How did you get into equestrian sport?
I was born and raised in California and I started riding when I was only about six years old. My father was involved with race horses and I wanted to be an equestrian. I was one of four children, but I was the only one who wanted to ride horses. There was a famous Oscar-winning Walt Disney documentary called The Horse with the Flying Tail,which was a story about a Palomino horse named Nautical, who won the team gold medal at the 1959 Pan American Games. It was an incredible story of how a horse from the American West became a United States Equestrian Team (USET) show jumping superstar. After watching that film, I told my parents that I would one day own a famous show jumping horse. I was so inspired by that story and from then on I just loved the sport. The first rider who I supported on the US Team was Anne Kursinski who grew up in the same town as me, Pasadena in California. I was very inspired by Anne.
How long have you been working with Kent Farrington for?
I first started working with Kent when I gave him my horse, Blue Angel, to ride in late 2012 and he worked with her up until the end of the 2016 season. He did exceptionally well with her and treated her beautifully. From then on, I decided I would be a supporter of his.
Do you have any young horses at the moment that you think might be a star in the future?
Yes, I do. I have a couple of young horses, one being a seven-year-old gelding named Heavenly. I thought that was a very suitable name as I already have an Angel! I also have a wonderful eight-year-old mare named Glamour Girl. These two horses are really promising, and we will just have to wait and see what the next steps will be for each of them.
Obviously, Gazelle is amazing in the arena but what is she like out of the ring and behind-the scenes?
Gazelle is very attuned to the people around her. We don’t expose her to many other horses, she can be quite a mare in that way! But she loves being around people and the attention she receives from everyone. Gazelle has such large ears and she’s so attentive, so she can usually hear me coming from a mile away and is always so excited to see me. She’s so easy to work with and because she’s been with us for such a long time, she knows everyone at Kent’s yard really well. She’s a little bit spoilt and knows she has the best stable in the yard!
How closely do you and Kent work together when it comes to Gazelle’s programme and routine?
When it comes to what shows she will attend and what her daily programme looks like, Kent makes all the decisions. Of course, we discuss these things but it’s up to him and he makes the plans and oversees her training. He is very much responsible for all those things, but he always consults me, and we discuss what we think is best for her. When it comes to travelling to competitions, I really haven’t missed a competition that she has been in for a very long time. I love travelling the world with her and I try and be there for every show.
Gazelle has won two of the four Rolex Grand Slam Majors, both an indoor and an outdoor Grand Prix. Do you think she can win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping one day?
I have great confidence in her, I really do. I think that if all the stars are aligned, then she is absolutely a top contender because she has proved to us time and time again that she can do this. For her and Kent to have done so many big classes together and to have worked together for so long is a huge advantage. Kent knows her so well and now when he sees a course, he knows exactly what he needs to ask from her. I really saw this happen for the first time in Aachen, when Gazelle and Kent entered the ring and made that incredibly difficult course look so easy. After that first round, I knew that she was going to win but we just had to be patient and get through the three rounds. In 2017, she won 15 5* events, 10 of which were Grands Prix, so I really do think she wants to win it all. All my life I have dreamed about having a horse as amazing as her.
Has the role of being an owner changed over the years since you started in the sport?
I am the Vice Chairman of the Jumping Owners Club and I think the role of the owner definitely has changed because of how many more team and individual competitions there are today. In the past, when I first started in the equestrian world, Americans did not come to Europe to compete unless they were on a team. So, when it comes to purchasing horses for individual riders rather than teams, the role for an owner has changed. If you want a rider to be able to have access to the best shows, you must provide multiple horses who can compete against the best horses and riders in the world. I have learned so much from being part of the FEI Jumping Owners Club and being around other professional owners. We have a huge responsibility, which is to assist both our riders and our horses achieve their goals.
Source: Press release from Rolex Grand Slam
Photos: © Rolex / Isabel J. Kurek