From a cookie skillet at Malone’s in Kentucky to crossing an Olympic gold medal off her bucket list...
...we find out what motivates, inspires and excites U.S. show-jumper and FEI Longines Rising Star Award winner Reed Kessler.
In 2012 she was the youngest equestrian athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, at just 18 years of age.
You can vote for your favourite inspirational athlete, groom or Rising Star just like Reed here, over at www.feiawards.com
Hi Reed, so what's your earliest memory of riding?
My earliest memory of riding is of my mom tying my stuffed animals to trees that I would steer my pony ShaSha towards to retrieve. My first ride was when I was just six months old – my parents held me in a basket on my pony… I could ride before I could walk!
Did you watch your parents or other relatives compete over the years when you were a child? What was that like?
Yes, my parents have been riding for 40 years and I grew up taking care of my pony with my mom in the backyard. I was already competing before I even knew what I was watching – my parents took me with them to their competitions to do the lead-line classes.
What drew you to jumping?
I always only wanted to jump. Same as my parents! It’s the adrenaline rush you get from show-jumping that makes me love it.
How would you describe your relationship with your horses to a non-rider?
I imagine that it would be similar to having a twin. You know each other so well you can complete each other's sentences!
Describe the feeling of Jumping, especially during a competition?
It's hard to describe because your adrenaline takes over in the ring. Finishing a great round in front of a big crowd is an amazing feeling. It doesn’t feel like anything in particular really – focus takes over and I’m only really conscious of it after I’m finished.
What is your fondest competition memory from childhood?
I think pony hunt teams at the Devon Show when the pony divisions got to do a class for fun. Teams of three picked a theme and dressed up and jumped a course all at the same time. One year we were The Incredibles, and another, we dressed up as characters from the musical Wicked. Dressing up was good fun!