In late June, Sue Buscher, head coach of the George Mason Equestrian Team loaded up her horses and made the move from Timely Manor Stables in Gainesville to River Chase Farm in Aldie. Sue has been coaching for over twenty years and is excited to take advantage of River Chase’s outstanding facilities including its lighted all-weather outdoor ring and spacious indoor arena.

Sue and assistant coach Tara Applegate will be joining riding instructors Sara Howley, dressage trainer Kim Murphy, former U.S. Equestrian Team member Rick Eckhardt, and River Chase owner of 11 years Tom Navarro.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tom at River Chase to learn more about his background and career with horses. My first meeting with Tom revealed his easy going personality and lifelong dedication to the sport. Afterward, I had the pleasure of touring the 300 acre facility with his wife Anastasia. Here are the highlights from my interview with Tom Navarro:

Tom and Anastasia Navarro at River Chase Farm.

Tom and Anastasia Navarro at River Chase Farm.

Tell me a little about your riding career.

Tom Navarro: I had the opportunity to work with a lot of top professionals like Peter Leone, Norman Dello Joio, and George Morris. I grew up with horses in Westchester, New York so I had a lot of great opportunities.

When did you start coaching?

TN: About 11 years ago when I started this place. I always gave a little bit of coaching advice, but I didn’t really start training people until I came here and started this. I had a riding injury and I couldn’t ride anymore so I started this place. I brought in a bunch of different trainers, but people just kept coming back to me. I hated it at first because I didn’t know how to say what I would do if I was on the horse. Then it just developed over time and became easier and easier. And now I love it!

Can you tell me about your previous experience with the George Mason Equestrian Team?

TN: They were here for about three or four years and we just hosted them. They had a coach at the time so I didn’t do a lot for them. When they had a big event I would give them some clinic-type lessons here and there. They were great! I opened this place because I wanted to influence the industry. I don’t like where our business has gone over the years. So I thought if I opened a big enough place I could make an impact and get people back to having fun with horses and not just worried about money all the time. And that’s what we do! We take our $2,500 horses to Culpepper and compete against to the $200,000 horses and come home with the ribbons.

How did you meet Sue? What made you want to partner with her?

TN: I met Sue for the first time here years ago (probably 2008) when she came to some of our shows. Over the years she has always been a regular at our shows. She always comes with a group and they’re very much like our group here. They’re very cool people and everybody gets along. And when she said that she was moving I couldn’t talk her into it quick enough.

What’s your biggest challenge as the owner of River Chase?

TN:Trying to make everybody happy. I don’t go home thinking about however many people we made happy in a day. I go home thinking about how to fix the problem that one person had. So it’s tough sometimes, but I love it.

Tell me one of the best memories of your career.

TN: I have so many! I think my all-time best memory is the day that I closed the deal on this farm. I knew it would change my life forever. What advice do you have for the George Mason Equestrian Team this year? TN: Work hard. Never give up. I truly believe that we can achieve anything in this life that we want to – and I’m living proof of it. I had three different doctors tell me I’d never ride again. And I’m riding, and I’m jumping, and I’m having fun again. So all you have to do is just work hard.

George Mason Equestrian Club and Show Team

George Mason Equestrian Club and Show Team

I can assure you, Tom, the George Mason Equestrian Team is ready to work hard this year. Sue has been coaching the team since 2012. They came in fourth last year in Zone IV Region 1 and sent six riders to Regionals. She has big plans for the team this year at River Chase – and most of those plans don’t involve stirrups. If you want to cheer on the George Mason Equestrian Team this year – or if you want an excuse to hang out at the beautiful River Chase Farm – then stop by our Intercollegiate Horse Show Association home show! The show is scheduled for Saturday November 4th and Sunday November 5th, rain or shine. Wear your green and gold – see you there!

Written by Amanda Malloy