September 2016 - Summer Camp, Equestrian Style

Four young riders share exciting summer stories from the hunter/jumper circuit.

by Pam Maley, Lexie Looker & Alexis Meadows

What did you do over the summer?” is a question circulating through school halls this month and one that typically conjures visions of family vacations, swimming pools, picnics, lazy days and summer camps.

But for young equestrians, the vision is quite different. Summer is when the horse show scene kicks into high gear. With the absence of school, devoted competitors are at the barn or at the show, often moving from one show series to the next. Countless summer days begin before the sun comes up and end as it goes down, spending hours on the back of a horse or hanging with horse show friends.

We asked four dedicated young riders who are often seen on the showgrounds to share their perspectives on how they spent their horse-filled summer.

Juliette Joseph with equitation horse Vigo.

Juliette Joseph
Age: 14, rides as 13
Trainer(s): The list is long… 
Home Base: Del Mar

As a “catch rider,” Juliette has had to develop the ability to get on any pony and ride with skill and confidence, while inspiring that same feeling for the pony she is competing on. With this comes the opportunity to work with many talented instructors - as every catch ride comes with a chance to school with the pony’s trainer. Eminently coachable, cheerful and always willing to do what’s asked of her, she has had some notable successes this summer.

California Riding: Tell us about your summer of horse showing - how many weeks did you show? 
Juliette Joseph: Every week over the summer.

CR:  Is life on the road mixed with life with your trainers and the ponies the best ‚summer camp‘ you can imagine? 
JJ: I love it! This is who I am - this is what I do!

CR:  What’s a typical “camp” day at home? At a show?
JJ: Not at a show? I’m at the barn and on a pony by 8 a.m. I school all day long, and finish about 6 p.m. If a student is having trouble with a pony, I will get on and work with it for them. Sometimes if we know there might be a problem, I’ll get on the pony before they arrive.
At a show? Some days I get on a pony early in the day, and show all day. Sometimes, I will need to school as well as show, so the day gets longer. 
Trainer Archie Cox commented, “She never complains, she’s always willing. She has a strong work ethic, and looks at whatever she’s asked to do as a privilege.”

CR: What’s the best memory of summer 2016 so far?
JJ: My best memory of this summer is my trip to Korea. It was an FEI jumper competition in Hong Cheung, and I was thrilled to be chosen to represent the U.S. For the competition, we picked the name of a pony out of a hat, and that was sometimes challenging. Some ponies were better than others, but we all had to think, “Okay, it is what it is, you just deal with it!”
It was so interesting and exciting to see such a different culture, and to be immersed in it for a few days. It was really fun and interesting getting to see kids from different countries; to see how they ride, and how their riding is different from Americans. There were three kids from each country, and they were all really nice. It was an amazing experience!

CR: What are your goals this year, and for the future?
JJ: For this year, there are a bunch of medal and equitation finals: Taylor Harris, CPHA Junior, the Foundation, PCHA, Maclay Regionals. It’s an honor for me to ride Vigo, a well-known equitation horse this year.
My dreams for the future are big. I want to go as far as I possibly can, and eventually go on to derbies, Grand Prix competitions, and even the Olympics.

Grace Tuton and Lautento. Photo: ESI Photography

Grace Tuton
Age: 16
Trainer: Sherry Templin
Home Base: Scottsdale, AZ

When the goal is to excel in a sport, there are always hurdles to overcome, but some athletes are called upon to face down more challenges than others. Such a young woman is Grace Tuton. She inherited from her mother a rare condition that causes non-malignant tumors to grow on her bones. From an early age, she has needed huge amounts of determination, devotion and courage to overcome the difficulties that it has thrust in her path. But overcome them she has, becoming a familiar face at West Coast shows, and developing into a skilled photographer along the way. 

California Riding: Tell us about your summer of horse showing - how many weeks have you shown so far?
Grace Tuton: So far I have done four weeks of showing (Ranch and Coast, Blenheim June Classic I & II, Showpark Summer Festival, Junior Hunter Finals ). I spent two weeks in Kentucky, too.

CR: Summer on the road mixed with summer at home:  what’s a typical “barn” day at home?  At a show?
GT:  My typical day at the barn starts at around 5 a.m. I have to get started early to beat the crazy Arizona heat. I typically ride five to six horses a day and mainly work on flat and pole work. I’m usually done riding the horses by 10 a.m. and I’m finished with the other barn chores by about noon. Around 5 p.m. I will go check on the horses and make sure they are all happy and doing well.

CR: What’s the best memory of summer 2016 so far?
GT: One of my favorite memories of this summer was doing the USET Talent Search class at the Blenheim June Classic Week II. It was so much fun to show in the Grand Prix ring again, and my horse Lava jumped the open water beautifully. I also had a ton of fun showing in the Junior Hunter Finals as well as the Hunterdon Cup at Showpark in Del Mar.

CR: When you aren’t showing, what do you do for fun?
GT: When I’m not showing, I have fun working with the horses at home. It’s always nice to see improvement in horses the more you get to work with them. The horses are my life, and just being around them is my version of fun.

CR: Does your riding help your condition? What are the biggest challenges?
GT: I always have to work on gaining more muscle. I’m a very petite person, so I’ve had to learn to gather strength in different ways.

CR: Along with all the responsibilities of riding and showing, you are also a photographer - how did that begin?
GT: A few years ago when my mare Crystalized passed away I realized I didn’t have any top quality pictures of just her. So the next day I borrowed my dad’s camera and went to the barn and took photos of all the horses. My photography hobby grew as I learned more about the camera and editing.

CR: What’s your favorite thing about photographing horses?
GT: I love seeing their expressions in the photos I take.

CR: What are your goals for this year and for the future?
GT: This year I am excited to get back into the jumper ring. In the future, I would love to have a successful show barn with great clients and horses.

Kayla Lott in the Hunterdon work-off. Photo: Captured Moment Photography

Kayla Lott
Age: 17, rides as 16
Trainers: Jim Hagman & Katie Gardner at Elvenstar
Home Base: Moorpark

Kayla is one of those young women who has forged her own path to the sport she loves, by her willingness to work hard. For all of her riding years, she has been a working student at Elvenstar Farm, and she feels incredibly fortunate to have had that opportunity. This summer has been memorable for many reasons, and not just in the show ring. She landed a place on the Oklahoma State University Equestrian Team, and has recently made the move to college. (California Riding Magazine, June 2016)

California Riding: Tell us about your summer of horse showing - how many weeks did you show?
Kayla Lott: I only showed at four shows this summer.  I helped fill classes on a borrowed horse at the June Elvenstar Show. Then the weekend of July 13-17, I rode my friend’s horse, Carlchen, at the Santa Barbara National Show. My last two shows were the weekend of the Hunterdon Cup: the Showpark Summer Festival and the USEF West Coast Junior Hunter Finals.

CR: Is life on the road mixed with life at Elvenstar and the horses the best ‘summer camp’ you can imagine?
KL: I couldn’t imagine anything better! Going to horse shows is my favorite thing, and spending the day at the barn is close behind it.

CR: What’s a typical summer day at home? At a show?
KL: A typical day at home starts around 8 or 9 a.m., and I ride about five horses. Sometimes I will lesson if a horse is available. After I ride, I usually spend a little time with a few of the trainers.
A typical day at a show starts around 6 a.m. when I hack my horse. Once the show starts, I try to stick with the trainers and help them with whatever they need, while also staying on top of when my classes go. After each rider is done showing, we make sure our horses get what they need for the night, write up the board for the next day, thank the grooms and head out. Sometimes everyone goes out to dinner, which is a lot of fun!

CR: What’s the best memory of summer 2016 so far?
KL: Being Champion of the inaugural USHJA West Coast Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic with Vancouver is by far my best memory of summer 2016. It means so much to me and my family and friends that I was a part of the Hunterdon Cup.

CR: This was the first West Coast Hunterdon Cup. How did you like the class, course and format with switching horses?
KL: I really loved the Hunterdon Cup because of its uniqueness. We don’t have anything else like it on the West Coast. I loved the courses with the forward hunter lines, handy options and exciting jumps. I showed in IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) for the past five years, so I’m pretty familiar with switching horses, but not at this level. I’ve always enjoyed watching riders switch horses and then have to quickly figure them out, so being a part of it this time was definitely exciting.

CR: When you aren’t showing, what do you do for fun?
KL: I don’t do many things outside of riding, but when I do, I like to spend time with my friends. Especially now that I have left for college, I’m really glad that I spent a lot of time with them.

Chandler Meadows competes at Young Riders in Colorado. Photo: Sportfot

Chandler Meadows
Age: 20
Trainers: Joie Gatlin & Morley Abey
Home Base: Newport Beach

As part of the Young Rider team that brought home Zone 10’s first medal-winning finish in five years, Chandler’s steady riding and boundless determination has catapulted the 20-year-old rising college junior into the 1.50m ring. Riding with Joie Gatlin and Morley Abey in Orange County, Chandler has put in years of practice and learned to incorporate every lesson, from blue-ribbon finishes to difficult finishes and falls, into her next ride, and continues to make her bright amateur ascent in the show jumping world. Analytical by nature, Chandler has a mature perspective on the sport she loves. 

California Riding: Tell us about your summer of horse showing - how many weeks did you show?
Chandler Meadows: This summer we focused on preparing for Young Riders. The only shows I’ve done were the Young Rider Trials at Blenheim Equisports in early June and two weeks of the Spruce Meadows Summer Series at the beginning of July.

CR: What’s a typical summer day at home? At a show?
CM: At home, we typically focus on flatwork and cavalettis. The horses know how to jump, so working on and managing “rideability” is more important to us. I like to take them on lots of trail rides too! At a show, I usually hack in the morning to let them stretch before their classes.

CR: What’s the best memory of summer 2016 so far? 
CM: Qualifying for Young Riders has been one of the best experiences of this summer. But my favorite memory so far would have to be winning a bronze medal with my teammates at the finals. That is something I’ll never forget.

CR: Riding is typically an individual sport. At NAJYRC, you’re competing as a team representing your zone. What was it like working together as a team versus a typical show competing against each other?
CM: Riding as a team is an incredible experience. I felt like we really came
together and rallied for each other. We had a great group of trainers, parents, grooms and an amazing chef d’equipe, all of whom made the experience possible.

CR: As a health science major at Chapman University, you have to juggle classes during the school year with training and shows. Any advice to junior riders applying for college and wanting to continue their riding career?
CM: Managing your time is really important if you’re looking to ride and/or show while attending college. Balancing your class schedule with your show schedule requires extra planning, but it’s completely doable if you’re willing to work hard and prioritize.

CR: What lessons has the sport taught you to apply to the outside world?
CM: Learn from your mistakes. Every opportunity can teach you something, if you’re willing to accept them and move on without dwelling on them. You can’t hold on to what has happened, you can only learn from what you did (or didn’t do) and apply your discoveries to the future. Riding has definitely taught me the importance of this life lesson.

CR: When you aren’t showing, what do you do for fun?
CM: I love spending time with family and friends and traveling to new places.

Article provided by Blenheim EquiSports & EquestriSol.