About Phoenix McCormack

As a child Phoenix began riding at 8yrs old with BHS certified Trainer Carol Cox in San Bernardino, CA. Carol taught her vaulting, driving, riding, trail riding, and helped her buy her first horse, a Quarter Horse mare named Sugar.


Phoenix and her family moved (with Sugar) to Taos, NM when she was 13. She participated in 4-H and competed all around the state in English pleasure and jumping until she bred Sugar to an amazing Andalusian stallion which produced a beautiful baby named Octavio who was registered as an Azteca.  During this time Phoenix became interested in Dressage and participated regularly in regional dressage clinics with notables such as Neil Ishoy, Rudolph Zeilinger and Micheal Beining.


Coming from a creative family of writers and artists who encouraged her artistic skills, Phoenix attended Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She studied speech, acting, movement, music and the Alexander Technique.  Phoenix played music in live bands- singing and playing the bass guitar, which led her back to California.


In 2002 Phoenix was hired by Kimberly Monk, an established professional Dressage trainer with multiple national titles, as her groom at High Point Farms in San Juan Capistrano.  Phoenix learned how to care for competitive Dressage horses.  


Phoenix studied Pat Parellis' 7 games of natural horsemanship which she used to work with Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Lusitanos, Andalusians, Freisians, Draft crosses, Ponies, Arabians, Morgans and Quarter Horses.  Some of these horses were totally green, off the track, or coming in for competitive training. 


Phoenix participated in clinics with Axel Steiner, Stephan Keiswetter, Jill and Scott Hassler, and became friends with French Light Dressage trainer David Donnelly.  David has been a positive influence on Phoenixs' own style.  Phoenix competed at the LA Equestrian Center, Blenheim, Sycamore Trails, Del Mar, and many other facilities.  Her life with the horses became paramount and singing and playing in bands fell to the category of a hobby.


Kim encouraged and mentored Phoenix in becoming a teacher and trainer, and still does to this day. Phoenix competed on horses in Kim's program up to 3rd level and in 2006 she became certified by the American Riding Instructors Association in Dressage.


In 2006, Phoenix visited her friend in Germany who took her to the world famous Landgestuet in Westphalen where she met the Headmaster of the Landgestuet, Peter Borggreve.  Phoenix and Peter hit it off and he sent his daughter to Phoenix as a working student in California for the summer. This was the beginning of a long relationship in which Phoenix made multiple trips to Germany where she received training and instruction on amazing horses at various stables where she was able to perform the upper level movements on Schoolmasters.  She was taken to the auctions, the breeding farms, and witnessed stallion testings.  She rode problem horses, trail rode in the forests, visited private barns, went to championship shows and visited people's personal farms.


Phoenix helped organize and assisted in a series of clinics held across Southern California and Colorado featuring Peter Borggreve, whom she considers a major influence on her riding and teaching.


In 2008 Phoenix moved to Fallbrook.  She worked at Pomegranate Hill Equestrian Center, Faubus Farms, and Deer Springs Equestrian center, before taking a job as a trainer at Stepp Stables on Camp Pendleton in 2010.  In her four years there she was exposed to many kinds of students from all over the country.


She helped develop the Jinx McCain Wounded Warrior program and taught private and group lessons to marines suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD and serious physical challenges. She was also a trail guide, sometimes taking out strings as large as 20 in between leading "advanced" trail rides which included taking fairly novice riders out to walk, trot and canter on trail.


In 2012 Phoenix re-tested with the American Riding Instructors Association and became a Level 3 (highest possible) certified Trainer in Dressage and Recreational Riding and also tested for Level 1 Hunt Seat.


In 2014 Phoenix had a devastating accident at Stepp Stables where a horse flipped over on top of her. She suffered multiple broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a broken bone in her hand.  Her recovery was long.  She resigned from her position as Head Trainer and took a job at Fairbanks Riding Club as the Barn Manager.  This change in direction was short lived and once she recovered she began training again within the year.


In 2016 Phoenix married and began operating as Phoenix McCormack Dressage.


Phoenix is a current member of USDF, CDS, ARIA, and Fallbrook Riders Field.  She believes in supporting the local equestrian community and bringing good horsemanship to enthusiasts young and old.


Over the years Phoenix has taken a more horse centered approach to her work in which she values the welfare of the horses above ribbons and titles.  She is concentrated on teaching "good feel" to her students whether on the ground or in the saddle, so they can develop more harmonious working relationships with their horses.  She actively studies and continues her own education at every opportunity. 


Phoenix has a unique teaching and training style which incorporates imagery, humor, and a lot of theory. 


Currently Phoenix is anticipating the arrival of her next personal horse project, a horse she is breeding herself which is expected to arrive in April 2019 out of the Westphalen stallion Furst Romancier. 

image1