Tuesday, February 7, 2012
A Transition from Young Rider to Professional by Lauren Lambert
August 2011, a turning point- I rang up my boss on the way to an event and told him it was time for me to make my way home and get back into eventing full force. I was done being a working student, it was time for me to go my own way.
The previous year, as I was grinding away at the show jumping in Derek and Gwen Braun's pristine arena in Lexington, getting Baba Creek ready for the Young Riders Championship, he asked me for a third time what I did in the winter. He finally got to the point and asked if I would be willing to take a riding/working student position with them in Wellington for the winter. They would be leaving the end of November. I told him I would think about it, and asked him to email details.
Well, Young Riders came, and going into show jumping in 1st and finishing in 6th pushed me over the edge-I replied to the email as soon as I was back to the barns and told Derek I would take the position. I did my time as a young rider, working for many great top professionals in eventing, and ten months in a show barn. Being in Wellington, I was quite isolated from the eventing world, (besides discovering Marcia Kulak at the opposite end of my street!), but it couldn't have come at a better time- the year I would transition from young rider to an adult. I was in a different world, having a the chance to polish my riding and improve my weakest links. Watching the best every day at WEF on all types of horse flesh, walking courses, riding all types of warmbloods everyday; learning how the best ride a show jumping track. Thinking back, Kent Farrington is probably the rider I learned the most from by simply observing the way he operates. He has a plan, he goes into that arena with such focus he nearly looks possessed, and he executes his plan to a T. I wouldn't trade my experiences working in a hunter/ jumper barn for anything, but quite frankly, it only made me love and appreciate eventing all the more. Eventers may be a bit rough around the edges, but it's so awe-inspiring to see the relationship event riders have with their horses, they are more than just a commodity to us, they are our partners and our comrades.
September 1st of 2011, I returned to my family farm in the beautiful Goshen, KY to begin planning a big winter in business with Mother Martha. It is finally time for me to step away from the working student roll, and begin to fill the shoes of 'professional rider'. We arrived in Ocala December 31st. I have five amazing horses to compete this winter, and staying true to my roots, all five are Kentucky bred Thoroughbreds which Mom, or I, have developed from scrappy race horses to eventing machines! There's Sally Abell's Honour Mission, who's tricky on the flat and one freak of a good jumper- this horse has all the talent and scope I could ask for in a Thoroughbred. Then there's Fine With Me, affectionately known as Frank, who belongs to my Aunt, Margie Darling. Margie rode Frank with Buck in a clinic last fall, and if Buck told me once, he told me a million times to be very nice to my Aunt Margie.... Love you Auntie!! I have a redhead named Lil' Birnie, whom Mom found in a field in Lexington over the summer. When I returned home in September and sat on the horse, I informed her we wouldn't be selling him any time soon, as he has some serious raw talent and is one good looking beast. Then there's the snarky little Opera Ghost, who came from my good friend and amazing horsewoman, Ann Banks, as a three year old. He is finally 6 and ready to play like a big boy. This little thing is so much fun! He won the Blue and a lovely exotic African bull's foot trophy at the inaugural Longwood Horse Trials (seriously great show!). And finally, the cross-country maniac, Baba Creek (Miles), had a minor injury last fall. He's down here getting back into the swing. This horse is such a ball of nerves he's really a nightmare to get going every year, but that's Miles. We've been together since I was 15, and a horse that takes a young rider around three CCI ***'s without a single xc penalty (and always very quick), all I can do is accept and love him for who he is. This horse owes me nothing, he has given me a taste of the big time, and has kept me safe through it all. I'll have him back in action this spring, and we'll see what he wants to do- it's quite likely he will just want to run and jump. Perhaps I'll be able to coax him into doing the other two ' things' respectfully.
So, I'm feeling pretty lucky to be down here in sunny Florida with horses I love, and involved with the people who love these horses. Walking back to the trailer after the first competition of the year, a friendly stranger informed me how happy I looked. I replied 'I am happy, I am in the sunshine riding and competing these amazing horses, and it's my job!'. Even when things get rough, it's the horses that keep us going, and the drive to be better riders and horsemen which keeps us coming back day after day.
I am excited and honored to be doing this blog through the Profressional Riders Organization, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more throughout the year!
Photo credit: Allie Conrad