The Debrief with: Young Rider CCI1* Champion Scarlett Peinado

Scarlett Peinado & Shadow Inspector with Galway Downs organizer Robert Kellerhouse. Photo by Tina Fitch Photography.

Welcome to The Debrief, where we’ll recap the experience of a rider following a big result or an otherwise memorable competition.

Today, we’re catching up with Area V’s Scarlett Peinado, who journeyed all the way from Pennsylvania to California to contest the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships at Galway Downs. It would be a worthwhile journey for Scarlett and her 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Shadow Inspector (Tinarana’s Inspector – Caragh Roller, by High Roller), as they’d go on to win the individual title in the CCI1*-L division.

Describe your history with Chief:

I got Chief in March 2023, so we have only known each other for over 7 months. Our start was a little scratchy, and it took me a while to learn how to give him the best ride I can. He is the sweetest boy and we both love spending time with each other. After months of our partnership, we are at the point where I feel extremely confident with him and we both trust each other very much.

What prompted you to make the long trip out to CA for these Championships?

Since November 2021, it has been a big goal of mine to go to the Young Rider Championships. And due to the fact that who’s would be my last year to compete in the 1* as a Young Rider, so I knew that I couldn’t miss out on this year’s Young Rider Championships.

The trip to and home from Galway was not easy for us. We are currently located in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, so Chief had to fly to get to California.

Scarlett Peinado and Shadow Inspector. Photo by Avery Wallace/US Equestrian.

What was your number one goal for the Championships at Galway?

My number one goal for Galway was just to finish. Just getting the opportunity to show and participate in the Young Rider Championship was already more than enough to make me happy.

What did you practice the most in the weeks leading up to the event?

The one thing Chief and I worked on most was our pace and gallop work. In past shows, we have brought home lots of cross country time, so we made it a big goal to make sure Chief was as fit as possible and that I am able to get him up to 1* pace when cross country schooling.

I want to say a special good luck to this girl right here. She has been working her tail off since July to make it to…

Posted by Jimmie Holotik Schramm on Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Describe your feelings after finishing cross country in three words:

Adrenaline-rush, disbelief, and overjoyed.

What do you do after a big event? How do you “debrief” yourself after your rides?

After my rides, I love to go back and rewatch my videos over and over. I try to think to myself, ‘what could I work to improve for next time?’

What is the number one thing you learned about yourself that weekend? What about what you learned about your horse?

One big thing I learned about myself was how to manage stress. Most of my rides were at the end of the day, so sitting around waiting made my stress levels rise quickly. I had to learn to calm myself down, and remember to eat/drink water throughout the day. One thing I learned about my horse is what it takes to get him pumped up. Being in such a big atmosphere made my horse go from lazy/quiet to excited and alert very quickly.

What would you say has been the biggest thing you’ve overcome en route to having the result you did this weekend?

The biggest thing I have had to overcome is really getting my horse in front of my leg. In the past I’ve struggled with making time on cross country and keeping good energy in the dressage. But at Galway we were able to lay down a beautiful dressage and an amazing double clear cross country!

Scarlett Peinado and Shadow Inspector. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

How do you plan to spend your off season? What do you like to do when you’re not riding and competing all the time?

As a senior in high school, I spend my offseason mainly catching up and trying to get ahead with my school work.

What is a piece of advice you would give to yourself, 5 years ago, now?

One thing I would tell myself five years ago would be to not give up, and to trust the journey. Just keep working hard and it will all pay off eventually. I started riding a little over five years ago, and if you told me that in 2023 that I’d be running CCI1* and winning the 2023 YRC I would have thought you were crazy!

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