Ocala, FL – This week’s Ocala Sunday Spotlight shines on talented amateur rider Isabel Harbour of Alpharetta, Georgia. Harbour has been competing at World Equestrian Center – Ocala since the inaugural opening during the 2021 Winter Spectacular Show Series. Throughout her time at WEC she has earned numerous top placings during Hunter Derby Fridays. Read on to learn more about her riding career and some of her top horses.
WEC: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I started riding when I was seven. I have been obsessed with horses ever since I was born. I would throw little tantrums in the car with my mom whenever we would pass horses. I wanted to stop and pet them. My mom finally caved and took me to my first riding lesson. The horse actually ended up spooking and picked up a canter. I was crying the entire time, but when the trainer finally got the horse to stop, mid-tears, I asked to do it again. That was the sign that I was going to be riding for a long time.
My first pony was this little itty bitty small named Fifle. At first, I told my mom I didn’t want to show, I just wanted to ride and have fun, but then maybe not even a year later I was showing.
Fifle’s show name was Sax Fifth Avenue and he was a terror. He ran away with me at probably every single show we went to, but he taught me so much. My first pony that I owned was London Fog. She was Taylor Land’s pony who had been there and done that. I showed her a ton and she won a lot for me. She retired and lived the best life up at my parent’s farm until she was 29.
I only did the ponies for about two years before moving to horses. I got my first children’s horse and just kept going. I did the hunters for a long time, until I did one jumper class in Wellington on my dear friend Cathy Coffee’s horse. We did the 1.0m Jumpers and I was hooked.
I moved to Terry Brown’s farm about five years ago. When I got there, I did a lot of the Big Equitation classes and went to college at Texas A&M where I rode on the team. After a year, I decided that school wasn’t for me and I really just wanted to focus on riding. So off to Germany I went. I ended up importing four horses: three big jumpers and a hunter. I did the big jumpers for a while, but I found that hunters were more my speed. Now I have more hunters than jumpers.
WEC: Tell us about a few of the horses that you have here with you at the show.
Everyone knows Fitz. He’s my 3’6” Amateur horse and is 16-year-old this year. I started leasing him when he was ten years old. I did some big equitation classes with him, and he taught me so much so fast. I leased him for two years, and never expected my parents to buy him, but my dad surprised me with the papers to sign as my high school graduation present. He is my dream horse. He isn’t super fancy, but he is the perfect horse for me. He has done so much for me and I trust him more than anyone else.
Just last year I got Agave. He also does the 3’6” Amateurs and the derbies. He is nine or ten, and is still figuring out the hunters, but he tries so hard for me each time we step in the ring. He moves beautifully, jumps so well and has an incredible hind end. He is so much fun to ride and I am excited to see where he goes.
Condor is adorable. I am riding him for a friend who is in college. I always forget he sticks his tongue out when he goes around, and I catch people always smiling at me while I am riding. I always think wow he feels good, but does it look that good, then I remember they are definitely staring at him for his adorable tongue.
I also ride a few of my trainer’s horses. Right now, I have a pretty laid-back schedule, because I work back home, and I am currently commuting to the show. I am used to riding eight horses a day, so right now I am just enjoying being an amateur.
WEC: What do you like best about the hunters?
I have always loved the hunters for the precision and perfection that goes along with it. I think we can all agree the inside, outside can get a bit repetitive at times, which is why I love the handies so much. They really spice things up. I love to find the weird inside turn that no one else thinks about. Terry has taught me all I know about doing those crazy turns. When I was big into the equitation when I was younger, she would make me do the craziest things schooling to help prepare for the ring and that’s how I got so good.
WEC: Tell us about your experiences at World Equestrian Center?
We started showing in Ohio, which we all loved. It keeps improving every year, which is what I love about the Roberts family, they improve things, even when they are already perfect. My expectations are always exceeded.
We came down to Ocala the first year it opened, and my jaw dropped. My favorite part has to all of the flowers. The facility is just so beautiful, and I love the smell of the flowers, especially in the spring. Aside from the beautiful facility, the rings are wonderful, and the schooling rings are huge. It’s hard to find a horse show that has equally big school rings for their big show rings. The schedule is very accommodating, and my horses love the barns. They all lay down all the time. Fitz never lays down, but whenever he is here, he takes naps every day. We love it here and are so grateful to be able to show here.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us Isabel. We can’t wait to watch you in the derby ring!