For eventing legend Karen O’ Connor, the horses always come first. “The biggest educator of my career has been the horse itself. I cannot imagine a world without horses or other animals. There have been a lot of people who have influenced my life and career, but my biggest mentor has been the search of the answers myself. I’ve learned through so many instructors, an enormous number of competitions and many, many, many horses.”
Ema Klugman trusts the process. On self-produced horses, including her longtime four-star mount Bendigo, the 23-year old Maryland-based four-star rider has racked up impressive finishes at some of the U.S.'s most challenging international competitions. “You have to do it the right way on a few horses before you really learn to do this properly,” Klugman tells STRIDER.
Five-star eventer Elisabeth “Liz” Halliday-Sharp has made the very most of the delayed start to the 2020 competition season. With an impressive string of self-produced horses, Halliday-Sharp has racked up top finishes at Virginia Horse Trials International, Great Meadow International, Stable View Oktoberfest, and was awarded the Jacqueline B. Mars National Competition & Training Grant to attend Galway Downs International.
“You learn from everybody. You can take something in from each trainer, from every ride on every different horse. That’s the interesting experience of it.” Five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic silver medalist Anne Kursinski is committed to giving back to equestrian sport. With enthusiasm and a dedication to the betterment of the sport through rider education, Kursinski shares her experiences with riders of all levels, backgrounds, and disciplines with the goal of improved communication between riders and their horses.
“There are people who want to be right and people who want to get better.” Tamie Smith is one of the latter. A member of the 2019 Pan American Games gold medal-winning team with multiple successes through the five-star level, Smith’s career is propelled by a desire for continued improvement and a commitment to good horsemanship.
“Health and happiness through our love of horses, that’s our mission.” Four-star event rider Emily Hamel and FEI groom Tyler Held are committed to comprehensive enhancements for the equestrian community through their shared passion for learning, positive mindset, fitness, nutrition, and, of course, horses.
“Keep going,” says five-star eventer Will Faudree. A stalwart member of the U.S. Eventing squad since he was named USEA Young Rider of the Year in 2002, Faudree’s impressive resume has provided him the experiences to become a successful rider, trainer, and coach.
With a hunger to learn, unwavering dedication to her horses and her sport, and surrounded by a great village, five-star eventer Sharon White is a powerhouse of positivity. A successful competitor, White is a fan favorite on the international stage best known for her signature orange and white cross-country colors and her welcoming smile.
“I was 13 years old, and in a show jumping competition in Mexico. There was a poster I saw in a bathroom of a blonde woman on a horse jumping a drop into water, and I thought it looked like fun, so I said, ‘I want to do that.’” And so, she did.
“It’s okay to be really disappointed. All of us had the season mapped out and knew what we wanted to accomplish.” Andrea Monsarrat Waldo, author of Brain Training for Riders, talked with STRIDER™ to share insight to help riders navigate these unprecedented times, lessons learned along her journey to the Advanced level, and strategies for rider development.