Featuring Photography by Aaron Jay
and photos courtesy of Robb Peters
Willpower gives me the ability to overcome challenges even when resources are limited or insufficient.
I love horses.
My discipline in equestrian sports is Hunters and Jumpers. My knowledge comes from years of lessons with great horsemen, riding, and competing as a junior (riders under the age of 18) when I was very young and later as an amateur and now as a professional.
There are differences between hunters and jumpers. Jumpers should be careful, go fast and clean, and execute tight turns for speed. Hunters, on the other hand, should go around on a rhythmical canter with a pleasant expression and jump in good form. The ride should appear seamless on a good hunter. Hunters jump obstacles made to simulate the “foxhunting field”. Gates, walls, flower boxes, brush and post, and rails. Jumpers, on the other hand, jump colored rails, water jumps and combinations set in courses designed to challenge horse and rider technically and physically. They have different speculations than hunters and are judged on performance and speed regardless of style. The fastest with the least faults wins.
The muscles used in riding start with a strong core for balance. Strong thighs and legs keep you on the horse and control the gaits with a combination of leg and hand.
Being on a horse is natural to me. I started teaching in my early 20s. I had my own stables and training facility at one point. It’s almost as if I know what horses are thinking much more than what people are thinking, haha! When I was an amateur in 2015, I was 2nd in the nation in my division. At the time, I was not permitted to teach. I really missed the teaching aspect. There’s no blue ribbon equal to that moment when you see a child or adult “get” and apply what you are teaching.
It took me well into adulthood to be confident with decisions I was making while riding. Riding is one sport where you are always learning. Every horse is different. You use varying degrees of pressure between leg, hand and weight and have to adjust the way you ride as you change horses.
I like to be well rested for the days I show, but it usually doesn’t happen because so much preparation goes into each day. The days are long.
I eat as healthy as I can, but I burn a lot of calories riding multiple horses, so I can have more carbs. I’m older now and go to the gym 4-5 times a week. Not for riding necessarily. I rarely do legs and glutes as they are developed from years of riding. I’ve recently started stretching for my lower back. Riding is exercise, so I usually don’t work out before I show. I’ve been riding a long time, so I don’t really get nervous competing… if my horse does as I ask, I’m happy. I’m more nervous for my students going into classes at big shows and finals.
I use my willpower mostly to overcome limitations that are set by others or myself, whether it be work, horses or relationships with people. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow as a person.
recovery & sobriety
I started drinking in high school. I did occasionally get blacked out but not often. Then when I got to college the frequency and level of getting blacked out, not remembering, getting in trouble with the law and all that increased. My first realization as that this was problem was when I started to drink vodka early in the day, in the morning and by myself.
What works for me might not work for someone else. A sustainable diet has to be packed full of foods the person actually enjoys eating. I love eggplant. Other people love broccoli. This is often why meal plans don’t work: you’re eating what someone else told you to eat, not what you’ve explored and found that you enjoy.
fitness & nutrition
As a young man I hated my muscular legs because they made it difficult to fit into clothes. It’s funny because now I think they are my best physical asset. A lot about body development is accepting who and what you are and recognizing your own assets.