How is team competition different from individual competition?
I love being a part of teams! Team competition is a lot of fun because you’re competing for so much more than just yourself. In our sport, we are mostly riding against our peers and friends; it’s very individualistic. But when you ride with a team, whether it’s for your zone (Young Riders) or for your country, there’s more at stake.
There’s pressure to do well because you know it’s not just your rail — it affects the team as a whole. If I have faults when I’m on a team, it makes me fight harder in the second round because I don’t want to let down my teammates. Or if my teammate isn’t having the best day, it’s great to be able to rally behind them and help them to have a better overall experience and an improved next round.
I enjoy the camaraderie and the honor of representing my country on a team, and I will always aim to be a part of any teams I can!
What’s your most memorable equestrian moment? What made it special? Is there anything you would have done differently?
My most memorable equestrian moment was not what most people think of. It wasn’t winning a class, but rather, it was a time when I learned something important both about my horse and myself.
I was competing for the United States on a Nations Cup team with my stallion Qui Vive des Songes Z. He schooled beautifully and I thought we were ready for a clear round for the team. What actually happened was a total lack of rideability and more faults than I had wanted. I didn’t know what had changed so quickly. Was it my nerves? Was he upset with the crowd?
We pulled it together to have a decent second round, and thankfully my teammates had great rounds to secure a successful outcome. That afternoon as we were taking care of him, we noticed that his back was unusually sore. The USET has a phenomenal group of vets and therapists for the horses and they were able to work on my horse that evening and the next day.
I was heartbroken and horrified; I hadn’t realized how sore he was from traveling to the show. I was excited to be on the team and I didn’t hear him (or at first, he wasn’t telling me) that his back didn’t feel right. We were eligible for the grand prix, but I said to myself, “I’ll listen to my horse and the second he feels uncomfortable, I’ll retire from the round.”
After all the therapeutic attention he had received, he was feeling really good, but I didn’t want to put him at any unnecessary risk. I decided to take it “one jump at a time.”
We ended up jumping a clear round in the grand prix! He was back to the horse I knew, and he performed incredibly!
This was such a learning experience on so many levels and I was relieved that he came out of it on top and that I was able to really focus on what he was saying. I’m not sure what I would have done differently in that moment, but now I’m much more acutely aware of how stoic my horse can be and how in tune with him I need to be. It was an invaluable lesson, and a winning feeling to have had such a dramatic turnaround from one round to the next.
Being an equestrian takes you to all sorts of amazing places. How do you make the time for yourself when on the road? Do you explore your different locations?
I’ve been very lucky to travel to many new places whether for shows or for trying horses. I absolutely make the effort to explore anywhere I go. I’ve been on some trips where all I see are barns and hotels, but as I’ve gotten older, I try to find at least one new thing to see wherever I go.
My husband, Jesse, is very good at finding eclectic restaurants; so, for example, we often will drive off the beaten path to eat somewhere that has a culturally unique dish. We also really enjoy hiking, so if we are in Switzerland, we find a new trail or mountain that we haven’t yet experienced.
As a runner, I lace up my sneakers and hit the road wherever I am. That’s a great way to see a city or the countryside. Running has taken me past signs about local art or musical events that I’ve then gone to.
It’s important to be focused on the show or looking for the right horse, but for me, to stay present in the moment and in the new place where I’m staying is also important. I enjoy living those aspects of life outside of the stable as well and I try to take advantage as much as I can.