Professional Riders Wear Many Hats

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Photo courtesy of Olivia Loiacono.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been in pursuit of a goal. Goals such as completing my first CCI4* (check), starting my own business (check) and becoming a rider that people trust with their horses as well as their students. As an equestrian professional, it’s a balancing act, especially in the sport of eventing. You have to make a name and reputation for yourself as a rider and as a coach in order to build your business, and you have to continue to grow your resume so that you maintain relevance in a competitive industry. For this and many other reasons, we professionals wear many hats: coach, rider, trainer … and student.

I am fortunate in that I have a beautiful facility here in Southern California to base my business out of. The owner of the facility, Shady Oaks Ranch near Bonsall, CA, has been nothing short of amazing in allowing me to run my training business out of her barn, which offers amenities both horse and human can appreciate.

I have a wealth of hungry students who come to the barn to learn and to work hard every day, and I’m rewarded with their successes as they continue to move up the levels at competitions. This is all a bit of a dream for me, and I’m so thankful every day to be a part of this community.

One aspect of my career that I have really tried to hone in on recently is making sure that I am still a student of a sport as well as a coach. In our sport, there is no such thing as being done learning. There is always a new perspective to gain, a new skill to learn to transfer to your horses or your students. Being a student, regardless of your professional status, is important in a sport that is always evolving.

The horse who really skyrocketed my riding career, Subway, gave me wings that I can only dream of having again (see “Subway Always Reached New Heights“). Since Subway and I competed at the top levels, I’ve spent time trying to build my riding up and applying my experience with him to the young horses I start and compete. I am also starting my search for my next upper level campaigner in hopes that I can once again chase those blue numbers on cross country, and I am looking forward to the process of finding and producing my next superstar.

Olivia Loiacono and Subway at Rolex in 2011. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

But in order to do that, I have to make sure that my boxes at home are checked. I need to make sure I have the skills that my coaches and the horses I’ve had the privilege of riding along the way, helped me acquire and I need to make sure that I am always learning new skill sets to take with me to the next horse. I also need to make sure that I am doing my part to nurture the growth of the sport as a whole, teaching my students professionally and with care so that they can continue to spread their wings.

The equine world is a competitive one, and it’s easy to get caught up in comparisons to your peers, whether you intend to or not. That isn’t a healthy approach to success of any measure. The one thing you can control is the intensity with which you are willing to work, and that is what you can stay true to. Throughout my career, I’ve learned that hard work is without match when it comes to building a reputation for yourself as a professional. Work ethic and your willingness to continue your education are two things that are recipes for success. Remain a student of the sport, so that your contributions can not only grow your own career but also help others in theirs.

I am really excited to be starting a journey to find my next partner, and I couldn’t do any of this without the village of people behind me — and you can be a part of the journey, too! To learn more about my riding history, my business, my commitment to the sport, and my plans for the future, I’d love to speak with you. You can email me at [email protected]