I was introduced to Judy Garofalo-Torres by a friend and business associate of mine last Fall at the HITS Saugerties Horse Show, and was immediately impressed with her down-to- earth attitude and gleaming smile. It was no surprise that when I met her she was looking down on me from a stout, beautiful, bay mare whom stood maybe 16 hands or so tall – As she kindly stroked the horse while speaking to me, it was instantly clear that Torres was a true horsewoman. As we all know, no horseman is built without a story, so I began doing some research of my own to learn more about Judy Garofalo-Torres… As suspected, she is widely respected in the industry and has grown as a rider year after year.
Torres began riding at the youthful age of 12 and obviously never let her passion or drive for the equestrian sport dwindle. Her career as a junior competitor was successful, and by 1999 she had begun training with former Olympian, Leslie Burr Howard. Burr led Torres to many victories including coaching Torres’ in her first Grand Prix Jumping event at the age of 21.
C.S. Lewis once said, “No one can teach riding so well as a horse” and I could not agree with this more! I think any equine enthusiast would have to agree… It seems every rider has that one special horse that they feel indebted to for their long-lasting partnership – And Torres was no different with Oliver!
Purchased in Sweden as Torres’ first Grand Prix mount in the year 2000, the legendary Grand Prix horse, Oliver III was a stunning bay stallion with a large white blaze that stands about 16 hands at the withers. Oliver was known for his smart approach to jumping: he cleared the jumps with speed and just enough scope – he didn’t tend to waste unnecessary energy in trying so hard at every jump he took!
Over the nine-year partnership with Oliver, Torres qualified for the World Cup Finals in 2004 and represented the USA in the International Samsung Super League Tour. In the midst of these successes, Torres declared Professionalism in 2003. At that time, she started Higher Ground Farm where she currently trains and resides in Millbrook, NY. Torres moves her operation to Wellington, FL in the winters and continues to train hunters, jumpers, and equitation horses while stationed there.
In 2011, Oliver retired at the well age of 19. Oliver remains an important part of Higher Ground Farm. He is guaranteed a fabulous life there where he will forever be a “part of the family”. Currently, Torres is accompanied in the show ring by her new Grand Prix mount, Quattro Queen. Queen is a 10 year old, Oldenburg Mare. She and Torres regularly compete in the 1.40m to 1.50m jumper classes. With her new partner, Torres took 5 th place out of 50 competitors in the 1.40m Grand Prix at the Ridge at Wellington as well as a 7th place finishing in the $50,000 Purina Grand Prix at HITS Ocala this past winter.
It has been an absolute honor working with Torres and her head groom and barn manager, Maggie Mulligan. Maggie keeps Torres’ horses happy and beautifully turned out, always. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Torres succeed in the Jumper ring this past 2014 winter season at WEF, HITS Ocala, and various other venues.
Benefab wishes all the riders at Higher Ground Farm the best of luck this coming show season, and is excited to see Torres continue to shine in the show ring! To read more on Torres and Higher Ground Farm, visit http://www.hgfsporthorses.com/
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