Cover photo for Leslie McNiff's Obituary
Leslie McNiff Profile Photo

Leslie McNiff

d. July 5, 2022

Leslie Lockhart McNiff, 62, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, passed away peacefully at home on July 5, 2022 after a courageous battle with cancer.

A loving sister and aunt, Leslie is survived by her brother Kevin Lockhart McNiff of Denver, Colorado, and her sisters Sydney McNiff Johnson of Ketchum, Idaho, and Anne Lockhart McNiff Gwathmey of Okatie, South Carolina, and eight nieces and nephews.  She was pre-deceased by her parents Walter Furbush McNiff and Georgette Ann Lockhart McNiff.

Born and raised in Woodside, California, she was a graduate of Palisades High Pacific Palisades, CA  and the University of California Santa Barbara.  Leslie was an accomplished equestrian, riding first as a member of Los Altos Hunt and their Pony Club.  She rode as a professional for Blakiston Ranch and campaigned their Green, Open Jumper, and Hunters on the AA/A Circuit in California, Arizona, and Canada.  She became one of the leading Show Jumping riders in Southern California.

For twenty years, she owned and ran Whiskey Hill Farm, a full-service training barn with up to 30 horses in training.  She taught lessons from beginners to top-level riders and was extremely popular with her young riding students who considered her a coach, mentor, and friend.

Moving to Santa Fe in 2016, she worked as a trainer, barn manager, and lesson coach at barns in Nambe and Abiquiu.

Leslie was a remarkable cowgirl in the purest sense:  tough but with a great sense of humor, devoted to her horses, competitive, and always willing to share the skills of her passion with others.  Nothing brought her greater pleasure than teaching young riders the fine points of horsemanship.

Leslie loved the outdoors and was a great student of history, interior design, and cooking.

She was also devoted to her two beloved animal companions, Seti and Jack.

The family is most grateful for the wonderful care given to Leslie in her final months, with special thanks to Mariah Pizzano at Ambercare and Leslie's personal caregivers Yvette Garcia and Christina Romero.

Leslie will be interred in Ketchum, Idaho following a private service in Santa Fe.  Her wishes were that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the United States Pony Club ( or the Espanola Humane (

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