In 2010 she capped off her extremely successful junior career by winning the CET Finals at the Royal Winter Fair; and in her first year showing as a professional she stepped into the ring on Augustin Walch’s horses, campaigning among others the stallion Cabardino in the combined hunters. In 2012, Rachel will focus on developing her young horses, the four-year-old Zangersheide gelding Daedalos Z and five-yearold gelding Cardoso, both imported from Belgium earlier this year.
Tell us about your first horse or pony.
The first pony I ever had was Peanuts, an 11-hand bay Shetland pony. He was the most perfect pony in the world and took complete care of me. When I was four, my mom used to plop me on him and leave me in the arena for 20 minutes – he would walk, trot, and canter with me flopping around on his back and never put a foot wrong.
Is there someone you consider your mentor?
My coach, Hyde Moffat, is an extremely talented rider and trainer; he works very hard for everything he gets. One of the things I’ve learned from him is how to properly flat a horse and use that flatwork as an essential part of every ride. I can now use flatwork to improve and finesse things like adjustability, suppleness, and responsiveness in my horses – all things that come into play over fences.
What is your favourite show venue, and why?
The Kentucky Horse Park is just so beautiful. There are great rings, great stabling, great footing, and an awesome grand prix ring. The whole facility is very exhibitor-friendly, has a great atmosphere, and is an extremely nice place to show. I’ve been there a few times, for Young Riders and the Maclay regionals.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Competing at Young Riders was very important for me. I competed there three years in a row (2008, 2009, 2010) on the Junior team with my horse, Magic Jumper. We won team silver in ‘08 and team bronze in ‘09. I had set that as a goal when I was younger and it was amazing to be able to accomplish it. The tracks at Young Riders were a lot bigger than the 1.40m classes I was used to jumping at Palgrave! After the course walk the first year I went (as a 15-year-old), I remember looking at the jumps and how big and wide they were; and when I got out of the ring I walked up to my mom and told her I didn’t know if I was going to survive or not. It was a really prestigious event and an extremely exciting moment in my life and meant as much to me as winning the CET Finals.
What’s the hardest part of entering the professional ranks?
Putting in hunter rounds that are even comparable to any of the other professionals, or being even close to as efficient as they are in the jump offs. It’s such a huge step up from showing in the juniors/ams, and they rarely ever make any mistakes. The hardest part is not getting down on myself when I don’t receive the results I expected, or was used to. It has really pushed me to work harder and improve my riding as I compete against so many phenomenal riders.
What do you consider to be your biggest weakness related to training or showing?
I am a little bit of a perfectionist. I really like things to be exactly right and tend to dwell on certain things that I didn’t do properly. I can be very hard on myself and I constantly think, ‘what if I had done that differently?’
Which horse has had the greatest impact on you?
Magic Jumper, who is a 12-year-old Selle Francais/ Thoroughbred. Together we won the CET Medal Finals, competed at Young Riders three years in a row, and also competed at the Royal Winter Fair three years in a row. He is for sale this year, mainly because I would like to get something I can do the grand prixs on, and he’s more of a 1.40m horse or perfect equitation partner. He has taught me more than any horse I’ve sat on and has never, ever, let me down. He helped me accomplish so many of the goals that I set when I was younger and has been the best horse I have ever owned. I hope that whoever gets the honour of owning him later on really understands how lucky they are.
If you could ride anyone else’s horse in the world, who would you choose and why?
I would have to say Cumano [Jos Lansink’s 2006 World Equestrian Games gold medal partner]. I fell in love with that horse the first time I saw him set foot in the ring. He seems like the type of horse that I would sit on and not ever want to get off. He’s amazing, I would kill to ride him once!
Do you have any pre-class good luck charms or superstitions that you swear by?
I always touch the back of my helmet when I’m walking into the ring. In the past it was because I had too much hair and had to fix my helmet, and then it sort of became this superstition. It’s gotten to the point that I think if I don’t do it, I won’t do well or something. I’m a little crazy with superstitions actually; at the CET Finals I wore the same socks after I did well the first day.
Where do you see yourself in ten years in regards to horses?
Hopefully still doing what I’m doing now – riding for a living and teaching on the side, but I would also love to be competing in some grand prixs. I’m currently studying business management at Conestoga College; it’s a challenge to juggle riding and school at the moment, but I thought it was important to have a degree to fall back on and I think it will help manage my business with horses. I am really proud of the things that I have accomplished to date, but now as I get older I have set new goals for myself and I am quite determined to achieve them. This is what I love to do, and I am extremely excited for the future and to see where riding takes me.