A Lifelong Show Jumping Journey with Gry and Ian McFarlane
A Lifelong Show Jumping Journey with Gry and Ian McFarlane
Windfall Farm is a spacious and immaculate facility situated in Green Valley, California. Gry McFarlane and her son Ian are the owners and trainers. The tree-lined property has a 27- stall barn, outdoor arena, Eurociser, and turnout paddocks. The attention to detail at Windfall Farm extends beyond the property to the care and training of high-quality horses and riders who develop horsemanship skills and lasting bonds. Programs are individually tailored for each horse and rider and the facility maintains a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.
“I started the business 45-years ago,” says Gry. “We had a very large business with 60 horses, and then bought this farm and downsized when Ian was born. It’s wonderful to own our farm. We have a nice group of people and horses, primarily jumpers and some equitation riders too. I love owning my own business and working outdoors.”
Gry was horse crazy her whole life. She started riding western at age 10 when she convinced her parents to get her a horse. She competed in gymkhana, barrel racing, and other competitions. Then, Gry found hunters and jumpers and fell in love. It was a natural progression for her to become a professional.
Training and Teaching Philosophies
Working with clients and their horses has always been a key component of Windfall Farm’s business. Gry and Ian both mention the rewards of seeing their horses and riders progress, watching them improve, and do well in and out of the ring.
“I love to teach,” Gry says. “Safety comes first, but I always try to bring to my business and teaching that it needs to be fun too. Our clients need to have a good time, laugh, be competitive, and it has to stay safe.”
Gry offers her junior riders structure and discipline during their teenage years. She serves as a mentor and a good example for them. She focuses on keeping it light and nice for her amateur riders since riding is their break from the rest of the world. The atmosphere at Windfall Farm is one where riders can come to take a deep breath and enjoy their horse.
“We teach a hybrid system of riding between the American and European systems,” Ian explains. “Our riders have confidence, ride smoothly, and use the aids as much as necessary and as little as possible. I love flatwork, it’s the most important part of the training, and know many professionals agree. Our goal is to create horsemen and well-rounded equestrians first, riders second. ”
University for Show Jumping
Ian started riding at a young age under his parents’ tutelage. He had success as a junior rider with multiple horses. He was PCHA rookie of the year with “User ID”, whom he considers himself very fortunate to have ridden. Ian became a professional when he aged out of the junior divisions. Then, he had to decide between college and horses; going to a four-year university means potentially losing valuable years as a rider. Ian was certain that he wanted to ride and knew it was something he loved.
Ian McFarlane and Cora 572 at Winter Equestrian Festival 2017 (Photo: Sportfot)
When he graduated from high school, Ian went to the East Coast to work and learn. “I wanted to learn new things and meet new people. I used it as a university for showjumping; it exposed me to new training methods and ideas. I worked for Andrew Ramsay of Shalanno Farms, who was being coached by George Morris at the time. We spent the winter circuit in Wellington. I then entered the stable of Chris Kappler when Andrew became a part of his team. I learned many things about horsemanship, discipline, and stable management from these wonderful mentors I was so fortunate to work for.”
Ian McFarlane and Cora 572 at Princeton (Photo: Courtesy of Windfall Farms)
After working for Andrew and Chris Ian spent approximately two years in The Netherlands working for a top-flight sales barn owned and operated by Peter Paul Bosch. “There are a lot of great professionals in Europe to study and get to know,” Ian mentions. “I had the opportunity to learn from and watch many top riders and professionals located in Europe during this time. It was a special experience, one I will not forget.” Peter Paul of Bosch Sporthorses taught Ian much about the business over there and helped expose him to a different system of riding and training.
Ian McFarlane at CSI Outdoor Wierden in The Netherlands (Photo: FotoTrailer)
“This is a sport where you lose more than you win, so you must be able to tolerate loss while learning from mistakes,” Ian reflects. “Riders need to pick themselves up and persevere. That perseverance is one of the most important traits a show jumping rider can have. This is a lifelong journey to develop your feeling and skills as a rider; you must constantly analyze your riding and improve what you can. Horsemen have to love the journey rather than the immediate adrenaline rush of a win.”
After spending four years away from home, Ian aims to use the skills and lessons he learned to add to his mother’s business. The equestrian network he developed will be an asset as Gry and Ian look to the future of Windfall Farm.
“It’s good to have Ian back home,” Gry says. “Northern California has a great group of people and a horse show community that we’re proud to be part of.” The future of Windfall Farm is focused on training their clients and selling quality horses. Ian and Gry are to begin importing jumpers, equitation horses, and hunters for lease and purchase.
The connections that Ian established in Europe are a key component to importing horses. “I know and trust the people I choose to work with, we have a rapport,” Ian says. “Our goal is to be creative in bringing horses over. We are starting with quality amateur and junior horses, they are worth their weight in gold for most programs. Next, we will include younger sport horses and up and coming jumpers.”
Gry and Ian McFarlane
Windfall Farm has a long history of promoting horses and riders at the top level of this sport. Gry and Ian are excited to explore opportunities to share the joys and rewards of riding and competing in show jumping. Windfall Farm looks forward to working together with ProEquest to facilitate good matches between horse and rider.
Visit Windfall Farm at ProEquest!