Rebecca (Becky) Burns was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She moved with her family to Gainesville, Florida in 1974 and attended Terwilliger Elementary, Ft. Clarke Middle and Buchholz High Schools. She comes from a long line of creative people (musicians, whale riders, artists, etc.)
Rebecca started riding at the age of six, a birthday gift from her parents that she begged for. She started out as an English rider in a group lesson setting. Upon moving to Gainesville she signed up for Western lessons through the local 4-H program. Her mother would drive her everyday after school to the barn. Shortly after those lessons ended she began riding at Sleepy Hollow with owner Rusty Ethrington. Master Flash was her mount, a bold, black, beautiful and high spirited horse. Rebecca considers Rusty to be the first of a handful of important horse mentors.
While in middle school, Rebecca was “sponsored” by a wonderful lady from Newberry. Sondra embraced Rebecca as her own child and gave her horses and ponies to ride everyday. She sponsored her through Pony Club events and competitions. She was the first to teach Rebecca just about everything she applies today towards horse ownership and responsibility.
When she was old enough, she competed in Pony Club Rallies. She learned about 3-day Eventing and loved the Cross-Country aspect of the games. She also learned “Stadium Jumping”, now referred to as Hunters (Jumpers did not yet exist). Rebecca was not thrilled with Stadium and preferred Dressage, although as a 12 year old found it to be very boring! However, preparing for the Dressage competitions taught her the true value of dressage training and the benefits in developing competitive horses and riders, and how it should be applied to every other form of riding, whether English or Western. BTW, Dressage means training in French.
She stopped riding for 19 years while in college and working full time as a graphic designer at a local engineering company. She started her own design agency in 1990, ComQuest Designs, had a baby girl in 1993, and bought the first horse she ever actually owned in 1994, a Thoroughbred filly grand sired by the infamous Secretariat. “Sissy” was a weanling (5 months old) at the time of purchase through a small breeding farm in Reddick, Florida.
Rebecca continued to build her design business while raising her daughter and filly. In 1998 she closed the doors to her studio. She maintained her favorite customers and began working out of her house, mothering her daughter and training Sissy. With the help of her trainer at that time, Jan Bowen, Rebecca is able to say with confidence that she did all the groundwork on Sissy by herself. Rebecca was the first, and only person to back, break and ride Sissy for many years. She worked her horse’s everyday, except weekends, when she would take time and run away to Crescent Beach. Rebecca bought another Thoroughbred, Nickel. Turns out Nick is a great, great grandson to the very famous Man ‘O War (watch the movie SeaBisquit). Nick looks like her very first Breyer statue of Man ‘O War that she got for her 6th birthday. “Mom was very hesitant to spend $15 dollars on the statue and was very clear that it would be my only gift…so expensive.” (The vintage statue, worth upwards of $110.)
My vintage Man ‘O War stature has oddly found his place always on display in her home even through messy and traumatic moves and such – and Nickel looks very much like it.
When Sissy came of age (6), Rebecca started riding in monthly clinics under Wolfgang Scherzer. For six years, every month she rode with him until the clinic was moved. In 2009 Rebecca found a 14 acre farm in Gainesville and decided to teach riding lessons to beginners, timid riders and special needs persons to help supplement her income. Her farm abuts 200 acres of family land that she incorporated trail ride lessons on. Not only do the riders learn how to be safe on the trail, they learn about the environment, with plenty of wild life riding in raw Florida woods.