How did you start your career in equestrian sport?
Both my parents ride – my father competes for the Canadian team and my mum used to compete for the U.S. Show Jumping Team – so you could say I was very much brought up around horses! I rode from a young age but started competing more seriously when I was eight or nine, and my passion for the sport has grown since then.
Who inspires you?
For sure, both my parents have been a huge inspiration during my career. McLain Ward has also been very influential – he’s been training me for the past few months alongside my father. McLain has taught me both inside and outside of the ring. He’s taught me about the ring tactics and how to measure distances. But he’s also helped me with my mentality, particularly when I was returning from my shoulder and hand injuries, and that helped grow my confidence a lot.
Which riders do you look up to?
McLain. My father. My mother! For my whole life my dad has taught me all I know about the sport – I owe him everything. And I can’t forget my mum, as she had a very similar track to mine when she was my age. She had a horse named Adam who reminds her a lot of Hester. She also went to school full-time when she was competing, just like I am now, so she gives me advice about how to juggle them both.
Can you tell us about your favourite horses? Do they have any interesting characteristics?
My horses are Hester and Kaspara. Hester is a super special horse – I got him when he was eight-years-old, and I’ve had him for five years now. I started competing with him at 1.20m level and he’s brought me up to international 5* Nations Cup shows so it’s been an incredible journey and we’ve really grown together. His biggest classes have been mine and vice versa. My father started riding him when we first got him, as he was originally meant for dad to compete. It’s special that my dad and I have shared the horse that’s been at the centre of my career. Hester’s got a huge heart and he’s incredibly brave, but he’s also very spoiled – you could say that his way is the only way! He totally knows he’s talented and wants everyone to know how amazing he is.
Kaspara is also very special, and I got her at the end of last year, although I didn’t start competing with her until this spring. She’s nine-years-old and I don’t know her full potential yet, and I guess we’re still bonding and figuring each other out. I can’t wait to keep getting to know her. Characteristically, she’s very careful and kind, but also very spunky (sassy)!
What are your expectations for the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’?
I’m just incredibly excited to be chosen for the U.S. Team and representing my country at one of the most prestigious shows out there. I saw my dad compete for the Canadian Team at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ last year and was just blown away by the magnitude of the events. They really step it up a level or two for the ‘Masters’. It’s certainly as special as it gets.
What are your main aims for 2018?
Making the U.S. Team for the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ was one of my aims for 2018. Earlier this summer I also competed on the Team in Dublin, which was a very surreal experience. I started university last week, so I’ve be spending more time at studying than competing in the last few months. I’m not sure what’s on the radar for the rest of 2018, but nothing too much more in the way of competitions.
What are you most looking forward to at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’?
I’m really looking forward to Nations Cup day. I’m fortunate enough to have competed in two senior Nations Cups this year, which is cool. Hester and I have experience in the International Ring so I’m hoping we can keep it up!
What is your biggest dream in Equestrian Sport?
This might be a little ambitious, but my ultimate dream is to win an Olympic gold medal. On home soil would be even better!
When you are not riding, what are you doing?
School and homework and sitting in a classroom. In the summer I play a lot of tennis.
What is your advice for young riders hoping to start their career in show jumping?
You must be prepared for more bad days than good ones. Savour the good days, keep working hard, and never let the bad days make you give up. You’ve also got to appreciate your horses – never forget we’re in it for them.
Which horses are you taking to the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’?
I’m only taking Hester. Kaspara is younger, and I’m hoping she’ll be ready for it next year.
What’s your favourite equestrian memory?
This past year has been incredible, especially the Spruce Meadows Summer Series. The highlight must be when dad and I were first and second (he was first!) in the 1.60m Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex in July. I’m so grateful that he and I can share this sport together.
What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t a show jumper?
I’d be a professional tennis player! If I couldn’t do that I’d do something that would help others, either through the education system, the prison system or the environment. I think it’s important to give something back to society.
Source: Press release by Rolex Grand Slam
Photo: © Douglas Sinclair