You would expect that the Fishers, who own a 40-acre equestrian show barn in Alpharetta, would know a thing or two about showing horses. Turns out they know quite a lot. For the past three years, at least one Fisher has won a United States Equestrian Federation national championship title, an award given to the horse and rider that accumulates the most points nationally in their respected division. Son James Fisher, 17, kick-started the series of wins in 2010; the following year his sister Christina, 18, picked up the national title. Most recently, both Christina and her mother Libba took home national awards in the Younger and Older Amateur Owner Hunters.
Q: So you didn’t grow up with horses?
A: My husband did — he rode and trained Saddlebreds — but I did not. I was an All-American swimmer at the University of Georgia and got involved in horses when my daughter Christina started riding.
Q: Was it hard to learn to show horses?
A: It is a lot more difficult when you are an adult.
Q: What are the benefits of learning to ride and show horses?
A: It builds confidence and self-esteem and lasting friendships. You learn to be responsible for taking care of animals. Horses have this magical way of bringing you out into the world, even if you are shy or timid.
Q: What are the lessons horses teach us?
A: Patience, trust, kindness. You learn to have a partnership with a large living animal. Horses are not a football or a soccer ball — they come out different every day. That teaches you humbleness.
Q: You have been in the horse business since 1998. Has it been hard?
A: It is a 24/7 job but we have a lot of good people working for us. At the beginning of the economic downturn, we saw a 20 percent decrease in customers going to shows and signing up for lessons. But we streamlined costs and started a middle and high school riding program that has helped.
Q: Many people would love to ride horses but feel that is beyond their budget. Can you talk about the expense?
A: You don’t have to own a horse to learn how to ride. At FoxCroft, we have 13 horses of all sizes. A private 40-minute lesson costs $55 to $60.
Q: Was getting your children to practice a chore?
A: No, they just love it. They will get up at four or five in the morning at horse shows to pack the horses, do the stalls, help with the water buckets. Whether it is raining or snowing or 90 degrees, they will hop out of bed and help out at the barn.
Q: How big a deal was winning this most recent award for you?
A: It is like winning the Super Bowl when you are 50 years old. It has been the highlight of my sporting career. I felt like yelling, “I am 50 and I want to go to Disney World!”
The Sunday conversation is edited for length and clarity. Writer Ann Hardie can be reached by email at email@example.com.