"I'm a nobody," laughs amateur equitation rider Lorri Quiett. It's not true, of course. Sometimes it seems that way though because her current real estate career doesn't have her in the hot seat of equestrian sports like past positions with the
USEF, the USET, the Olympics and other big name events did.
But Lorri put herself front and center of the West Coast hunter/jumper scene in early November, when she won the PCHA Victor Hugo-Vidal Adult Medal Finals in Las Vegas. "It was a total highpoint" of the nine years she's been back in the saddle, says Lorri, who rode as a kid growing up in Buffalo, NY. "I've been aspiring to be a competent 3'3" equitation rider for the last five years." Her first and second years pursuing this goal were "interesting!" she asserts. The next year, a wonderful Holsteiner mare named Abigail came along and fast-tracked her progress. "She's amazing," Lorri explains. "Honest, brave. She's very well-schooled and super smooth, so you feel very secure. She gives me tons of confidence."
Lorri needed that confidence in Las Vegas. Held during the Las Vegas National Horse Show at the South Coast Resort & Casino, the PCHA Finals took place in the resort's fully enclosed indoor arena. It was a terrific environment once Lorri and Abigail actually entered the ring for their rounds, but getting to that point was a little nerve wracking.
Friend, stablemate and third-place PCHA Finals finisher Lorena Christie and her husband Chad hauled Abigail to Vegas, and Lorri was up with them at 4 a.m. to help. After unloading horses and equipment in the facility's required 30-minute window, Lorri and company took in the sights. "The facility is beautiful, the stalls are really nice and I loved the close, intimate feel of the arena."
Competitors were allowed to warm-up in the indoor ring from 6 to 7 a.m., but only for flat work. "Abigail is not environmentally sensitive, but still she had her head held high in the air wondering where we were during that first time in the arena," Lorri says. Meanwhile, she did double-takes as stars like Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson and other famous riders rode their Grand Prix jumpers alongside her.
Before her medal rounds, Lorri was able to ride in a couple of classes in the covered, outdoor arena in the windy, cold weather. Warming up for the medal was under close supervision and restricted to half of the small indoor warm-up area adjacent to the main arena. "As a kid I always dreamed of riding at Madison Square Garden (in New York City) and the Las Vegas warm-up area reminded me of that: It's tiny and everybody is trying to warm up at the same time."
Although she'd been rattled by small, crowded warm-up areas in the past, Lorri didn't let it get to her in Las Vegas. Two smooth rounds placed her in second among the three riders called back for the work-off, from which she emerged the winner.
Lorri and a large group of friends who'd come to support her celebrated with dinner, watching the Grand Prix, dancing and ice cream. Some of her pals went gambling, but Lorri signed off after losing $20. "Everything is right there at the hotel, so you can do all that fun stuff then go kiss your horse goodnight." Plus, "You can watch the show on the closed circuit TV in your room."
Funny, down to earth and full of positive energy, Lorri let the Las Vegas win go to her head—in the worst possible way, she admits. The LA County Medal Finals followed the next week at the
Los Angeles Equestrian Center and "I had a complete meltdown!"
It's true, says Carolyn Biava, who, with her First Field Farm partner Janet McDonald, has trained Lorri since her return to riding. "She rode beautifully in Las Vegas then completely lost her confidence a week later. It was kind of funny because she'd dealt with a lot of challenges in Las Vegas but, in LAEC, where she's been a million times, she fell apart." Carolyn says that her main job with Lorri is to "remind her constantly that, yes, she can do this! We have to remind her of her success." Lorri got the message, posting two 80-plus rounds that enabled her to finish in ninth place overall, even after the bad start.
Striving for Consistent Success
It's all part of achieving consistent success, which is something that vexes many adult riders, Carolyn observes. "Lorri has worked really hard for this win and she wants it to be the first of many medal finals win."
Lorri is grateful to have found Carolyn and Janet's First Field Farm in Cerritos. She initially went there because it was close to her Long Beach home. When she saw that everyone, including beginners, had terrific riding positions, Lorri knew she was in the right place. First Field's focus as a show barn was another selling point and the high quality of training and teaching she's benefited from have proven Lorri's initial instincts to be spot on. Detail-oriented Carolyn and big picture-oriented Janet are great complements to each other, Lorri reports. "I really appreciate them and feel that they are excellent trainers and my biggest advocates."
Before circling back to the saddle, Lorri had several exciting years on the administrative side of the sport. She graduated from Purdue University in Indiana with a degree in marketing and communication, then fulfilled a dream of living in New York City. "Then I had to figure out how to combine my career with horses," she recounts. A volunteer post with the National Horse Show, then held at Madison Square Garden, set her on just the right path. Marketing, public relations and event management posts with the National, the U.S. Equestrian Federation (then called the American Horse Shows Association), the United States Equestrian Team and the Hampton Classic were a few of her positions. Top level assignments working for the Olympic committees for the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, working in the broadcast area, for the equestrian events were among many highlights of that phase of her career.
She later switched professional tracks to become a life coach in Anthony Robbins' organization, which brought her to San Diego. Lorri met her husband James there. After getting engaged the pair moved to the Long Beach area, started real estate investing, got their real estate licenses and then ran a successful investment real estate business. More recently, Lorri shifted her focus to residential properties.
While she's had to "work my butt off" to get established in a new field, especially in a bad economy, Lorri is thrilled with her current career. She's able to ride almost every day and loves the flexibility it allows.
Setting goals is a key part of the First Field training program. As she plots her course for this year, Lorri has her sights set on being consistently competitive in the 2012 medal finals and continuing to practice that positive thinking.
"No more meltdowns!" she promises.