Oddly enough, the story of how Alexis Taylor-Silvernale and Joe Silvernale opened Aleron Training Stables starts with an Ironman race.
The tale goes that the two signed up for the endurance race and then happened to join the same training group. At the time, Alexis (a Medina native) had just returned to the Pacific Northwest after five years on Wall Street with AIG, and she was working for her family business, Seattle Gourmet Foods. Joe was practicing law with Perkins Coie LLP.
The Ironman came and went (they both successfully completed the race), but long after crossing the finish line they stayed in touch. It was a little later into their relationship, while visiting Alexis’ home, that Joe noticed a room filled with trophies, ribbons and equestrian blankets from Alexis’ junior riding years.
“That’s when he started to prod me about it. I couldn’t talk about it before because I missed it so much. Riding was always all or nothing for me. And before I went to college, it was such a big part of who I was,” Alexis says. “That’s when he found out what a big deal it was for me.”
Alexis was a successful junior athlete who competed in the hunter jumper discipline of riding from the time she was 8 years old. She quickly started competing in traveling horse shows and working with trainers on the East Coast, a region of the country she says dominates the sport.
“At any given time I was in the top 10 to 15 junior riders in the country. I competed in Grand Prix events when I was 16, jumping the highest levels available to junior riders. And we have a large national medal regional in Pacific Northwest which I won twice,” Alexis says. “Towards the end, I was primarily based out of Connecticut training with a couple different trainers to get more access to the national level.”
Ultimately, Alexis put riding aside to attend NYU, where she earned degrees in finance and accounting. Subsequently, she enjoyed a successful career at AIG, becoming the youngest portfolio manager in the company at the time. “I loved it. It was a hard life, stressful, but it was fun living in the city,” she says. But when the market began to crash in 2007, Alexis took the opportunity to move back to the Pacific Northwest, a place she says she always considered home. Around that time she met and married Joe, and when he learned the full story behind her passion for riding he encouraged her to jump back in the ring.
“So I did it. I got back into riding with a local teacher. Six months later, I had two horses and was working with a trainer in Atlanta, Hunt Tosh, and competing. That progression was a learning curve, but the skill and the feel came back very quickly,” she says.
But Alexis says this time around she wanted to do more than just ride; she wanted to become a professional trainer. In 2013, she got a business license and started coaching and growing her business. Eventually, she and Joe purchased what was then KGF equestrian center turning it into Aleron Training Stables, which opened in January 2015. Currently, the state-of-the-art facility (complete with a horse treadmill) in Kirkland houses 35 horses and represents about 20 competitive riders, with room to grow.
“What I founded Aleron on is true premium horse care and really individualized coaching. I want to make riders, and I want a barn where students are dedicated and hungry and they are willing to work hard. There’s no special talent or other requirement. You just have to really love the animal and always be willing to put the animal first,” she says. “I feel like we have a great group of clients that are just that.”
Annika and Hanna Meyer, Bellevue Club members and Aleron riders, are two of those clients, and they say riding with Alexis has been nothing short of a dream.
“I think it’s the best training facility in the area. Alexis is great, and the horses she finds for us are amazing,” Annika, who is 16 years old, says. “It’s really different than most other sports because it’s a connection with an animal and you don’t really find that anywhere else.”
Hanna, 12, says she also values the unique friendship between animal and rider, and she looks forward to making riding a part of her life for a long time.
“Eventually I’d like to compete in college and afterwards. I’d like to keep riding for hopefully the rest of my life,” she says.
Alexis gets immense satisfaction from working with young riders like the Meyers, and many of her clients have enjoyed success at the 12 to 18 horse shows the barn attends each year. She says it’s also very important for her to lead by example. “I ride and compete very actively myself. I won’t teach something I haven’t done or am not currently doing,” Alexis says.
And that dedication has paid off. In the fall of 2015, Alexis, riding a client horse named Citation, won the World Championship Hunter Rider Developing Professional title. That, among other accomplishments and titles, lets her know she is on the right track. She is currently ranked 13th in the country.
Now in their third year, Alexis and Joe, who became the general manager of Aleron after retiring from practicing law and with his daughters Casey and Carly off at college, are excited to offer a local facility with national ties. They encourage riders of all levels to come take a tour or lesson.
“It makes me so happy,” Alexis says. “It’s so rewarding; I always wanted to teach, and I always wanted to share the sport that did so much for me. I believe it’s the reason I was able to succeed beyond my junior riding years, in college, on Wall Street. Riding set me up for life, and I always wanted to share that with people.”