What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I would say the proudest moment was probably jumping in my first Grand Prix last summer. It was a 2* Grand Prix, so it was good to get involved in the international scene and jump in the FEI categories.
The experience really opened my eyes and helped me start to see that ‘this is a possibility for me doing this now, and in the future I’ll be jumping even bigger classes’.
You recently received The Gillian Wilson Trophy after being named Junior Equestrian of the Year – how did that make you feel?
It made me feel good, it’s a great accomplishment. It’s always pleasing to be recognised in a positive manner, but the most important thing is to keep going forward and keep just doing what we’re doing so we can keep having positive results moving forward.
When did your love for show jumping start, and who has inspired you the most throughout your career?
My family’s always been big into horses, so I have always been around them growing up as a kid. But I first started really getting into it when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I started really, really enjoying the horses and all the aspects of the sport. Jumping was something I really wanted to try and have a go at, so I did and haven’t stopped since!
As for people who inspired me, my mum has always been there. She’s been involved since the the very beginning and has always been a big supporter of my career. Even if it’s not a good day or not the best round she’s positive and she gives me valuable feedback. So I’d probably say my mum is my biggest inspiration throughout my career.
What attributes do you believe a successful show jumper needs?
I think a successful show jumper has got to have really big ambitions and have a solid love and passion for this sport.
The sport isn’t the easiest at times, so they’ve got to have a really good drive to keep going and keep pushing.
There’s going to be a lot more bad days than good days in this sport, so you’ve got to take the good ones while you can. Just keep moving and keep working while something might not be working out, because in the end you will have some good days. Those are the ones you’ve got to focus on.
Tell us a little bit about your stable of horses – which ones are you most excited about?
We’ve got a really cool young horse right now, named Chicago. We’ve had him for about six months now and he’s still a little green still, but he’s really showing a lot of potential. He’s got a very good jump to him, so I think he could possibly be a horse for the future. Time will tell with that one.
How important is your team – your groom, your farrier, your coach, your vet, your owner?
The team is very important, it’s number one. If you don’t have a good team, you won’t get very far in the sport. With the day-to-day activities with the horses, our groom, Jo Watson, is incredible. She manages all of the horses and takes care of them.
It’s also important to have good vets, farriers, coaches, all of those integral people. If you don’t have the proper team, it’s hard to get much done, but once you have people to fill those positions and work together, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
What do you love most about show jumping? Competing, the camaraderie with the other riders, travelling the world…
I’m a very competitive person, so I always enjoyed that side of the sport, but having that connection with the horses and being able to work with them – it’s something you can’t really find in any other sport.
There are no other sports where you have to work with a different animal with a different brain, so I find that part of the sport very interesting. There are so many different ways you can go about it and approach the sport that you never stop learning. There’s always something to learn.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I would say best piece of advice would be to think about the long-term in this sport. I think sometimes people get stuck on what goes on day to day, and they start to forget what could come as long as they keep sticking at it. You make a plan and you work on it every day, and in a couple months you’ll be able to see the results
As a young rider, do you feel there are enough opportunities for up-and-coming riders in the sport?
I think there are lots of good series and some more shows popping up all the time. For example, the U25 circuit in Wellington is great. There are even more junior and young rider Nations Cups starting up around North America, which is nice. It gives us a good opportunity to ride on teams and have that experience.
The only struggle I see for young riders in the sport nowadays is the cost of everything. It’s hard to grasp that side of things.
You must have been really pleased with your performance with Cactus de Cosniere at Spruce Meadows in June. I was over the moon with the horse, it was an unreal experience. It was amazing just to be jumping in that ring, let alone getting a result. That’s a very good horse that’s just been coming along slowly over the past two years, and now he’s starting to be a real star in show jumping.
In your opinion, why is Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ such a special place?
The grounds are amazing, it’s an unreal property. The care they have there of maintaining the show grounds is incredible. What’s more, the actual courses, the jumps, everything is top class. And the atmosphere! When you walk into that International Ring, it’s just an unreal feeling.
How positive do you believe the Rolex Grand Slam has been for the sport of show jumping?
I think it’s had really big impact on show jumping, it brings in a lot of spectators to our sport. It really gives top riders something to go for and something to really drive their ambition
Away from the sport, what do you love to do?
I like to be outside and exercise a little bit.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I try to wake as early as I can every morning, but each day looks a little bit different and they’re not necessarily structured. I spend a little bit of time in the afternoons finishing schoolwork, but I ride every day from Tuesday to Sunday.
Source: Press Release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping
Photo: © Rolex Grand Slam / Mackenzie Clark