Moorpark horse trainer chosen as one of the ten best

By Katie Cocquyt

Moorpark horse trainer Scott Lico was selected as one of America’s ten most talented riders for the prestigious Gladstone Program.  The week long clinic took place May 21-26, 2014 in New Jersey at the hallowed grounds of Hamilton Farms, the United States Equestrian Team Foundation Headquarters. This program was taught by the iconic horseman and chef d’equipe of the United States Equestrian Federation show jumping team George Morris to further the education and training of elite show jumping riders with ambitions to compete internationally for team USA.

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Scott Lico with famed horseman George Morris, the head of the Gladstone Program. Photo credit: Kendall Bierer

“I viewed it as an opportunity to learn.  I’m always looking for ways to improve,” said Lico.  “I had already made it a priority to see Hamilton Farms.  There’s so much history there.  And it was a week training with George [Morris] who really emphasizes the importance of classical horse riding.”

The program consisted of training sessions taught by Morris and included private mentoring with him as well as seminars taught by top veterinarians, sports psychologists and stable managers.  The curriculum was designed to challenge these talented riders to a new level of professional athleticism.

“It was definitely difficult and very physically demanding,” Lico said.  “Up at five every morning; to the barn by six because we had to take care of our horses.  Then the mounted lessons, work all day and go to a lecture at night.  It was total immersion into the sport.”

A natural athlete, Lico has been riding for twenty years.  However, unlike some of his contemporaries, he was not born into the sport.  His interest in horses was entirely self-motivated.  It began on a summer vacation to Mammoth Lake at age fourteen when he took a trail ride with his family.

“We are all animal lovers and we decided it would be fun to take riding lessons when we got back home,” he said.  “I thought it was going to be Western riding, but we went to an English barn.  I saw the saddles didn’t have a horn and people were jumping horses.  The first time I trotted, I was really excited to feel the speed and rhythm of my horse; the power beneath me.”

Prior to that, he had no idea about the sport of show jumping.  After that, it was all he could think about.  He wanted to become a serious competitor.  So, he went on to train with Karen Healey, a former protégé of George Morris.  His ambition served him well.  He was named to the top amateur jumper riders on the West Coast three years in a row.

“I think Scott has turned out to be a really great rider,” said Healey.  “He came to me as a quiet young boy and he really dedicated himself to the sport.  The Gladstone Program was a great opportunity.  I’m very proud of him.  He’s one of my students that has done well and gone on to become a professional.”

Now, Lico is an emerging talent in the show jumping world.  He was both thrilled and humbled to be selected for the Gladstone Program and to be surrounded by the idols of his youth.

“It was intimidating being there.  I was lent a horse by McLaine Ward who is one of the people I’ve looked up to since I started riding as a kid,” Lico said.  “I watched him win the $100K Grand Prix at Salem then I went to his barn and got to meet him. He was so nice and friendly; very positive about me riding his horse.  I did feel some pressure not to disappoint him, but I couldn’t have asked for a better meeting with my idol.  And it’s always an experience riding with George.  I’ve gone to his clinics for 15-years.  He’s a legend.  I really respect him.”

At the end of the week, Lico believes he had become a better rider for sure.  Being around the greats of show jumping inspired him and improved his overall horsemanship.

“It was a dream come true,” he said.  “Now, I’m looking forward to sharing this knowledge with the riders who are in my training program.”

Scott Lico trains all levels of riders from the infatuated beginner to the advanced competitor.  His training stable is located at Southern California Riding Club in Moorpark, www.scottlicostables.com.

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Katcoverie Cocquyt is an award winning novelist and freelance journalist.  Ms. Cocquyt has also worked in the film industry as a screenwriter and has won numerous awards for her screenplays  She and her daughter are both equestrians and live in Moorpark.

Her latest novel, Dixie’s Run, is an exciting Young Adult adventure set in Sharpsburg, Maryland on the eve of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  It is a tale of survival with a message that the bonds which exist without prejudice are stronger than the forces of war.

Dixie Run is available on Amazon.com: DIXIE RUN

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