In Their Boots

This is a new online series of articles that riders under 18 years of age will be writing to tell their stories! “In Their Boots” will cover all riding disciplines, all areas of NC and SC and hopefully introduce our readers to some fantastic young equestrians.

What Riding Has Taught Me
By Olivia Brown and Balt

My name is Olivia Brown and I am eleven years old.  I have been riding since I was two years old.  I ride with Diane Ritz at Hidden Spring Farm in Monroe, North Carolina.  My pony Balt and I are currently riding first level in dressage.  I have had Balt for almost two years; he is a Belgian Riding Pony and he just turned fourteen. 

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Olivia and Balt getting their games faces on at TIEC!


Riding has taught me many great things, and I would like to tell you about three of them. 

The first thing that riding has taught me is responsibility.  You may not think riding takes responsibility but you are way wrong.  As a rider, you have to take care of your pony; if you don’t your pony could get hurt.  A quote that my Uncle taught me is “if you do not have time to groom your pony then you do not have time to ride”.  Responsibility in the horse world also teaches me to have responsibility outside of the horse world which my Mom and Dad love!

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Rivendale schooling show.  PC: Jennifer Sides

The next thing that riding has taught me is trust.  The more time you spend with your pony, the more trust you will have in him and the more trust he will have in you.   It feels better than a million dollars when your pony comes walking to you in the pasture and nickers at you.  I had to learn to trust Balt and he had to learn to trust me when I first bought him.   I needed to trust him before I could even get on.  Since Balt had been an A circuit hunter, he had to trust me that I was teaching him the right thing.  I had to trust him that he would be willing to learn dressage.   Trust is hard to get but so important. 

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Working hard at a lesson with Diane Ritz


The final thing that riding has taught me is confidence.  The confidence comes from all the training that you have done with your pony.  That boost of confidence from your trainer right before you enter the show arena is really what gets your adrenaline pumping.  Riding helps me and many others have that “Never give up” attitude in whatever we decide to do.  Every rider in the world has to have confidence to go into the show arena. 

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Celebrating in Camden!


Riding is an awesome sport and most people think it is just about the riding part, but it really is not.  Riding is about the bond with your pony and trainer that make you a real rider.  

I am Emeline Gilbert and I’m 13 years old. I event at Novice on my horse Rupert, an Irish Sport Horse. My family owns Eight Bells Farm in Statesville, home to Meyerhoff Show Horses and my trainers, Bobby and Danica Meyerhoff.  Previously, I competed at local hunter shows, but I always wanted to event - but hold that thought.

            Four years ago, I received my first horse, Fleur, now an eight-year-old Friesian. I got her for Christmas, wrapped in a bow. Of course, it was a major shock! Being four, she was still green and didn’t even know how to canter. Since I wanted to do hunters, she learned to jump and soon, to no one’s surprise, we discovered that she may do better with dressage.

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            We were going to need a horse that could jump well and teach me. My mom began the search without me knowing. My trainer, Jessica Fredericks, was a childhood friend of Bobby’s and knew Ace, Bobby’s retired 2-star horse.  My mom fell in love at first sight and before I knew it, Ace was on trial at the farm. Soon enough, he became ours and I showed him in the hunters. Our accomplishments were mainly Ace’s, he was like a “ringer”, but it sure was fun!

            Jessica moved to Hawaii and I started to train with multiple trainers. My mom had talked to the Meyerhoffs (planting seeds as she says) about coming to our farm, but we never expected it to really happen. I remember the day we received the phone call. We had just finished riding and I leaped around celebrating. Next thing I knew, here they were with all their horses. It was like a dream come true!

            This is how I came to the conclusion of yes, in fact, eventing is the thing to do! Ace had finished his eventing career, so we did jumpers. My mom rides him now; he enjoys this treat-filled lifestyle. Last Fall, Rupert came to the Meyerhoffs for training/sale. I got to see Bobby work with him and thought he looked awesome!

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            One day, Bobby and I made a bet. The bet was whoever could do ten pull-ups first could ask a favor of the other. Neither of us wanted to really do it and, in his defense, he didn't necessarily have a place to do pull-ups. Somehow I won the bet and I asked for a lesson on Rupert. Little did I know, this was the beginning of an adventure because we owned him a couple weeks later. I knew that this was going to take a lot of hard work and time.

            Rupert and I did our first event at the October War Horse Series at Carolina Horse Park running Beginner Novice. I had heard that Rupert tends to act up at the XC start box. Cross country is crazy because there are parts of the course where you can’t be seen by anyone you know. It makes it even more of a thrill rush. It’s my favorite of course! We had a decent dressage test and a great show jumping round. At the XC start box, Rupert acted up quite a bit and if it hadn't been a schooling show, we would have been eliminated, but all in all it was a great learning experience.

            Our next show was this Summer. We went with Bobby to the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm. Competing at Beginner Novice, we started off with a great dressage test landing us in second. Next, we moved onto show jumping and cross country going double clear. We learned that if Bobby leads him through the start box, he will behave himself. There were so many riders I have seen at Rolex that were competing. It was overwhelming!

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            Late Summer was Riverglen Horse Trials in Tennessee. This was our first Novice together. Our dressage was challenging because the ring was right by XC, but we ended clear with a few XC time penalties.  Again, it was a great learning experience!

            Sadly, our season was cut short as Rupert has struggled with uveitis. I have an unintentional education in that disease. I hate uveitis - it is awful and cruel. Rupert has been to NCSU nine times culminating in a cyclosporine implant surgery into both of his eyes. This is not a cure, but an NCSU-pioneered procedure that is his only hope in combatting this disease. I hope it will allow us to get back to competition next Spring.

            I have learned so much through this wonderful horse and I am so excited for the rest of our journey. I hope to take him with me to Young Riders for his second time. I also would love to be a professional and compete at Rolex following in Bobby’s footsteps.

Hi, my name is Grace Lyons and I am 13 years old.  I live in Waxhaw, North Carolina and I have been riding ever since I was five years old. I have three horses of my own, Red, Charlie, and Yankee and I take care of two additional horses - Tough Times, and Grey Pilgrim.  Ever since I can remember I have loved horses.  I used to go and visit my Uncle Bobby a lot just to ride his horses.

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I started lessoning when I was around five, and I started out in vaulting.  I did Vaulting for a little while but I then realized that I wanted to really ride.  I started taking lessons at Thunder Bay Riding Academy when I was around six.  While I was riding at Thunder Bay I was living deep in Charlotte so it took us a while to get there.  After we moved to Waxhaw my dad got a job at Marvin Ridge Middle so I needed to look for an after school program. We found that Carolina Country Acres (CCA) had one.  CCA is where I really started riding. I trained with Coti Hausman and I had so much fun, Coti taught me how to half seat at the canter and she also taught me so much more about riding.  After about 3 years, Coti went to work at Robindale Farm, and so I started riding with Alicia Wilkinson for lessons and with Chelsea Dressler for IEA.

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One Christmas, I woke up and I went downstairs, saw my gifts from Santa and then went out to the barn to feed the horses that we were fostering at the time.  As I walked into the barn I saw Red, my favorite horse at CCA.  I was so happy to get my first horse, and Red is now 30 and still galloping and healthy.  He is the very best horse I’ve ever known and he receives a lot of attention when friends or family come over.  He is so safe and anyone can ride him. He deserves a relaxing life now that he is retired.

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After a little while I realized that it was time for me to lease a horse so that I could begin competing in larger horse shows.  Then I found Charlie, a 15 year old Chestnut Thoroughbred.  In doing so I found such a wonderful trainer, Valentina Timpone. I have been riding Charlie for the past nine months and I have done a lot of C shows with Charlie.  I have learned so much in a very short time from Valentina and it has resulted in some great shows and lots of ribbons!  Just recently, my very loving and supporting parents bought Charlie for me and I am so thankful for that.

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My dream is to one day ride on the University of Georgia Equestrian team. I had the opportunity to go to one of UGA’s riding competitions earlier this fall.  I met the coach of the equestrian team and she gave me some great tips on what I need to do as I move into high school to advance to that level of riding.  She explained that good grades are as important as improving my riding skills, so I have a lot of work to do!! But, it’s worth it!

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