Juli SebringOct 28, 2021 02:58PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
For the past 20 years, Juli Sebring has competed in national and international dressage and eventing. Cecil County Life recently talked with Juli about bringing that experience and passion to teaching others about the many joys of the equestrian life.
Cecil County Life: We are speaking on the day before the start of the prestigious Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, one of only two 5 Star level events in the U.S. Normally, you would compete on your own, but this year, Oliver Townend, who is number one in the world on the Eventing World Athlete rankings, is competing for you. Describe the circumstances that led you to get Oliver to Fair Hill.
Juli: It’s not everyday something like this happens. I imported Ulises in June, the second of three horses I brought over this summer for my side business, A-Team Imports. Ulises was previously piloted by Oli (from 2017-2019). It was pretty special for me to compete with a horse who’d won at the 4-star level, and even more spectacular to know he was already 5-star qualified with Oliver. So naturally when I found out I was pregnant, he was the first person I thought of. I didn’t actually think he’d say yes. I sent an email and I couldn’t believe he was on board.
You bring more than 20 years of teaching qualifications and competition in national and international dressage and eventing to Appleton Equestrian. In terms of your teaching, what goals did you have when you and your husband Ian Sebring began the company in 2105?
say our goal was to become the best lesson barn in the area. It’s
pretty amazing how it took off. I started with a handful of students
and being the only instructor, and we grew to teaching 70-80 riders
here a week with five instructors.
We recently read that you taught lessons at a barn during college, bought and sold horses, were a property manager, a certified life insurance sales agent, a freelance graphic designer, a writer and publisher, an au pair in Ireland and a social media and graphics specialist for a law firm. Take the readers of Cecil County Life back to the moment – or moments – that seemed to tell you that a life spent in the world of horses was what you simply had to do.
It was always what I wanted to do. I graduated in 2012 and it was still very difficult to find jobs at that point. It’s possible if I’d been hired for the design job of my dreams, that none of this would have happened. Horses were always what I did, but also a fall back plan for during -- and after -- other things that didn’t work out.
One of the premiere signatures of Appleton Equestrian is its exclusiveness in welcoming the entire community. For instance, not only do you offer summer camps for children ages 7 to 16, but a summer camp for adults called Ride & Wine. It’s about to head into its fourth year in 2022. What has made this so popular among those who attend, and for those who are interested in learning more, what activities await them?
I think it has become so popular because there’s no other barn in the vicinity that offers this. We allow riders to use our horses or come and stable their own. It’s a unique experience and a fun getaway for adults!
In addition to operating a 5-star rated equestrian facility, you are also the author of two novels, A Horse to Remember and A Horse to Treasure. How did you manage to fit in time for writing while also balancing teaching, running a farm and a business, competing and coordinating other activities and events?
I never would have found the time! I wrote the first book when I was
14, and the second book I wrote upon graduating college. These days,
I’m lucky to have any time at all to write, and sadly I do feel
I’ve lost some creativity with age.
For every individual who wishes to someday know the feeling of being one with a horse – whether it is dressage, eventing, show jumping or merely riding on a trail – there seems to be an equal number of reasons for not doing it, and fear seems to be at the top of that list. When teaching beginning students, what steps do you and your fellow instructors take to alleviate those fears?
The first step is always getting comfortable with handling the horse at the ground. If you’re nervous around him, chances are you aren’t going to feel too good on his back! We offer lessons that split the ground work and the riding, and we do see those beginning students progress more rapidly than the others who only choose to ride.
What is your favorite place in Cecil County?
That is too easy. Fair Hill Training Center.
Juli and Ian Sebring throw a dinner party. Who do you wish to see around that dinner table?
Well, most recently, it was Oliver Townend! We invited him and his crew over for dinner during the Maryland 5 Star.
What food or beverage can always be found in your refrigerator?
Ha! We’re lucky if there’s anything. Keeping a stocked fridge is
not one of our strong suits.
To learn more about Appleton Equestrian, LLC, its camps for kids and adults and special events, visit www.appletonequestrian.com, or visit them on Facebook. Appleton Equestrian, LLC is located at 1966 Appleton Road, Elkton, Md. 21921. Tel: 410-398-1466.
-- Richard L. Gaw