What is your day job?
Veterinarian – Primarily small animal.
How many years did you train for your day job?
My whole life! High school degree, 4 years of undergraduate courses followed by 4 years of Veterinary School.
How old are you?
How do you fit in riding and competing?
I showed frequently on the intercollegiate circuit when in college but I haven’t showed much at regular USDF rated shows. During Vet school, and once I became a Vet, I didn’t have the time to ride consistently or show.
Interesting tidbit about yourself?
In 2017, I suddenly became ill and was diagnosed with Dystautonomia which left me mostly bedbound for 2 years. In addition to not being able to work or stand, I was devastated that I was unable to ride. As there is no cure for dysautonomia, my return to the sandbox has been challenging. I can not tell you how many times I told myself and my trainer that I want to set up weekly lessons only to do one lesson and then feel sick for several weeks. It’s crazy how much I have improved and I do think riding was a big part of it. Each time I had to start all over again. As my health has steadily improved and my condition better managed, I am now able to get through a whole lesson and even able to come out to the barn the following day! On a few occasions I have ridden more than one horse a day!
What is your horse’s name?
I have 3 horses. Casanova, 13’2 hand, 30 year old, Welsh/TB gelding with floppy ears. He had a super successful jumping career at 3’9 and represented California in pony finals. Fiance, 14’1 hand, 13 year old, German Riding Pony gelding out of a Ferro mare. Schooling Prix St George and now teaching his owner the ropes! Honeymoon 14’1 hand, 4 year old, German Riding pony by Movie Star. She is just getting started but shows lots of promise for dressage both in her physical
capabilities and her unflappable demeanor.
Your biggest accomplishment in the ring?
After taking several year break from riding due to my health, I decided to support our CDS Foothill’s Chapter by attending the annual show. I entered my 30 year old 13’2 pony (that has been teaching beginner lessons for the last 5 years) and we won both our classes and ended up as the adult amateur high point champion!
Your biggest accomplishment in life?
Becoming a Veterinarian and learning that above all else, health matters most.
Advice to other Adult Amateurs?
This advice is specific to those AA’s who are trying to ride with a chronic illness. First of all, I see you! I see the struggle and the disappointment at the lack of progress and frustrating feeling that we are limited by our bodies. Here is my advice:
Never give up hope (I know that sounds cliché. But, I was told that there was absolutely no way that I would ride again by a specialist in a world renowned hospital. Now, I am working towards my bronze medal).
Surround yourself with a barn family that understands your condition and who are willing to help. My barn family helps carry me off the horse, helps prop my legs up and watches closely for signs of fainting. On days that I don’t feel well, they do everything from tacking up my horse and offering to warm them up. My trainer, Ana Gilmour, checks in frequently during my lessons and never makes me feel badly if I have to end a lesson early or can not do a movement.
Ask for and accept help. This one took me a long time to learn. It is very easy to say “I’m fine” when people ask me how I am. Now I am honest and say “I’m not feeling too well today actually” and when someone offers to help I don’t feed bad or think I “owe” them something. I accept extra help from people as well as equipment. Deciding to use a walker and motorized scooter were painful and demoralizing for me. But ultimately, if they decreased the risk that I would overdo it and feel sick, or they allowed to me to watch a horse show that otherwise would have put me in bed for a week, then that’s worth it!
Forgive yourself. Forgive your body for holding you back. I know I spent years resenting mine. Forgive yourself for needing to adjust your goals or to change your timeline. These are not failures! Health always comes first!