MANATEE COUNTY — The partnership between horse and rider is undeniable for Brock Clermont.
The international show-jumping professional finds his passion not only in riding and caring for the animal but also in developing it as an athlete.
He hopes to inspire local families with his passion for horses and for riding, as he himself trains to qualify for the 2012 Olympic riding team.
“I like to set my goals high,” Clermont said. “The sky is the limit.”
His ambition also is what makes his new training facility, Clermark Equestrian, unique to the area.
In the last year, he and his staff transformed his 10-acre property, which had a house with staff quarters and a six-stall barn, into a 33-stall facility with two practice rings and access to 15 miles of trails for riding, among other features.
“I knew I wanted to build a place that wasn’t mediocre — one that was special to the area,” he said.
Clermark Equestrian will celebrate with an open house from 3-6 p.m., Oct. 17 at the facility, 225th St. E., Bradenton. Activities will include bounce houses, riding demonstrations and feasting on sno-cones and barbecue, among others.
“We are saying we’re ready for business,” Clermont said. “Nobody knows we’re out here.”
Clermont moved to the area about one-and-one-half years ago after finding a piece of property near Hunsader Farms. A native of Toronto, Canada, Clermont had been looking all over the country when he found a place that seemed to be a perfect fit for what he hoped to build.
Because Clermont was building from the ground up, he incorporated several features not seen at other riding facilities, such as a fully air-conditioned lounge from which parents can watch their children train or watch satellite television. Riding instructors wear microphones so students can hear their commands more easily. The enclosed arena has sport lights for night riding and a watering system to keep dust down.
“These are things most easily done at the beginning,” Clermont said.
Clermont, who grew up riding and training horses, said he hopes the facility will provide children and adults with an opportunity to ride in an environment that is both safe and fun.
“We want to do that in all levels,” Clermont said. “When people have an effective experience riding, they learn faster, avoid scary situations and have a bigger smile on their face.”
Clermark Equestrian primarily offers lessons in hunter, jumper and equitation. In the hunter category, the horse is judged on its form, smoothness and technique as its rider guides it over jumps in a more controlled, harmonious fashion. The jumper division is a bit more high energy, as horse and rider sail over jumps trying to finish the jumping course in the shortest time possible.
In the equitation category, it is the rider’s technique that is judged.
“It’s a physical sport, yes, but everybody can do it,” Clermont said. “It’s not just physicality and rhythm, it’s mental strength and knowledge. There’s a division for everybody.”
Besides training children and adults, Clermont’s proclivity for education is rooted in his love of horses themselves.
“(I love figuring out the) things this horse requires to make it a better athlete and more highly trained animal,” he said. “My big goal is to have the horses so relaxed anybody could ride them.”
Although Clermark Equestrian only has been open a few months, the training and boarding facility already has two full-time instructors, including Clermont. Group and individual lessons are available, as are lessons in dressage, Clermont said.
“As we grow, we’re going to need more (staff),” Clermont said.
Even last weekend, Clermont traveled to Pennsylvania to coach one of his students in the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, a show for which participants must qualify.
Clermont said he plans to hold riding camps at the farm, as well as a circuit of horse shows, which are slated to begin in January.
“We hope to bring show jumping to a whole other level in this community,” he said.
For more information on Clermark Equestrian, visit www.clermarkequestrian.com.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Clermark Equestrian Open House
WHEN: 3-6 p.m., Oct. 17
WHERE: Clermark Equestrian, 5982 225th Street East, Bradenton
WHAT: Barbecue, activities for children and riding demonstrations and more.