Janet Hennessy is the proud owner and manager of Softwinds Farm. Janet's passion for riding, training, teaching and showing has all come together at the beautifully secluded facility in Columbia, South Carolina.
Janet grew up as a natural athlete, but when she began riding at the age of 18, she found it to be like nothing she had ever tried before. The challenge of riding, combined with Janet's competitive drive, was a perfect match. Janet's first horse, Pride, was a Palomino Saddlebred-Thoroughbred cross. While living in Kansas, Janet and Pride began competing on the hunter circuit and gathered many blue ribbons.
In the late 1970s, Janet and her husband Skip moved to South Carolina. In 1980, Skip persuaded Janet to try teaching. Skip saw that she was good with children, and he began to construct the barns that are still home to the horses of Softwinds Farm today. (In fact, Skip himself built all the buildings located on the property!)
Janet began with one student and a borrowed school horse. Quickly, more students sought interest in her lesson program, and she began coaching more as riders brought their horses to Softwinds Farm. She soon had a barn full of horses and riders, and Janet says her favorite aspect of teaching is watching her students learn and "seeing the lightbulb turn on."
In 1985, the University of South Carolina was looking for a facility to house their school horses. Janet came home one day to Skip and the USC faculty sitting at the kitchen table, with plans for Skip to build a new barn for the USC horses, and so Janet's tenure with the Equestrian Club began.
In 1996, USC needed to bring another women's sport to the Varsity ranks to fulfill its Title IX requirements. On June 25, 1996, Janet became the first coach for the university's new Varsity Equestrian Team. She held that position for two years, with the team qualifying for the National Championships each year.
Janet remains affiliated with the university through the Equestrian PE class, which she has taught since 1990. Each semester, students gain course credit while learning to ride at Softwinds Farm.
Janet also teaches group and private lessons to boarders and students. Janet's students love her honest approach, and how her enthusiasm keeps them coming back. Janet constantly pushes for the next level of achievement in her horses and students alike, and can bring out the very best in any rider.
These days, Janet is actively promoting the Central Carolina Dressage Association, a show series in the Midlands for riders of all levels to compete. For more information, please visit www.centralcarolinadressage.com .
Southern Equine Educational Foundation
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Some of Janet's instrumental involvement in this program include: