Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Leila Saxe

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Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Leila Saxe

Today’s featured rider is Leila Saxe, a 15-year-old Junior rider from Atlanta Georgia. Leila will be representing Area III at the North American Junior Championships at Rebecca Farms in Montanna this weekend.  

If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me.


Get to know Leila
I started Eventing three years ago on a grey warmblood named Graffiti. After my first event, I was hooked on Eventing. Once I got to training level, it became clear to my trainer that this was likely the highest level that this horse was capable of. I happened to be training at Buck Davidson’s farm in Florida and my trainer suggested that I try Mr Bojangles which is my current horse. He was the first horse I tried and he was perfect. I was in love with him from the first ride. I was 12 and Bo was seven. I started competing Bo at the Beginner Novice Level. I started riding with Kyle when I was 14. Bo and I completed our first CCI1* at the Jockey Club in November 2017 and I qualified to go to North American Junior Championships. Since riding with Kyle, I have definitely become more competitive. I love my lessons and training with Kyle. Under his guidance, I know I have grown as a rider and a horse person in general. Since Kyle is based in Florida, I moved away from my parents in Atlanta. We bought a house in Florida right beside Kyle and I live there with my full-time nanny. My parents visit on the weekends or I fly back to Atlanta. I attend a school in Atlanta that allows me to complete my studies online. It is sometimes a challenge to balance riding and schoolwork but I have managed to maintain a 3.6 GPA.  I am so lucky to be able to have excellent training and a fantastic school to pursue my dreams.

Tell us about your horses
I currently compete two horses.

  1. Mr Bojangles is a 10-year-old Thorougbred that I bought from Buck Davidson. He competed the horse to the one-star level. Bo is impressive and I love every ride on him. He is a pro in every phase!
  2. Quasar is an 11-year-old Oldenberg that also came from Buck Davidson. I have competed him to the CCI* level. He was competed up to the three-star level with Buck. He is a cross-country machine and very fun to ride. He knows his job and loves it.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration?
The person who most influenced my passion and love for Eventing was Caroline Martin. When I tried out Bo at Buck Davidson’s farm, Caroline was training there also. I tried Bo out for three weeks before I bought him. My trainer pointed her out to me and filled me in on her age and success. I started watching her ride and began to follow her at shows and online. She is an amazing rider and I am working hard to hopefully someday be as good as her.

The person at the moment that has the most significant influence on my riding is Kyle. Kyle is a great trainer and fun person to be around. He knows when to push me as a rider, but he also balances that with fun too. I have learned so much in the months that I have been training with him.

My parents have also been a significant influence on me. I am so grateful that they are supportive of my riding and have made it possible for me to train in Florida. I miss them during the week, but they both are always right there when I text or phone when I am lonely. They never miss a show and I am so lucky that they are there when things are going right, and they always help me when things go wrong. I could not do what I am doing without them. They work hard to give me a great life and it makes me want to work hard to make them proud.

Most embarrassing moment
Well, I have two embarrassing moments that come to mind.

Once I got called into the TD’s office for cussing on course. I was coming to a jump and people were in the way. I started yelling heads up, heads up and I was trying to steer Bo between the group of people and the rope to get to the jump. Bo began spooking and unfortunately, I said a word out loud that I should have only been uttering in my mind!!! Apparently, the people that were in my way told the TD on me.

At one of my first horse shows at beginner novice, I was riding Grafitti and I failed to tighten the girth enough. When I was on course, the saddle started to fall to the side and I had to get off or else I would have hit the dirt. I was so flustered I started crying because I did not know what to do. A TD came over to help fix my saddle and told me that I could continue. I did not realize that the time was still ticking when I dismounted. At previous shows, I was too fast, so I assumed that I would be quick at this show so I circled before the finish flags to avoid time penalties. I ended up coming in over seven minutes. Many lessons learned!

Most triumphant moment
I always feel triumphant when I get the Blue Ribbon award. I have managed to get one every year since 2014. They always make me feel like I am making progress. But looking back, I have to say that competing my first CCI* when I was fourteen and placing 26th out of 93 riders definitely was a high point. Getting named to the Area III NAJC team is my most recent triumph. I have also had some great lessons with Kyle and riding improvements and sometimes those moments are as significant to me as ribbons as I know what is required to have excellent results.

Long-term, if my training continues to progress, I am hoping to compete at the Intermediate level next year as I will old enough as you have to be 16. This weekend, I am hoping to have a competitive run at Rebecca Farm. I am really excited to make the journey and compete at a new event. Montanna is incredible!!!. I am so fortunate to be able to be part of the Area III team to compete here.

To keep up with Leila’s adventures, follow her:

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