"I work several jobs to self-fund my riding. I've bought and paid
for each of my ponies and my horse. I also keep them with me
doing all of my own barn work. We trailer to lessons and shows
and my mom and I do all my grooming ourselves. I braid my
ponies, I clip etc. I work really hard for this sport. I've been
really lucky that my family supports me with all the driving they
do and lack of sleep they get due to shows and trailering. I'm
always busy and there is always more that I need to do in the
barn but my favorite time of the day is night check. When it's
late and dark out, the ponies are sleepy and softly chewing on
their hay. After I turn off the lights, I pet all of their noses and
stroke their necks and say goodnight. It's quiet and they are so
sweet. It makes all of it worth it."
How old were you when you started riding?
Tiny but I took my first formal lesson when I was 4 or 5.
Before that my family would put me up on my Shetland.
What is your trainer's name?
Chris Hurlbert-Gemmill from Woodberry Farm in York, PA
Where do you live?
I live in Avon, North Carolina, the outerbanks. It’s a barrier
island off the coast of North Carolina. When people think of
horses there, they think of the native wild ponies not hunters.
The closest trainer is 2 ½ hours north (without traffic). I ride
there but I want to be working with trainers. My grandparents
are older and have a little farm in Wellsville, Pennsylvania.
When I was little we fenced in a pasture and built a run-in
shed for my very first pony. A little Shetland named Oreo.
After that we kept adding on stall by stall, pony by pony, a
little at a time. Now it has 5 stalls and my grandpa and I built
all of it. We even make our own fence boards. I spend most
of my time there taking care of my ponies. I do all the stalls,
meet with the vet, help the farrier and dentist, load hay and
saw dust. It’s a lot of work. Several days a week we load the
trailer before 6am and go to lessons at Woodberry. We drive
back and forth to North Carolina to be together as a family
and there is plenty of sand for riding but not access to
trainers so my ponies and I are in Pennsylvania to really ride.
What do you like to do when you're not riding?
If I’m not riding, cleaning stalls or working then I’m
probably reading. I read all the time. I’m the person who’
s at Barnes and Nobles before they open so I can get
the new release by my favorite author. Some kids get
their phones taken away, with me, my mom complains
that I’m up too late reading. The only place I won’t take
a book is to a horseshow. When I’m at a horseshow I’m
too busy preparing and focused on my ponies. I don’t
take my phone many places either but I almost always
have a book with me. I like reading so much that I like
to name my ponies after books, such as; Wind in the
Willows, Lightning Thief.
What bit does your pony go in?
I ride my large green Faircourt’s Lightning Thief (Leo)
in an elevator bit for lessons and a full cheek snaffle for
shows. I’ve been loaned a large regular to show named
ByJove who I ride in a full cheek, slow twist snaffle. I
bought myself a horse this summer that I hope to do the
EAP program on someday and I’ve been trying different
bits with him. I think I found the perfect one. He’s now in
a Pelham with a port and he is a very happy camper.
Do you like to set goals for yourself? If so, example?
It’s funny that you asked this question because I’m currently working
on an article for my blog and have been thinking a lot about it. I like
setting smaller more personally attainable goals that are not
overdaunting or impacted by someone else. Such as having a goal to
study the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz study guide for 3 hours a week
instead of having a goal to get 100% on the exam. Or like my green
horse getting all of his changes at a show instead of having the goal
for him to win every class. Right now one of my short term goals is to
try a dressage lesson and complete all of second series in Ashtanga
yoga (I’m still working on all 7 of the headstands). One of my long-term
goals is to qualify for the EAP finals.
If you could ride any horse in the world, who would it be?
Well I would say HH Azur. She is such an incredible mare! Or maybe
Great White owned by Daisy Farish.
How old is your pony?
My pony Faircourt’s Lightning Thief (Leo) is 9 years. My horse Fitz is also
What's your favorite subject in school?
Language/Linguistic studies, Greek and Roman Mythology. I’ve been
studying sign language for years and like helping people who are deaf
interact with horses. I tutor reading and writing online and I like learning
about the roots of our language and its complex rules and influences. I
like interacting with people especially kids and I think studying the origins
or languages is the root of that. I homeschool so I have a lot of flexibility
What's your favorite food?
I love dried mango. I like that it’s sweet without having any added
sweeteners and preservatives. I’m kind of a health nut.
What's in your tack trunk?
I keep my ponies at home so I don’t have a trunk infront of a stall but I do have a box that I take just to shows.
It’s packed with the normal things like leg wraps, thermometer, first aid supplies, grooming tools, a sewing kit,
my braiding supplies, shampoo and my PHSA Champion cooler that I love. I like to keep apple sauce Go Go
Squeezes in my show box for when I’m hungry or need a pick me up. It works well on a hot or cold day.
Do you have any superstitions when it comes to riding?
For good luck, I keep a bunch of items in my show jacket pocket; four leaf clovers that my mom found, a
leather bracelet with an inspiring phrase, bits of yarn from each of my ponies braided manes from important
shows and Bill Rube’s business card. He gave it to me years ago when we first met and we were both
volunteering at a USHJA Outreach show. I told him that I didn’t apply for the USHJA Gochman Grant that year
because I didn’t think that I was what the USHJA Foundation was looking for. He inspired me to go after
everything I want and not to doubt myself. I applied that following year and was chosen to go to Pony Finals
on the grant. He’s been a supportive friend ever since the day we met and so I ride with his card in my pocket
as a reminder to believe in myself.