Skip to content

The Greenhorn Chronicles 4: Dr. Julia Jane Stanley on Physics, Show Jumping, and Grand Prix Dreams (1)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/05/08


Dr. Julia Jane Stanley is a show jumper equestrian training under Laura Balisky. She earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Calgary. She discusses: the first inklings of an interest in horses; the individuals who encouraged this interest in horses; the focus in horses; highest level of attainment in performance; Medical Physics; doctoral research; Physics; the current pursuits with horses now; plans with horses; physics; other animals; the trainers or mentors in Southlands; trail rides; Laura Balisky; pony club; riding; pursue science or medicine; and Grand Prixs.

Keywords: Canada, equestrianism, equine, Eventing, Grand Prix, Julia Jane Stanley, Laura Balisky, Maynard’s Pony Meadows, Physics, pony club, Show Jumping, Southlands, Sweet Briar College, University of Calgary.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 4: Dr. Julia Jane Stanley on Physics, Show Jumping, and Grand Prix Dreams (1)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When it comes to equestrians and equestrianism, one trend, certainly, of note, though preliminary in the research: A lesser educational attainment in the pursuit of a dream of becoming the next great Canadian equestrian, or the maintenance of a desired life(style) in the equine. I have zero survey or organization membership data to confirm this observation, but, in conversation, I have noted this – so preliminary, qualitative, and limited sample size. The series will be, and is in the process of, expanding outside of the remit of British Columbia and Canadian equestrianism. When talking to equestrians, and to you, I was informed of something. Your Ph.D. is from the University of Calgary in Physics. You have the highest education of any equestrian known to me so far. We will talk about this. However, as with every story, there is a “once upon a time…” Once upon a time, you didn’t have a Ph.D. You simply had an interest in horses. When were the first inklings of an interest in horses?

Dr. Julia Jane Stanley[1],[2]: I have always loved horses and all animals and I started riding in Southlands, Vancouver when I was five years old.

Jacobsen: Who were the individuals who encouraged this interest in horses?

Stanley: I had to beg for riding lessons when I was younger. My aunt took me on a trail ride when I was little and after my parents finally let me take riding lessons.

Jacobsen: What has been the focus in horses, e.g., show jumping, dressage, etc.?

Stanley: I originally started in eventing and pony club. When I was about 11, I had a very hot thoroughbred off the track who wasn’t suitable for the dressage phase of eventing but who would jump 1.40m and I switched to show jumping and have been focused on show jumping ever since.

Jacobsen: What has been the highest level of attainment in performance in equestrianism at the professional level for you?

Stanley: I currently ride as an amateur but the highest level I have shown at is the World Cup Qualifiers.

Jacobsen: How did you work with horses and then pursue an education in Medical Physics? Where was the undergraduate and graduate school (pre-doctoral level, unless simply jumping from B.Sc. to Ph.D. candidate)?

Stanley: I did my BSc in physics at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

Riding was an integral part of life at Sweet Briar. My horse lived on campus with me and riding was a course scheduled into my day. I absolutely loved my time at Sweet Briar.

I did my MSc in Medical Physics at Duke University in North Carolina and my barn was an hour and a half drive from the university which was tricky. Luckily, there was another rider at my barn who let me stay with her when I didn’t have to drive back for classes.

Jacobsen: What was the doctoral research question? What were the main research findings in Physics from the doctoral thesis?

Stanley: Quantification of Uncertainty in Stereotactic Radiosurgery.

I found that the highest amount of uncertainty was introduced into the process during the contouring stage.

Jacobsen: While working in Medical Physics, why decide to come back to equestrianism? Is it the lifestyle, the horses, the riding, some admixture, etc.?

Stanley: I rode the entire time I was in school. I was hacking at least 12 horses a day towards the end of my PhD. I can’t imagine not riding. I love both the horses and competing.

Jacobsen: What are the current pursuits with horses now, e.g., leisure, competition, and so on?

Stanley: I compete in hunter/jumper shows.

Jacobsen: What are your plans with horses now?

Stanley: I would like to show in the Grand Prixs again.

06/09/2017 ; Calgary ; Spruce Meadows Masters ; 147, KARAMELL, JULIA STANLEY ; friday csi2 1m40 ; Sportfot

Jacobsen: Why choose physics?

Stanley: I really enjoyed math and problem solving. Physics uses these skills.

Jacobsen: What other animals were an affinity for you, in earlier life?

Stanley: I liked animals in general when I was very young. But horses were my main interest.

Jacobsen: Who were the trainers or mentors in Southlands, Vancouver at
five years old?

Stanley: I started out at Maynard’s Pony Meadows.

Jacobsen: How long were the trail rides with your aunt?

Stanley: We went once to a dude ranch near her house and I believe it was an hour or so. The horse I rode was a grey named Hickory.

Jacobsen: For show jumping, are you associated with a particular barn, ranch, or equestrian facility at this time? Or do you operate independently?

Stanley: I train with Laura Balisky.

05/07/2017 ; Calgary ; Spruce Meadows North American ; 652, KARAMELL, JULIA STANLEY ; 1m45 ; Sportfot

Jacobsen: In my whole not-even-a-year in the equine industry, pony club has been a term of conversation among some equestrians at work and in personal interactions with them, so far, for me. What is pony club?

Stanley: Pony club is an organization that teaches young people about horses. We had weekly stable management lessons and lots of fun activities such as mounted games, rally and quiz (a horse knowledge competition).

Jacobsen: How many days a week is riding an activity for you?

Stanley: I ride every day.

Jacobsen: If other women want to pursue science or medicine, while also wanting to continue to ride, what would be the advice for maintaining the balance of the two parts of life without losing healthy functioning in either?

Stanley: I recommend finding a university that supports and accommodates participation in athletics. I had a very positive experience at Sweet Briar. My passion for riding was supported and encouraged by my college and wasn’t seen as taking away from my academic interests. I was able to travel to horse shows with my college and my participation in shows was seen as representing my college – the same as if I had been on the football team.

Jacobsen: Why the Grand Prixs rather than other options?

Stanley: The horses I currently ride are jumpers. I also enjoy riding hunters but I don’t currently have a hunter.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Ph.D., Physics, University of Calgary; Equestrian, Show Jumper.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 8, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: