The USEF has named the 2015 Eventing 25 riders, and we’re excited to get to know each of them with a series of profiles on EN. These young riders are the future of our sport in the U.S., so remember their names and join us in giving them the recognition they deserve. Keep checking back for new profiles. Go Eventing 25!
Growing up, Bailey Moran’s parents tried to get her interested in almost every sport except riding, but their defenses wore down when at the age of 6 she successfully convinced them to give her one riding lesson. After that, Bailey met her mentor Brooke Baker, a pony named Razzmatazz, and was introduced to eventing. To her parent’s chagrin, there was no looking back, and riding became everything in her life.
Bailey was your average horse obsessed girl, watching all of the videos that she could get her hands on and reading all of the old books on eventing. She made the long trek from San Antonio, Texas, to visit Rolex for the first time in 2007 and was witness to the wonder that was Teddy O’Connor at the Head of the Lake.
“The emotion was overwhelming as the crowd held their breath while Teddy picked off each element as easy as ever, and the screams were deafening as he galloped away,” Bailey remembers. “That’s when I decided that one day I would be there. Without a doubt, I would be competing there.”
Her quest for upper level success began almost five years ago with a trip to Loughnatousa Farms in Ireland, where she met a 5-year-old uncoordinated chestnut horse by the name of Loughnatousa Caislean, or Leo. He wasn’t the most impressive horse that she’d ever seen, she said, but after only a few minutes of jumping cross country, she had made up her mind, and the match was made.
While his name is still a mouthful (it’s pronounced Lock-na-two-sa Cash-lawn), Leo has outgrown most of his awkward tendencies, and they have travelled up the levels together through their first CCI2* this summer at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships, where they placed 8th individually.
In 14 competitions at the Intermediate or two-star level this year, they’ve racked up five wins, four top-three finishes, and only placed out of the top 10 once. She capped off the year with winning the USEA Intermediate Young Rider of the Year title.
“The best thing about Leo is that he’s an absolute powerhouse,” Bailey said. “He feels unreal galloping on cross country and can go from a flat out sprint to a 10-foot stride in half a second; he’s just so adjustable. He’s a little unconventional when it comes to technique in show jumping, but he’s done six consecutive double clear rounds this year, so I think he makes it work.”
Leo can still be a little Irish in his temperament, and although he’s coming up on his 10th year of life, he still enjoys spooking violently at different shades of grass on occasion. “It makes me laugh now, and fortunately he seems to be slowly growing out of that phase, but he’s probably going to buck me off tomorrow just because I said that.”
This will be Bailey’s first year in the Eventing 25 program, and she’s delighted to have been named to the squad. She feels that the opportunity to learn from the best through training under new Developing Coach Leslie Law as well as spending time with her fellow Eventing 25 riders will serve as a very positive experience, as they have big plans to move up to the Advanced level in February of 2015.
“I never want to stop being a student of our sport, and I think the Eventing 25 program is giving me the opportunity to ‘go to college’ in my own way. Not only does it give me the opportunity to get my name in front of some very influential people, but it’s giving me a chance to further my education in a way that will allow me to continuing pursuing and one day achieve my dreams. I was lucky to be chosen to be a part of the Under 25 program and will forever be grateful and beyond honored.”
Bailey will be using this added experience and education to jump start her season in Florida. She hopes to compete at the NAJYRC in the CCI2* again and improve upon her result from this year, as well as qualify for a CCI3* in the fall, ideally at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International. However, she knows that the greater goal for 2015 is gaining confidence and competence at the Advanced level.
“I would really just like to finish off the year feeling confident when I leave the box on an Advanced cross country, with a brave and game horse underneath me. I would love to take 2016 to get my qualifiers in for Rolex and to continue really drilling ourselves in the dressage arena. Right now the long term goal is to get to Rolex with a sound and happy horse and give it our best go!”
As competing at the highest levels becomes more of a reality for Bailey, the entire Moran clan has taken up the call and remains her greatest cheerleaders. Her dad, Dan Moran, has in fact become the infamous Eventing Dad, whom you can follow on Twitter. Check out his EN blog here for some of the best and most hilarious commentating and what he calls “the dad experience.”
“My dad is a huge cheerleader. He’s the one racing across the cross country field so he can get a glimpse of every fence and is always the first one at the finish line or the in-gate, waiting with a smile and a high five, no matter what,” Bailey said. “My entire family has given so much to help me succeed; I owe them a gigantic debt of gratitude.”
Now that she’s come onto the radar of the Eventing 25 selectors and made it onto the squad, Bailey intends to do everything in her power to keep their attention as she moves up the levels.
“Every single day I wake up and I hear that message through my ears. Every single time I step foot into a stirrup, I think about how to keep their attention. I don’t do this — any of this — for me. I do it for the love of my family. I do it because it gives me a purpose and confidence and determination, and motivates me every day to learn and love and strive to be better. I do it to make them proud. One day, I want to do it to make my country proud. The fact that eventing is just plain awesome is just a bonus.”