Two summers ago, EN readers followed the story of Andrea Glazer, an eventer among Grand Prix show jumpers at the 2017 Maccabiah Games. She catch rode an unfamiliar horse over 1.20-meter (3’9″) and above show jumping courses to help Team USA earn the silver medal, and is now preparing to represent the team once again at the 2019 European Maccabiah Games later this summer in Budapest, Hungary. Once again, Andrea has agreed take us along for the ride. In the first installation of her blog series, she catches us up on what she’s been up to these past couple years. Read more at her blog, Dre the Zookeeper.
Andrea (Dre) is back, and instead of continuously changing my URL to align with the new adventure I’m embarking on, I have decided to keep my “Dre the Zookeeper” name as I feel that no matter what life hits me with, if I survived the crocodile park, I can do anything.
So, my next adventure strays away from the Australian wildlife to a more familiar realm as I prepare for the European Maccabi Games that will be held in Budapest, Hungary in less than two months! The preparation started back in May, and now we are just a couple of weeks out from the competition – time really flies when you’re a slave in New Jersey (to be explained below).
(If you’re just now tuning in without understanding the zookeeper part of it, I lived in Australia for 2 years and in order to extend my visa, I had to be a zookeeper at a crocodile park and it was the most absurd/terrifying/wild/amazing experience of my life. Go check out my blogs if you want a good laugh.)
Most people are curious as to how I actually made the team while I was living abroad. It worked out that when I went back to Kentucky for Thanksgiving this past year, I rode my friend Jessena’s horse in my video submissions, not expecting much to come of it. To my surprise, I made the team! I had to change my plans, meaning that I was to cut my time in Oz short so that I could come home to properly train.
Quick anecdote (read if you’re not in a hurry):
Over the past two years while living in Australia, I did whatever I could do to ride. While zookeeping, I would wake up before my shifts and go ride horses at the rodeo grounds. I did dressage in western saddles and jumped in stock saddles -– it was a little different from the Devoucoux I was used to riding in! I usually rode from 5:30 a.m. until 8 a.m. when it would get so hot I couldn’t stand it anymore.
While in Melbourne, I sometimes would wake up at 4:30am and drive an hour away to ride horses before working from 9-5; I taught the Werribee Pony Club (Go Warriors!) on some of the weekends and was adopted into the amazing Radburn family who let me come stay with them one night a week so I could ride after work, sleepover, and ride early in the morning before heading back to work in the city.
Before I left Australia, the Radburn family invited me to ride their horses at an Australian Show Jumping competition on Chanel Radburn’s horses, Harry and Chili. I slept behind the driver and passenger seat of their float, and we had the best time. Chili and I won the show jumping competition on the last day!
I also competed Chili in the Sporting Horse Australia competition which is similar to mounted games. I went into the first heat of the pole bending where, being the only American to ever compete in this show, had a cheering squad yelling, “KENTUCKY! KENTUCKY!”, and I knew I had to make my hometown proud. Chili was rearing to go (literally) and we flew through the poles and won the heat! I was so excited that I won, all my “fans” cheered, and I yelled and fist-bumped before Chili went from a flat gallop to a sudden halt and bucked me so far, I swear I thought I landed back in Kentucky. I jumped back up, pretending to have stuck the landing and everyone cheered. I don’t know how these crazy situations always tend to happen to me when I have the largest audience, but at least I won the heat!!
So anyways, back to the point of this blog, but I just wanted to give some background to the riding I had been doing since the Maccabi Games in Israel to then walk into Hay Fever Farm as their working student.
I’m currently writing this post on my one day off per week after riding 42 times over the last six days under the coaching of two Olympic Show Jumpers, Neal and = Licha Shapiro. I am so sore I can’t walk properly, but I’m still in high spirits because I’ve learned more in the last week than I could have ever imagined.
During my first week of slavery being a working student at Hay Fever Farm, I tried so hard to follow their instruction and ride like they wanted me to, that I literally rubbed the skin off my leg until it bled through my brand new “show jumper” jods. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
If you know me, you know I am a very social, extroverted person who loves making plans and doing things after work. This version of Dre is something I don’t believe anyone has seen before. After working 10-12 hour days, I come home to help Neal and Licha with dinner, I look forward to Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every night (who am I?) and then I fall asleep before 9 p.m., every night. Yes, you read that correctly – even Friday and Saturday nights, I am in bed. Granted, Robbinsville, New Jersey isn’t the most “hip” town in the world, but this whole working student life is absolutely exhausting.
This may all sound a bit grim, but honestly I spend my days riding anywhere from five to nine (amazing) horses, all under the tutelage of two of the best show jumpers of all time. Oh, and don’t forget, I’ve been an eventer since the age of 6 (I’m now old and 24), and I’m at a purely show jumping barn – as soon as I saw Licha’s face as I walked in holding my Charles Owen skullcap, I knew I was in for a wild ride.