The Horse Life

12/01/2022 01:11 AM By Lisa Anderson
From the Paddock
Justine Dutton
Justine Dutton
Story by Cynthia McFarland • Photos by Joshua Jacobs

The Horse Life

International Showjumper Lands in Reddick

Some people outgrow their childhood obsessions, leaving them behind as fond memories. Others channel their passions into successful careers that shape their lives. Justine Dutton chose the latter.

An international showjumper and three-day eventer, who has competed around the world, Justine also trains and sells top caliber horses.

Born in the south of England, Justine hails from Worthing, where she was fascinated with horses at a young age. “My aunt had horses, and my mum would take me to her place to visit and I would ride. I started taking weekly lessons about age 5,” she recalls.

When Justine was 10, that same aunt gave her a Connemara-Cleveland Bay cross gelding named Lucky. “I did cross-country, jumping, and games—absolutely everything with him,” says Justine, who had that horse for about five years.

At age 16, she stopped riding to just “be a teenager.”  At 18, she got a job working in a bank and moved to London. However, it didn’t take long to realize she missed horses enough that she needed to find a way to get them back in her life.

“Through the internet, I found a position in Canada. I called a friend and asked if she wanted to go with me, so we did,” says Justine of that job as working students at a riding school in Ontario.

From then on, she never considered a career—or a life—that didn’t revolve around horses.

“For a time, I went back and forth from Canada and the UK. I worked for Damien and Tanya Charles at their showjumping and boarding business in Surrey in England,” recalls Justine, who came to the U.S. in 2002, when she took a working student position in a three-day eventing barn in Pennsylvania. “We would go to Ocala for the winters, which is how I learned about Ocala,” she adds.

At age 24, Justine went out on her own, riding and training three-day event horses. She was still in Pennsylvania in the summer and Ocala in the winter. She moved to Ocala permanently in late 2016.
Justine Dutton

Changing Course

The sport of eventing was her first love, and Justine competed through four-star level. She competed on the British Nations Cup team twice.

She had a few bad falls, including one in particular at the 2017 Nations Cup in Virginia, when the horse she was riding fell on her in a water jump. The horse walked away, but Justine ended up with a collapsed lung, broken collarbone, multiple broken ribs, fractured shoulder and humerus and a damaged optic nerve that permanently altered the vision in her right eye.

“I evented for a year after that, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore,” she says. “I always liked showjumping, so I began focusing on that.”

Justine and her fiancé Chris Barnard are both British but met in the U.S. through friends in the horse world. Chris is a show jumping course designer, who travels extensively, designing competition courses.

The couple owns Notting Hill Stables in Reddick, just north of Ocala where Justine’s business centers on riding, training, and selling showjumpers. Key members of the team include Jenn Cain, barn manager and head groom, and assistant Maya Wentz.


Justine currently has five horses she’s showing, three of which she owns; two are syndicated.

While syndication of horses is more common in eventing and racehorses, Justine is happy to offer this experience to people in the world of showjumping. “It’s a way of owning a competition horse without the full responsibility of owning it all yourself. It’s a chance for people to have a nice day at the show in the VIP booth without having to ride or work in the barn,” she explains.

Having World Equestrian Center (WEC) here in Ocala has been a boon to business for both Justine and Chris. “Now that WEC has been built, I don’t have to travel as much to show, because we have this beautiful facility 18 minutes away. We’re at WEC throughout the year for multiple circuits,” says Justine. “We love it, and the horses love it. The footing is great, the staff is great, everyone’s so friendly and helpful. To ride in that kind of atmosphere is just great, and it’s also a great education for young horses,” she adds.

Another aspect of Justine’s business traces back to her talented first horse as a child. She and Kate Tarrant, a partner in the UK, import and sell Connemaras for amateur riders in the States. The Irish breed is in high demand as jumpers, hunters, and fox hunters. “We’ve been selling two a month recently. It’s a good niche market. We have fun with it and name all of them after rock stars, so we don’t really run out of names,” smiles Justine.

The other four-legged critters in her inner circle include two French Bulldogs, Fergie and Billie, and an orange mutt named Miley.

Horses take up most of her life, but Justine still finds time for her friends, and she enjoys music, bands, and attending concerts. After all, those rock star names for her horses and dogs have to come from somewhere!
Sponsored Content