What is your day job and how often are you at the barn?
I am the CFO of the International Equestrian Group, which includes The Chronicle of the Horse, The Central Park Horse Show, and the Tryon International Equestrian Center. I am based out of Middleburg, Virginia. My horse is boarded nearby so I am hoping I will get to ride about 4 or 5 days a week. Previously, I was commuting about an hour each way to ride so I was riding only about 3 days per week. Once during the week and both Saturday and Sunday.
How do you plan your horse's training and show schedule around your work schedule? How often do you show?
I have had my horse since he was 6 months old and did most of his early training myself. I knew I wanted to do the Amateur Owner jumpers at some point, but I also knew I wouldn’t have the budget. That said, I did what no trainer would ever encourage anyone to do and bought a baby. I had shown his mom when I was in high school and knew the stallion so I fell in love. When my budget finally allowed it, I found a wonderful trainer who rides him about 3 days per week for me. It’s amazing what professional training does for a horse! :-) I hack him once or twice a week and lesson once or twice a week depending on the week.
As far as showing goes, location is huge for me. I really try to show close by to cut down on shipping fees and travel time. I am so lucky to have such great showgrounds nearby. I usually show about twice a month in the summer and spring. We slow down in the fall and then ship to Wellington in the winter. Last year, I flew down to Wellington about every other weekend, which was not an easy thing to explain to my then boss! Now that I work for a horsey business, I get a lot more support! I’m hoping for the same every-other-weekend schedule this year, but we’ll see how things go.
What do you find you struggle with most as an adult amateur? And how do you overcome that?
Managing the balancing act that is being an adult amateur. I think it is natural for us as women to feel that we need to be all things to all to people. I remember carrying my laptop around WEF last year and responding to emails as I waited for my friend to go in the ring. I had promised my boss that my work would not be affected by my horse showing so I made a point to respond to emails right away and get all of my work done in a timely manner. The only time I am truly present and in the moment is when I am sitting on my horse. I think this is one of the many reasons why I treasure my time with him so very much. I am fiercely protective of my time in the saddle. In today’s world, we are constantly tethered to our smart phones and our laptops so it is so difficult to quiet our minds “check out”. When you are on a horse, you must have both hands on the reins, your eyes up, and your mind on the task at hand.
Riding horses has given me many life skills, but I think my time management skills are something that I am most proud of. I know I need my time in the saddle to recharge and keep me sane, but I also know I have work that needs to get done in order for the bills to keep getting paid. It all must get done so I just put my head down and charge ahead. My friends joke about me being a “planner”, but it is the only way I can function! Somehow, I manage to get my work done, ride my wonderful horse, spend time with my sweet boyfriend, see my great friends, and get my 8 hours of sleep.
What's been the best advice you've received and what advice would you give other adult amateurs?
My childhood trainer turned dear friend sent me an email the day I competed in my first Washington International Horse Show. The following words really struck me and I remind myself of this each time I step in the ring: Excellence is attainable. Perfection is not. Enjoy the process and the experience.
We ride for no other reason than because we love horses. It’s supposed to be FUN!
What does being #AdultAmmyStrong mean to you?
It means EARNING every round, every show, every ribbon. When you pay your own bills and understand how much work it takes to just get the opportunity to compete, there is a whole new appreciation of the word “amateur”. We have to balance a professional life out of the saddle with unique responsibilities that requires a completely different set of skills and then we have to sit on a 1,200 pound animal and ask it to jump over obstacles.
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