Equestrian Power Couple: Fred Bauer and Karen Healey


Equestrian Power Couple: Fred Bauer and Karen Healey

Jul. 14,2014

This couple’s story began in the 1960’s on the East Coast with an accomplished equestrian named Sue Bauer.  As one of George Morris’s first students, Sue earned 6th in the Maclay Finals in 1964 and 2nd in 1965. Her brother Fred also took up the sport, and when his skills earned him time with George, he too shared the spotlight, winning the AHSA Medal Finals in 1969 and the Maclay Finals in 1970.  So clearly both sister and brother spent ample time growing up at horse shows. 

Meanwhile, also on the East Coast, Karen Healey was developing her riding skills and determining her life path.  The Bauers and Healey would cross paths at various events; Sue and Karen were good friends.  Karen remembers watching Fred win the finals. 

Sue married Ronnie Mutch and together they had Nimrod Farm.  Karen started her professional career with George Morris, and discovered her love for teaching, which, as many of us know, she has excelled in for many years.

Fred decided to go the college route, attending Harvard. He finished in three years and went on to get a law degree.  His law career moved him to San Francisco in 1979.  Karen moved to Los Angeles in 1981 to try taking her East Coast education to the Wild West.

Jump forward a decade or so when Fred was a high-powered professional in the corporate world in San Francisco and Karen was one in the horse world in Los Angeles.  This was when their paths crossed again.  No longer having time to ride, Fred stayed involved through judging (which he continues to do today) and committee work.  Karen had developed a successful hunter-jumper business on the West Coast and was also an “R” judge and committee member.

It was serendipitous that both Fred and Karen had switched coasts.  When the two struck up a friendship again in the 1990’s, they found they had more in common than their passion for horses.  Together since 1998 and married in 2002, they’ve now spent many years doing what they love – Fred got back in the saddle, quite successfully; Karen honed her gourmet cooking skills, also to delectable success (or so we are told); they adore their dogs, large and small, enjoy the arts, especially live theatre as well as traveling together.  These days they travel to horse shows, of course, but they have also judged all over the states together and when time allows they take a vacation to an exotic location.

I took the time to interview them individually to learn more about their perspectives on the past and each other. 

The Marble Arch Years
The year was 1998 and Karen told Fred, “If you are going to come see me at the horse shows, you better start riding again or you’re going to be bored to tears.”

Fred hadn’t ridden in fifteen years.  So Karen went shopping for a nice starter, get back in the ring type and found Marble Arch.  Fred had Michael Endicott coach him in his return to the show ring.  After jumping the wrong jump in the jump-off at his first show back in the Modified Division, he went on to win the Low Classic at Del Mar National and then moved into the Highs the following week, which at the time included the Jumper Derby.  

Marble Arch and Fred Bauer kept on winning.  The pair won the $25,000 Junior/Amateur Invitational in Culpeper twice. As Fred put it, “We believed in each other.  Neither of us thought we couldn’t do it.”

Calm, Cool, Collected and Looking Forward
A redhead, Karen is naturally fiery and passionate.  Fred keeps his, and her, cool.  As Karen explained, “We don’t always agree but we definitely discuss. I tend to be much more emotional. I get fired up and passionate - he levels that out.  Fred is a lot cooler in general and not personally involved so at times his vision is clearer.” 

Professionally they both do quite a bit of judging and are actively involved on several committees with the USHJA and USEF.  Post a solid end to his junior years in the show ring, a successful career in the corporate world and multiple years of commitment to the sport as an adult, Fred continues to look for a way to combine all his knowledge into a position in the industry.

Karen is on a high.  She has a great group of riders, a superior staff that work well together and a gorgeous facility as a home base.  The program embraces training at all levels, from young riders and horses to grand prix.  Plus she finds time to give clinics and judge as well as to continue extracurricular involvement in the sport with the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program and Trainers Certification Program, not to mention Task Forces and Committees. 

The Not-So-Newlywed Game
So as a final fun aspect, in Newlywed Game style I asked each to answer a few questions about some of their favorites as well as their partner’s.

Favorite horse show:

Fred: The National at Madison Square Garden. The atmosphere was incredible.  The second round of the Maclay Finals in 1970 was in front of 12,000 people.  I got to compete there again with Marble Arch in 2000, the last year they had it at the Garden. 

And yes Karen knew that answer right away.

Karen: The National Horse Show in Lexington – they’ve done an amazing job of presenting it – it is the closest thing we’ve got to the Garden of the past. It’s a horse-friendly indoor facility with a nice atmosphere. 

Fred thought Karen would say the horse shows in San Juan Capistrano and Del Mar managed by Blenheim EquiSports.  Although once she heard this she agreed that Blenheim is a top management team, her favorite single show is one that stands out for making all involved feel special.  

Favorite food:

Fred: Indian food.

Karen thought he would say pizza.  They have a pizza oven and make some great pies.  When she heard Fred’s answer, she said she needed to conquer cooking Indian food well.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s made some since our interview.

Karen: Risotto.  Her homemade risotto with ingredients such as mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, asparagus and shrimp…

And yes Fred knew that. 

Favorite vacation spot:

Interviewed separately, without hesitation they both answered Africa.  After going there in 2003 they would return in a heartbeat. 

Where would they like to venture where they haven’t yet been?  Again, they both answered Turkey and Egypt, agreeing that it would be best to wait until it is safe to travel there.

A partnership that involves similar yet different backgrounds, balances personal strengths (and weaknesses), and is consistently supportive.  One calms the other; both enjoy involvement in the sport as well as escaping from it altogether together. 

Each has made history in this sport.  Together, and apart, they are a powerful combination.