For Candice King Partnership is Key

BY ANN JAMIESON

Candice King was only six months old when her parents, Al and Marlo Schlom, placed her in front of them on their western saddles to take her on trail rides. 

At two, she was riding on her own on her father’s top cutting horse, a black Quarter Horse mare named Penny Lane, and her mother’s mare, Dixie Wanda. 

At two and a half, Candice attended cutting practices with her father. Every Wednesday and Friday he would practice while Candice “turned back” the cows (holding them for the riders who were working them). At the end of the evening, they would let her work one of the cows either on Penny Lane or Dixie Wanda.

“As soon as I could sit and steer, that’s what I was doing,” remembers Candice.

Horse Shows

Candice began showing in halter classes, and then won her first Walk/Trot class on Penny Lane. Although she won because she was the only competitor (and nearly fell off when Penny spooked), she won a lollipop. “I was so excited!” she recalls.

Candice competed in trail, western pleasure, and obedience on Penny, who was her  “best friend.” The family kept their horses at home, and every morning and evening Candice would help feed and turn in or out. Sometimes Penny wouldn’t eat her grain unless Candice was with her. And there were times when Candice slept in Penny’s stall.

Candice was too young to compete in cutting classes, yet soon became bored with western pleasure, equitation, and trail classes. Her father took her to a local show hunter barn with Penny for lessons. At the time, Candice didn’t have a clue what a diagonal was. Yet, when Penny tripped, inadvertently causing Candice to change her diagonal, the trainer made her feel like a genius. Candice switched to English, and “the rest is history. Penny Lane became my hunter.”

The pair learned to jump and won in hunters and equitation classes. The talented little mare managed to compete in cutting at shows with Al, while winning in the hunters with Candice. At the big Santa Barbara National Horse Show, the premier show in the area, (nicknamed the “Turkey show” for taking place during Thanksgiving) one week consisted of western competition while the following week was english. Candice was one of the few riders who showed at both shows…on the same horse.

Penny forever holds a special place in Candice’s heart. Candice says Penny was “instrumental in my career.” She also gave Candice a head start for success in the show jumping world, learning how to shave turns and time while cutting.

Mentors

Candice excelled in the Junior ranks in both equitation and jumper divisions on the West Coast before heading east for her final three junior years.  Studying at Beacon Hill with Frank Madden and Bill Cooney, she worked off her lessons and shows.

While she learned a great deal at Beacon Hill, it is her parents that Candice credits as her greatest mentors. They still live on the same property in the San Fernando Valley where Candice grew up. Al, at 90, won the Welles Family Trophy in Kentucky at the National Horse Show at Maclay Finals. 

“It was such an honor!” exclaims Candice.

In addition to her parents, she credits Susie Hutchinson, Jimmy Williams, Pee Wee Moreno, Mousie Williams, Shari Rose, Jolene Labour, Linda Allen,and Hap Hansen for their contributions to her riding career.

Candice combined both English and Western training with her two Appaloosa junior jumpers. “We didn’t have jumps at home where we kept them so my Dad and I would take them to my friend’s place to work them on the cattle to keep them fit and muscled up between the horse shows.”

Trail rides are always a big part of her training program. “I never just train in the ring and it’s not just about the jumps. A big key to my success is I’ve always done a lot of my training outside of the show arena.” Candice feels the trails are especially beneficial for horses that are having issues and are unsure of themselves.

Candice enjoys learning, and incorporating, tools from every area of the horse world. She frequently participates in clinics with Axel Steiner, Pat Parelli, Martin Black, Van Hargis, and other horsemen from outside the show jumping world, always keeping an open mind to other disciplines. 

A quote Candice lives by is “It’s what you learn after you think you know it all that counts,” She adds, “We never stop learning with horses!”

Top Partnerships

Candice strives to develop a strong partnership with all of her horses, and credits much of her success to that key factor. After Penny Lane, she competed as a teenager with Chocolate Mousse. The pair were champions at Devon and Washington and were featured in Horses magazine jumping a 6’ puissance wall.

On Wula, she scored her first World Cup win, her first Nation’s Cup double clear, and topped the FEI list.  With Kodiac, a 17 hand Thoroughbred, Candice was the North American champion at Spruce Meadows in 1991. Although big and prone to physical challenges, Kodiak “always gave his all.” 

Mister Spoon helped Candice make the top 10 on the FEI list. Since the horse had major water issues, he and Candice “spent a lot of tough hours together. In Southern Pines we would go out for hours hacking and he would try to run me under trees to avoid the water.” Yet it all paid off.

On John E.M. Candice was 4th in the 2001 World Cup Finals. “I rode my last Grand Prix at six months pregnant. He had more heart than scope but gave me everything.”

As well as representing the U.S on numerous Nations Cup and Super League Teams. Candice was shortlisted for the 2006 World Equestrian Games, was part of the second place U.S. team at the 2013 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup at Spruce Meadows, and was a member of two winning FEI Nations Cup teams in 2015. She became the first American in 30 years to win the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead in England since Mary Chapot’s 1968 victory.  

Her victory in the Cup was on Elu De La Hardiere, a 10-year-old French stallion. “He was a competitor, he loved to win,” remembers Candice. Although when she first got him, “he was a bit of a wild, challenging stallion,” he went on to be very competitive and successful, winning many Grand Prix before going on to stand at stud for Penlyn Farms.

Skara Glen’s Davos was one of Candice’s most successful mounts. During the summer of 2010, the pair traveled to Europe as members of the U.S. team at the Meydan FEI Nations Cup events at the continent’s most prestigious venues.  As part of the all-female team that represented the U.S. at CSIO Rotterdam and CHIO Aachen, Candice helped secure a win and a third place. Skara Glen’s Davos’ two fault-free rounds clinched the U.S. victory in Rotterdam, and their stellar performance during the European tour earned them a spot on the long list for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

“He was probably the most athletic horse I’ve ever ridden, and the most scope I’ve sat on. He was very, very highly intelligent and was one of my most challenging horses to develop a partnership with because he was very, very sensitive. You could not move your leg, you couldn’t use your opening rein. Once I was on him no one could approach him.

“When he didn’t know the people around him, he wouldn’t let them around him until he learned to trust them. He put me to my test, and it was definitely worthwhile. He’s one of my top five best horses ever. I knew when we walked in the ring, I could call on him and he was right there for me.” 

Candice’s fellow teammates at Rotterdam were Laura Kraut, Lauren Hough and Nicole Simpson. Candice remembers, “It was a nice day! We had a lot of fun!”

 Another of Candice’s top Grand Prix horses was Kismet. She was “me in horse form and my best partner. She took me around the Million Dollar Grand Prix in Florida when I had five fractures in my neck and back.”

The pair rode to a fourth place finish (and the top placed Americans) in the 2015 Central Park Grand Prix and were fourth in the Ocala Million Dollar Grand Prix. 

Candice’s business, Candice King, LLC, where she develops young jumpers, is located in Ocala, Fl. In addition Candice travels frequently as a much sought after clinician. 

She is well known for her ability to bring along horses that may need more time and attention. Her knowledge in so many disciplines gives her a great selection of tools to draw from, enabling her to bring out the best in horses that may not have responded to methods that most hunter/jumper trainers rely on.

Candice believes that her success at bringing out the best in horses is due to her ability to develop their confidence. This allows the horses to be happy and able to do their job the best they can. 

Future Stars

Candice counts herself very fortunate to have a nice group of horses coming along. With the coming ten-year-old Bandessaro, she competed in a couple of Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Center (Ocala), where they got to know each other and began building a partnership. 

Daxibus Normandy, an eight-year old French bred stallion, has a bright future as well, and will be stepping up to the Grand Prix soon, while Katapult, a six-year old Judgement stallion, (who looks just like his dad) has the whole barn excited. 

Photo © Wiley Digital

Candice and her clients enjoyed their twelve-week stay at WEC tremendously. “We could’ve kept going, the horses, the people, everybody was happy. It’s exciting for our sport and the future of it!” 

Internationally, Candice’s favorite show venues are Dublin, Aachen, and Spruce Meadows.

Her current goals, in the uncertainty of the pandemic, are “to develop horses so that they can be brought to their full potential, or send them on to another younger rider to let them have the experiences I had.” While she “would love to win another Grand Prix,” she “will let the horses guide me on that.”

In those infrequent moments when Candice isn’t mounted on a horse, she enjoys waterskiing, tennis, and going to the beach with her daughter, Alex. While Alex rides in the Amateur Owner Jumpers she’s also very active in soccer. Both her parents felt it was important to have her in a team sport. The horses “will always be here.”

Candice riding with her daughter

Asked about her greatest accomplishment, Candice was clear that it isn’t always about winning or about a particular show result, but about the satisfaction she takes in being a good horseman.

“I honestly truly love being around the horses, developing the young ones and I’ve always taken pride in bringing out the best in a project horse. I also enjoy helping my students develop to where they can make independent decisions. I’ve allowed them to make their own choices, so when they step in the ring they’re prepared.”

She would like to thank all her sponsors whose support has been so instrumental in her success: Tucci, Farmvet, Samishield, Cavalerria Toscana, Flexxon Stirrups, Dennis Moreland Tack, CWD Sellier, Voltaire Design, Get Jumps, Fetlockers, Just World International, Myler Bits, Ride for Becca, Shapleys, Heritage Gloves, Team Horse First, OBFS, Emerging Athletes USHJA, HAALA, and Equiboutique 2020.

“I’ve been very fortunate my entire career to learn from some of the best horsemen and trainers and that I keep learning from all of them, and to give back and to make riders as independent as they can be with their horse. Because really, it’s all about the partnership of the horse and rider.”


About the Author: Ann Jamieson wanted to be a horse show judge since she was a child, and has now held her USEF “”r”” judge’s cards for over 30 years. She writes about both horses, and travel, (and particularly loves combining the two). Ann is the author of the “”For the Love of the Horse”” series, four volumes of amazing true stories about horses, and the proud mom of her Secretariat grandson, Fred Astaire (Tucker).
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