Featured Pro: Michelle Parker of Cross Creek West
Featured Pro: Michelle Parker of Cross Creek West
The name Michelle Parker and her Cross Creek West in San Marcos, California are consistently at the top with show jumping success. She’s accumulated wins at major events in the United States and Canada, and always ranks on the Pacific Coast’s top rider lists.
Michelle’s accomplishments include Grand Prix wins on multiple horses and World Cup Qualifier classes. She’s led the U.S. National Division at Spruce Meadows Masters and has qualified to compete for the richest purse in show jumping three times. Michelle and her horses have also won two high jump competitions, clearing 6’9” oxers both times.
Recent accomplishments include with Cupilor, winning the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar in 2018 and Easy Does It was the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year in 2021.
Cupilor and Michelle Parker. Photo courtesy of Michelle Parker.
The Early Years
Horses run in the family for Michelle. She’s from an equestrian family and is a fourth-generation horsewoman. “My mom took me for jumping lessons when I was 11 and it stuck. I had a trail horse living at home as well from then on. I knew in high school that I always wanted to have horses but thought I would have another career. When I moved out to California for college, I knew that I wanted to become a professional.”
Michelle had trained with Judy Martin in Tucson, Arizona growing up, and then started working with Ronnie Freeman when she moved to California. She trained with Ronnie for many years, riding Thoroughbred off the track, and starting young horses. There were a lot of opportunities and Michelle took advantage of them all.
“My mom, Carol Parker, is my biggest supporter and loves having the horses,”
Carol bought Threes and Sevens, an appendix Quarter Horse with Grand Prix potential at the advice of Ronnie Freeman. She owned him for a year with great success in the Grand Prixs under the ride of Lynn Witte and he was then sold to Peter Leone, starting a more than 30-year journey with Grand Prix horses for Carol.
“In 1999 and 2000, I had a really nice string of horses. We did all the big classes, went up to Spruce Meadows, did the derby and the big jumps,” Michelle says. She’s been training on her own for 17 years now. Many memorable horses have come through her barn over the years, and she’s guided them through successful careers.
Wisby D and Michelle Parker at Indio in 1998. Photo: Sutherland
Wisby D was her breakthrough horse, jump-starting her Grand Prix career when she won the 1998 $75,000 USET/Cosequin Grand Prix at Indio. Carol and Michelle purchased Wisby D sight unseen from Europe.
“Wisby D was a meter 60 horse but kind of crazy and not for everyone. I would only do four jumps in the warmup with him, he only liked to be in the showring,” Michelle recalls. He was absolutely brilliant in the show ring, and it was Michelle’s finesse as a rider that made him so special.
Cupilor and Michelle Parker at Thermal in 2013. Photo: Carol Brooks Parker
Cupilor was just turning four years old when Michelle found him at Branscomb Farm fell in love. “He was probably my best horse since he was the most consistent. He won the 6-year-old YJC Finals, the 7-year-old YJC Finals and his first Grand Prix at 8 years old. I won the Del Mar National Grand Prix on him, so that alone makes him a memorable horse, but he was also a fun, competitive horse, he loved his job. I could go in the ring and focus on trying to win, he covered up any minor errors I made, and he has the cutest personality in the barn.”
Easy Does It and Chaccala are her current mounts. Easy just won the PCHA Grand Prix Horse of the Year, is all scope and loves his job. Michelle notes that he’s also very exuberant about his job; he can’t wait to get to the other side of a fence. She just got Chaccala, a mare, and they are figuring each other out. Michelle has high expectations for her and is excited for the future.
Michelle Parker and Easy Does It competing in Colorado in July. Photo: Carol Brooks Parker
Cross Creek Farms and Cross Creek West
Cross Creek Farms in Tucson, Arizona, is a 100-acre facility owned by Carol Parker. The Sabino Creek splits the property in half and gave the farm its name. Michelle’s retired campaigners enjoy their golden years on the farm, and she and Carol also have young horses there.
Michelle acquired Cross Creek West in San Marcos, California in 2005. It’s a secluded property within easy driving distance to Del Mar, the Oaks/Blenheim and Temecula. Her team there includes her partner, Alex Alvarado, also a trainer, and a ground team including Salvador Alvarado who scouted Easy and Chaccala for her among others. Grooms, Armando Salazar, has worked with Cross Creek Farms for 35+ years, Manny Galindo for 17, Carlos Galindo over 10 and Alberto Barajas about 10 years. She considers herself very lucky to have such a solid foundation of people she can trust watching over the horses.
“I always had young horses. At one point, I had a nice mare I was retiring and had a nice stallion coming up. So that was how we got into the breeding. We got a couple good foals out of the cross,” Michelle says. “Currently we’re breeding fewer babies and prefer going to Europe for prospects of all ages instead, that way you have a better idea of what you’re getting into. We import them and then resell them after training and competing. I am actively breeding one of my retired Grand Prix mares, Doriena, and she’s due to foal next month to South Pacific. Other than her we have pretty much phased out of breeding our own.
Michelle Parker schooling Roki at home. Photo: Carol Brooks Parker
Cross Creek West is an A-rated hunter/jumper training and sales facility. Michelle, Alex, and their team turn out top horse and rider combinations at every level, sale horses, and specialize in young horse development. Their training philosophy focuses on always improving the life and performance of their horses and skills of their riders.
“I really enjoy bringing young horses along especially when you have a breakthrough day with one of them. Of course, I always enjoy winning in a big class, or getting a good check in a Grand Prix, and having successful, happy clients is always a good thing,” Michelle says.
She’s proven her success in all these areas. The horse business is tough because it’s 24/7, it’s a lot of work, but fun work, she adds. The biggest pressure for Michelle comes with being responsible for clients and making sure everyone her team does well and has healthy and happy horses.
Sadie Parker, visiting Cross Creek West from North Carolina, and riding Mr. Theo. Photo: Carol Brooks Parker
Michelle is happy riding, training, and competing at the highest levels. She wants to go back to Spruce Meadows again someday to compete and continue bringing working students along. “My niece, Sadie Parker in North Carolina, is riding now too, she’s the fifth generation of our family in the sport. I recently bought an investment equitation horse from Europe, so now she has a nice horse to compete and can participate in producing and selling an import for a new discipline”.
Cupilor and Michelle Parker. Photo: McCool Photography.
“It’s always a learning game, the sport has changed so much since when I started but it’s all about the horses,” Michelle concludes.
To see the current horses that Michelle Parker has listed for sale be sure to visit his ProEquest profile!