Judge – Shelly Deboer

Shelly DeBoer

Shelly DeBoer is the owner and operator of Faith Equestrian Center in Whatcom County in northwest Washington State. Shelly’s love for equines was sparked growing up in Kodiak, Alaska which she later nurtured into a deep passion and lifelong dedication. She spent much of her adult life boarding horses in Alaska before purchasing the Center and moving to Whatcom County in 2005. Shelly specializes in the unspoken needs of the animals she works with, strongly stressing the relationship between a rider and his horse and focusing her instruction on the importance of this bond.

Shelly acknowledges she is part of a largely ego-driven profession, which she finds ironic given the selfless nature of horses. Shelly says horses are reactive more than they are technical. The reputation of the clinician or the method of training makes no difference to a horse like it does for humans. Horses only strive to please whoever they’re with in any way they can. This is why Shelly focuses her attention on the relationship between human and horse, training the rider to use their horse as a partner rather than a tool.

“Little things like quiet moments, timing, personal thoughts, and confidence can make the difference between being a trainer or being trained by your horse,” Shelly says. “Some things are mindless while others are fascinating to see unfold right in front of you.”