Citra - Leslie D. Hicks, a well-known upper-level competitor in U.S. eventing, passed away at her home in Citra, FL, on the morning of November 30th from cancer. She was 58.
Born Leslie Carothers in Fullerton, CA, in 1959, Leslie started her riding at the age of three in the California desert. She learned at a young age that if you fall off and lose your horse, it's a long walk home. From the start, she had the good fortune to ride with many prominent equestrians. For many years, she was a working student for Dianne Olds Rossi, a protÃ©gÃ© of Albert Ostermaier, Arthur Konyot, and Nuno Oliveira. Leslie was proud to have a mentor who had been both an esteemed classical rider of world famous Lipizzaner stallions and a horse trainer for the Walt Disney studios.
Always in the learning mode, Leslie moved to Colorado to work with Monte Foreman - the original 'horse whisperer' - who stimulated her interest in breaking and training young horses, a passion that would shape her career for the next four decades.
In 1979, Leslie moved to the east coast and started her own business in Jefferson, Massachusetts. There she met and married Charles Hicks, Chief of the Holden Police Department. Together, they opened and operated Integrity Equestrian Center, a large boarding, training, and sales facility that was designated a Massachusetts Farm Bureau Horse Farm of Distinction. Leslie became a familiar face at New England events, coaching a myriad of students, including the Clark University Equestrian Team, while also showing her own horses.
An accomplished rider, Leslie competed at the two-star, Intermediate, and Advanced levels in many international events, including Red Hills, Fair Hill International, Plantation Field, Morven Park, Jersey Fresh, and The Fork. She trained with Stephie Baer, Bruce Davidson, Pierre St Jacques, and Barend Heilbron, among others, and introduced her students to many of these legends through clinics she hosted at her facility.
After wintering in Florida for years, Leslie and Charlie permanently moved Integrity Equestrian Center to Citra, Florida in 2005. They became active members of the Ocala equestrian community and contributed greatly to the revival of the Florida Horse Park. Leslie continued to ride, train, and coach her students through her long battle with cancer.
Leslie embodied the spirit of eventing. She enjoyed the competition, but the welfare of the horses came first. She started her horses gently and brought them along patiently. For Leslie, it was all about the horses.
In addition to Charlie, her husband of 32 years; Leslie leaves behind her mother, Vickie Carothers; a sister, Marjorie Geiser; as well as a huge community of friends and colleagues.
There will be a celebration of Leslie's life on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm at Integrity Equestrian at 2300 W. Hwy 329 in Citra, Florida. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.