It’s a precarious place at the top of equestrian sports. In the age of social media, anything made public can be fodder to be lauded or reprimanded, and with an especially opinionated audience as we equestrians are, perhaps even more vehemently than the average Joe.
Decisions that elite equestrians make are quickly scrutinized, particularly when it comes to horsemanship, but also in terms of rider safety, as teachers and coaches, and even fashion choices are reflected on by the horsey public. For myself, for instance, I absolutely adore William Fox Pitt’s easy and quiet way of interacting with horses, and believe him to be one of the best riders in the sport of eventing. But his decision to ride in a top hat in dressage at the Rio Olympics, despite being in an induced coma just months prior due to head injury, left me with a poor taste in my mouth. I felt that it was a missed opportunity to be a good example of rider safety for the community, and I hate to say it, but those few minutes tarnished his shining reputation as a role model in my eyes.
Those whose stars still shine brightly in my eyes include Charlotte Dujardin, not only for maybe being one of the prettiest ugly-criers ever, but for her obvious devotion to her riding and horsemanship. Doug Payne, as a master of all three rings and for his ability to bring his horses to the top levels of the sport from the ground up. I have role models in local breeders, who select not only for quality and conformation, but also breed for amateur friendly brains and instill great manners and thinking skills in their babies from the start.
Who is your equestrian role model? What about them do you admire, and what example do you think they set that positively affects the greater community?
I’ve always looked up to Beezie Madden, her equitation and horsemanship are tops to me
Beezie is a queen. That she can have that position over fences that big just blows my mind.
Elisa Wallace for sure. She is very talented but down-to-earth and such an incredible horsewoman. I love that she works with wild mustangs as well as eventing at the top level.
That is definitely a good one! I totally agree!
First and foremost is Jessica Springsteen, partially because she’s a Jersey Girl, but mostly because she’s an excellent rider and exudes class. I was able to watch her do the 1.50m speed round at WIHS 2 years ago, and I have been Team Jessica Springsteen ever since!
I also really like Doug Payne. He rides at the Horse Park of NJ a lot, so it’s really neat to watch him compete in person, and I really like his philosophy in bringing young horses along.
Finally, who doesn’t love Boyd Martin? I’ve met him twice in person, and in addition to being a genuinely nice guy, he’s also an excellent rider. I’ve never seen him lose his temper at any of his horses or ever be involved in controversy (that I know of), and it’s a bonus that he’s local to the HPNJ so I see him regularly as well. I know it’s kinda weird for a jumper rider to look up to two eventers, but it’s more about horsemanship to me than a specific discipline 🙂
We ran into Boyd a couple times at the AECs (one friend of mine in particular is a huge fan) and I agree, he’s totally a nice guy. I don’t know that I’ve actually watched Jessica Springsteen ride- I will have to watch the next opportunity!
Try to catch her! She has great eq and always rides really nice horses. The horse she had at WIHS (Lisona) went in a hackamore…..in a 1.50m jumper class. She gets mad props!
I know this is ancient but had to chime in. I, too, am a Jessie admirer (and not just because I’m also a Jersey Girl). My friend is her age and showed against/with her for years and has nothing but good things to say. A nice person and a genuinely HARD worker and excellent rider who cares about her horses.
I’ve always liked Beezie Madden and Karen O’Connor!
Beezies eq in perfection….
I saw an ig post of a picture of George Morris, Anne Kursinski, and Bernie Traurig. That pretty much covers it for me.