Ten years out of the saddle hasn’t held Tara Brown Stocks back from her dreams, which was evident as she took the back-to-back victories in the Alessandro Albanese Platinum Adult Jumper Classic at Blenheim Red, White, and Blue earlier this month. Performing admirably in the ring, raising a daughter around horses, and hustling as a working professional hasn’t slowed Tara down one bit, and we had to know her secret. JN caught up with Tara to recap on her past, her present, and her future.
Returning to the Ring
As it so often does for many passionate equestrians, life diverted Tara away from the irons to assemble her future, but she knew that barn life was still out there waiting for her on the other side. “I got married and got pregnant and when my baby was about four years old I thought to myself, ‘I have to do this again.’ So I hit it hard!”
Tara with Joe and Katie Lifto. Photo by McCool Photography
Tara wasted no time in selecting the team she would work with; after all she had ridden with power couple Joe and Katie Lifto of Pacific Coast Show Jumpers since she was 12. “I think it can sometimes be hard to find a trainer that you click with. Someone who understands you and gives you their attention, their heart and soul,” she told JN. “I’m more than comfortable with Joe and Katie; they know how to push me. They put so much time and effort into their horses, I knew with them I would be safe.”
So a little over two years ago Tara dove back into the equestrian life. With the help of the Lifto team, Tara was able to purchase Ciquero, a lovely bay German Warmblood gelding to help her transition back into the show ring. Together, the pair dominated the lows and ended their first year together as the USEF and Pacific Coast Horse Show Association Division Winner. They continued to share many successes together, but as their time went on Tara knew she wanted to continue to expand her equine family.
Tara and Ciquero. Photo by McCool Photography
High Hopes with High Hopes
With Tara’s big dreams in mind, the Lifto’s scoured the market until they found the ten-year-old Warmblood gelding, High Hopes. “We just purchased him earlier this year, but we are definitely a good fit!” Tara said of her new mount. The pair debuted together in the Highs at Thermal this spring where out of six classes, they brought home four blues.
Tara, the Lifto Team, and friends celebrate after she and High Hopes stole the blue at Blenheim Red, White, and Blue. Photo by McCool Photography
“He is friendly and wants to cuddle and he always jumps the moon. He has this personality of ‘whatever, I got this,’” said Tara. That personality has allowed Tara and her new mount to quickly secure a strong bond that has shown its presence in the show ring. She and the gelding continue to take home top placings in most of their appearances together. “He is just the most honest horse,” she continued. “At one show my five year old daughter did the lead line class on him and after we went into the Classic and we won.”
With a successful season so far, Tara’s ultimate goal is to finish off the year while holding the lead in their division in hopes of taking home the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association division win in the Highs. “And of course, I would like to eventually move up and jump higher, but I am happy where I am for now!” It appears as if the pair are on track for that goal after taking home their second consecutive win in the Alessandro Albanese Platinum Adult Jumper Classic at Blenheim.
A Family Affair
While Tara has her own dreams, she is also nurturing the budding dreams of her daughter who is also taking lessons and riding. “We are going to be a team,” she shared. “My family is usually always there with me to help, so we plan on doing this together!” That plan is already in motion as there has been talk of her daughter getting a pony in the coming months.
Tara’s daughter after entering the lead line class with High Hopes.
With her eyes on the prize and a great team to support her, this self-described adrenaline junkie is looking forward to her future with horses and family by her side.