Searching for and Selecting Hunter Jumper with Nina and Mariano Alario of Estancia Farms

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Searching for and Selecting Hunter Jumper with Nina and Mariano Alario of Estancia Farms

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Jun. 02,2020
ProEquest

Horses have been a lifelong pursuit for Nina and Mariano Alario of Estancia Farms in Petaluma, California. They are no strangers to the hunter jumper world and their names are synonymous with some of the most talented equine athletes we see on the circuit.

Mariano grew up in Argentina, trained horses there and in Spain, before moving to the United States. Nina was a top equitation rider as a junior, growing up in southern California. Both are successful Grand Prix riders and train horses and clients for the hunter circuit. Estancia Farms works with riders at all levels, from short stirrup to Grand Prix.

Mariano is on Edesa’s Wendeschon Z. 15k welcome prix at Sonoma.

Mariano is on Edesa’s Wendeschon Z. 15k welcome prix at Sonoma. PC Matt Cain

Nina and Mariano are frequently winning National Hunter Derbies and other events with various horses that they own or show for their clients. As lifelong equestrians and with years of experience purchasing, training, and showing horses, they are a valuable source of information on qualities to look for in a prospective horse and tips for making a purchase.

Finding a new horse begins with the search process. Knowing what the horse's job will be is part of searching for the right hunter – the qualities a horse needs will depend on the job the horse will have. Nina and Mariano have different criteria for themselves, an investment horse, or a new horse for a client. In all horses, they look at the quality of the gait and the jump, but maybe more importantly good character and brain.

Nina and Mariano were first and Second in the $15,000 Equitex Welcome Prix. Mariano was riding Edesa’s Wenderschon Z and Nina was riding Edesa’s La Dolce Vita. PC: Matt Cain

Nina and Mariano were first and Second in the $15,000 Equitex Welcome Prix. Mariano was riding Edesa’s Wenderschon Z and Nina was riding Edesa’s La Dolce Vita. PC: Matt Cain

There are some qualities that you should seek in any hunter jumper. Suitability between the horse and rider is paramount in any search. “You want a good athlete and it is always a plus to be a good mover,” Nina says, “a beautiful trot and canter. We look for horses with a large balanced stride and the ability to be adjustable wherever needed on a course.”

Estancia Farm competes regularly and watches horses in the ring and follows their careers. When it’s time to start horse shopping, they ask other professionals what is available. Online marketing and ads are more frequently used, and their use will continue increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once you have selected some prospective horses, the next part of the process is trying them out. “If it’s a local horse, we do like to go try it out in person,” Nina says. “We ask for a trial for our amateur and junior clients. There is less pressure for them to ride the horse at our farm and see if it’s a good match as well as see how the horse adjusts into our barn’s environment.”

Nina & Horse is Drop the Mic in the 3’6” performance hunters

Nina and Horse is Drop the Mic in the 3’6” performance hunters. PC ESI

Estancia Farms travels to see horses that are further away and tries them out in person too. “We stay overnight, and ride the horse multiple times. It’s important to understand their history when trying to make a decision based on just a few rides. That process may change in the future because of COVID, and extensive videos and take home trials may be used with greater frequency. In the future we may not be allowed to try four or five horses at a show and rather will be traveling to four or five different barns to get the process done.”

Nina, Mariano, Nico and Spoken For. PC GRANDPIX PHOTOGRAPHY

Nina, Mariano, Nico and Spoken For. PC GRANDPIX PHOTOGRAPHY

One of Nina’s favorite purchases is the top hunter gelding, Spoken For. “I was looking for a horse for Elizabeth Robbins, a client, and we had been looking for quite some time. John French was showing him in southern California, and I asked about Spoken For, really not expecting him to be for sale. I figured he was one of John’s up and coming prospects and we wouldn’t be lucky enough to have him. It turns out John was just showing him, and he was for sale through a trainer, Jaime Cheney, here in Northern California. I tried to line up my schedule at the show with John and by the time I was headed over to get on him there had been a miscommunication and the horse was on a trailer home. I called the owner and asked how to get organized so I wouldn’t loose the opportunity to try him and have first option to purchase him. I knew other people were interested. They brought Spoken For to our farm for a trial a few days later, and we unloaded him and I got right on and rode.  He acted as if he was at his own home doing what he does everyday. He was perfect. The next day, Elizabeth came out and tried him and again he could not have been better. Spoken For has an amazing attitude and willingness, and is an incredible athlete; all together he is a really special animal who brings his best everyday.”

Nina and Spoken For won the United States Hunter Jumper Association $5,000 National Hunter Derby presented by Circle Oak Equine at Sonoma Horse Park in September of 2019. He’s had numerous other wins with Elizabeth and Nina. Spoken For is just one example of a successful purchase that Nina and Mariano have had at Estancia Farms.

Spoken For and Nina. PC Alden Corrigan

Nina and Spoken For. PC Alden Corrigan
 

Horse trainers have countless experience evaluating horses and selecting future champions for their clients. For the rest of us, it can be tough to know where to start since there are so many horses available. “It’s important to watch the videos and give anything you think you might like a chance,” Nina says. “Go watch the horse live, and watch multiple rounds, if you can. Follow through on a video of a horse you might like, you never know what might happen.”

Nina and Mariano with their son, Nico, after a successful finish on three horses in the ribbons in the $40,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix. Photo: Estancia Farms client

Nina and Mariano with their son, Nico, after a successful finish on three horses in the ribbons in the $40,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix. Photo: Estancia Farms client

A special thank you to Nina and Mariano Alario of Estancia for taking the time to answer our questions and share some of their insights into the equestrian world. To learn more about Estancia Farm visit their ProEquest profile!

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