Trainer, her job as good as it gets
“How blessed am I to have my living and my career be my passion?” asked Debbie Deutl Fischer, riding a thoroughbred across an indoor arena.
Fischer is a horse trainer and owner of Full Circle Farm. The business is not actually a farm, and “full circle” isn’t just about horse training, it’s also about her life. But according to her employees and clients, Fischer is among the best at what she does.
She trains top-notch thoroughbreds and warmbloods – two breeds known as the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the horse world – in the hunter and jumper disciplines.
“Hunters are a discipline in the horse-show world where horses are judged by their manners and how they jump. Jumpers are a discipline of horse-showing that shows the scope and athletic ability of jumps,” Fischer said. “I’ve trained horses that wound up being Horse of the Year.”
Originally hailing from Schenectady, N.Y., Fischer has been riding horses since she was 8 and training professionally since she was 15.
From 1974-76, she trained horses for the Canadian Olympic team for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
In 1982, Fischer moved to the Roaring Fork Valley, where she has tried to perfect her craft.
“I train the riders as well as the horses,” she said.
When being judged in competition, the skill of the rider can be just as important as the horse, Fischer said.
Fischer primarily trains at the Crystal Springs Ranch, located north of Carbondale and owned by Kathy Weiss-Stephenson.
“This facility is the finest facility in the valley,” Fischer said.
She also works at Aspen Equestrian Estates, located behind Catherine Store, and at other ranches.
In all, Fischer has 15 to 20 clients who bring horses to train with her, as well as some that live on the ranches.
“I probably have 12 horses in full training,” she said.
A typical day starts on horseback by 8:30 a.m. She’ll work with horse and rider, training both in the art of the hunting and jumping disciplines.
She also teaches equitation, a discipline where the rider is solely judged on performance.
Fischer trains horses year-round. They compete in Colorado shows from May through September, but die-hard equestrians compete across America year-round. In fact, one of the horses Fischer trained, Royal Saber, recently placed third overall at the International Hunter for Charity competition in Kentucky.
“This is a trainer of no words,” said Mary Berley, owner of Royal Saber. “What I like about Debbie is she doesn’t rush the horses. It can be very bad for them, both physically and mentally.”
If pushed too hard, horses can be ruined. As Berley explained, “it’s kind of like a race car blowing its engine, but you can’t replace the engine.”
Fischer’s horse manager, Winkie Schultz, agrees that Fischer is both extremely patient and knowledgeable about horses.
“I would say she’s probably the top trainer in the valley, and very competitive elsewhere,” Schultz said.
Schultz grooms, feeds, bathes, trims and does anything else for the horses.
“I’ve known Debbie for 20 years,” Schultz said, although she only began working for Full Circle Farm last December. “We’re good friends and we really know each other well and respect and admire each other.”
Full Circle Farm also has an unpaid intern, Vanessa Carter of Aspen, who attended Hollins University in Virginia.
“It’s been great,” Carter said of her internship. “And I ride every day.”
When all is said and done, after the horses are put in their stables and the chaps come off, the recently married Fischer says the life of a horsewoman is very satisfying.
“I sit on the fenceline, the arena’s in front of me and Sopris is in the back. How much better could it be?”
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