7 Eventers We Were Inspired By in 2017

Every year the EN team looks back on the last 12 months and tries to narrow down the many remarkable stories of hardworking, determined, passionate eventers to include in the annual list of eventers who inspired us. If it were possible to fit into one post, we’d put every single one of you on our list. You are an incredible bunch and we are so honored to follow along as you chase your dreams.

In case you missed it, read Leslie Wylie’s list of stories that made her proud to be an eventer in 2017. Here are seven more stories of eventers who inspired the EN team this year. Go Eventing.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Gantz.

Amanda Gantz

‘It’s About How Horses Helped Me Beat Cancer’: Amanda Gantz’s Road to Recovery Leads to AEC

Two years ago, hunter jumper rider turned eventer Amanda Gantz was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 30 years old. Chemotherapy was hard on her, but the support of her husband Zack and love for her three horses at home motivated her to keep fighting. She was determined to handle the horses and climb into the saddle as often as possible through her recovery. By June 2016, Amanda was cancer free and one year later trotted down centerline at the American Eventing Championships. This is an incredible story of the healing power of horses. Bring the tissues.

Allie Knowles and Sound Prospect. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Allie Knowles

Allie Knowles is Back and Stronger Than Ever

Four-star eventer Allie Knowles suffered a terrible rotational fall on cross country at Red Hills International in March leaving her with a laundry list of injuries including a shattered pelvis, broken ribs and a broken collarbone. She was soon back at the barn teaching lessons and back in the saddle just six weeks after the accident.

After a careful and controlled rehab, Allie returned to competition in June and she and Sound Prospect finished 21st at the Pau CCI4* in France in October. To top off the year, Allie piloted Business Class to a win at the Ocala Jockey Club CCI*. This is a story of a rider pushing through the pain and taking care to come back better than before.

Kelly Beaver and Sempre Fino. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Kelly Beaver

Ambitious Amateur Kelly Beaver Tackles Advanced While Balancing Career

Amateur riders worldwide know the struggle of balancing their work and family life with barn time. Kelly Beaver has it down to a science, as she works anywhere from 50-70 hours a week at her non-horsey job, includes her husband and mother in her eventing dreams and competes at the Advanced level with her Thoroughbred Sempre Fino. She’s an inspiration to hard-working amateurs everywhere!

Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Madeline Backus

Madeline Backus on Bake Sales, the Color Pink and Perseverance

Madeline Backus and her Anglo-Trakehner mare P.S. Arianna have grown up together, rising through the levels from Beginner Novice to their first CCI4* last spring. We all know how expensive an eventing life is and Madeline worked hard to pay her way to Kentucky, hosting a bake sale as a fundraiser.

In addition to finishing in 20th place at their first four-star, Madeline and P.S. Arianna finished fourth at the Red Hills CIC3* and second at the Rebecca Farm CIC3*. To close out a stellar year, Madeline was named to the 2018 Emerging Athletes Eventing 25 list, won the $10,000 Rebecca Farm National Developing Rider Grant and the inaugural $45,000 Wilton Fair Grant. We can’t wait to see what this duo will accomplish in 2018. Girl power!

Lee Lee Jones. Photo by Lisa Thomas.

Lee Lee Jones

In December 2016, Lee Lee Jones suffered a traumatic brain injury in a riding accident. She spent over seven weeks and intensive care and months at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Center. She is home and making great strides in her recovering alongside her beloved family and animals. A year after her accident, her determined progress continues to inspire us. We are also inspired by the eventing community rallying around Lee Lee and other equestrians in need this year.

Leslie Wylie all smiles on Day 1 of the Mongol Derby. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

Leslie Wylie

Wylie vs. the Mongol Derby

We’re biased, of course, but we think everyone will agree that EN’s own Leslie Wylie is pretty darn inspirational. Having entered the famous Mongol Derby on a whim, she embraced the danger and challenges of the 620-mile race across Mongolia on half-wild ponies. Along the way she lost her gear, her pony and, famously, her stirrups, but nothing could stop our Wylie. She ran the entire race with a mile-wide smile and proved to us all what we are capable of if we employ perseverance, grit and heart. Thanks for helping us believe we can do anything we set our minds to.

Eric and Trayce Dierks. Photo courtesy of ErikOlsenPictures.

Eric Dierks

Eric Dierks has had a tough year. In February he sustained second- and third-degree burns to his face and right hand after a water heater exploded at his and wife Trayce’s Renovatio Farm in Tryon, NC. By May, Eric was back to competing (we got used to seeing him ride in protective mask!). He was back to competing in May and later in the year went to the American Eventing Championships.

The universe has now thrown Eric a very unfair curveball and he is recovering from severe facial and ocular injuries sustained from being kicked in the face by a horse earlier this month. We know that no matter what, Eric’s spirit will remain strong.

“Obviously the only way to get through this is by the fortress of love and prayer that has been blanketed over us,” Trayce said. “I truly hope our calling is to just be a living example of safety first, everywhere, at all times.”

Now it’s your turn. Let us know, who were you inspired by in 2017? Comment below or email [email protected].