Q1: How did you start riding? What was your first horse? What horse made you the rider you are today?
I started riding before I could walk. My grandmother was eventing when she was in her teens. She started at a parks and Rec center and got into riding there. My mother started riding when she was younger and grew up on the hunter jumper circuit. It’s easy to see that I grew up in a horsey family.
My mom held me on the back of a horse when I was only six months old and since then, i was hooked. I was riding independently by the time I was three and got my first pony for my 6th birthday. He was a little white plod-along welsh that packed me around. Known as Surprise, he was amazing, dealing with all my kid shenanigans without blinking an eye.
As perfect as Surprise was, the pony that taught me the most was my second one, named Society Girl. She was a real diva and this pony taught me everything. I got bucked off, reared, spun, thrown over (and through) fences, and so much more but she truly made me the rider I am today.
Q2: How did you first learn about the RRP and decided to become involved?
I learned about the RRP and the thoroughbred makeover from a lady I had been working with for a few months. We had missed the cut off with that horse, but after reading more into it, I was super interested and applied the next year. I got accepted in 2016 and have been attending it yearly. The RRP Makeover has truly been quite the experience.
To me, a training competition for thoroughbreds sounded really entertaining. I had just acquired two thoroughbreds for my 16th birthday and thought it would be fun to apply. My mom convinced me to try even though I was a junior and still green to retraining OTTBS!!
Q3: You entered the 2017 final in eventing - was it hard being a junior and competing against seasoned pros?
I entered the finale in 2017 in 2nd place. As a junior, going against a bunch of pros, it was slightly nerve wracking. However, I had a great support system behind me and a great horse underneath me. Unfortunately, Bruce had nicked himself on the up bank the day before and, being the big wuss that he is, wasn’t quite sound on the day of the finale. It was very upsetting, but he is back out and successfully completing all training events with his prelim move up in view. Bruce also managed to snatch the 6th place ribbon in Show Hunters that year to boost!
Q4: What are your goals for the RRP this year?
Ideally, this year I would like to be in the top 5. That’s wishful thinking for sure and who knows if it will actually happen. My main goal though, is to give whatever horse I end up taking to Kentucky a very good educational experience. I want to expose them to a big show atmosphere and prep them for their future careers in whatever direction they may go. At the end of the day, as trainers, it’s our job to make sure our pupils succeed in the long run.
Q5: Do you have any advice to give young riders or first-time RRP trainers that you wish you had known first time around?
Don’t stress!! Everyone keeps saying this and I can’t say it enough.
Don’t compare yourself or your progress to other people by what they post. Most people only post the good, few share their drawbacks and struggles. With Bruce (RRP 2017), I had a fall on cross country two days prior. I jammed my knee so badly I wasn’t sure I would be able to compete. Last year, I didn’t start my horse until August. He was lame May through July with reoccurring abscesses. My 2016 partner was the “most prepared”. I started in him in January but he was my biggest struggle. Every horse is different, so please don’t worry about where others are.
Make sure you thank everyone who volunteers and puts this event on. Kirsten is amazing and puts up with us year after year for whatever reason.
Finally, #makeoverfriendsarethebestfriends. I have met so many people through the makeover and I don’t know what I would do without them. Especially when they take your horse for a few weeks when your truck breaks down, trying to get a horse for them!