By Ruby Tevis
Portraits by Adrienne Morella
If you could look up the term “hunter derby” in the dictionary, Hope Glynn’s name would be right beside it. Since the inception of the program, Hope has been drawn to the derbies for their combination of skill and elegance. “Growing up without nicer horses, the only way for me to win was to outride everybody else,” Hope said. “With the derbies, you can show off your riding talents, and when you have a skilled horse, it becomes even more exciting. That’s how the derbies helped me make a name for myself.”
Hope’s ability to read a horse was developed from an early age. Her parents purchased a piece of land just outside of Sacramento, California, when she was 4 years old. Soon after came Sugar And Spice, a Welsh-Quarter pony mare. “My mom grew up riding Western, so she put a Western saddle on Sugar And Spice and tried to get this pony in shape,” Hope said, “but she wasn’t losing any weight. My dad went down to throw hay one morning, and suddenly there were two! She was pregnant and nobody knew!”
Growing up with two ponies was any little girl’s dream, and for Hope it spawned the beginning of a long and successful equestrian career. As Hope got older, she began competing in Welsh Pony shows with her mother, riding Western and driving. “We took a motorhome and a bumper pull trailer—my mother was my trainer, my grandmother would clean the tack and my grandfather would feed us all.”
At 10 years old, Hope began taking hunter-jumper lessons with Patty Ball. Hope’s mother would teach lessons to the neighboring kids and use the money to pay for Hope to train with Patty. A few years later, Patty took Hope on as a working student. “My mom desperately tried to get me into Quarter Horses because they were a lot cheaper, but jumping was my passion,” Hope said.
From Catch Riding to College
Under Patty’s guidance, Hope earned a reputation for not only her willingness to ride any horse, but her ability to ride them well. While she couldn’t afford many rated shows, Hope earned her miles in the ring by catch riding at local shows. To fund more time at the ‘A’ shows, Hope started buying young and problem ponies to train and resell.
“Riding so many different horses was the greatest gift I was given as a rider,” Hope said. “I didn’t know much about them, so I just had to figure them out. Sometimes I didn’t figure them out and fell off!” Hope values her experiences and the independence she learned since she wasn’t coached every step of the way.
Hope was allowed to have a horse of her own at 14, and hauled to Patty’s farm twice a week for lessons. “I was allowed to choose one Medal Finals to compete in each fall, so I put my horse in training for the month or two before, but I did everything else at home,” Hope said. “We could never travel east, so most of what I learned about the big shows came from reading magazines.”
While planning out the remainder of her Junior career, Hope was involved in a riding accident that left her sidelined for the next two years. “I was catch riding and the horse flipped over; I broke my femur and my arm and had an embolism while I was in the hospital. I was in a coma and had a pin put in my femur,” Hope said. “They said as long as the pin was still there, I wasn’t allowed to ride.”
Until she started college, Hope taught lessons and spent time playing tennis and golf. “I think my dad hoped I was done with horses,” Hope laughed, “but I always figured out a way to stay involved. My grandmother helped me buy a very inexpensive horse to take with me to the equestrian team at UC Davis.”
After one year, however, Hope quickly learned that balancing school and a horse was too difficult to manage. She had plans to go to law school and was studying for the LSAT—and she’d fallen in love with Ned Glynn. Ned, a hunter-jumper trainer, had plans to start a training operation. Now engaged, Hope was torn between pursuing a corporate job or going all-in for horses.
Sonoma Valley Stables
With school behind her and Ned by her side, Hope made a decision. “I thought, Let’s give it five years and we’ll either own a place and have a successful business, or we’ll go back to corporate jobs,” Hope said. “So we worked hard, and we were lucky enough to build a very successful business, Sonoma Valley Stables.”
Hope started her business as she’d started her Junior career, by transforming green and difficult horses into impressive, competitive mounts. “Eventually I started to get better and better horses coming through the barn, and clients who really believed in me,” Hope said. Her early dreams of competing on the East Coast were finally coming true as she checked off riding in Central Park and competing at Indoors and in Wellington from her bucket list.
“I started to build my reputation for finding what makes horses happy and how to help them shine,” Hope said. She grew her client base and scaled up her training operation to 50 horses in training. However, with success came sacrifice, and more time at shows meant less time at home. “We were on the road 28 weeks out of the year,” Hope said. “We kept going, even after my daughter was born.”
In 2005, Hope was blessed with the birth of her daughter, Avery. “She was 4 ½ months old, and I had 42 horses showing at Pebble Beach that summer. I rode 37 of them!” Hope said. “If it wasn’t for my mom helping me with her, I don’t know what I would’ve done. She was on the road all the time with us until Avery started school.” Once Avery was in grade school, Hope and Ned coordinated their schedules to balance parenthood, showing and running Sonoma Valley Stables back at home.
Hope, now ranked 16th of USHJA Lifetime Money Earned with two second place finishes in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix and 15 International Hunter Derby wins with 15 different horses, found her niche in hunter derbies. Alongside her success at the international level, Hope dominated the national hunter derby circuit with dozens of horses.
“I’ve had some really special horses come through my program,” Hope said. Of them all, Woodstock, owned by the Hellman family, was one of those once-in-a-lifetime partners. “He came from Brandie Holloway as a Green Working Hunter, and together he went on to win the WCHR Hunter Spectacular, came second at Derby Finals, then won Horse of the Year.” Apart from Woodstock’s success with Hope, he was also a star with his amateur riders. “That’s what made him extra special,” Hope said.
“The Hellman family supported me and trusted me to take green horses and turn them into winners, and Woodstock was one of those horses I traveled the country on,” Hope said. “They helped me get my name out there, and they gave me opportunities I’d never had before—traveling to so many big shows—and they brought their kids along, too.” While balancing her own riding career, Hope also expanded her coaching to help the next generation of riders in the pony and equitation divisions.
While Hope didn’t push horses on her daughter, it was only natural that by age 9, Avery had caught the horse bug too. The joy Hope felt when watching her daughter succeed in the show ring was a signal to reexamine her life. “Avery wanted to focus a lot on riding. She was loving it,” Hope said. “I wanted to watch her show in the ring more than anything in the world. I was going 100 miles an hour for other people and their children. I needed to change things so she could be my priority.”
New Adventures Ahead
Today, Avery is following in Hope’s footsteps, catch riding horses and competing in the equitation ring. Though now divorced, Hope and Ned remain good friends and coparents. “I left Sonoma Valley Stables for Ned to run with the clients, and I started a sales business so I could support Avery’s riding,” Hope said. “I couldn’t afford to have five horses for her to show, so she started catch riding, and I would trade by riding people’s horses in the open divisions if they’d allow Avery to ride in the Children’s.”
When Hope thinks about her goals for the future, she doesn’t see herself in the ring—she sees Avery. “I love riding horses, I love preparing them, but I love watching Avery compete,” Hope said. This year, Avery earned the Overall 3’6″ Grand Champion title at the Junior Hunter National Championship West, and was awarded top honors in the Show Jumping Talent Search at the Devon Horse Show. “She’s a powerhouse; she helps get show miles on the sale horses, she gets them qualified—she’s a good businesswoman and we make a good team.”
Away from the barn and the show grounds, Hope works as an insurance agent selling horse and farm insurance, and is a consultant for various equestrian brands. “Marketing is my degree, so I have a passion for helping brands connect with their clients and helping other professionals build partnerships with sponsors,” she said. “I crave a balance of other things in my life, and this is one of those things.”
Hope is also an ‘R’ judge and travels to judge a few shows per year. “I’ve been asked to judge at some of the nicest shows in the country, but now I can’t always do it because my daughter is competing in them!” Hope laughed. “I like to judge as a way to give back to the sport, and I love to give clinics and teach at all different levels. I like to inspire people to be better riders and horsemen.”
While her life in the industry looks a bit different now, Hope knows she is right where she needs to be. “I look back at my past with so much appreciation and gratitude,” she said. “I flip through picture books and think about the many wonderful horses and people I got to meet. Now, I get to help horses find new owners and help other people, but most importantly, I get to ride every day with my daughter and help her live her dreams.”
Follow Hope on Facebook at Hopeglynn and on Instagram @hopellcofficial
Photos by Adrienne Morella, www.adriennemorellaphotography.com, unless noted otherwise
Clothing and accessories provided by Caracol, JAI Jewelry, Rent the Runway, Rönner Design and Christine Shirley Designs.