June 2017 - Eye on Eventing
Written by Lauren Billys
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 06:18

Bridging the Gap: Different dreams have equal importance to every rider.

I began teaching riding lessons while in college. After class and on weekends, I would spend extra hours working for the local pony club and riding horses for people. As this small commitment gained momentum and a few years passed, here I am working in the equine field and loving it. Growing as a young professional in the equestrian industry has had its growing pains along the way, and I guarantee I will continue to learn. Learning how to tailor every program to each rider has been a key to finding success.


Columnist Lauren Billys contested the 2016 Olympics in Rio, on behalf of Puerto Rico, and has written about that remarkable experience for us since early 2016. She continues to compete and is accepting students and horses at Lauren Billys Eventing on the Monterey Peninsula. Visit www.laurenbillys.com for more info.

As many professionals come into this industry seeking their own dreams to ride on an international stage, many of our clients have different dreams. On a daily basis in my own riding, I am motivated by competing at another Games and forging stronger bonds with my horses. I have come to recognize that this motivation is personal to my dreams, and often is a bigger goal than most all my clients have. It has been vital to find the goals of each horse and rider at the barn by asking myself and them, “What does your ‘Olympic dream’ look like?”

There is a varying degree of what people would like to achieve in their riding. These achievements help mold each individual riding program into specific training rides and lesson plans. For example, I may have a personal dream to jump 1.30-meter jumps and gallop 570 meters per minute on cross-country. But, I also may have a student who would like to compete Beginner Novice successfully. Because of this, I may only school my student’s horse over smaller fences and teach it to carry an easy hand galloping rhythm. Training a horse for a specific job that is aligned with their rider’s needs is a true balancing act. I find teaching a horse to do this specific job is all about basics.

When training these horses and riders, I have learned so much that has helped my own personal riding. Watching these pairs daily has opened my eyes to the natural instincts horses have and the science behind training horses to be their best. Just as we must know what each rider’s goals are, I find it equally important to assess what each horse is capable of. Just like every rider may not want to go four-star eventing, likewise not all horses are made to go to the top level. As a trainer, I work to help these horses become their personal best.

Lastly, matching a rider’s goals with a horse’s potential is necessary to building a successful training program. It is a true balancing act between the rider and the horse. We, as professionals, must be able to put aside our personal goals to best understand each pair’s dreams and be able to assist them in reaching these dreams. So whether it is riding in a freestyle dressage test, doing a Beginner Novice event, or going to a clinic, I have found that I can be the same emotional and excited support on the other side of the fence.