By Lyssette Williams
Portraits by Lori Ovanessian
Five years ago, Yulia Bratkovskaya moved from Russia to the United States to springboard her riding and training career. What she didn’t expect was the circuitous journey she ended up on. “I started riding in a very intense Russian Olympic Reserve school at the age of 6,” Yulia said.
“Our rigorous training included vaulting, dressage, jumping and horsemanship. By the age of 14, I was working as a professional.” Her academic studies off the horse were rigorous as well. “I earned three degrees – horse breeding from the All Russian Agricultural University, professional horse training from the Equine Research University and later a Ph.D. in the physiology of training sport horses,” Yulia said. “Unfortunately, the Russian show jumping scene is behind the rest of the world. I knew if I wanted to grow as a rider that I had to leave Eastern Europe.”
Once in Los Angeles, California, landing a riding and training job proved to be a little harder than expected. “In Europe the trainer travels around to the barns,” Yulia said, “riding two horses at this barn, training one horse/rider combination at another, etc. Here the barns expect you to bring clients with you.”
While she grew her business, YB Horse Training, Yulia began to get noticed for more than just her riding. “When I first moved here, people assumed I was a model and I had to keep explaining, ‘No, I’m a horse trainer!’” Yulia said. “But then I began asking myself, ‘Why not?’ When I lived in Russia, I had been approached by an event owner to promote an Eastern European horse show: They needed a pretty girl jumping a horse for their signage. I took the gig and realized I enjoyed modeling immensely.”
Casting calls were an all-day affair, stealing time Yulia could be spending in the saddle – so one year ago she turned to social media. “With Instagram, I was able to create this opportunity for myself to remain a horse trainer full time, but also model part time,” Yulia said. “As a model I want to promote an active lifestyle, healthy body image and joy. Through my hard work and creativity, I’ve cultivated a list of photographers, makeup artists and other models who enjoy and want to work with horses. I’m currently working with 40-plus brands while still riding 8–10 horses a day!”
For the Sidelines photoshoot at El Tesoro Escondido in Malibu, California, Yulia wanted to show off four ways to wear Fabbri boots. “I wanted to promote a ‘stable-to-street’ look,” she said. “It’s what I enjoy wearing and we equestrians tend to wear our riding clothes everywhere.”
The boots look equally fantastic whether accompanying a Blush Elegance dress and All Saints jacket, accented by an AtelierCG necklace, or True Religion Jeans and an Odette blouse. The equestrian look is also timeless, as Yulia proves by posing in vintage 1972 breeches as well as the latest Ariat breeches and G.Duftler belt, AtelierCG bracelet, Majyk Equipe vest and It’s A Haggerty’s custom sun shirt, embroidered with Yulia’s logo.
“This last year things really took off and I’ve made a lot of connections,” Yulia said. “Currently I’m working with West Palms Events, putting together a charity gala equestrian fashion show the night before the World Cup, on October 18. One of the benefitting charities will be Special Spirit, a therapeutic riding barn located in Shadow Hills, California. It was the first place I worked when I moved to the United States and holds a special place in my heart. Hopefully we can make this charity gala an annual event!”
For more information, visit www.ybhorsetraining.com or follow her on Instagram @yulia_brat
Photos by Simplee Focused, simpleefocused.com