This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on Will Baker of West Milford, New Jersey. In 2018 Will established Coast to Coast Equestrian, a hunter/jumper training, boarding, sales and lesson operation. Coast to Coast Equestrian has been competing at World Equestrian Center – Ocala in the 12-week 2022 Winter Spectacular Show Series. We caught up with Will to learn more about his background in riding and what a typical show day is like for Coast to Coast Equestrian.
WEC: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Will: I grew up in Virginia, where I primarily rode in the summer. I started competing at local shows when I was about 15-years-old. I rode with my dad who coached the University of Richmond team. In my senior year of high school, I started to work with Sulu and Derek Reed in Virginia and that’s when I started to learn more about higher-level shows.
After high school, I continued to work for Sulu and Derek for four additional years. I traveled to Europe where I lived in Switzerland and shortly after moved to Northern Germany for two years. We had everything from three-year-olds to 1.30m or 1.40m horses. We broke horses, which involved helping with breeding operations.
The shows were very different in Northern Germany. They were all ship-in shows, nothing like World Equestrian Center’s incredible facility. We would bring a different pool of horses each day and work off the trailer.
I had the opportunity to ride and show many young horses. I had a couple that I showed in the jumper divisions up to the 1.30m level, but the horses would normally sell before they got to the grand prix.
I moved back to the United States when I was 23, where I went back to Virginia to regroup. Shortly after, I decided to move out west and work for Parkwood Equestrian. Located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Parkwood Equestrian was where I learned the operation of a sales facility. We had horses that accommodated every level of horse showing, right up to grand prix jumpers. Working for such a large operation, taught me how to produce, market, sell and have fun at the same time.
After a few years there, I got my first riding job as a grand prix rider for Kris Cheyne, relocating to Kansas. At the age of 25 I had my first grand prix horse. We came down to Florida where I got to experience HITS and Venice. This was significant to me because I started to do the higher-level hunters and jumpers.
I recently got married, to my wife Katie in November. We had an intimate wedding aboard a cruise liner that coasted around the New York Harbor, culminating with the Statue of Liberty. Katie competes in the amateur owner hunter divisions. She has a seasoned hunter coupled with a five-year-old that we recently imported.
WEC: When did you start Coast to Coast Equestrian?
Will: I started Coast to Coast Equestrian in 2018, out of Brian and Jolene Cash’s farm at Hidden Acres Farm in West Milford, New Jersey.
We offer all levels of riding instruction, training and sales to all ages and skill levels. We pride ourselves on matching rider and horse combinations.
We love coming to World Equestrian Center – Ocala from January 1 to April, because the facility is amazing. This all-encompassing venue accommodates everything you could possibly want at a horse show.
Back at home, it’s business as usual with our lesson program and sales horses. During the winter, the barn is basically closed while we are in Florida. For the remainder of the year, we focus on training, and educating our riders of all age levels in horsemanship. It’s a well-rounded program, that focuses on the horse care, and riding.
WEC: Tell us a bit about the horses that you have been riding at WEC.
Will: I have one horse that is doing the 1.40m right now. DSH Lord Mydas is a nine-year-old owned by Dachis Sporthorses LLC. His owners imported him toward the end of last summer. He actually won the 1.40m on Wednesday, which was very exciting. He’s hopefully going to start to do the grands prix in the spring. He’s only nine so he’s just starting to step up into the larger divisions.
We have quite a few imports and young horses from five to nine years old, that we bring up and produce as well. Guy and Tiffany Cambria have been helping me on the ground with my jumpers. They have been incredible working with me the entire circuit.
Bill Rube, has a really nice eight-year-old horse, Center of Attention that I have had the privilege of showing in the 3’3” Performance Hunters and derbies. It has been very fun to watch the progress of Bill’s horse.
I am very grateful to have a wonderful group of clients and horses behind me. It’s rewarding to see the camaraderie amongst the barn family as they cheer each other on going from ring to ring. Most importantly, nothing would be possible without the support of my incredible team headed by Fin Duffin.
Bill Rube: I met Will when he came to do a clinic at Gleneayre Equestrian Program in the fall of 2019. I watched him work with the kids and I had a horse that needed some work, so that’s when we started to work together. I sent the horse to him, and the rest is history. I like to get behind young professionals, who work hard and believe in the true meaning of horsemanship.
WEC: Tell us what a typical horse show day is like for you.
Will: I start around 6:30am, sometimes a little earlier. I’ll usually flat one or two before they show. At 8am, we get going. Whether it’s teaching lessons or going from ring to ring. We also have a good handful of sale horses, so we usually have a few trials a day. Even though things can sometimes get hectic, I always focus 100 percent on the task at hand with each horse and rider.
Bill Rube: Will has a very customizable program. When Will takes you to the ring, he gives you all of his attention. He ensures that his focus is directly on you and nothing else, which really helps with my confidence.
Will: The show schedule is usually very busy except on our off weeks. We let the horses tell us what they need and try to give them a break from jumping as much as possible. We will do two weeks showing and one week off. I always like to say, happy horses are jumping horses.
Thank you so much Will for taking the time to chat with us! We wish you all the best with Coast to Coast Equestrian and look forward to having you back!