The “Featured Clinician” article series is provided through a partnership between Event Clinics and the USEA.
U.S. Eventing team member Lynn Symansky set aside some time to chat with Event Clinics about community, teaching, and never giving up.
A traditional “A” graduate from the Difficult Run Pony Club, Symansky’s competitive nature and team sportsmanship were fostered through involvement in United States Pony Club rallies and activities. Horsemanship is a key value for Symansky, and has been demonstrated throughout her career up to the four-star level and as a member of multiple United States Equestrian Teams.
At the time of our interview, Lynn had just returned from Massachusetts’ Equine Affaire where her clinic sessions were conducted in front of a full stadium of people. “I enjoy educating others. Clinics are great for helping educate riders that there isn’t one set way to do stuff. As riders, we all need to think outside the box.”
“I really like working with horses and helping people with those horses. It’s like a puzzle, reading each horse and rider combination and figuring out how to help them to work more harmoniously. Each horse and rider are different and I enjoy helping different pairs work through exercises. What is easy for one pair in one exercise may be difficult for another and vice versa. I enjoy figuring out approaches that will work.”
Regarding her expectations for riders who participate in clinic sessions, Symansky told us, “At the end of the day, we are lucky to be riding horses and doing what we love, as professionals or amateurs. Attitude comes first, 100 percent. I don’t expect riders to show up and be fantastic, but I do expect a good attitude beyond anything else."
A good attitude and tons of patience are much of what contributed to Symansky’s success with Donner, her partner for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games at Tryon. “I had lots of frustrating times with Donner, but then I would be competitive."
For riders working with difficult horses, Symansky said, “Learn to enjoy the process. You have to really really work on your patience in terms of having patience for the horse you are working with and for understanding where your goal is at the end of the day. Get on the same page as your horse.” Progress isn’t linear. “You feel like you take two steps forward and a few more back. Overall the graph trends upward, but don’t get too caught up in how each day differs."
“I didn’t go to Young Riders as a kid, and at the time I thought that was a big deal,” Symansky told EC when asked about what advice she might give a younger version of herself. “I got to some really good places without having been there. I learned just as much about working with other people and horsemanship doing pony club rallies.”
If she could, Symansky said she would tell herself “not to get so devastated when something goes wrong. For instance, if a horse is injured and you miss a competition. When you’re younger it seems like the weight of the world lies on that one thing. You get a lot of perspective as you get older. There are always more horse shows.”
Symansky’s career as an equestrian has a long list of highlights, but there was a time when she was on track to pursue a career in law. A major turning point was the decision to gain mileage at the Advanced Level. “Not selling No It Tissant, my first Advanced horse, has certainly helped to get me where I am today. I had an offer to sell him to a professional rider - I was a peanut on a super talented horse and had the chance to make quite a bit of money. I held onto him and was able to gain a ton of experience. Had I sold him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As a rider, you have to acknowledge what your goals are." She reminded riders to “never give up, even when you have failed 732 times."
It seems both horsemanship and sportsmanship are prominent themes in Symansky’s career, and the in the sport of eventing in general. “When competing, I’m riding against my best friends. I want to kick their behinds, but I am so happy for them when they do better than I do. This sport really lets us have empathy for our fellow competitors. The goal is to win, but it’s nice to see others succeed."
“It’s insanely expensive, and hasn’t had a ton of prize money historically. Not that other [equestrian] sports are cheaper, but it’s difficult to make sense of eventing financially. You can appreciate the successes of others because everyone is going through the same experience. I love that everybody is in this sport for the same reason, and it certainly isn’t the money” she continued. “People are in it because they love the game and they love the horses. Everyone is supportive of one another”.
Despite a jam-packed international competition schedule, Lynn Symansky often travels to teach clinics in addition to running a training program based out of Handlen Farm in Middleburg, Virginia. You can find upcoming opportunities to ride or audit a clinic at www.eventclinics.com.
At the second-to-last of 40 efforts, "I thought, 'This is actually happening,'" said Amber Levine of a faultless finish with Cellar Farm's Cinzano today to stay on their 31.5 lead going into show jumping tomorrow morning in the Twin Rivers Spring International CCI4*-L. The Jeffs Hot Tub Waves complex at 19 a/b was the awkward exception to a Hugh Lochore-designed course that otherwise "rode great" for the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) in his long-delayed debut at the level. An entirely new portion of the course around the racetrack featured a series of bright-white painted obstacles, but nothing distracted Cinzano's "tunnel vision for those flags." Levine expects a similar game attitude tomorrow and has a rail to spare.
Black stallion antics after the CCI4*-L jog inspection yesterday were not a preview of Cinzano's dressage test today. "When you are riding and working him, he's all into what you are doing," says Amber Levine, who owns the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) through her Cellar Farm. A 31.5 dressage test puts them atop a field of four, three of which, including Cinzano, are first-timers in the division in Paso Robles, California.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The Chattahoochee Hills H.T. is hosting one of three CCI4*-S divisions this weekend across the country and with 34 entries they have the largest turnout as riders prepare for their spring CCI4*-L and CCI5*-L goals. The facility in Fairburn, Georgia is running seven events in 2021, but their April event is the only one offering a CCI4*-S.