Podcast: In Conversation with Trainer Jec Ballou

Interview with Trainer and Author – Jec Ballou

Enjoy this open, honest, and inspiring conversation between Equitopia podcaster Kaylie Hanson, and well-known author and trainer, Jec Ballou.



Jec is the author of  Equine Fitness55 Corrective Exercises for Horses, and 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider.

She is a popular trainer and teacher based in California.

Jec has presented at Equine Affaire, MidWest Horse Fair, Mane Event, and numerous other expos.

Here’s a short snippet of the conversation. Kaylie asks Jec if there was a specific horse that really changed her approach to things. Here’s what Jec responded:

“I wouldn’t say there was a specific horse, but there was a very definite specific moment. So,  many many years ago, I was training a young Lusitano stallion and he was such a sweetie, I loved him.

He was a little bit phlegmatic, you know, he just he was a sweetheart. He was mentally engaged with me, but he really did not have a gas pedal. He was pretty stuck in first gear. And I was getting a bit frustrated.

And around this time, I saw a flyer posted somewhere for the first US clinic with a trainer I’d never heard of at that point. I don’t think anybody here had – it was Manolo Mendez. And he was going to be at this barn close to me. And I thought, well, this, this person probably understands the Iberian horses and I asked this horses owner, “can we take the horse to this clinic? I’ve never met the guy, but in the picture, he looks very kind”. That’s what I said.

And so, I went, we went and you know, it’s just so funny to look back on because they couldn’t fill the clinic. There were literally two participants in  his first clinic – really, me and this other woman who had trailered down from the North Bay. I was so enthralled by that clinic!

He was supposed to teach a second day and I said, “I’m going to bring every horse in my barn, I will fill your second day with all my horses.”

And from then on, I went to host his clinics in the US for many years and traveled to Australia to study with him three times.

But anyway, the horse and the situation that really shifted me was when I unloaded that stallion from the trailer, I backed him out of the trailer, and Manolo just happened to be standing there. And the next thing I know he’s on the ground, like crawling around on his hands and knees, looking at the horse’s hooves. And I was like,  well, I didn’t even you know, I’m like, I don’t know this man. What do you what are you doing? Because I was used to very traditional dressage clinics, right? And here’s this guy in the dirt crawling around my horse’s feet. And he’s like, “No, man, this horse’s feet are out of balance. And there’s all this pressure here and there” and, and he looks at me, he goes, “I bet this horse doesn’t like to move forward”. And I was like, “yeah, that’s why I’m here”. And he’s like, “no, these feet are all the problem”.

And today, to me, that seems really simple. But back then, I had never been to a dressage lesson or clinic where they commented about anything but my riding, there was never any like, well, what’s this horses lifestyle? Like, what’s his diet? How do his feet feel? And it was such a shift.

I changed the way I did everything after that.

And it definitely sent me on a journey that sometimes alienates me a bit from, you know, more modern dressage folk, not always, but sometimes they don’t really know what column to put me in. But yeah, that moment, that horse, and once we fixed his feet, gosh, he had so much energy – such a good boy. Yeah.”

Listen to the full interview, by clicking the image above – or on the Equitopia podcast on Spotify.

The Equitopia podcast ‘ From the Horse’s Mouth’ is now available on Spotify at: https://open.spotify.com/show/5hGRd8y7l9bfbaBKPmUdkS?si=YZTyUDzKQ_Sq0maSAnU0XQ

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