Experience and Qualifications


Susan Smith, Trainer

Susan and her husband Bruce have owned and operated Cornerstone Equestrian Center since 1990.  Prior to becoming a professional rider and trainer, Susan trained and showed under the tutorage of Mary Gatti of Rainbow Canyon Ranch in Azusa, California for 17 years as both a junior and amateur.  Susan showed successfully with Rainbow Canyon at the county shows, Pacific Coast and USEF (AHSA at the time).  Primarily a hunter rider, Suan also enjoyed success in the equitation/medals ring and junior jumpers.  During this time Susan gained the experience necessary to successfully ride horses of varying temperaments and levels of schooling.  She also made the transition from amateur to professional while at Rainbow Canyon and began teaching in the lesson program.  Discovering she had a knack for teaching and expressing herself, Susan began her career as a riding instructor and trainer.  

Celebrating 20 years of successful training, Suan continues to produce quality riders and horses.  Her clients have won OCSHA Medal Finals and year end championships in hunters and equitation at OCHSA and GSDHSA year after year.  While primarily a county level barn, Cornerstone attends 2-3 'A' shows a year producing show championships at that level as well.  Her clients have brought home Circuit Championships from HITS Indio, Show Championships from HITS Indio, HITS Tucson and the Flintridge Childrens' show in both the hunter and equitation divisions.

Susan truly feels that "being able to explain why we do what we do as riders and horsemen and transfer that knowledge to others so that they may become skilled equestrians" is exciting and gratifying.  Today, she specializes in bringing along green horses for the show ring and training juniors and amateurs to ride, enjoy, and compete with their own horses.  In addition to training and teaching, Susan finds time to clinic with riding legends George Morris, Greg Best, Anne Kursinski and others to continue her education.

Susan combines education with experience to create a one-of-a-kind learning environment.  She has a Master of Science degree in Animal Behavior, in the area of Equine Learning, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Cal Poly University, Pomona.  She has published award-winning research work in equine color vision.  A true equine behaviorist, Susan is able to help her clients understand horses and their behavior more throughly and completely.  This unique combination of education and experience has also established Susan as a desirable expert witness in the field of Equine Behavior. 

Cornerstone's motto is "building a strong foundation for horse and rider" and Susan's philosophy is straighforward:  Start with the basics to build a solid foundation and then build on that foundation.  Throughout the years, Susan continues to produce quality riders winning in the equitation and medal classes.  She follows a systematic program for both her horses and riders which includes flatwork, gymnastics and fence work.  Traditional, classical, yet state-of-the-art hunt seat riding is taught at Cornerstone and students are reminded that "riding is a process and while goals are important, don't forget to enjoy the journey".