By Jan Westmark
Jimmy Torano has been part of the horse world his entire life. Growing up in Miami, Florida, he started lead line classes with his mom as his trainer. His last year as a junior, he rode with Don Stewart before going to work for Jane Ebelhare as a rider and trainer at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. “I got a great start there, riding many different horses and eventually grand prix horses,” Jimmy said. “After working there for several years, I decided to go on my own and start my own business. I went with Jane’s blessing. She gave me a real leg up, and I owe her a lot.” Jimmy has had a successful and long-running grand prix career and his involvement doesn’t end in the show ring. He’s a trainer and a big “R” judge. “I’ve been lucky enough to judge all the equitation championships and nothing beats that, as far as judging goes,” he said. “I’ve also judged all the major indoor shows and Devon.” Jimmy started Jet Show Stable in 1992, named with his initials, and along with his wife and children, continues to be a vital part of the show world.
How did you meet your wife, Danielle?
We met at the shows. Her mother asked me to be her trainer. I was her trainer first, and the rest is history. We just celebrated our 24th anniversary.
What’s it like being married to an equestrian?
I’m a lucky man, finding Danielle. We do this together. We’ve both done this sport at the top level, so we really understand and accept the highs and lows that can go along with this sport.
What’s it like being a father?
y children are my world. My daughter, Natalia, just turned 13. She rides just for fun and is really into dance. My son, JJ, is 9 and very into riding. He’s had a good year, most notably being grand champion pony hunter at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
What do you like about being a trainer?
It’s great that your hobby can become your job. Whether training a horse or one of my students, it’s great when I can see them understand what I’m asking and things start to fall into place.
How many riders do you train?
Right now I’m very busy with several riders, in every division. I think I have some top amateur riders in the jumper and hunter ring, and some really top up-and-coming junior riders, including my son, JJ, and Kat Fuqua. Kat has already done some big things, and I think she’s really one to watch.
What do you like about being a judge?
It’s really an honor to be asked to judge top shows and equitation finals. It’s great to judge the future of our sport. It’s also exciting to judge the top hunters and hunter riders at the prestigious events. I have a very busy schedule, showing and training, so I don’t really have time to judge too many shows during the year.
Favorite shows you have traveled to?
My favorite shows I’ve ever been to were in Europe. I was lucky enough to represent the U.S. at Aachen, Germany, and Gothenburg, Sweden. Here at home, I would say The Hampton Classic stands out, and we love Lake Placid and a couple of others.
Have you had a funny horse moment that still makes you laugh?
When a horse jumped out of the indoor ring with me at Tampa. Unfortunately, it jumped onto very slippery pavement. Sparks went flying.
What’s your favorite thing about being part of the horse world?
Being able to travel to so many different places and see friends and fellow professionals. We get to do what we love, and make a life and a business out of it.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
Take a vacation with Danielle and the kids. They love going to different places.
Who inspires you?
A lot of people. I watch everyone. I learn every day. And we can’t forget the horses: Everything we do with them is inspiring.
What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?
Jackets. I have a lot of jackets.
What three items can usually be found in your refrigerator?
Diet Pepsi, water and string cheese
What’s your favorite meal?
Steak, steak and steak. Ok and lobster.
What would be the best gift in the world?
I’ve already been given the three best gifts, between my wife and my two children.
A fun gift? Maybe to hang out with Michael Jordan for the day.
How would you like people to remember you?
For being a good horseman. I think anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the sport, about the horses, about everything that has to do with our sometimes-crazy business.