Exclusive Interview: How Jill Prieto and Trevor Gaffney of Freestyling Farms Pick their Next Top Horse?


Exclusive Interview: How Jill Prieto and Trevor Gaffney of Freestyling Farms Pick their Next Top Horse?

Apr. 26,2016

Jill Prieto and Trevor Gaffney bring their love of horses together at Freestyling Farms while also adding their individual experiences and attentions to the business of training and caring for horses.  Jill and Trevor have over 30 years of combined experience in the horse world. Together at Freestyling Farms, they are proud to offer a quality of care and training for your horses that stems from Trevor’s extensive knowledge of European horse care, and Jill’s experience as a trainer of all levels of riders and her own success in the hunter, equitation and Grand Prix rings. 

Carlton Cafe (Misty) 10 year old ISH Mare by Carlton Clover. Photo Credit:Flying Horse

PE - What characteristics must the horse have for you to consider purchasing?

J,T - One of the most important characteristics to us when looking at a horse for purchase is an amenable temperament. Whether the horse is being considered as a hunter, jumper, or equitation, a kind, soft, intelligent eye is something that stands out for us, as well as a willingness to work and take direction.

Z Love Story ( Yvette ) 9 year old Holsteiner Mare

PE - Do you have a specific type of horse that you prefer, or that you found to have the most success with? Perhaps they don’t move as well, but have an incredible jump, or visa versa?

J,T - Funnily enough, a rather large number of mares seem to have made their way to us, and we likewise have an affinity for mares. We don’t tend to believe in one sex being better than the other in any capacity, but the last few horses we have purchased have been mares. As jumpers go, we have tended toward ones with “more blood” and their own forward motors, horses one would consider fast or quick. Yes, of course, the jump of the horse is very important, but it also depends on whom we are purchasing the horse for, i.e. amateur vs. professional. We don’t tend to have preferences on how a horse moves, for example a “floaty” trot compared to a “boxy Irish” trot, as some people call it, as long as the horse suits the job we are looking for it to do.

PE - Do you try to stay within a specific age range when trying horses?

J,T - This really depends on the client we are purchasing for and what their requirements or preferences are. Two examples: We recently purchased a 5 year old mare for Jill and I to bring along and a 7 year old mare for an amateur client. We chose a younger, less experienced horse for ourselves as we have the time and inclination to put into her, and a slightly older horse for our client as she comes with more experience for her new owner.

Graf Balou Belle (LuLu). 5 year old ISH Mare by Balou du Rouet

PE - Do you think the horse’s physical capability or mental attitude is more important?

J,T - We believe physical capability is definitely important but mental attitude more so. A horse needs to have a “good brain” because, in the long, physical attributes can be improved upon with work and exercises and practice, but the mental attitude has to be there from the beginning.

PE - What are some of the questions that you ask the horse’s previous owners or whoever you are purchasing the horse from?

J,T - We ask about ground manners and barn/stall manners, as sometimes these things are not always talked about and, if purchasing for an amateur, these things are important to know. Feet and shoeing are extremely important to any competitive horse, and so we ask about what type of feet the horse has, shoeing history, and any issues they have had when it comes to soundness. We also ask about a horse’s show record and how we can look it up, as well as any vices the horse may have, like cribbing or spooking or shying from oncoming traffic.

PE - Do you prefer to bring along a green horse yourself or a horse that already has experience and training?

J,T - Of course, we enjoy receiving horses that have experience and training, but for us, it is quite expensive to purchase the “ready made” grand prix horse. We don’t mind, and actually appreciate, buying a young horse with exemplary breeding and bringing it along ourselves, as we have done with two horses: our own Carlton Café, who is currently competing in the grand prix level, and Z Love Story, a young mare brought to us a year ago and who will step into the grand prix ring this year. Our new 5 year old, Graf Balou Belle, by Balou du Rouet, is young and green, but we are excited to have the change to bring along such a well-bred mare.

Z Love Story ( Yvette ) 9 year old Holsteiner Mare. Photo Credit :Flying Horse


A special thank you to Jill and Trevor of Freestyling Farms for taking the time to answer our questions and share some of their insights into the equestrian world. To see the current horses that Jill and Trevor has listed for sale be sure to visit their ProEquest profile!