By Cheyenne Lord
Like many equestrians, eventer Devon Tresan is no stranger to balancing a busy schedule. From serving as president of the Pony Club South Region Youth Board to working on her online high school courses and modeling gigs, Devon has nearly every minute of her time planned out. And with her horses right in her backyard in Ball Ground, Georgia, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Devon’s fast-paced lifestyle stems from growing up around her parents’ animal casting business, Animal Casting Atlanta, where they train and provide animals for projects in the film industry. Devon’s parents, Carol and Greg, took her on her first film job at just two weeks old; both parents pushed Devon toward acting when she was younger. While Devon didn’t want to be an actor herself, she did follow in their footsteps with her love of animals, especially horses.
“My parents’ company has provided animals for ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Suicide Squad,’ a majority of the Marvel TV shows, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and so many more,” Devon said.
While Devon’s life is all about horses, animals of all shapes and sizes live at their farm as part of her family’s business. “We have parrots, deer, alpacas, goats, rats, prairie dogs and so many more!” Devon said. “I really love our family’s cats, as well as, obviously, the horses! We have a farm that is home to all of them and we are always working to care for them and train them.
“My best experience with my parents and their company was living on the set of ‘Insurgent’ for two months straight,” Devon said. “I was homeschooled and got to have my first real experience of being treated like an adult working with the actors fairly closely. It was truly such a wonderful experience!”
Hooked on Eventing
Encouraged by Carol, who grew up eventing and continues to enjoy the sport today, Devon started her equestrian journey when she was 9 years old. Initially, the Tresans bought a flashy gray Welsh pony, I Am Superman, for Devon to take in the hunter ring. However, Superman lived up to his name and proved to be too speedy for the job.
“He was super cute and just a great little ride,” Devon said, “but he was still a pony! He made me work hard for everything we accomplished together. I was lucky enough to ride with a trainer who did both hunters and eventing, so we were able to switch disciplines pretty easily. Those eventing lessons together kickstarted my love for the sport.”
Devon and Superman competed in Pony Club and USEA events until Devon outgrew him. She was Area III Champion Junior Beginner Novice Rider on Superman in 2018, establishing a successful foundation for Devon’s next mount. Devon then took over the ride on the upper-level mare Killiney Hill, an Irish Sport Horse who graduated from both the USEA Future Event Horse and Young Event Horse programs. The pair competed up to the Preliminary division before an injury forced Devon to retire her in 2019.
Devon didn’t let that stop her. She messaged five-star eventer Zachary Brandt about a young Dutch Warmblood he had recently added to his herd. Just two days later, the Tresans drove to Florida to try the gelding, Zavallo, along with 10 other horses.
“Z was the first one I sat on and set the tone for the rest of the day,” Devon said. “He set the bar too high for the others to even compare. Everything happened so fast after that. We did a pre-purchase exam the next day and brought him home when he passed, and we competed in our first event together that weekend.”
Since then, everyone in Devon’s life has contributed to her and Zavallo’s training, including her parents and Advanced rider Lauren Eckardt of Bigtime Eventing. A highly sensitive and quirky horse, Zavallo has benefited from Lauren and Zach’s eventing experience as well as the Tresans’ knowledge of animal behavior and positive reinforcement. He even joined the family casting business, briefly starring in Netflix’s “Dynasty.” In both 2021 and 2022, Z carried Devon to the Area III Junior Training Rider Championship.
“Z is such a great horse, and it’s always so fun to work with the animals and figure things out,” Devon said. “My parents are especially great at that—knowing how the animals receive information, how you should ask for something as the handler, and how to reinforce those behaviors so they can be replicated.”
An Online Work-Study
Creating her own schedule has been an integral part of Devon’s life for several years, especially when she took a working student position under Zach. She worked from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week, then sat down in the evenings to complete her high school courses through the U.S. Performance Academy (USPA), a private online school designed for high-performance athletes.
“Online schooling has helped me tremendously given how busy I am every day, not just the weekends,” Devon said. “USPA runs its program through Canvas, which allows you to pace yourself, and I really enjoy it! It allows me to do things like train and compete with Lauren at home and Zach when I’m traveling, even though I’m not based with them in Florida anymore.”
Devon’s choice of online learning proved to be the best decision many times over, allowing her to schedule each day the way she needs it and easily work around the major events in her life. Driven by the family history in casting, she also joined a modeling agency about seven months ago, where she hopes to get her modeling career in full motion alongside her other passions.
“Taking classes online helped me attend
Pony Club Championships in Tryon in July and the Pony Club Convention and National Youth Congress this January,” Devon said. “Then I got to spend a few days at home before heading to Florida to work and compete with Zach the next weekend. It can be a lot sometimes, but I love learning, being competitive and just enjoying the ride on my horses.”
That much-needed flexibility also allows Devon to share her lessons, clinics and insight with Carol. The mother-daughter duo always looks to gain different perspectives on training, even if they might not have the same issues as other riders and horses. Some of Devon’s favorite clinics have been with U.S. Olympian Tamie Smith, her idol since Tamie helped secure a Nations Cup victory at the 2011 Bromont CCI3*-S.
“Tamie is built a lot like me, and her training methods and behavioral reinforcement are very similar to my parents’ techniques,” Devon said. “Long-term, I hope to ride like her and compete in five-stars like Kentucky and Maryland, maybe even something across the sea.”
First, though, she wants to take Zavallo to a one-star event this year, maintaining her carefully balanced schedule all the while. “Hopefully, I can keep working on everything together long-term,” she said. “I’ll never give up the horses, that’s for sure! I hope to start competing in FEI competitions soon, and I plan to attend Auburn University after graduation to get a business degree so I can take over our animal casting business. I’m super excited to look toward a future where I can have it all!”
Follow Devon on Instagram, @Tresaneventing or @Devontresan
Photo by Carol Lane Tresan