I (along with Buck Davidson, Phillip Dutton, Craig Thompson, and Laura VanderVliet) am helping to start a really exciting new organization called The Professional Event Riders Organization (PRO). It is a new group that will hopefully reshape the future of eventing in this country. Please visit to find out more about it. We have just recently launched the website and are now in need of membership!!!! Join today!
I just recently answered a bunch of questions for the PR Group that we are working with. I think their questions and my answers are very insightful as to who I am and what I aspire to. I thought that everyone would enjoy reading what I had to say AND more importantly, make you understand the importance of this new group.

What horse changed your career?

This is a tough one as I feel that there have been a number of incredibly influential horses that have been important to my career. Arthur, one of my current advanced horses, is my first truly great horse. I think that he could be one of the greatest horses of all time. He is a gorgeous animal and an unbelievable athlete. He is not the easiest horse in the world and together we are both relatively green to the 4 star level of competition. I have dedicated and enormous amount of time and effort to educating myself on how to produce a horse like Arthur to his fullest potential — as this is still where I am green. This is the horse I have dreamed about going to the most prestigious competitions in the world on and bringing home medals!
Another important horse to my career was Bonfire — another horse that I produced to the advanced level of competition in the 1990s. He was the most challenging horse that I have ever trained. He was a super athlete, really hot, and a little (or a lot) crazy at times. He taught me so much about training horses, patience, and how important the partnership/relationship between horse and rider is in three day eventing. Without my experiences with Bonfire, I probably wouldn’t have known where to begin with Arthur.

> Can you tell us about your pre-competition routine and/or
> rituals?

For me to compete at my very best at competitions I have to feel prepared, relaxed and happy (as do my horses). For this reason, I am incredibly picky about the environment/atmosphere at the barn. I love my groom, Sarah Fitch. She has a fabulous personality and is just very easy to be around. She is an insanely hard worker and always does so with a smile on her face. I appreciate this and I know my horses do. The horses really pick up on the vibe in the barn — if the people are stressed out, they get stressed out. We ask an awful lot of these horses and I know they enjoy their jobs, because it doesn’t feel like work to them, it’s fun. So, the right people and the right preparation are crucial.
For me, my mental game is paramount. I make sure I take time to visualize my dressage test, my cross country round, my show jumping. I want to mentally memorize how to do everything right, this is so helpful for when I go out on course, I feel confident and prepared. Everybody gets nervous about something — be it a particular jump or the dressage test etc. It is our job to make the questions we ask of our horses easy for them (and ourselves). If there is a jump that I find challenging, I try to break it down into the components that are needed to make that jump easy for my horse: the approach to the fence, the speed I need, the balance I need, and the rhythm. If I visualize myself preparing correctly for the fence and successfully doing it a number of times, I know I have the answer and don’t feel nervous about it anymore.
My advanced horse Destination Known (aka Burger) also has a lucky camel statue. It travels with him to all his competitions. Ever since it was given to him as a good luck charm he has been enormously successful. I am not very superstitious, but I see no reason to not bring it along!
> What’s the best advice you have for riders hoping to
> compete at the
> professional ranks?

Never stop continuing your own education. There is always more to learn and to pass on. If you don’t feel like you have good mental game, WORK ON IT! Get a proper education first!!! There are SOME exceptions, but by and large, you can tell what pros didn’t finish school and how it affects their career. If you want to be a pro, it’s not just about training and riding well. It is also about properly running a business, developing and maintaining relationships (customers, owners, and sponsors). Having a fall back if needed. If it’s an option, seriously DON’T mess around with this! Also, for the girls, Waterproof Mascara, you’re gonna need it!
> If you could ride any animal other than a horse what would
> it be?

I saw an ostrich race on TV once, that might be cool to have a sit on one of those.

> What is your educational background?

Graduated Barrington High School in’93 Barrington IL
Graduated Bowdoin College in ’97 Brunswick ME
> If you could have a superpower what would it be?

I would like to be able to fly. That would be soooo cool!

> Last book read?

I am almost done with A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris — it’s a really good read. I really enjoyed The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (I read that last year and will read A thousand Splendid Suns soon). I have always enjoyed John Irving and LOVE a little “chick lit” every now and again!
> If you weren’t a professional event rider, what would
> you be?

Good question! There are a number of things I think I could be successful at. I was really fascinated by my Government and Legal Studies major at Bowdoin (my emphasis was International Relations)– I could definitely see myself in a political career.
I would be a great schoolteacher as well. I think it would be very cool to have a non-traditional learning type school. I went to Montessori when I was young and I loved it. I really enjoy teaching and helping people in the different ways that they might learn best.

> What famous person (living or deceased) would you most like
> to have a
> conversation with?

It would be very cool to have a conversation with Martin Luther King about where America is today.

> Which phase do you like most and why?

Cross country, cuz it’s sooooo damn fun!!!! I think my horses enjoy cross country best too. However, I think I’m best at dressage.

> When and why did you decide to turn professional?

Right after college. I had always had riding jobs throughout high school and college, I knew that horses was my God given talent, what I was best at, what brought me my greatest joy. I wasn’t allowed to take a horse to college my freshman year (I also wasn’t allowed to take a gap year between high school and college — this really disappointed me at the time, but probably one of the very best things I have ever done for myself). After college I began the interview process to work for the Governor of Maine at the time. It was a really exciting job which I would have enjoyed a ton and learned a lot. I also would be working insane hours and traveling quite a bit. Scheduling in horse competitions was going to be incredibly challenging. I had bought a horse in college that I wanted to take to Radnor and hopefully bring to the advanced level. He was a really nice horse and it was always my biggest life dream to go to the Olympics. I called up my parents and said, “This is what I am good at and this is my life goal. I am young and healthy — now is the time.” I knew with my incredible education I could always go back to something else, however, it was a real possibility that once I went down a different career path, I wouldn’t be able to come back to this. I really didn’t want to have any regrets.
It was tough getting started. It is an insane amount of hard work and hours. But for all the struggle, the good & the bad, I can honestly say that I look forward to everyday. I am blessed to have made my job out of what I love best.
It is a real kick to go to College alumni gatherings. I have friends with enormously successful careers and they are so excited about what I do. Even the people that “love” their job, mostly love it for what it provides, not because it is a part of their core.

> How did your family respond to your decision to ride horses
> professionally?
I am blessed with an incredible family. I think my dad was a little worried about it. I think he might have been hoping that I needed to do this for a while, to say I tried, and then go get a “real” job. There were enough conversations about it. I think he was never adamant about me getting a “real” job because he believed in me and knew what a determined and hard working individual I am. There were a number of stressful years getting to where I am today. They worry about finances all the time, but I think they know I will somehow always make it work!

> Which horsemen/horsewomen have been the most influential in
> your own
> development or career?

Karen and David O’Connor were the most influential people to my career as it is today. They are responsible for my move to the East coast. I had a good business in Illinois, but it wasn’t getting me closer to my competitive goals of competing Internationally and representing our country. It was a HUGE change from working for myself (and having people working for me) to working for someone else. It was my first real exposure to the ins and outs of a successful top-level three day event horse competition operation. I worked for them for about two years and I learned an ENORMOUS amount. Not just about riding and horses, but a lot about the business end of things — work environment, people, management, and organization etc. From that experience I established a lot of how I want to do things and how I don’t want to do things. I am so grateful to them for how much I learned.
Eric and Sheryl Williams have been hugely influential as well. They aren’t professional equestrians, they are successful business people. They really helped to use business models to show me how to focus my business in a way that would most support my competitive goals and keep me on track with that. This is what I think most professional event riders lack — a proper business plan. They have been soooooo amazing to me.


I have worked so incredibly hard to get to where I am today. I am 34, it has been my life goal to go to the Olympics since I was 6. I am on the cusp of seeing my dreams come to fruition. I am so excited to be at this point in my life, but I also have to admit to some disappointment as well. Since I have been a professional event rider, I have been blessed with the guidance of other Successful Pros, like the O’Connors, and non- horse Pros, like the Williams. In my Business Plan I have developed a Mission Statement, Goals and Objectives, and a Business Philosophy to make me the Pro I want to be. Unfortunately, Three Day Eventing in this country doesn’t provide what I need to be the pro that I want to be. There is a huge void between what the USEA has to offer (and it has done an incredible job with what is does offer) and being on a USET squad. We have very little prize money, few spectators, very few corporate sponsors, and very little media coverage… YET we have one of the most exciting and thrilling sports of all time!!! How can this be???? It became very clear that no one was going to make these changes for us. If we want to see these improvements for our sport, we the riders have to make them happen! When I was asked to come on board to this exciting new organization, I did so happily. I recognize the importance of this organization; this is our only chance to shape the future of our sport into what we need it to be. I have talked to countless event riders at every level (pro and non-pro) that agree that this organization is needed not only because it will help to make improvements in the areas I mentioned above, but its success will improve eventing at every level in this country (for pros and non pros alike). PRO’s success will also be an enormous and much needed aid to our organizers (who spend so much of their own money and often times end up in the hole) to put on the best possible event they can by improving their levels of sponsors, spectators, prize money and talent. By helping the organizers in these ways we will see the reduction in entry fees that have become unaffordable for many eventing enthusiasts. NOW it is time for everyone to come on board! JOIN PRO TODAY!!!! PLEASE VISIT PROFESSIONALRIDERS.ORG