Enjoying the Process with a Little Help from Their Friends: Meet Martha Figueroa and Winnie

Here at EN, we love to hear from riders as they accomplish their goals throughout the season. This update comes to us from Martha Figueroa, who earlier this summer competed on the wings of a show entry scholarship provided by Virginia-area White Oak Stables. White Oak Stables has worked hard to provide opportunities for riders of color to pursue their passion, and this show division scholarship is just one offering with which this program is making strides in the sport. Let’s get to know Martha!

Martha Figueroa and Winnie. Photo courtesy of Virginia Rodriguez.

EN: Tell us a little about yourself, your horse, and how you got into eventing.

MF: I’m a Virginia girl, raised here by my Ecuadorian parents who call this horse crazy state home. I don’t currently have the pleasure of owning my own horse, but I am very much enjoying bringing along my friends talented pony.

I got into Eventing via Pony Club which is a National youth organization that emphasizes being a well rounded horse person. This includes giving kids the opportunity to try many different disciplines. Pony Club exposed me to everything from Eventing, to Mounted Games, PoloCross, and even Tetrathlon (swimming/running/shooting AND jumping). Eventing just happened to be the sport I liked the most out of everything I was shown.

EN: What have been your goals in terms of eventing/riding with your horse?

MF: My goals with this pony have been to bring her to a place where she is a confident and consistent low level Eventing mount. Her owner purchased her for breeding purposes, but the minute I saw how athletic she was I knew they’d stumbled upon a diamond in the rough. She arrived to the farm pretty under exposed to show settings, very head-shy and about a supple as a 2 x 4.

But she’s real smart and has her own engine, so I envisioned her carrying around future Pony Clubbers to their D2 and D3 ratings if we gave her a little more education and some show mileage. In the past 3 years I’ve taken her from her first Puddle Jumpers Combined Test to her first Beginner Novice Horse Trials!

EN: Tell us about this season so far – have you been working toward a specific goal?

This season’s goal was to go to her first Begginer Novice Horse Trial. Her show jumping has flourished and her dressage has really come together (coincidence? I think not). The big question mark has been her cross country over the years because while she loves it and is eager, it’s were her greenness shows the most.

Martha Figueroa and Winnie. Photo courtesy of Virginia Rodriguez.

My over arching goal has been to also work on all the things that happen when NOT in the saddle.

She can now trailer alone and allows her bell boots to be strapped on like total pro. She can be ridden bareback and will cross water. She also lets me fly spray her now! I’m very proud of that because I think part of what makes a good kids horse is their manners and she’s really come so far in that aspect.

EN: Recap your weekend! How did everything go? What were your goals, and what’s next for you?

My goal was pretty simple: have calm warm up rides, go clear in show jumping and complete the cross country, and we did!!

That said, the fact that we were able to attend at all was amazing. I truly mean it took a WHOLE village.

None of it would have been possible without Winnie’s generous owner who allows me compete her, my childhood pony club bestie who lent me her horse trailer AND truck, her Eventing Bestie who’s volunteered to drive us all the way there and back, and of course Ms. Jade Krafsig of White Oaks Stable.

Who is Ms. Jade Krafsig? She is the owner of White Oak Stables, who provided me this opportunity by holding a scholarship for equestrians of color and covered the show fees. She’s an Equestrian who wants to see change and is about being the change. I was proud as heck wearing her colors on my helmet and show pad that day!

Martha Figueroa and Winnie. Photo courtesy of Virginia Rodriguez.

Initially I felt embarrassed at needing so many people’s help to get to one event. It’s awkward sometimes and I tend to feel guilty often, but I am SO lucky and feel grateful for the people who help me participate in this wonderful sport.

Whats next? Right now we will build on the foundation we’ve created together and keep our eyes open for more scholarships. Sky’s the limit for Winnie and I!

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