by Caro Earnest
brett and marjie becker — becker stables by Carol Earnest The Beckers’ 125-acre ranch in Grass Valley, California. B rett and Marjie Becker have been a National winning team for many years, winning championships in multiple divisions. The year 2008 was truly a spectacular one for Becker Stables. In fact, it is their most successful show year ever. With a phenomenal Canadian Nationals, they brought home eight Championships, six Reserves and 31 Top Tens. U.S. Nationals was ﬁlled with garlands as well. Becker Stables earned six U.S. Championships, three Reserves and 22 Top Tens making 2008 a year ﬁlled with roses. Brett has been named one of the USEF Equestrians of Honor for 2008; Equestrian of the Year has yet to be decided, but Brett will receive the Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy, which goes to the rider, driver, or handler of any horse or pony breed shown in a non-reining western discipline. Both Marjie and Brett grew up showing Arabians in California and rode in multiple divisions; both have backgrounds rich in top trainers and horses. “I must have horses in my DNA. My grandfather came here from Russia, and his family operated a horse-drawn taxi service,” says Brett. “Neither of us has worked with breeds other than Arabians — it’s the breed we know and love. As a kid I rode with Murrel and Randi Lacey, Bubbles Hiller, Skip Carpenter, and Bill Melendez. I learned a lot from my good friend Wendy Grifﬁth Potts as we showed together in California — she really taught me a lot. I was also with Mike Neal, Ron Bechtel, Gordon Potts, Greg Harris, and Kit Hall.” Adds Marjie, “I started out at Nicasio Valley Arabians in the ’70s and was there when Bey Shah arrived as a yearling. Brett and I worked for Bill Melendez at the same time. I worked for Rob Bick, Ray LaCroix, and also with Bob Bradburn up in Canada. Even after I left Canada, Bob would send me anywhere from two to six three-year-olds at a time to start and then get them sold for him. These were top horses that Bob had bred, horses like Indecent Proposal, Magalad, Mattaroyale, and Mamage, whom I purchased for myself and later sold.” It was with that tremendous training and showing experience under their belts, and each with their own training stables established, that the two joined forces in 1994, and three years later, they married in January 1997 and bought the farm in November. Today, Brett and Marjie keep about 60 horses in training for clients from all over the country. “We stand a number of stallions, breed two or three of our own each year, and own about 20 horses,” Marjie says. “We are so fortunate to be here in Grass Valley — you really get the best of both worlds,” she continues. “We live in a wonderful historic mining town tucked away in the Sierra foothills. It’s a small town atmosphere, yet we still have easy access to the big cities. We have 125 acres with rolling hills, ﬂat meadows and pastures that stay green all year. We are lucky as we are able to irrigate with the runoff from the Sierra Nevada. The weather is perfect; we are high enough to be 2 ▪ BECKER STABLES ▪ WORLD The multi-U.S. and Canadian National Champion Western Pleasure horse Geta Lode Of This (LBA Lode Star x Aura Spring). HR El Kareem (BA Bay Elation x Bur Kareen), going 2003 U.S. National Champion Western Pleasure with Brett. Arius SS (RD Ariel x *Panama Of Tersk), going 2002 U.S. National Reserve Champion with Brett. He went Champion in the AAOTR 40 and Over division the following year. ou of the fog and yet below the out snow level. It’s a great place to raise sn a family and do business. Region 3 is a great place for showing and has lots of activities; in fact, they h will host the AHA Convention w Khalid Kid (Allionce x Aristo Kaprys), a multiin Reno, Nevada, in 2009, just an U.S. and Canadian National Champion Hunter Pleasure horse. hour and a half away. We have 80 stalls and a covered arena.” So what’s the key to this team’s success? Brett is quick to credit Marjie. “She is an amazing person. She has a degree from U.C.-Davis in math and computer science but she chose horses as her career because she truly loves it, not to mention she is very good at it. She does all of our books and begins every day at 4:00 a.m. here in the ofﬁce before she heads out to train. And, she manages to be very active in the children’s school. She has been National Champion in western, hunter, and English, and she won the triple crown in country pleasure. Both of us have a lot of experience in all different disciplines, driving, hunters, English, and western, so we’re versatile,” Brett says. “Part of what makes us successful is that we tend to be very hands-on with everything, right down to the show clipping and preparation. Being detail oriented is so important. You can have the besttrained horse, but if it is not well turned out and well presented you’ll get beat by one that is. Keeping fresh is also really important. When I go to a horse show I always try and really look at everything that’s going on. I observe what other people are doing, how their horses are going, and take note of what looks good. If a horse isn’t doing well, you have to look at it objectively and ask yourself why. “Marjie and I are pretty good at looking at each other’s horses objectively. We ask other trainers’ opinions as well. If I am working with a horse and I don’t think it is getting where it needs to be or a problem is not being solved, it goes to Marjie’s list. She does the same with me. We use each other, and that really helps us get a lot of these horses to the next place. She may have a little different approach so she may get through to the horse, and vice versa. This is what makes us such a good working team. And a team is a deﬁnite necessity in this business. No one person can do it all.” When asked to name his most memorable win of the many he had this year, Brett says, “There are two that stand out: Marjie’s winning the HalfArabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse with Sheza Loded Lady (LBA Lode Star x Aura Spring), owned by Sally Leonardini, was exciting as this was the mare’s last year as a junior horse. We decided at the show that Marjie would show her, and she did a great job. The mare looked awesome. It was really special.” And then the mare won the AAOTR Maturity Championship with 3 ▪ BECKER STABLES ▪ WORLD Sally’s daughter Jamie. Says Sally, “I have known Brett and Marjie for many, many years and trained with them for about 10 years. We are all one big family of friends and horses. They are talented trainers and such hard workers. They have strong family values, and the atmosphere is wonderful. I have 2006 U.S. National Champion Halfto credit Brett with the success we Arabian Hunter Pleasure Futurity WC Ultimatum (NNL Ultimate Bey x CT have had with Aura Spring (VP Pina Colada). Aurabs Legacy x Calibers April), the dam of Sheza Loded Lady, and champions Aur U Ready Tu Rumble and Geta Lode Of This. He was the one who said, ‘Get that horse out and do something with her!’ She has given us so many winners. Our most recent double championship at Tulsa was a thrill for us all. “My Championship win with Aur U Ready Tu Rumble (owned by Steve Freeman and Shannon Anguiano of Stockton, California) in the Half-Arabian Western Pleasure was truly a thrill,” says Brett. “He is such a great horse and has already won so much at such a young age. The class was so much fun, I really enjoyed the ride. To win it for a second time was amazing.” Brett also won U.S. National Reserve Champion Western Pleasure with Khontroversy PGA (*Khadraj NA x Enfenee), owned by Lori and Chelsea Cantero of Upland, California. “We are with Becker Stables because of the unbelievable devotion they have for horses as well as their clients,” say Lori and Chelsea. “They truly love what they do, and it deﬁnitely shows. As amateurs, we receive a great amount of instruction as well as encouragement so that we can ride conﬁdently in the arena. They both are truly remarkable horse people.” The Becker team also includes daughter Alana, 3, and sons Hayden, 9, and Branson, 2. All three ride the two ponies at the farm and deﬁnitely have the horse bug already. “We have wonderful clients and great horses,” says Brett. “We have a happy barn atmosphere and try to keep it light and fun. There are several kids riding now and they all play and enjoy each other. We also have a strong amateur program of all ages.” Brett sounds both proud and excited. “We enjoy what we do and I am really enjoying the fact that our kids are old enough to enjoy it with us. The next thing that will be fun is that Hayden is getting into it more. It is something that we both can do together. We ride all over the property: he gets a lesson, but the most important part is that we are having fun together doing something that we love.” 3 ▪ BECKER STABLES ▪ WORLD From left: SDA Lady Jabask (GG Jabask x SDA Bey Elegance), a multi-U.S. and Canadian National Champion Country English and Hunter Pleasure horse, Khalid Kid (Allionce x Aristo Kaprys), and PAF Expensive Hobby (Robisabi x NM Beverly Hills), U.S. National Reserve Champion Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Futurity. The multi-National Champion Country, English Pleasure, and Show Hack mare Dancing Rain X (Barbary x Dancing Melody). Hayden Becker.