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Equestrian Sport is Healthy in Chicago

Diane Carney focuses on the basics to create confidence and inspiration in the sport.

Chicago, IL – June 2, 2020 - Diane Carney gave Chicago area barns some much needed inspiration after the two month “Shelter in Place” order issued in Illinois. Carney spent the end of May supporting and encouraging hunter jumper businesses with in-barn clinics and schooling shows. The return to the sport was supported by the Italian study, which showed the risk of spreading the virus while riding was almost non-existent. Following CDC suggestions, business owners organized the return of their clients with huge emotional benefits for all. As stated by Winston Churchill, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

Kinvarra Farm

Carney started at Kinvarra Farm in St. Charles with trainers Janet and Ryan Sassmannshausen. Carney worked with riders outdoors focusing on balance and the outside rein both directions. Many riders rode multiple horses to work on stamina as well as riding skills. It was a full day of improvement and confidence from succeeding at all the exercises of the course.

Diane Carney watches Alexis Ortiz complete the exercises at Kinvarra Farm.

“What a great clinic!” said rider Deeda Howard. “Diane does an amazing job of giving clear and concise instruction, helping both the horse and the rider successfully navigate her technical exercises and course. It’s always a great experience!”

Joey Pitocco takes a turn on course as Diane Carney watches during Kinvarra Farm's clinic day.

Kinvarra welcomed the schooling session as they prepare to head to Hits Chicago at Lamplight this week, literally minutes away from their farm. The group is eager to get back to the show ring like so many other equestrians. For more information on Kinvarra Farm, visit their website at to Run With the Herd.


Carney then spent time with her own Telluride customers in Antioch with the exact same focus in lessons. With riders from adult amateur hunters and adult equation to grand prix and amateur owner jumpers, the lesson was the same regardless of the division or height of the fences, emphasizing balance and outside rein. 

Day two at Telluride featured a mock schooling show. Dressed in show clothes, the hunter riders competed over two hunter courses and demonstrated that their competitive abilities were right where they left off before the two-month break, landing scores from Carney

ranging from 79 to 88! The beautiful hunter course, designed and set by Millcreek Equestrian’s Serah Vogus, rivaled any premier event and got Telluride riders and horses back into the swing of competition. The jumper track included Carney’s signature design of a short turn to a wide oxer-vertical two-stride to a short six-strides as well as black gate oxer offering inside turns and long gallops. The riders and horses relaxed and gained confidence from the experience. 

“These sessions and practice shows have been good for all – horses, riders, trainers and myself. We are all better when we are doing what we love to do. It was good for everyone to be back at work and be inspired once again by the horses,” said Carney

Carney’s customers plan to show at Ledges Sporting Horses at the end of June before heading to several weeks at Traverse City. For more information on Telluride Farm, visit the website at

Platinum Farm

Carney’s next stop was Sirena and Tim Liggett’s Platinum Farm in Marengo.  Carney judged an in-barn schooling show, complete with every aspect young riders needed to remember the fun and responsibilities of going to a horse show. Liggett made the day special and handled every detail of the closed event. The courses were posted, the riders were dressed in show clothes and an announcer called the small flat classes to order while Carney judged. Liggett had ribbons and championships for each division, which included hunters, equitation, and a Table ll, 2d jumper competition. As each rider gained confidence, nerves and excitement turned into enjoyment and the fun of the sport returned!

Platinum Farm's schooling show had classes for all levels of riders.

“The customers loved getting back in the “show ring,” said Liggett. “Diane’s commentary built confidence and encouraged the riders, who were getting back in the swing after not riding. It was great to have a school show with a real licensed official and hear feedback from the judge’s perspective. It was a great time.”

Riders received feedback from Diane Carney after their rounds at Platinum Farm's schooling show.

Platinum Farm is ready to attend Hits Chicago at Lamplight, then the Place to Start at Crosswinds Farm, then on to Ledges Sporting Horses. They are also planning to hold their scheduled summer camps, beginning the second week in June. For more information visit their website at

Platinum Farm riders were excited to get back into the show ring - even if it was at home.


Then it was on to Lake Forest to Sue and Katie Leverick‘s Millennium Farm schooling show. Carney judged hunters and gave feed back on the rounds in the back ring with a full afternoon of jumpers and discussion of the five factors of jumping (pace, line, balance, impulsion, and distance) in the front ring. To add even more fun to the day, Millennium held a HIGH jump class that ended at 4’6, won by Katie Leverick on her Action Augustin, a nine-year-old Westphalian jumper.

Katie Leverick and Action Augustin clinch the High Jump class while Sue Leverick observes. PC Brianna Engelkemeir.

The riders competed for prizes graciously donated by Saddlers Row tack shop to encourage the riders to remember the joy of sport. Special thanks to Saddler’s Row for their dedication to all of the equestrians in the Chicago area! Saddle pads, gift cards, and ribbons were awarded to riders grateful to be back in the saddle.

Millennium Farm riders learned how to improve their scores from the judge, Diane Carney.

“The strange times we’re living through sometimes make it difficult to remember why we do what we do,” said Sue Leverick. “Today the schooling show reminded us why.  It’s because we love our horses! We enjoy being in the barn. We relish the camaraderie of our teammates. Today we challenged ourselves, laughed and learned.  This is why we do what we do. Thank you to Diane Carney for supporting and encouraging us.”

Katie Leverick awards fantastic prizes donated by Saddler's Row. 

Millennium Farm will head to Hits Chicago at Lamplight for weeks two and three to kick off their spring show season. The farm spent the winter in Ocala, which ended early, and are looking forward to getting back to the shows. For more information on Millennium Farm, visit

Judgement Farm

Judgment Farm in Oswego was next on the list for trainer Tina Judge’s schooling show. Judge planned a full day of events with Carney judging and going over the cards with riders,

parents and trainers. Starting with a pre-horse show lesson at 8 am and ending with the advanced 3’6 equitation at 4 pm, the riders competed over three hunter rounds including a handy and an equitation track. Riders had a chance after each round to hear how to improve their score through better horse IQ and showmanship. The equitation riders at the end of the day had a work-off, which included inside turns and three simple changes of lead on the long side in front of Carney. 

“All of our riders participated in the mock horse show and clinic event,” explained Judge. “It was a day that included a lot of learning and a lot of firsts- like first time doing a course, first time jumping 3 foot. The riders really enjoyed all the feedback from Diane and the parents got to listen to her explain what she saw and how the riders could improve their scores. Everyone came away with a lot of confidence in their own riding and in their horses so now we are ready to start our show season again in another week. It really was perfect timing to have this clinic to get everyone motivated and excited again. We were lucky to have her!”

Rider after rider expressed their gratitude for this real horse show feeling experience prior to heading out to horse shows at Lamplight and Ledges in June. The Judgement Farm team was enthusiastic for the reminders and felt the joy of our sport return.  For more information on Judgement Farm, visit them on Facebook.

Stanley Luke Farm

Carney continued on her circuit from Oswego to Countryside, Illinois to Peter and Beth Kennedy’s Stanley Luke Farm for a clinic on Sunday. The focus for advanced riders,

intermediate riders, green horses and veterans was all the same, balance and outside rein both directions. The day was 75 degrees with blue sky; a beautiful day to ride and enjoy working hard riding over carefully planned exercises. All the riders improved and experienced increased concentration after a two-month leave. Their joy and enthusiasm was very clear as they “nailed” their final turn in the lesson!

“Many thanks to long time professional Diane Carney of West Palm Beach for a great one-day, three-session clinic yesterday,” said a grateful Beth Kennedy. “The perfect weather added to the enjoyment for our horse/rider combinations. They were challenged to pay close attention to detail as well as answer tough questions asked by both the exercises Diane led them through as well as the course work. It was a very rewarding day of listening, learning and as always, appreciating our sport.”

For more information on Stanley Luke Farm and their services, visit the website at

Northern Pines Farm

On Monday, Carney conducted flat lessons with Melissa Hirt’s Northern Pines Farm riders at the Lamplight Facility in Wayne, Illinois. The group of riders were preparing to show on

Wednesday at the first horse show in the Chicago area since the shut down. Carney had riders focus on rhythm and straightness and reviewed the four angles of a rider’s position (ankle, knee, hip, elbow) as judges are looking for proper angles and a rider’s feel and balance on the flat. Carney also worked on the rider’s understanding of shoulder fore. The lesson included simple changes on a straight line off the rail to practice isolating the rider’s aides and to work on an element of a work-off for an equitation class.  

Carney reviewed the new jogging format required of trotting a circle on a long rein after the hunter rounds for a soundness check established by USEF rules currently in place to adhere to CDC protocols along with limiting large groups, protecting grooms and riders from long times of waiting to jog and allowing us all to return to the sport. 

“Having Diane teach was the perfect way to get the clients focused on riding. They are so excited to horse show I knew the discipline and basics would be a great way to get them ready for the show ring this week,” said Hirt.

Northern Pines Farm has locations in Maple City and Williamsburg, Michigan during the summer and West Palm Beach, Florida in the winter. Hirt has numerous quality horses for lease and sale, including weekly leases, for all levels. For more information visit their website at or contact Melissa Hirt.

West Palm Beach- Gladewinds Farm

Carney returns to West Palm Beach Tuesday to watch Virginia Bartholomay’s Cesna M return to the show ring for Friday’s 1.30m class on the grass at the Equestrian Village/

Equestrian Sport Productions horse show, in Wellington. Margie Goldstein Engle and her team have been developing the talented 8-year-old, who is scheduled for shows early in June at PBIEC and then joins the Gladewinds Farm horses for the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Horse Shows in Traverse City, Michigan. The time allowed by the months of staying home and shifting into Engle’s program has been a blessing for this horse.  Carney and Engle are both looking forward to seeing what the horse has learned.

“Equestrian professionals and riders throughout time have always been adaptable and now is the time to follow safe protocols while enjoying competition and our great equestrian sport,” concluded Carney. “Good luck to everyone!” 

For more information on Diane Carney and Telluride, visit the website at

About Diane Carney Diane Carney is a lifelong, dedicated horsewoman, emphasizing horsemanship in every aspect of her world.  Her versatility and in-depth knowledge as a grand prix rider, hunter rider, clinician, USHJA certified trainer, event organizer, commentator, course designer, and USEF R judge, gives her a well-rounded perspective on the industry.

Carney’s judging resume includes the 2016 ASPCA/Maclay Medal Finals, the New England Equitation Championships, WEF, HITS Thermal, Bend Oregon, Blenheim CA, Flintridge and Sonoma, CA; LA Masters, Kentucky Summer, The American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Championship, the Sunshine Series USHJA $100,000 Hunter Prix, HITS $500,000 Hunter Prix, IEA and IHSA, SEC Championships, the USEF Pony Finals, Gulfport and the West Coast Equitation Final at the USHJA Championships.

Over the last 40 years, Diane has continued the mission of spreading knowledge and horsemanship through clinics and supporting programs that raise the level of horsemanship for riders, trainers and owners.  Carney is available for clinics, judging, sales, commentary and private clients. Visit her website at for her complete resume.


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