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Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Hayley Smith
Today’s featured rider is Hayley Smith, a professional rider who is working her way up the Eventing levels.
If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me.
Get to know Hayley
I just turned 24, and I am the barn manager/groom of event barn “CDP Stables,” which is owned by Charlie Plumb. I’m originally from Sanford, NC, and have been riding since I was 4-years-old. I am currently riding at Training level and I have big plans for the future! I would love to become a four-star rider one day and have upper-level aspirations.
Hayley’s horse power
I am lucky enough to have three competition horses right now, two of which I own personally and one who my client owns. SHEC Wellington is my Training level horse, who is owned by my good friend and client, Camilla Vance. “Wellie” has been with me for about three and a half years and has come such a long way! He is a New Forest Pony/Oldenburg and is 13 this year. He was a former dressage horse, and the first time I rode him I was surprised at what a powerful jump he had! Camilla gave me the reins and we haven’t looked back. He’s learned so quickly and has been the best partner. He tries every time he steps in the ring and as a rider, you so appreciate that.
I purchased my second horse, “The Composer”, aka Joey almost two years ago. He is definitely my more challenging ride but also one of the most talented! He is a 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood and is a bit like Baby Huey. He has an opinion about most things and he is quite the diva. He loves being pampered and is learning the ways of being an event horse. He is one of the best jumpers I have sat on and the talent that is still untapped is why he is still with me!
Srilanka Oak, aka Cass was just recently purchased and syndicated by myself in January. He is a 7-year-old, Irish Sport Horse gelding and is so catlike and athletic. I didn’t picture myself on something as petite as he is when I went to purchase in Ireland but he is like driving a Ferrari! He is nimble and like most Irish horses, also opinionated! I’m developing my partnership with him bit by bit and he is a serious event horse. I can’t wait to see what the future brings for him! I am working hard to learn how to ride him!
I currently train with Charlie Plumb, Susan Beebee, John Zopatti, and Mike Plumb. With multiple horses, it is wonderful to be surrounded with so many professionals who can help in different ways! We currently have 19 training horses in at Charlie’s farm now, so getting my boys done every day can get tricky sometimes. I’m very lucky to have Charlie help with them- if I don’t have time to get everyone he will ride them or help me make time. I could not get everything done without him and Susan’s help! We mainly show through the spring season and into the summer, then take a little time off over the summer while it’s miserable hot! Same in the winter, we will show until about October and then have a bit of a break, which I think is great for the horses.
Influence and inspiration
My father, Lloyd Smith has made so many sacrifices for both my sister and me so that we could have a chance to ride. We were not a wealthy family growing up and riding lessons were not in the budget at all. My dad worked two jobs sometimes so that we could have lessons and eventually a horse of our own. He grew up riding and showing and always encouraged us to follow our passion. He never misses a horse show to this day, and always helps me wherever he can whether being a sounding board for my ideas or waiting for me at the finish flags. He really has taught me that if I work hard enough, I can get where I want to be! My coach, trainer and friend, Charlie Plumb has also been a huge part of my life. He encourages me every day to pursue my goals and has the patience with me needed when I’m having a tough time on a horse. He would give you the shirt off his back, and he’s always made time for me no matter what. I’m so thankful to have found a home at such a great barn!
Most embarrassing Eventing moment
This happened just recently… I was running a bit late to the start box on my second horse because I took a little more time than I thought to warm-up my first horse. In a rush, I go to trot over – only to be dropped head first over his head, flat on my back as he dropped his shoulder, and spun! I’ve never fallen off so fast, complete with a loud grunt and a feeble attempt to catch Cass as he looked down at me. Stuck in my air vest and body protector, I needed help getting up and it was pretty mortifying! All I could do was laugh, I looked like an overturned beetle.
Most triumphant Eventing moment
My most triumphant moment in my career so far I think was on my old one-star horse, Benwald. I had no clue what I was doing and had the privilege to ride Ben, who was a seasoned three-star horse. It was my last Preliminary before I would retire him, and I had a couple of rocky moments with him the show previous to this one, so I was pretty nervous. I managed to convince Charlie that this was the last show, I would ride better, etc etc. It turned out to be the holy grail of Preliminary with a lot of Intermediate questions… Needless to say, I was really worried when half my division had been eliminated before I went! I was particularly worried about an angled brush to angled brush, definite three strides. People who got two strides fell, people who got three and a half fell. I needed to get three. Charlie walked with me and talked me through how to ride. I watched two riders fall, and was quite certain I would be meeting the same fate! Clayton Fredericks came through and like magic, squared his turn, waited for his line, and rode like a madman for the three, which he got beautifully. On course, I imitated as much as I could and nailed it! It was the most fun I’ve ever had on cross-country and I will never forget how elated I was to have finished on top and prove to myself I could do it. We finished 6th out of a huge division on a double clear cross-country.
I think so far for 2017, jumping a double clear with Wellie at the Carolina International. It’s such a great show and to get to ride with some of the best riders on the East Coast is amazing. He held his own all weekend and it’s such a great feeling when things go right!
Best of luck this season Hayley!
If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me