The Plaid Horse Questionnaire With: Tonya Johnston

Johnston and Galactic at Sonoma Horse Park. Photo by GrandPix

Hometown: San Rafael, CA  
Trainer: Leylan Gleeson, Small Stone

As a horsewoman, I am most proud of: staying grateful for my horse and every opportunity we get to experience together. 

As a horsewoman, I would most like to improve on: my knowledge of bodywork, chiropractic, and acupuncture. 

I’d be lost without: horse cookies in my tack trunk and electrolytes, green tea, and treats in my ring bag.

I think the biggest misconception about our sport is: the horse is the only athlete. 

Women in our sport are: rock stars.

Despite being a mental skills coach, I sometimes struggle with: being too hard on myself. 

I want to help other riders because: our sport is such a remarkable gift and I want everyone who rides to trust themselves and their horse, stay positive, and enjoy the process. 

Something I say ten times a day is: “Yes.”

My favorite horse book is: any Dick Francis mystery. 

My favorite non-horse book is: any sport psychology text or athlete autobiography. 

The part of riding I struggle most with is: riding a course in two-point. 

The part of riding I’m best at: is being a good teammate, preparation, and show ring focus. 

I’m a sucker for: a new hairnet. 

On Mondays, you’ll find me: talking on the phone with my awesome clients and then riding my Peloton. 

I sometimes wish I had the time to: learn how to ride a reining horse. 

I’m afraid of the day that: I ride a horse for the last time. 

The horse person I most admire is: every working mom who rides because it is ridiculously challenging to juggle that many passion projects. 

One of my greatest show ring victories was: being champion at Capital Challenge, which allowed us to be WCHR 3’6″ AO national champion.

One of the best horse names I’ve ever heard is: Galactic. 

My absolute favorite show is: Menlo because no matter how many times you have shown there the main hunter ring always feels special.  

If I could give readers just one, short and sweet piece of mental skills advice it would be: You don’t have to be perfect to be confident. (In fact, there is no such thing as perfection.)

My motto is: Some of your best rides haven’t even happened yet.


*This story was originally published in the December 2021 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!