By Laura Scaletti
Portraits by Kristie Nichols
Meredith Houx Remiger is proof teamwork makes the dream work. In a sport that’s often thought of as an individual pursuit, this New Mexico hunter-jumper professional has been fortunate to always have a great team behind her. From parents who went all-in when she expressed an interest in horses to teammates riding at Texas A&M to her barn family at Sandia Farm, Meredith has never been alone as she follows her dreams.
At age 5, Meredith’s family made a move that would change her life’s trajectory. “We moved in across the street from a hunter-jumper barn in Albuquerque and my parents signed me up for lessons. I fell in love and became horse crazy right away,” Meredith said.
Although her family had no prior horse experience before signing Meredith up for that first lesson, they all quickly adjusted to life at the barn. “My parents immediately jumped in and were so supportive during my formative riding years and beyond. Even my brother got in on the action, riding a bit,” Meredith said. Unlike Meredith’s initial lesson where she got hooked, her brother got bucked off during his first lesson.
As a child, North Valley Farm was Meredith’s second home. Working with Katie Young and Robert Foley, Meredith had ample opportunities to catch-ride ponies and horses. Unbeknownst to her at the time, becoming a proficient catch-rider would come in handy in later years while competing on the Texas A&M Equestrian Team.
While in high school, Meredith began working with Karen Cranham. “She really opened the horizons when it came to showing. Karen helped me travel throughout the country competing in the hunters, jumpers and equitation rings,” Meredith said. “To this day, I’m lucky enough to still work with her when we run into each other at shows.”
During her junior years with Karen, Meredith kept up her catch-riding though she also had a hunter and jumper of her own. Meredith did the junior hunters and equitation classes on Fenway and worked her way up to competing in the junior jumpers on Kokomo.
As Meredith started her college search, she wasn’t sure she wanted riding to be part of her college experience. After looking at several colleges, Meredith’s dad, a Texas A&M alum himself, suggested she consider his alma mater.
“Once I looked at Texas A&M and found out there was an equestrian team, I knew that’s where I wanted to attend! I was so fortunate to be able to continue my riding passion in college,” Meredith said.
Meredith was able to experience two different formats of collegiate riding during her time at Texas A&M, both IHSA and NCAA. As a freshman competing on the IHSA team, Meredith learned skills she uses as a professional horsewoman today.
As the 2001-2002 school year approached, Meredith received some exciting news: The team would be joining the NCAA program. Not only did this mean Meredith and the team would get to compete more throughout the country, but she also received a full-ride scholarship when the team became part of the NCAA.
Together with her teammates, Meredith accomplished goals she didn’t even know were possible when she initially made the trek to College Station, Texas. “I was the NCAA Individual Champion on the Flat in 2003, and the next year I was the NCAA Individual Champion Over Fences and as a team we won the National Championship,” Meredith said.
Meredith’s experience on the equestrian team at Texas A&M helped shape both her dreams as well as those of her students past and present. While she went to Texas A&M for a degree in international business and minor in Spanish, Meredith learned some of her most valuable lessons in the barn and on the team. The team became an amazing barn family unit, one that Meredith has replicated at her Sandia Farm today.
“Having the concept of teamwork really played into how I wanted my barn atmosphere to be,” Meredith said. “Being around a group of athletes that were so motivational and talented showed me how important it is to have a positive and supportive group of people around you to help you reach your goals, while keeping it fun along the way.”
In 2006, just two years after graduating from Texas A&M, Meredith was able to open Sandia Farm in Albuquerque. As luck would have it, there was a move-in-ready horse facility for sale across the street from Karen Cranham’s farm where Meredith spent most of her days growing up.
“Texas was home to me. However, after long talks with my parents and my husband, then-boyfriend, Eryn, who had moved to Albuquerque, they convinced me to really come back home,” Meredith said. “I had wanted to go travel and train more around the country before I settled down, but I knew this property was the perfect place for me to start and run a business.”
Meredith’s family has played a significant role in her achieving her dreams of owning and running her own barn. “My parents really motivated me to open Sandia Farm and helped me get the business off the ground. Today, my mom still helps with bookkeeping and my dad helps with hauling to shows,” Meredith said. “My husband is always there front and center to help, from loading and hauling to dragging arenas and taking pics on the sidelines at shows.”
Meredith’s human relations aren’t the only family members who make calling Sandia Farm home special. “My horses are definitely part of my family and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to retire some of my best horses, Fenway and Kokomo, at my facility,” Meredith said.
The clients who board and train out of Sandia are another key component in making it feel like home. Like most barns, the client makeup at Sandia ebbs and flows from all juniors to all amateurs. However, a common thread amongst all of Meredith’s clients is that they ride because they love horses.
“It’s not all about showing at our barn,” Meredith said. “Win or lose, my clients are happy they get to be with their horses. For some of them, their favorite part of barn time is just being with and grooming their horses; riding is a bonus.”
As there are not a lot of well-rounded riding programs in the area, Meredith is trying to help educate aspiring equestrians from their first ride to earning a spot on a college team. “New Mexico did so much for my riding as a child. I’m really happy to have the ability to give back to the local industry that gave me so much,” she said.
To date, Meredith has had more than 15 students go on to collegiate equestrian teams. Others have become trainers, assistant trainers, veterinarians or other professionals in the equine industry in and out of New Mexico.
In 2020, Meredith received the NCEA Distinguished Alumni Award in the equine business category. Nominated by two of her Texas A&M coaches, Tana McKay and Pamela Mitchell-Brummer, the award recognizes the contribution Meredith has made to the industry since graduation.
Meredith is just at the tip of the iceberg of the impact she would like to make both with her clients and within the industry. Whether it’s helping students tack up their horse or competing in Grand Prix herself, Meredith’s goal is to help everyone find and maintain their passion for horses.
“I love watching my students learn, gain confidence and develop a relationship with the horse they’re riding,” Meredith said. “From grooming to winning blue ribbons in the show ring, I want to be there for every aspect of their journey.”
For more information, visit www.sandiafarm.com
Photos by Kristie Nichols, moonfyrephotography.com, unless noted otherwise