How old are you?
I just turned 16 in February, but I ride as a 15-year-old.
How did you get introduced to horses?
My family has been coming to South Florida for more than 20 years. During one holiday break, we were in Wellington and I saw someone riding on the side of the road and begged my parents to sign me up for lessons. I had my first lesson at a small, private farm off Southshore and was hooked. From that day forward, I rode as much as I could. My mom rode when she was young and both of my parents are very supportive of my riding, and now it’s a family affair. They spend most of the season in Florida and love coming to the shows. I feel fortunate that I get to share this with them.
When did you start showing and get competitive?
I’ve been riding for nine years—since that winter holiday in Wellington, I have never stopped. I began showing in the Short Stirrup divisions when I was 9 years old and showed competitively on the A-circuit in the Mediums on a pony named Charming in 2016. In 2017, I moved to the Larges with my pony Foxlair Tango. I was fortunate to qualify both ponies for the Canadian indoor finals called the Royal Winter Fair, where I was Reserve Champion in the Larges. Over the past years, I have traveled to shows all over North America; it has been so much fun!
What’s the horse scene like in Canada?
I live in Toronto, and our horse scene is quite similar to the U.S. but just concentrated in a smaller area. Over the past five years, I have trained with Erynn Ballard and Looking Back Farm. It gets very cold here, so typically our horse show season is from May to October. During the cold months, I’ve been lucky enough to travel down to Wellington to compete. It’s an incredible opportunity to travel to Florida: The grounds, horses and competition make it like no other place. I find traveling to the U.S. just gives me a lot more experience; I love getting to compete against new people and horses all the time. Throughout the summer, I’ve also travelled to some fantastic shows like Kentucky, Tryon, Upperville, WEC, and the Hamptons. The great range of competition all over the country pushes me to be the best I can be.
Tell us about your horses.
I have two horses currently—Fabio, whom I’ve had for two years, and he’s a three-ring horse. I show him mainly in the jumper and hunter 3’6” equitation. Bugatti, who I just got this past November, my trainer shows in the greens, and throughout WEF I showed him in the children’s hunters but have just moved him up the 3’3” as we want to keep his green status for the upcoming year.
How long have you been training with Tori Colvin?
We met Tori Colvin through our friends Ashley and Parker Peacock. Parker used to show one of our ponies and Ashley and my mom are good friends. This is my first season with Tori, and it has been amazing; learning in the ring and on the side of the ring with Tori and her mom, Brigid, has been incredible. I have always looked up to her as a rider, and being able to train with her was surreal. I saw things very differently and became very patient and tried not to rush. The learning experience has changed my outlook on so many aspects from the stall to the ring. It has been life changing.
How do you juggle school and riding?
I’m in 10th grade, and sometimes juggling riding, school and regular life is not the easiest. Usually, during average years, I fly back and forth between Canada and the U.S. to compete, but this year, I switched to online school because of COVID-19. It’s been nice not to have to go back and forth all the time, and I can fully immerse myself in riding. Online school has been a different experience because I’m not used to managing my school work myself. It has pushed me to be more independent and to learn how to balance friends, riding and school a lot better. At home it’s a little harder to get up to the farm to ride as often, as we live right downtown in Toronto and it takes 75 minutes or more to get there and I don’t yet drive. I really depend on the team at Looking Back to keep my horses in shape.
What are your plans for the future?
When I think about my future goals, many things come to mind, but some of the most important things are continuing in the equation ring, getting to the Maclay Finals and to the U.S. indoors. I have two-and-a-half more years as a Junior and I’m going to take advantage of every minute of it. Another future goal I’d love to complete is riding on a team in college somewhere in the United States. Getting to ride and compete with a team would be so fun, and it would add such a cool dynamic to go to school and continue what I love to do. American schools offer more opportunities to be able to study and stay in the saddle. This academic year, I will start the application process, and I’m so excited!
Casual clothes provided by Fab Finds by Sarah of Wellington, Florida. Riding clothes provided by Equestrian Team Apparel.
Photos by Evelyn Szczepanek, www.esequinephotography.com