Ahead of Tamie Smith‘s first-ever East coast clinic, which is set to take place on March 28, 29, and 30 at Stable View in Aiken, SC., the organizers sat down for a coffee-break chat with the Tokyo reserve and globe-trotting superstar to get to know what makes her tick. Want to nab your spot and learn from one of the best ahead of her busy spring five-star campaigns at Kentucky and Badminton? Sign up here!
Do you remember the moment you decided to commit to riding full time?
I never intended to become a professional. It wasn’t until after I had my son, who is in high school now, that I considered it and I’m very happy I did.
You have said that to better understand the horse, you have to think like a horse…with that in mind, what do you see as the fundamental things riders fail to observe about their horse(s) that will get them that much further with their equine partner(s)?
Horses do not think and reason like humans, so my best advice is to read books, watch YouTube videos, or clinic with someone who provides an understanding in this area. But also, so often when we get on our horses we just stop thinking altogether. We freeze and react instead of being proactive.
What advice do you have for young riders who want to run their own competition barn as a business?
I feel that getting an education and a job that requires you to clock in is your first step to building a better foundation as a business owner. Learning to communicate over the phone and face to face is key. It is also essential to understand how to be hard working, have integrity and patience. Like with any business, it takes time to develop a good reputation and it takes one wrong thing to destroy it, so be wise and thoughtful.
Who do you turn to for advice, for anything from horse care to mental preparedness?
I have several people that I lean on to help me through these things. Like with any athlete, it takes a village.
Do you recommend any books or podcast or websites or videos that you have found helpful?
YouTube is a super tool to search for riders who are great for learning. There are several books I love about mental toughness; Relentless by Tim Grover is a great one. I will say mental preparation to me is one of the most important factors to success.
Being on the West Coast, what differences or distinctions (or similarities!) do you observe with training or competing on the East Coast?
Training is always the same … it is a system, no matter where you are in the world.
Mostly, here in the U.S., I see a variety of approaches to training but not necessarily a system in place. I think our country is working on developing a more standardized system like what the Germans have developed. I recently wrote a blog about this for Noelle Floyd.
As far as venues and footing, the places that we event in California are very different than the East Coast. We are lucky to have manicured tracks for galloping, and the venues would be a variety of properties, which is nice to have.
You have also said that lack of patience gets in our way of training progression … How do you teach patience to riders?
Riding can’t be emotional, and it has to always be rewarding for the horse. This is why thinking like a horse is so important.
You travel often to compete … Where is your favorite destination and why? Is there a place you have not yet been that you’d like to visit?
I am very fortunate that I’ve been able to travel all over to compete. I have several favorite places but generally competing at high level events with world class riding is so amazing.
What do you like to do in your “free” time?
The off-season these days is typically the only time I have to do any extracurricular activities. I love snow skiing. I really enjoy going to my son’s basketball games and luckily his season is during my off-season. If I actually have any free time I typically fill it up with teaching clinics.
This is your first clinic ever on the East Coast … What are you most looking forward to?
It’s always great meeting new people and sharing my experience with everyone.