that Rebecca commits to each student. Always patient and engaged, Effron spends as much time as needed with each student.
In order to prepare the local youngster for the national stage, Effron will devise a show schedule that includes nearby shows with 2’6” Derbies as well as the Medium Pony division at the large Tryon Summer shows. “I want to make sure that she is comfortable in that environment. My job is to make sure that the pony and the kid are prepped [for Pony Finals].”
Effron embraces a holistic approach in her belief that a rider must learn all aspects of horsemanship, both on and off of the horse. There is no siloed education. You cannot learn one aspect of riding without learning about all aspects of riding. From anatomy to horse care to equipment to riding skills, she inspires her students to learn it all. With an impressive resume of experience and a singular ability to connect with her students, Rebecca Effron is a most promising young professional.
See this story and more in the 2017 Young Horse Issue by CLICKING HERE!
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist, and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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