By Lauren R. Giannini
Gavin Moylan is thrilled with the direction his career has taken. He’s competing a really nice jumper in international Grand Prix. His students, equine and human, are doing really well, and horse sales are strong. He’s ready. It’s all been part of his plan.
“About five years ago, I changed from a large lesson business to a higher level show barn,” he said. “The focus is more on my own riding and teaching students to participate in a higher level of competition.”
Four years ago, he married Alden Denegre. For Gavin and Alden, May will always be a memorable month. They exchanged vows in May 2012 and they’re expecting their first child in May 2016. They enjoy a great working relationship at home, at shows and on buying trips.
“We have no problem scouring the countryside, looking for the next diamond in the rough — we’re dreamers,” said Alden. “We’ve put thousands of kilometers on our car for wild goose chases on buying trips to Europe. On the whole, we prefer working with breeders and friends whom we visit time and time again. We’ve made some great connections and friendships and we go back to the sources we know and trust.”
When it comes to buying, Gavin said, “I almost always have Alden ride a horse before we buy it. She’s an amateur and represents our junior and amateur clients’ concerns. If Alden doesn’t like the horse or won’t even get on it, we don’t buy it. We spend hours looking at the videos she’s taken on our trip, talking about each horse. We know what we like and we’re each other’s sounding board.”
The Moylans deal in quality, not quantity. “We’re very picky, and I think we stand out because we only import horses with Grand Prix jumper potential and 3’6” and higher hunter potential, period,” said Alden. “We like overqualified.”
Horses in Their Genes
Gavin grew up in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, riding English and Western. His parents, Don and Bev Moylan, were major influences.
“My father grew up with horses in an area where he rode five miles every day to school,” said Gavin, whose family homesteaded in western Canada and used horses to do their farm work. “He taught me to start my first unbroken horse. My mother was a lot of support and made me do a lot of stall mucking. I learned a good work ethic.”
Gavin worked for years learning from show jumpers on the Canadian team, exercising racehorses, starting Thoroughbreds and teaching riding. He worked one-on-one with horses in round pens and, out of those experiences, evolved his own style of working with horses. He moved to Virginia in 1995 and rode for various sales barns. In 1998, he started Gavin Moylan Stables.
“I wanted to excel not just as a rider, but also as a teacher, trainer, groom, etc.,” he said. “I wanted to be a good horseman.”
Alden, on the other hand, grew up in the saddle, taking lessons, foxhunting and showing — no doubt, she rode before she was born. She competed in Children’s Hunters and rode on the equitation team at Foxcroft, but her heart was in jumpers.
Her parents, Penny and John, and grandmother, Pat Rogers, contributed vitally to her horsemanship, encouraging her enjoyment of many equestrian sports. They were always well mounted whether showing or riding to hounds — there’s nothing like a good horse cross-country when hounds are in full cry. From Foxcroft, Alden went to Duke University, her mother’s alma mater, and earned a degree in history.
The Moylans give back to the sport with High Performance Equestrian Foundation (HPEF), a 501(c)3 non-profit founded by Alden in 2009 that offers financial assistance to qualified jumper riders. HPEF’s primary fundraiser is Twilight Jumpers, a four-show summer series with two invitational classes, held at Great Meadow, The Plains, Virginia.
Now & Future
Gavin has one Grand Prix horse: Pernod, owned by Alpha Omega Farm. A few years ago, Gavin sold a horse he took from schooling jumpers to Grand Prix within half a year. The horses he enjoys riding the most are often the most sellable.
“I liked how game that horse was and he liked that he could trust me and I wouldn’t ’lie’ to him at the jumps,” said Gavin. “The question since selling that horse, and a few others, will always be, ’What if?’ Was he the one I should’ve kept? Now, I have Pernod and we’re incredibly excited about his international potential. My long-term individual goal is to ride for the Canadian team and see how far I can go in international sport.”