Successful junior rider Schaefer Raposa is a star in the show ring and the talented equestrian has learned the horse business from the best possible source – her family. Schaefer is the daughter of equestrians David and Kara Raposa and the 17 year old has followed in her parent’s footsteps by riding into the winner’s circle over and over again, recently winning the 2011 Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Final.
“Growing up in a horse family has changed my life. My parents are both hard working professionals and I greatly respect them for it. Having a family business and living on a farm has taught me many things,” Schaefer said, adding that her family has farms in Clinton, New York and in Wellington, Florida. “I am aware of the amount of hard work professionals put into their business each day. At times the business can be very stressful and I understand what it takes to makes sales and make a living. The way I was brought up has allowed me to appreciate the dedication it takes to thrive in the horse business. Coming from a horse family has helped make me the person I am today.”
While Schaefer’s pony career is behind her, most of it was made up of catch riding. She did have her own pony, named Longacre Jack B Nimble, and in 2004 Schaefer and Jack B Nimble won the Medium Pony Championship at Devon. “That was one of my most memorable accomplishments. We still have my rounds on video and my ribbons and pictures are framed in our living room. Longacre Jack B Nimble was my favorite pony. He was something. He taught me how to be a team. He wasn’t always the easiest, but he was a great pony.”
Sidelines: Who in your family is involved in the horse world?
SR: My dad has been riding horses his entire life. My grandparents on my dad’s side are also involved with horses. My mom, on the other hand, is the only one in her family to choose the horse world. Her parents bought her a pony and she trained it to do all kinds of tricks and also gave pony rides to her friends in the neighborhood. Once my parents started with horses, they stuck with it. My parents have taught me everything I know about horses. My dad’s mom is a horse trainer and teaches in a college riding program. My dad’s dad is involved with racehorses and trains in Rochester. I have a cousin who I am very close with and she rides, too. She is now in college and is on the riding team.
Sidelines: What are some of your career highlights?
SR: During my pony career, being champion in the small ponies at Pony Finals was a highlight. I was also champion at Washington in the large pony division and I was leading WCHR rider for two years. Some highlights of my junior career would be ribbons in the low, medium and high junior jumpers including being third in the High Junior Jumper Classic at Lake Placid this year. I was first in the USET at Devon in 2009 and also won the Wolffer Estate Hampton Classic in 2009. In the George Morris Equitation Class at WEF I have placed 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th over the last four years. In 2010, I placed seventh in the Maclay Finals and in 2011 I placed third in the USET Finals and I won the Medal in 2011.
Sidelines: You train with Andre Dignelli and Patricia Griffith, how long have you ridden with Heritage Farm?
SR: I started riding with Heritage when I was about eight years old. Patricia Griffith started me out in the ponies and has continued to help me every step of the way. Her words of encouragement and support have given me great confidence over the years. I admire Andre for everything he has accomplished. Andre is a soft-spoken trainer who inspires me to try my best.
Sidelines: What are your goals for career and college?
SR: I want to become a well known and respected professional or amateur. I am also planning on attended an NCAA Division 1 equestrian college or university. I am not sure which school yet, but I plan on studying business or journalism.
Sidelines: What divisions and horses will you be showing at WEF and which division do you like best?
SR: This year I plan on competing in the junior hunters, junior jumpers and equitation. I will show my dad’s sale horses so what horses I show will depend on my dad. I will also catch ride other horses. I like the jumpers the most. I like that when you get in the ring your nerves disappear because everything happens so fast.
Sidelines: What do you like about showing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington?
SR: I like that for me there is no traveling involved with the WEF circuit because we have a farm in Wellington. My dad drives the horses down and my mom, brothers and I also drive down. Once we unpack and settle in we are there for about four months.
Sidelines: What do you like to do in your spare time?
SR: I love being home in Clinton. I’m from a very small town and my friends and I have known each other since kindergarten. There is not always a lot to do in Clinton but we have lots of fun. I also love music and if there is a concert not too far away and I don’t have a show then I’m all for going to it.
Sidelines: What do you like about being a horse person?
SR: To be honest, riding around my farm in Clinton with a loose rein and just having some fun. And it is important for me to always take care of, and look out for, the horses.
Sidelines: If you weren’t a horse person, what do you think you would do?
SR: If I didn’t ride, I’m almost positive that I would be involved with another sport. I like to run and I have thought about trying out for the track team.
Sidelines: Describe yourself in 10 words or less.
SR: Responsible, dedicated, fun and eager to learn.
By Jan Westmark-Allen