Leslie Steele’s roots are deeply entrenched in the greater Los Angeles area, where she was born, raised, and now operates Acres West. During her long career, she has excelled in all aspects of the Hunter/Jumper discipline, from her start in the horse show world under Sheri Rose, to her advancement as a noteworthy catch rider and professional equestrian under Katie Monahan Prudent, to her solidified reputation as a top quality trainer, champion hunter rider and grand prix show jumper.
She knows the roots of her horses, because she’s brought many of them up from hopeful prospects into successful careers. One such horse is her current grand prix mount Oh My Goodness, who was sired by her former grand prix horse Figaro; out of the mare Goodness Gracious, whom Leslie also successfully competed in the grand prix jumper division, including a win at the $50,000 Audi Grand Prix of Denver, in the mare’s first few months of competing at that level.
In the hunter ring, from the 1990s to today, Leslie has won championships or reserve championships in nearly all of the most prestigious shows available on the A-level circuit, ranging from Grand Hunter Championships at Madison Square Garden, the Washington International Horse Show, the Capital Challenge, Harrisburg, Devon, and others. She has earned these accomplishments aboard hunters such as Tindle, Main Character, Country Swing, Lyle, and Smitten. In 2014, Leslie donned a shadbelly to ride Apandanto (now called Dealmaker) to a score of 92 in the International Hunter Derby of Colorado, the highest score of the competition. That same year saw another horse, Autumn Lane, take the Small Junior Hunter championship at the Washington International Horse show under Leslie’s tutelage.
Leslie’s personal passion however, is for the grand prix jumper division, where she’s successfully competed and won aboard horses such as Commander Jim, Aye-Aye Sir, Quality Time, Figaro, Goodness Gracious, AW Dragonfly, and AW Butterfly Hula; the latter of whom Leslie competed in the FEI World Cup final in Las Vegas.
As an instructor, Leslie’s investment in developing her students from their first beginner division shows, through young rider, all the way to the grand prix level is known throughout the industry. Her students have won both locally and nationally in such competitions ranging from the Onondarka finals to the PCHA finals. Among her talented progeny are Elise Haas and Vanessa Haas, both of whom have won numerous awards in both the junior hunter and junior jumper divisions, then went on to ride for the United States Equestrian Team in international competition. NAJYRC Zone 10 A-team member Killian McGrath was another pupil of Leslie, as were jumper and equitation champions including Theo Boris, Sophie Verges, and Robert Sean Leckie. 2014 saw Eugenie Kilb and Emma Farber both win 7-week circuit championships in the Small Junior Hunter and Low Junior Hunter divisions at the HITS Thermal Desert Circuit, the largest annual equestrian competition in the western United States.
Leslie has been part of the West Coast horse industry for over 30 years, but her passion for the sport is still fresh. She bases her operations at Acres West, her farm and animal sanctuary, whose tidy 6 acres in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains are also home to domestic pigs, goats, koi, turtles, rabbits, various birds, and a plethora of other friendly creatures.