Johnny McDonnell - Owner/Bookkeeper/Sounding Board
Johnny was born and raised on a horse farm in Tennessee and has been riding since the age of 5. He went to college in North Carolina at Appalachian State University, where he earned his degree in photography. While in college, he competed heavily as a team penner and worked at a Hunter/Jumper and Dressage barn. He has managed two other professional equestrian facilities.
In addition to his responsibilities at the barn, Johnny is also the Senior Vice President of Operations at a multi-million dollar landscape company. In his "spare" time he competes, successfully, at team ropings on his horses, Joe and Dozer.
Johnny is passionate about every detail of the property, minor or major, and believes that the health and happiness of every horse is of the highest priority. He believes that no boarding client should ever have to spend a sleepless night worried about the comfort or safety of their horse and works tirelessly to ensure that the care provided is of the highest quality.
Erin Givens -Owner/Head Trainer
Erin began riding at the age of 8 with Sally Francis, who is still her coach today. She is a patient and kind trainer who has done everything from starting young horses, "fixing" problem horses and re-starting ex-racehorses. Erin has had extensive experience in competing in the hunter/jumpers up to the "AA" level. She loves to ride, train and show horses herself, but her greatest satisfaction comes from working with students and seeing them progress as riders and horsemen. Erin is honored to have coached both the Texas State University Equestrian Team and the University of Texas Equestrian Team; after a multiple year hiatus from coaching Intercollegiate teams, she is excited to be putting her coaching hat back on to support the Equestrian Team at the University of Texas at Austin! In addition to showing and teaching, Erin continues her education by regularly attending clinics taught by top horsemen and women. She has been fortunate enough to work with George Morris, Anne Kursinksi, Melanie Smith Taylor, Bernie Traurig, Buck Branaman, Tom Curtain, and others. Currently, she is mentoring under Coach Daniel Stewart, who specializes in rider sports psychology, biomechanics, and rider fitness. She is working on becoming a certified Pressure Proof Instructor and will be sharing her knowledge with her students as well as teaching clinics outside of Sterling.
Erin wants each student to enjoy learning about horsemanship, starting from the basics of proper horse management to finding balance and harmony while riding. She feels that what makes her different from other trainers is that she accepts the learning process and understands that each student (human and horse) will develop at their own pace. It isn't show ring achievements or prizes that she strives for. Erin knows she is doing a good job when the student has a desire to continue learning with enthusiasm.