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We are the Competition
TRY TO KEEP UP...
Hello Darlings -
DEBORAH HECHT STEPHENS has stepped over, under, around and through the roadblocks that tested her determination during a lifetime with horses. With her seemingly endless energy and determination she might be first cousin to the Energizer bunny. Read on...
DEBBIE was born in Joliet, Illinois, the only child of WINCENT ( Yes, with a "W" ) and HELEN HECHT, He owned a construction company which specialized in gas, water and electrical line installation and her mother was beautiful, flamboyant woman who loved to shop, dress well and spoil her only child. DEBBIE'S father was a visionary and a great business man and when the opportunity came for a large gas line program in New York, WINCENT moved his family to Syracuse.
LIKE MOST horse crazy little girls DEBBIE always wanted a toy horse instead of a doll, and by the time she was six years old, tiny DEBBIE HECHT had convinced her parents to let her take riding lessons from JOHN VASS, whose stable was down the road. What a wonderful dream for DEBBIE until JOHN VASS announced he was moving his stable to Dalton, Pennsylvania. Without taking a deep breath, DEBBIE'S father built a stable and hired ADOLPH MOGAVERO to be her personal trainer and to show horses for the farm. MOGAVERO came with excellent credentials... He was a top rider and trainer.
At the age of 12, DEBBIE was off and living her dream ! Her first 'nice' horse was
a hunter named SUN IMP, which was purchased from the legendary conformation specialist
and horseman, EDDIE BYWATER... She spent a lot of time on the ground remembers -
HER MOTHER insisted that DEBBIE continue her schooling and DEBBIE graduated from Casanovia College and later from Syracuse University with a degree Sociology. All during this time she still wanted desperately to ride and took a job with New York horseman, TED RALSTON. Mucking, foxhunting, braiding, riding... Anything that needed to be done in the stable. Showing was the carrot at the end of the stick. " The best thing that happened to me during this time was a work ethic I have never forgotten. I really learned the meaning of yes and no !!
The nicest horse I rode for TED, was a field hunter named PLEASE NOTE. In those days,
most of the horses showed and hunted, but PLEASE NOTE was more than a field hunter
THE SYRACUSE area was home for many top show stables of that era... ROGER and JUDY
YOUNG, JOEY STONE and NAOMI BLUEMENTHAL, and JOHN SHAFFNER'S HURDLE HILL FARM. SHAFFNER
was an attractive, personable guy who ran a huge stable -
During her time at HURDLE HILL she worked hard riding, training and living with an alcoholic husband and in an abusive relationship. There were nice horses to show including the unbeatable conformation and regular division winning gray mare MARKET RISE ( who was claimed off the race track by Canadian Olympian, JIMMY DAY ) and COLUMBIA. There were also great riding kids and adults who won everywhere they showed.
A TERRIBLE FIRE at HURDLE HILL started on a day when DEBBIE and one groom were the
only people on the farm and tested her bravery as nothing else in her life ever had.
A spark from a welder's torch started a fire in the stable... She ran in and out
of the stable, dragging horses who didn't want to leave their stalls, wrapping her
belt around their necks when there wasn't a halter on the door ! At one point she
ran so fast she ran out of her shoes yet continued to race back into the burning
THREE YEARS after marrying JOHN SHAFFNER, DEBBIE cut her losses and divorced him. She moved to MICHAEL MATZ'S farm in Collegeville, Pennsylvania and started CENTENNIAL FARM with her friend BILL GLASS. Even with a nice group of horses to show and sell it was starting all over again.
BILLIE worked hard at running the stable, getting more horses and he helped teach.
HEIDI EARL came on board as stable manager. The beautiful gray stallion ABDULLAH
( owned by THE WILLIAMS and their WILLIAMSBURG FARM ) followed DEBBIE from New York
and her first hope at a big time jumper was in the stable. HER first Grand Prix with
ABDULLAH was the Cleveland Grand Prix which she won ! Second place finisher, BERNIE
TRAURIG with EDEN VALE was more than a bit annoyed at this upstart blonde who snatched
away his victory ... The following week, DEBBIE won the Cheltenham Grand Prix in
Canada. Later in the year, she set a record at Kings Island, in Ohio jumping 7'8"
with a half tamed, wild ride called ROCKY RACCOON. Her high jump victory prize was
a new BMW in addition to her blue ribbon and prize money ! Just when it seemed life
couldn't be sweeter, ABDULLAH'S owners decided that they were going to change riders
and CONRAD HOMFELD was going to take over the ride on ABDULLAH.... " Was it worth
it to keep riding -
OF COURSE DEBBIE found other horses to ride... One of her favorites was VIP, a pretty black stallion she bought herself. She calls him, " The greatest horse I ever owned. " She showed him with great success and when the big offers started come she had a difficult decision to make... To keep him or to sell. With her mother's health failing, she decided to sell VIP and secure their future. More than one million dollars was paid and once again one of her favorite horses headed down the road.
DEBBIE met her husband, STEVE STEPHENS as the result of a blind date. The two were
invited to dinner and a friend sat back while the two talked and totally ignored
As a result of her fall and amazing recovery, she has become an enthusiastic supporter of DR. GREEN and The MIAMI PROJECT and offering assistance to other riders who have suffered a head injury.
TEACHING riders is something she thoroughly enjoys... " I am passionate about teaching
others what I have learned and teaching them to be the best they can be ! " In the
horse business she is well known as a great match maker of horses and riders. She
is a clinician who is in great demand and flies up to Long Island once a month to
give clinics at HEIDI EARL'S show stable. HER busy life includes every part of showing...
She helps pack the van... Beds stalls at the shows... Travels anywhere looking at
horses...She is a Jill of all trades and master of them all ! Of course her favorite
car would be a speedy Ferrari... She has never been a drinker, smoker, or used drugs
RARELY does she look back or think about the past -
WHEN ASKED who her favorite horse was ? IDLE DICE, He was amazingly versatility... He could win the speed, puissance and grand prix, all at the same show ! I saw him do it many times !
WHO DOES she consider the greatest rider ? " RODNEY JENKINS -
PERSON I WOULD LIKE TO THANK -
SHE is still running from ring to ring, showing herself, training her clients, selling
horses and helping young professionals get a leg up in a business where it is difficult
to get a start -
She likes to quote STEVE JOBS, " Honestly follow your passion " and then adds her own, NEVER compromise the horse."
DEBBIE STEPHENS is the first person to send a get well card -
THE HORSE SHOW WORLD could use a few more DEBBIE STEPHENS. In a sport or business like the horses, few people have worked as hard or enjoyed the ride as much as she has!!
ALL THE BEST, BUFFY and NELL