Spotlight – Allison Reed

Allison Reed, owner of Bella Vita Stables, trainer and Working Equitation (WE) clinician based in Catharpin, VA, has worked closely with the Northern Virginia Working Equitation (NOVAWE) organization since its inception to establish and promote the sport throughout the region.  With 18 years professional training experience, her expertise is composed of her insightful knowledge of horse and human physiology and biomechanics, as well as equine psychology, which has resulted in teaching methods and instruction that improve the mental, physical, and overall communication between horse and rider.

Every horse and rider relationship requires a strong foundation of trust and the development of better skills to enhance performance.  These building blocks allow both human and equine to strive for and improve both physically and mentally regardless of discipline, breed, and experience. Reed prescribes to Working Equitation as a sport that offers opportunities to challenge, motivate, and improve skills and performance for horses and riders at all levels.

Growing up on a horse farm in New Jersey, Reed began riding, training, and working with horses at a young age with substantial success with several breeds, including off the track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs). She’s an accomplished eventer and side saddle competitor as well. Reed competed through Preliminary and was a Working Student/Assistant under Jennifer Johnson (winner of ‘96 Rolex) and Wendy Olson Lewis (short listed for Pan Am team).  Reed is currently working on her WE “L” judge certification.

Reed finds that regardless of breed or discipline (from dressage horses to eventers to jumpers to trail horses, etc.) she readily identifies gaps between training and performance and is successful using WE practices to improve performance.  “Working Equitation obstacles can highlight any balance or imbalance between horse and rider,” stated Reed.  “Course obstacles require collection, impulsion, suppleness, and rhythm, familiar to most riders across disciplines. Horse and rider can learn corrections while working through the course which can improve overall performance,” she explained.  “Besides WE is so much fun for both horse and rider,” she added.

“Bella Vita has been all good karma all at once. I’ve been a professional horsewoman most of my adult life. Over the last 12 years my riding, students, and clients have been a part-time experience. Now, I am at the barn at home with my family full-time. NOVAWE has been a blessing and an opportunity for me and Bella Vita Stables to give back to horses, horse people, and riders at all levels,”  said Reed.

In addition to operating Bella Vita Stables, she regularly travels to member farms and stables to teach and provide clinics.  Several of her ongoing clients and boarders, friends, and family members participate in  NOVAWE clinics, play days, and local shows. Reed also accompanied seven NOVAWE group members to the ERAHC B-rated Working Equitation Show in August at the Virginia Horse Center, where that team was Champion and Reserve in every division entered.  NOVAWE and Reed’s clinics stress correct and rule-compliant WE obstacle execution, preparing competitive students for show success.

Bella Vita Stables, Alison Reed, and NOVAWE can help you reach your goals in a preferred discipline; regardless of breed, your partnership with your horse will benefit from Working Equitation.  The  course work challenges are beneficial training experience and a lot of fun!

Bella Vita, which means “Beautiful Life,” in Italian, is hosting a NOVAWE Halloween Play Day on October 19th and NOVAWE’s Movin’ On Up Schooling show on November 9th.  Reed is also teaching at several other area clinics. (Check out NOVAWE’s events calendar for more information.)

Despite Reed’s busy clinic and show schedule, through great staff, family support and superior organizational skills, she makes time for all her horses, students and young family (she has two daughters under 5). If you haven’t met her yet in a clinic or show,  learn more about her and her wonderful farm by visiting Bella Vita Stables on Facebook for a complete Calendar of Events.

For more information about NOVAWE, membership, and events, visit

Contributed by Kristin Mango