Janna Weir Goldman rides Friesian gelding Black Sterling bareback through the wine country of Northern California.
World Grand Champion Saddlebred equitation rider Janna Weir now deals in Friesian Horses from Europe. “In 2005,” she “imported and sold 170 Friesians”—that’s about one sold horse every two days—making her company “the largest importer of Friesians in North America.” Except for those she brought to her ranch, she did not feed, vet, muck the stalls, ride, or train many of these 170 horses.
Janna sold most of them through her business’ Internet site. She travels “to Holland and personally hand-picks” the distinctive black horses she offers for sale on her Website. Some she imports to her ranch and then sells. To work with these Friesians, she has on staff at least one Level 2 dressage rider from Holland living at her ranch throughout the year. A different girl rider comes, when the last one’s three-month visa expires.
Currently, Black Sterling Friesians, Inc., which she owns with her husband, Ron Goldman, “is the most respected importer of well trained Friesians in the United States,” Janna told me. “Our prices are the most reasonable in the industry, starting at $9,900 for a FHANA [Friesian Horse Association of North America] registered Friesian, and we are breeding some beautiful babies.” These horses “excel in saddle seat and dressage.” However, she is “a rider more than a trainer,” Janna noted.
The Goldmans’ “horse ranch is located in Sonoma Wine Country. We have a 13-stall barn, pastures, a Mediterranean villa, and an all weather arena. We purchased the ranch following our 2000 wedding. He was a widower with two children: Andy, then seven years old, and Julia, age 11.”
At age 11, Janna “started riding Saddlebreds, with Martha Wilhelm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.” With her young stepchildren in this same age bracket, she “thought horses would be a wonderful avenue and hobby for our entire family.” So, following their wedding, husband “Blu” and Janna “researched different breeds. We fell in love with the Friesians for their incredible beauty, intelligence, and kind willing nature.” Also, “I could train them myself, and show AND trail ride the same horse on the same weekend.”
The horses “for us are a family endeavor and we are do-it-yourselfers. We haul the Friesians to the shows, groom and bathe them, muck the stalls, clean the tack, and do all the training ourselves, and we have a blast doing it!”
Janna said: “My family and I have a fabulous time showing our two geldings—Black Sterling and Stormy Seas—in Friesian Under Saddle, and Open English Pleasure classes up and down the West Coast.” She and Black Sterling “in five years of competition have amassed something like 100 blue ribbons.”
Black Sterling came into her life “in 2000, and in these last five years of showing him, he has won absolutely everything to be won out here on the West Coast.” They “primarily compete against American Saddlebreds in Open English Pleasure classes.” The gelding “has been like an ambassador for the breed, peaking great interest among the saddle seat participants at every major USAE [United States of America Equestrian] show” in which they have entered. This has “resulted in Friesian divisions being added to every Saddlebred show in California,” Janna pointed out.
At the “popular annual event called Dressage In The Wine Country,” Janna was “chosen in 2002 to present an exhibition riding Black Sterling saddle seat. Thousands of dressage enthusiasts at this Northern California event enjoyed watching the elegance of saddle seat on a bold and majestic Friesian,” she reported.
As for the other members of the family: teenager “Julia attends Anne Speck’s equestrian camps in San Diego every chance, and shows the Friesian gelding Stormy Seas. Blu loves showing Stormy in driving and pleasure classes.” Janna’s attorney husband “wishes there were Open Western Pleasure classes for the Friesians, so he could do that too,” she revealed. Andy “rides 12-year-old Black Sterling with no bridle or halter, and bareback.” Ron Goldman “is a full time Medical Malpractice Defense Attorney with his own law firm in Tiburon, California.” He also counts himself “as the number one full time ranch hand too,” she commented.
This year, Janna “brought out” on the West Coast “a new five-year-old gelding named The Black Ferrari. He truly rides like a Ferrari,” Janna said. The Friesian’s “registered name is Ate, and he was started by Melissa Moore,” she said. “He has won at the Devon [ Pennsylvania] show both as a three-year-old and a four-year-old. He is now five.”
During 2005, a Saddlebred came back into Janna’s life. She “purchased Champion French Silk Stockings before the Louisville show” in August. “Ridden by Loni Fuller, ‘Frenchie’ went on to win the American Saddlebred Juvenile Three-Gaited English Show Pleasure Age Group, and was Reserve World Grand Champion Juvenile Three-Gaited Pleasure Grand Champion winner at the Kentucky State Fair Horse Show.” After the show, “our trainer, Bill Tomin, bought Frenchie for his wife Debbie to ride.” The Tomin family lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
The last time Janna herself “showed a Saddlebred was in 1992” when she “won the UPHA [United Professional Horsemen’s Association] Adult Saddle Seat Equitation National Championship at the World’s Championship Horse Show” in Louisville. She rode I’m Fit To Be Tied, a horse she “leased from Marilyn Macfarlane for that one class.”
In preparation for the class, Janna “took Heather Boodey’s diligent lessons, and worked with Heather almost daily at her stable in North Carolina. This persistence helped her realize her goal. Without Heather’s help, I would have been sunk,” she said. “I went to Heather’s barn, took off my business suit, put on jods, and practiced riding.”
In 1993, “I was chosen as a member of the Saddle Seat World Cup Team, but just before the competition, I was diagnosed with a Level 2 malignant melanoma on the calf of my leg. That required immediate removal. The alternate got to take my place on the team.” Janna is “now cancer free.”
All of her life, perseverance has served to move this 5’7”, brown-eyed, auburn haired young lady toward her goals, even as a child.
“My first Saddlebred was a $750 pretty bay gelding named High Voltage. My parents, Donald and Donna Weir, bought the horse for me to learn the basics of saddle seat equitation. The horseman who sold us the horse said he was 14 years old and IDEAL for me.”
Janna remembers her excitement about “showing at the 1976 Cattle Congress in Iowa. It would have been my first time riding in a horse show.” Her mother Donna, “an extremely talented seamstress, made my first riding suit—which fit better than any suit since. I was to debut in the age 10 and Under Equitation class. My instructor, Martha Wilhelm of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had me well prepared.” Then, “two days before the show, the horse died. We had owned him for 30 days, when he died of colic. We were informed by the vets that the horse was actually 29 years old.” Dr. Weir’s family lived in Cedar Rapids, at that time.
Sad and disappointed, but undaunted, Janna pursued getting another horse.
Out of her determination, she got her “second Saddlebred, a stunning dapple grey pleasure horse named Silver Sea that really was 12 years old.” This was in Cedar Rapids. One cold Iowa day, “the one-time champion Fine Harness horse slipped on some ice and fell” leaving her 11-year-old rider “with a major concussion.” Hospitalized “for three days,” Janna was “found to have ear damage that caused hearing loss for many years.” Janna “showed for one year in the Midwest,” before the Weir family “moved back to North Carolina due to my father’s employment.”
Happiness continued for Janna. “My family boarded Silver Sea at a local hunter/jumper barn. I trained her myself. My grey horse and I were high point champions on the Coastal Plain Horse Show Circuit for four years in a row. We won numerous North Carolina State Championships, both in pleasure and in equitation,” Janna said. Eventually, Silver Sea “became my practice horse. I rode equitation on various show horses with Randy Cole, Ron Lee, and Bill and Nancy Becker in North Carolina.”
The next Saddlebred brought sadness back. “My third Saddlebred was a pretty, but pricey gelding, former World’s Champion named Bold Vanity.”
Janna recounted the horrible incident: “We had had Bold Vanity for only a few weeks, when I went to his stall at the Roanoke Horse Show, and then it happened: the 16.3 hands high horse bit my left forearm and with my arm in his mouth, raised his head up so high, my feet were not touching the ground. He slammed me repeatedly into the stall walls. I tried everything to get the horse to release me, while screaming bloody murder, but help was five minutes in coming.” Medical care showed “the horse had bitten a piece of my bone off, and nearly killed me. My arm became infected. Surgery was required to remove bone fragments.”
Happiness returned. At another horse show, “my mother and I were awed by a certain redhead who was the only woman we had ever seen acting as both trainer and instructor. We decided I would ride with her. This redhead pistol of energy was Marilyn Macfarlane of Simpsonville, Kentucky.” The year was 1981. “She found me a challenging four-year-old walk trot horse to equitate. I now had another Saddlebred in my life.”
Sadness came back. “Just days after the horse show in Raleigh, North Carolina, where we and Marilyn joined forces,” Janna said, “my mother had an aneurysm burst in her brain.” Donna Weir “was left severely debilitated, with extreme brain damage.”
The “one thing that helped me get through this terrible ordeal in
my 16-year-old life was the horses. I dove into the horses, as if I had blinkers on, spending all my summers and every high school holiday at Marilyn’s.”
Janna in 1982 moved with her “father and mother to Southern California,” where Don Weir “became Medical Director of a rehabilitation center.” Her “mother had to be cared for in a nursing home.” The older Weir “siblings in 1982 already were married.” Currently, her “one sister Shawnee Weir is a physician in North Carolina,” and her “one brother Shay Weir, is a computer engineer in Iowa.” Her “father now lives in Laguna, California.”
Happiness reappears. The Claremont High School student in California began her “LONG distance commute to keep riding at Marilyn Macfarlane’s” in Kentucky. “My final year in equitation, which was my senior year, my father bought the incomparable Glenview’s Warlock for me in 1982.” Her dad was able to make the big shows to cheer her on, but for everything else, Janna was having to do it on her own. She missed her “mother’s support” and being there “to share” it all.
Winning with her new horse helped to bring happiness again into her life. This Saddlebred “made all the bad things in the past just disappear. I feel honored, even today, to have owned and shown such an amazing animal.” Janna “was the 17-year-old Equitation Champion and Reserve Grand Champion at the 1983 Lexington Junior League Horse Show.” She “won the 16-17 Year Old Equitation Class and the Equitation World Grand Championship at Louisville, and the NHS [National Horse Show] Good Hands Finals at Madison Square Garden in November 1983. All year, we were first or second in every class we entered.”
Another sad event occurred: “At the UPHA Senior Finals at the Kansas City American Royal Horse Show in 1983, the judge kept Megan Stuart and me, and four other riders, trotting around and around Kemper Arena for an unusually long time. My fantastic Glenview’s Warlock literally broke down during that class, which lasted 50 minutes. He went lame completely from giving himself with every step he took. He was never the same again.” Janna told me she has “that class on tape.”
Following her graduation from high school, Janna “entered Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri in 1983.” While at Stephens, she returned home for the funeral of her mother. At Stephens, she “studied Equestrian Science” and received her “Associate Arts degree in 1984.” She “returned home to California to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu.” Janna received her “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1987.”
The first job newly graduated Janna accepted “was teaching 6-12 year-olds in a ski school in Vail, Colorado.” She did this “for three years.” In 1991, she “became the Sales Representative for BellSouth Advertising & Publishing in Raleigh, North Carolina.” While with the company, she “was awarded Rookie of the Year and got the highest sales award for every directory” she worked. She was back in her native state, having been “born in Chapel Hill.”
Once with BellSouth, she “returned to riding horses, studying with Heather Boodey” in North Carolina. “While practicing riding at the Saddlebred stable in preparation for showing at the 1992 UPHA Adult Saddle Seat Equitation National Championship,” which she won, Janna “was recruited by a Manager at Glaxo Welcome, a pharmaceutical company.
In 1993, she “moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to work as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative for five years for Glaxo Welcome.” While with this company, Janna “earned President’s Club status for being in the top tier of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives for three years in a row.”
Janna “was recruited by Amgen, a biotech company, and worked as an Oncology Specialist in Santa Cruz, California.” She was “with this company until 1998.” She married in 2000, and then she and Ron launched Black Sterling Friesians, Inc., in 2001.
Janna Weir Goldman now devotes her time, energy, and sales talent to Holland’s black Friesian Horses, and every once in a while, she also places her skills again in the Saddlebred Horse industry.
You may contact Janna Weir Goldman and Ron by writing: Black Sterling Friesians, 75 Corte De Sabla, Greenbrae CA 94904, or calling Janna’s cell: 415-272-2112 or home: 415-461-5516, or going to their Website: www.blacksterlingfriesians.com or by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.