Rosie Smith’s rose gold accented helmet matched her perfectly tidy bun of red hair as she took the third spot in the USEA Training Rider Championship at the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nurena Feeds. Every little detail came together while aboard her trusted partner of nine years: the 20-year-old Connemara Irish Draught named Seamus (by Corrcullen, RID). But Smith’s first jump, back when she was only 15 years old, wasn’t with an English saddle.
“I was actually at a reining clinic at the Golden Spike event center, which hosts a recognized USEA event, and I was done with the clinic and just out hacking with my friends. We wandered onto the cross-country course and I was like, ‘What are all of these logs and stuff out here?’ and then we thought, oh they’re jumps!” said Smith. “We did some jumps with our little western horses in our western saddles. It wasn’t the prettiest thing but I thought it was so fun, I was hooked.”
Smith actually started riding western at age three and she got her first pony when she was eight. By complete coincidence, Smith’s piano teacher had horses and had stumbled upon an internet ad for a cheap pony. The deal was if Smith’s parents bought her the pony, the piano teacher would let her keep it at her farm. Any horse person would know that those two words (cheap + pony) are a recipe for disaster, but luckily Smith’s parents weren’t horse-people and so they bought the pony for Smith to do 4-H with.
“He was actually a retired junior rodeo bucking horse when I got him, so you can imagine how that was,” said Smith. “I fell off him every time I rode him. He was terrible but he taught me how to ride really well so I’m forever grateful to little Hercules.” A couple more naughty ponies later, Smith said she earned her first “good horse”—a reining horse named Nick who had been to the World Championships in Oklahoma a few times.
She thought, “I have this super awesome reining horse, I should do some reining.” So she did, and they were a stellar team. So stellar in fact that Smith also did some barrel racing with him and now, every winter, she takes him out to do skijoring—a sport in which a person on skis is pulled behind a horse. But whatever happened after that impromptu jump post-reining clinic?
“I took some lessons with Nick and I did one schooling show with him in Intro and he was such a good boy—jumping was not his thing,” said Smith. “He tried so hard for me. I ended up leasing a Warmblood after that.” With the leased mare being a bit on the older side, an injury to the mare forced Smith to explore other options but it wasn’t too long before Smith found herself with two horses. One was Seamus, who actually was a failed adult amateur horse, and the other was the colt of the retired mare.
Smith’s world has slowed down a bit since the AEC at Rebecca Farm, but slowing down for Smith isn’t exactly what we would call a vacation. She is actually studying at Colorado College in Colorado Springs and majoring in Organismal Biology and Ecology. She’s on the pre-med track and has dreams of becoming an emergency room doctor, so she can afford to keep riding of course.
“I love eventing, it’s just my passion,” said Smith. Her 4-year-old colt joins her at college this semester and she has plans to event him separately from her captain position on the IHSA collegiate team. And as for Seamus, Smith is going to see how he feels in the spring after a long season off. She moved him down from Preliminary this year just to have fun with him as he ages and she’s happy to keep doing whatever keeps him happy. “He’s been in the top three in every event I took him to. He’s a superstar, that horse.”
They do say that bad horses make good riders but there’s something to be said about those good riders returning the favor and producing those naughty horses into tried and true companions. Smith spoke about each of her steeds, leased or owned, with a fondness that can only come from a mature horsewoman who genuinely loves the horse first and sport second, embodying the eventing spirit to a T.
“The highest priority must be given by instructors to developing in their riders a correct, balanced, supple, effective, and independent seat for dressage and for jumping.” - “Teaching Principles” in the new ECP Eventing Handbook by the Levels
If you are on the fence about attending the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention this December 7-11 in Savannah, GA, the schedule of thought-provoking and insightful educational sessions planned for the event is sure to convince you to register today! To learn more about the various sessions and their hosts, click here.
This summer, five USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Clinics took place across the country giving young riders the opportunity to hone in on their horsemanship skills, improve their consistency in the saddle and show ring, and create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent. We caught up with many of the riders from the two West Coast sessions to hear their takes on the USEA’s newest program.
It’s about that time of year again when eventers across the country are packing their trunks and making arrangements to new locations for the winter months. While some owners might feel more comfortable transporting their own horses, time and resources make it more expedient for others to load their horses onto someone else’s rig for the potentially long journey to their winter quarters. For the safety and peace of mind of everyone involved – especially the equine passengers – two trusted shippers based on the east coast shared their tips for best practices when preparing horses for long trailer rides.