Since its inception as the winter equestrian capital of the world, Wellington has boasted national and international competitors in all disciplines. Like many equestrians who make Wellington their seasonal home during the winter, renowned trainer and judge Susie Humes has made the trip to Wellington from her hometown of Old Westbury, N.Y., for more than 30 years.
“There are so many positive things about having many equestrian disciplines based in one place,” Humes said of Wellington. “It’s an opportunity for the professionals and the clients to watch the best riders in the world train and compete. I think that’s a rare thing to find unless you go to Europe.”
Humes began riding at just three years old, and today she is a celebrated trainer and USEF “R” rated judge with a professional career spanning four decades. Her judging résumé includes many of the country’s top-rated horse shows, such as the National Horse Show, the Devon Horse Show, the Los Angeles National Horse Show, the Hampton Classic and the Winter Equestrian Festival, to name just a few. She has trained top hunter, equitation and jumpers, and has coached students to win all of the major national equitation finals and many championships at the Devon Horse Show, the Winter Equestrian Festival and in the prestigious indoor circuit.
No stranger to the winner’s circle herself, Humes’ success and passion for the sport inspired her to seek out new opportunities to give back to the community. In January, Humes launched her newest business venture, “The Winning Edge.”
The Winning Edge is an online educational tool that grants exclusive access to judging critique and advice from Humes, as well as a collection of top trainers in North America as guest professionals. Customers have the opportunity to purchase judging evaluations for hunter or equitation rounds, conformation critiques or pose questions to “Ask the Experts.” Humes’ panel of experts offers thoughtful and constructive feedback to competitors who want to significantly improve their chances of winning in the show arena and correcting training difficulties.
“The important thing for me is reaching a broader audience of equestrians, not only in Wellington, but throughout North America, and give them the opportunity to have access to high-quality experts at a lower cost,” Humes explained. “People will be able to get an idea of what a judge is thinking when they watch them ride, which is helpful if you show regularly. People will also receive training tips and suggestions to go along with the round’s critique. Even if you’re not showing and you’re just training, you can always work toward keeping your horse more balanced and focused.”
The Winning Edge guest professionals have judged some of the nation’s most prestigious horse shows and will customize their feedback to improve riders’ performance in the ring. Humes, along with the featured guest professionals, will send a detailed evaluation of a submitted round or horse’s conformation with helpful tips and suggestions to give riders the added edge that will help them stand out in the show ring.
“The guest professionals we’re featuring on our site are longtime colleagues of mine, and I have judged with all of them throughout my career,” Humes explained. “Right now, we have two, Ken Smith and Kathy Newman, who are in Wellington, and one based in California, Karen Healey, with many exciting professionals hopping on board in the future. I have great respect for all of them, and each one is an expert in the field. For each video we receive, I read what my guest professionals write, and we talk it over. I think it’s crucial to have different points of view for our customers.”
Humes’ primary goal of training is to improve horse-and-rider performance, followed by quality horse care and safety. Her insightful observations, along with her advice and guidance, have given her students the winning edge in the show ring for decades. Fueled with a passion for horsemanship and education, Humes is dedicated to giving back to the sport that has given her so much.
“I’m really excited about The Winning Edge because I want everyone in the sport, wherever they ride, to have access to quality information that they need to improve their riding,” Humes said. “Whether you’re schooling or showing, there is always something that you can learn and something that you can improve upon. I think this will be a great tool for juniors, collegiate riders and adult amateurs to take advantage of to give them an added edge to be the best rider they can be.”
To learn more, or to submit your video for critique, visit www.thewinningedgeeq.com.