Suzanne Huizenga – Mentoring and Training Youth Riders, Young Professionals, and Serious Amateurs

Suzanne (Suzy) Huizenga is a sought-after and much-admired trainer located in Whatcom County, Washington, where she has been training students and horses for over 40 years. She specializes in bringing students and horses along calmly and happily from trot poles to jumping courses in the hunter/jumper rings. Suzy has developed a number of riders from lunge-line beginnings to professional trainers.

 

Name: Suzanne (Suzy) Huizenga.

 

Name of Business: Twin Maples Farm Equestrian Training, established in 1981.

 

What kind of training do you do?

Hunters, jumpers, equitation and natural horsemanship training.

 

Memberships/organizations/affiliations/clubs?

United States Equestrian Federation and United States Hunter Jumper Association.

 

What disciplines or aspects of the industry are you involved in?

I currently teach intermediate and advanced riders in the hunter/jumper/equitation disciplines as well as working with all levels of horse owners on natural horsemanship/groundwork and basic riding skills.

 

Why did you choose that aspect of the horse business?

I have spent most of my life involved in teaching and training English and jumping and I love it! About 20 years ago I found a whole new approach to training horses and people with natural horsemanship training and it became very clear to me that the two could be linked together to create more solid partnerships between the two. It changed my life with horses, and I am committed to sharing what I have learned with my students because I know how well it works.

 

Where do you live? Where do you conduct your business?

I live in Lynden, WA and work out of my home farm as well as other local barns in the area.

 

Who do you feel influenced you the most in your equestrian journey and why?

There are so many wonderful people who influenced my journey. I savor every moment anyone spent sharing their knowledge and time with me.

My older sister Nancy forged the path ahead of me, finding opportunities to work for riding, and I followed in her footsteps. My wonderful parents (who could not buy me that pony I thought I could keep in my backyard in Seattle) were always willing to drive me to lessons or barns where I could work for riding and horse time.

Most of all, I owe my life path and career to the kind and generous Phyllis Crooks, owner of the renowned Evergreen Equestrian Center in Kirkland, WA. She really didn’t need one more working student added to the herd, but I was relentless in my begging and she took me in. I spent 6 years in the most incredible learning environment anyone could ask for right up until I moved to Bellingham to go to college.

Of course, my husband Mike is the main reason Twin Maples Farm exists. He built an old five-acre chicken farm into a highly functional equestrian training facility that now has 40 years of memories. There are so many stories we can tell!

 

What breeds have you trained?

Over the years I have trained many different breeds of horses—really, anything that comes my way. For the show ring some of the best ones have been Paints, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabian crosses, and of course the buffet of warmbloods.

 

What aspect of your business intrigues you the most?

What intrigues me most about the training process I follow is how the building blocks of groundwork lead to trainability in flatwork, which is the basis for successful jumping. It’s so fun and actually pretty easy, once you figure out what type of personality your horse has and how to use that to your advantage to communicate with him so you can get the best results without using force. I like to think of it as “cracking their code”.

 

Do you compete?

Photo from Suzanne Huizenga

I spent my younger years showing in local shows and then once I had my own farm and business, I hit the hunter/jumper show circuit with my daughters and clients, showing in both local and A shows in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. We had lots of great ponies, many green horses, and our own homebred warmbloods. I was really living my dream.

One horse in particular, a lovely Dutch gelding named Spider, carried me into the big rings and gave me some fantastic experience in the 1.30-meter levels. I’ll never forget coming out of the Grand Prix ring at Milner Downs and seeing Phyliss Crooks walk up to me with a huge smile on her face, coming to tell me how thrilled she was to see me go so far in my riding and career. That was her dream!

 

What are some of your most notable accomplishments? Use photo Suzyteaching.PNG from S. Huizenga

Without a doubt, my most notable accomplishments have been my students. I’m so proud of all of them and honored to have been a part of their journey. We have some wonderful young trainers including Lhanze Kohr and Anna Stein who grew up at Twin Maples Farm. My daughter, Michelle (Huizenga) Guglielmo has a great business teaching and training jumpers out of the famous Hunterdon in Pittstown, NJ. My student Cora Floyd is on a path to be a professional and is extraordinary. She and her horse Given are quite the pair to watch! (Read Cora’s story in this month’s Youth in Action column.)

 

What are your business goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

My goals for the future are to keep educating horse owners so they can be safe and confident in their knowledge and skill handling their horses on the ground as well as riding.

There is something else that is my heart’s greatest desire, and that is to mentor and train the next generation of young horse lovers that want to be instructors and trainers in the horse business. I’ve been in the business over 50 years, and as I age out, I hope there will be a new wave of skilled and compassionate trainers who carry on with better training and horsemanship capabilities than generations before.

I own my last three horses: Mia my 21-year-old large pony, Lexi a 9-year-old warmblood, and Giselle a 7-year-old warmblood. I lease Mia to younger students who want to learn the ropes in the show ring. Lexi will be ready to lease by next show season, and Giselle is on the slow boat to China.

 

Learn more about Suzanne Huizenga at www.twinmaplesfarm.org

Facebook @ Twin Maples Farm

Instagram: twin_maples_farm

 

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See this article in the October 2021 online edition:

October 2021

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