When did competing with horses first become a part of your life?
I started riding on Long Island where I grew up when I was very young, my mom rode as a junior so it was in my blood. I started going down to Florida to show when I was 13, and just really caught the bug from there. I started doing the jumpers when I was about 14 and stopped doing the equitation and the hunters then. I started dating Andrew when I went to college and we trained separately for a while. I still rode with Jeffery [Welles] when I met Andrew [Welles] in college but then a year into being an amateur, I started having him [Andrew] help me and we ended up clicking really well together. Fast forward almost 10 years, we're still doing it together!
What’s it like working and riding alongside your husband Andrew?
It’s a lot of fun and unique that we are able to do this together. Since Andrew is a professional, he runs the business and the training, and does a lot of the riding. As an amateur, I'm fairly limited to what I can do, I'll show my own horses when I have them and Andrew likes to have me there in the schooling area with him for the bigger classes as a sort of the voice inside his head when he needs it.
How has motherhood changed your riding and life at the barn?
I worked, literally, until the day that I had her. I had this preconceived notion in my mind that I'd be able to just have the baby and go right back at it the way I had been doing it before, and I was humbled with a dose of reality. It's a huge life change. I'm still very much involved but she now comes first. I'll maybe come out to the barn a little bit later and spend more time with her in the morning. And she'll come out to the barn most days while we're working or while I'm doing administrative stuff. I'm spending maybe less time working at the barn and a little bit more at home with her, but we're finding our groove with it now. It's a balance.
What is the most important thing when it comes to your riding clothes?
Definitely comfort and fit! For me the two go hand-in-hand. I'm 5' 4" with long legs, which is sort of an oxymoron, so finding riding clothes that are both comfortable and flattering has always proven to be a challenge. And I have to say, with Free x Rein, I tried on the Elite Bodysuit and Hunt Pant for the first time the other night and I've never had clothes actually fit me so well. There's no comparison, not having to worry about the shirt coming out in a jump-off or having breeches that are the right rise and thickness. I love that the [Hunt] whites are thicker and not see-through. I can never get my shirts to stay tucked into my pants and The Elite is bloused just the right amount, it’s tailored perfectly. I'm really looking forward to having that in the show ring. We spend so much time in our riding clothes, especially as a riding family, and having an ensemble that works from barn to beyond is key.
We have a lot of readers that are both in and outside the horse world, what can you tell our readers about making the horses, and being an equestrian your life’s work?
I think there's an easy misconception that riding is a very prissy and pretentious sport. However, the main reason most of us, if not all of us, ride full time is the love of the animal and the passion for the competition and the all-encompassing equestrian world. And luckily for us [Andrew and I], it's become something that we can make sustainable and that we're able to enjoy it that way.