BY SISSY WICKES
“We are building our dream farm here,” Heatherly Davis says enthusiastically. “Edelweiss Farms at Lavender Creek is the most beautiful facility I could imagine. It is the perfect combination of function and form.”
Davis has a long and impressive resume in the horse industry. A native Californian, she has spent a lifetime in the business as a rider, trainer, and business owner. Davis began her career at the storied Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village, CA, a facility known for instilling solid foundations in horsemanship, riding, and work ethic. Davis had a fifteen year tenure at Foxfield where she taught all levels of riders, rode many different types of horses, and learned about every contingency in running a facility. The breadth of experience in a diverse facility like Foxfield is an invaluable education in the horse industry.
Heatherly moved on from Foxfield to work for other trainers in California before opening her own business, Edelweiss Farms. For decades, she has been a player on the local and national levels. While building a successful career as a trainer and rider, she branched out to establish a successful horse and pony breeding operation. Heatherly is dedicated to training young horses without pressure, ensuring the best outcome for each. Her homebred pony, Macy Gray, was a prolific medium hunter pony, an example of good breeding and training.
At Edelweiss Farms, Davis and her assistant trainer, Heather Chatham, combine to provide personalized training for their students and specialized care for their horses. Davis explains, “Heather and I have very similar backgrounds and ethics. We believe in the traditional form of equitation and we emphasize that the horse comes first.” They are dedicated to helping the Edelweiss riders accomplish their goals through structured, positive training. Lessons are kept very small, with most containing only 1-3 riders at a time. Heather Chatham explains, “We teach a lot of riders that may be moving up from a riding school situation to getting their first horse and committing to a higher level of riding. In these cases, more support with private lessons will help as they enter the next phase.”
The intimate, specialized nature of Edelweiss extends to the horses as well. Heatherly stresses that the well being of the animal is paramount at Edelweiss. “We try not to compete at shows more than two weeks in a row before we have down time. I try never to pound our horses and we are able to qualify for shows and finals without too much stress on them.” To keep the horses fresh and healthy, the Edelweiss facility sports large, airy stables, a treadmill and Eurocizer, and plenty of turnout. The outdoor ring contains beautiful footing and a view that Davis likens to an infinity pool. “The horses are so happy here. And, so are our veterinarians,” she laughs, emphasizing the top health of the horses.
Heather and Heatherly are often in the saddle, training horses in their care or exhibiting them in shows in preparation for their amateur or junior riders. Both trainers have learned from some of the best in the business and endeavor to pass on the time tested tradition of good form equals good function. They mirror the attitude and behavior that they expect from the students. Flatwork, less jumping, technique, hard work, and prioritizing the horse is the basis of their training.
Edelweiss has had success on every level and in many rings – from “Rusty Stirrup” (older, beginner riders) to pony riders to national equitation finalists and pony finalists. Hunters, equitation, jumpers, ponies – all are within the scope of Heatherly and Heather. Edelweiss is unique in its proficiency in the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines. Both trainers have extensive experience in the highest levels of competition. Heather competed in World Cup classes on her own horse as well as upper level classes on clients’ horses. As she states, “I have worked with top show barns on hunters and jumpers. I learned a lot and I love to pass it on.”
As important as quality in the equine aspect of their business is quality in the personal realm. Heatherly explains, “We are both mothers and family oriented and try to be good examples for the kids in the barn. We understand that this is a sport, but we also want to teach ethics and sportsmanship in a friendly, clean environment.”
Edelweiss Farms in Moorpark, CA embodies the best in facilities, horse care, and training. Trainers Heatherly Davis and Heather Chatham are a team dedicated to top results for horses and riders in every competition ring. With extensive experience in the industry, they offer individualized training programs for horse and rider. As important as a top equestrian operation is their commitment to clean sport and ethical behavior. Contact Heatherly at edelweissfarmsllc.com.
Photos © Shawn McMillen Photography, Treena Hall Photography, Laila Klinsmann, Rick Osteen, Chris Sweasey, & Captured Moment Photography.
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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