Elizabeth “Betsy” Juliano grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, amongst a family that had no horse experience in the least. At the age of seven, Juliano attended a day camp, where she was able to rent hour long horse rides through the park on a weekly basis. “I was somehow the one person in our family that fell in love with the horses, fell in love with the animals,” said Juliano. “Once I started riding at that stable, I just never turned back.”
Now the owner of Havensafe Farm, Juliano is a well-known name around the dressage community. Her steadfast support of the United States Dressage Team has earned her an air of respect amongst riders and trainers alike.
“The business model of professionals is such that,” explained Juliano, “if they’re not doing their jobs, meaning riding, teaching, training, they don’t get paid. At the same time, it is also mandatory for a big championship such as the Olympics, or the Pan American Games or the WEG, it is important for them to go to Europe, for a circuit of shows, for the judges to see them, for the horses to see the venues to experience that level of competition. Those are contradictory models If they don’t work, they don’t get paid If they’re going to make a team, they have to go to Europe and be in places that will take them away from their normal businesses, for sometimes up to two to three months at a time.”
She continued, “My feeling is that what I can do as a supporter is to help ease that burden of the professionals’ need to leave their practices and their businesses to compete and to represent the U. S. It’s very important, because without this kind of support, the riders who may potentially be able to make a team, may not try out because they aren’t able to get away.”
Juliano’s love for the sport shines through in all that she does. “I love the fact that there is a physical, mental, and emotional component of dressage,” she said. “Like figure skating, or karate, or other forms of martial arts, I like the fact that you start by learning the fundamentals and then you build on those with greater degrees of subtlety and sophistication until you reach the highest level in the sport. The process of that is intriguing to me, and I also appreciate that if done correctly, you are working in harmony with the horse and the horse is trained in a manner that is humane and patient.”
United States 2012 Olympic Dressage Team member Adrienne Lyle has been riding Juliano’s Horizon, a 2007 Oldenburg mare (Hotline x Revue x Don Schufro), for the past few years, and also competes Salvino, Juliano’s 2007 Hanoverian stallion (Sandro Hit x Dynastie x Donnerhall). Of Juliano, Lyle commented, “Betsy is a huge part of the equation. Without the owners, we don’t have the horses to ride. It takes such a team to get a horse and rider down centerline, and it’s really a great relationship when you have an owner like Betsy, where you work so closely together and work so well together. Betsy is a very involved owner. She likes to watch the horses every day. She likes to know what is going on in their program. I love that and I appreciate that. I enjoy having an owner that is so involved in it.”
She continued, “What’s amazing about Betsy is that she’s not just supporting one horse, she’s also supporting other riders like Laura Graves and Jennifer Baumert, and is helping to build a wider foundation in United States Dressage. That’s what our country needs; not just one great rider, but we need depth. We need a system in which all of these talented riders can get the training at the level needed to be successful on an international scale.”
As an active owner, sponsor, and USET Foundation board member, Juliano’s goals for dressage in the United States coincide with the goals of the team. She exclaimed, “The goal is for the riders to do as well as they can, and most people feel that the ultimate test of that is to get a medal, so that’s the first thing. The second goal is to strengthen the symbiotic relationship of the team.”
“Part of what I have been involved in and what I have been interested in supporting, is the team concept, in helping the team members form as a team,” she continued. “I think that it is very important that when it gets to the point of competing for the US on a team, these riders have to learn how to work with one another, support one another, and that can be challenging, especially if it is a group that doesn’t know one another. Our goal is always to be on the podium That is the ultimate test and the ultimate result is to be on the podium. However, I do think that in order to have riders on a team get medals and place well, it is really important that the team functions well as a group.”
With the unwavering support of Betsy Juliano and others like her, it is safe to say that the future of United States dressage looks brighter than ever as they head into a qualifying season that will bring them face to face with the world’s best at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 in Tryon, NC, beginning in September.