11 Questions with C4 Rider Tamie Smith

Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster at Fair Hill. Photo by Jenni Autry. Tamie Smith and Twizted Syster at Fair Hill. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Tamie Smith had a rocking year in 2014, and she’s already on track to have an even better 2015. We took a few minutes to ask Tamie a few of our burning questions, and we’d like to thank her for her time and insight. Go team C4!

EN: Did you always know you’d be an eventer?

Tamie: I started riding with an Kim Scheid, who was an event trainer, and I didn’t really know that there was any other sport. Actually I was terrified. I was the most timid, scared child on a horse that you’ve ever seen.

I remember the first time I cantered — and it wasn’t on purpose — and I was really timid. Kim really instilled the grittiness and the bravery that I have now. By nature, most children at that age are fearless and I was terrified.

I really owe it to her because now — I think because I dealt with my fear as a kid — I don’t have that same kind of fear now. I feel like the better of a rider I become, the braver I am. Heather (Morris) rode with the same trainer, and she fell off a lot and I never fell off because I was terrified!

I was never not scared so I never let my guard down. It wasn’t because I was a better rider or anything, it was just because I was too scared. I hung on like a little spider monkey!

EN: What was your first event like?

Tamie: I competed at Ram Tap when I was 8 years old. This was my first recognized event, and there was this log at the top of this really big hill that I had to jump down. In the picture I have, I was laying on my pony’s butt because I’d watched Burghley and Badminton so much and seen the riders letting the reins slip and leaning back. I remember leaning really far backwards and thinking, “Oh, that was not as exciting as I thought it would be!”

EN: What has been your biggest career highlight to date?

Tamie: I catch rode a horse for Kristi Nunnink named Corner Street at the inaugural CCI3* at Galway Downs, and it was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in my entire career. I didn’t know what to expect; I’d ridden that horse maybe for 10 days before the event and we went around double clear. It was just a really incredible feeling to be able to accomplish that — to get on a horse that I didn’t know and make it around a three-star.

EN: What event is on your competition bucket list?

Tamie: Burghley. Heather and I still watch the old Badminton and Burghley videos and I’ve just always been very impressed. Burghley to me has always been kind of the event that’s been the most challenging because of the terrain.

I know not every horse is necessarily a Burghley horse, but it seems like the most challenging out of all the four-stars in the way I like: height and width and galloping fences. I like the big impossible looking jumps.

Tamie Smith and Sunsprite Syrius. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Tamie Smith and Sunsprite Syrius. Photo by Jenni Autry.

EN: What kind of advice do you give a nervous student?

Tamie: I feel like it’s very much a mental game. I try to have my students schooling higher than what they’re competing at so they feel comfortable and not like they’re doing something for the first time at a competition.

I want them to go to a competition and say, “This is easy, I can do this.” I think people get wound up mentally, and there are lots of books and coping mechanisms that I have them learn to help them mentally prepare for competitions.

It’s a problem for a lot of people, amateur or professional, and you have to learn how to deal with your nerves and find something that works for you. A training program for your riding as well as your mental game is important. Being able to be mentally competitive is more important that being talented.

EN: Who was your riding idol growing up?

Tamie: Ginny Leng.

EN: What has been your favorite cross country course to date?

Tamie: I want to say it was the CCI3* at Bromont. The flow and terrain was great, and the fences really jumped big. It gave you a feel of the course just jumping really big and I really liked how technical it was.

EN: Do you have a favorite type of fence or question?

Tamie: I really just try to make every jump challenging. I don’t necessarily have a favorite, as I don’t have anything that I don’t love. Even if I’m riding at the smaller level, I always try to really focus on my position and doing as little as possible to get the horses to the jumps.

I’m a little bit of a perfectionist that way — I’m always trying to kind of make it where I try to make the horses rideable to each jump, even if it’s a ditch and wall or a trakehner. I just love cross country.

Over the winter I spent a lot of time doing dressage and we’ve been going to jumper shows and having fun. The meticulous side of all that is something that I really enjoy, but going out and competing at the first event of the season was a big relief for me!

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

EN: Do you have any lucky charms or superstitions?

Tamie: I have a necklace that a client gave me that I wear all the time and I’ve never taken it off. Ever since then, things have been going in the upward direction, so I won’t be taking it off anytime soon.

I was at show recently and my whip caught the necklance and it broke. I stopped immediately and jumped off and luckily found it — I don’t want to know what would happen if I ever lost it!

I also always wear my medical armband on my left arm, but other than not I’m not too superstitious.

EN: What horse would you take a spin on, past or present?

Tamie: I would have loved to sit on Murphy Himself. I really loved his cocky, larger than life attitude. It was great to see Ian Stark compete him and watch him let the horse be who he was. It might be terrifying to ride him, but I think it would have been cool to take him for a spin.

I think that is one of the hardest things in riding — to be able to conform to each of your horses’ needs and let them be who they are and not make them what you want them to be. Not every horse can conform into what your stamp is.

I think a lot of riders pick a certain type of horse and they’re always on kind of the same type, and I enjoy the variety of types of horses. Right now, there’s not one horse that I ride that’s like another in size, conformation, mind, etc. They’re all very talented but they’re all very different and have their own idiosyncrasies.

EN: What do you love about C4?

Tamie: I think what they’re doing for the charity causes is a fantastic addition to an already really cool product. The belts are amazing because you can pretty much wear them with anything and intermix them.

It’s fun to get dressed every morning and have your own custom belt collection. C4 for a cause is really a great thing and I love being a part of companies that want to do that for people.

Did you know that C4 recently introduced reversible saddle pads? Available in navy/pink, black/white, red/blue, and green/orange, these pads are sure to set you apart at your next event. Supplies are limited, so order your own by contacting Jon Sonkin at [email protected]. Don’t forget, we’re running a 10% off promo code to be used on the C4 website this month. Use the code”TAMIEC4″ to claim your discount and outfit yourself with some new C4!