Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Katerina Garcia-Chope

 

 Rider Connect sponsor:
Bit of Britain has been a trusted source for quality horse tack and equestrian clothing since 1987.

Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Katerina Garcia-Chope

Today’s featured rider is Katerina Garcia-Chope, a junior rider who is working towards competing at the one-star level.

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

 

Get to know Katerina
My name is Katerina Garcia-Chope, I am 15-years-old, and I am from Westborough, Massachusetts. I do not have a job yet, but most of my time spent away from the barn is at Bancroft School, the high school I currently attend. The first time I sat on a horse I was 11 months old, and horses have been a part of my life ever since then, however, I started seriously taking lessons at 8-years-old. Currently, I compete at the Preliminary level of Eventing, with plans to represent Area 1 in the CCI1* at NAJYRC this upcoming year. Also, I hope to keep gaining mileage on my second ride who has previously gone one-star.

Katerina’s horse power
I currently have two horses competing, their names are Grey Street “Quinn” and Samba Dromo “Mo”. Quinn is a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse, who I have been riding now for almost four years. His owner Jessica Halliday, who is also my trainer, suggested the pairing after she had taken him up to Preliminary, and she decided he would be a great young rider horse. He has taught me so much more than I could have ever asked from him, and his patient nature makes him the perfect juniors horse, whose athleticism never ceases to impress me. I am currently taking Quinn preliminary, and we plan to make it to our first CCI1* next spring. My second horse Mo, is a new addition to the family, welcomed home in late March of 2018. He is a 9-year-old Oldenburg, who previously competed at young riders in 2017, but with his owner going off to college he was put up for sale. I was fortunate enough to be the first person to go see Mo in Ocala, as my trainer and I were keeping an eye out for horses that could take me beyond the one-star level after this year. Since then, Mo and I have established an amazing partnership, and we have recently just completed our fourth Training together and hope to move up soon!

Training
My horses are kept in Sutton, Massachusetts at my trainer’s barn, where I ride almost every day. I admit that during the school year (especially fall because I am also apart of my school’s varsity soccer team) that it is hard to make it to the barn every day, however, it gives the horses a nice break coming off the summer competitions. I try to have a jump lesson and a flat lesson on both my horses once a week, and on the days I free ride, I like to do conditioning, or work on my dressade. We are fortunate enough at Baile Hill Farm to have a 100+ acre farm across the street complete with hills, trails, and mowed paths, so trot and canter sets are very easy to get done. In the winter, we head down to Aiken, South Carolina, like many other eventers, to gear up the horses for the oncoming season away from the harsh New England winter.

 


 

Influence and inspiration
I am extremely lucky to have the most supportive parents and friends surrounding and supporting me constantly through my riding. My mom, who I consider to be my greatest role model, is a large animal vet at Tufts and competed with great success in the hunters and high-level jumpers. Her overall love for the horses, sport, and incredible horsemanship makes her one of a kind. Although I may get snippy at times as any teenager does, she knows just how to motivate and push me through all the challenges I face. My dad is also a large animal vet, specializing in orthopedic surgery at Tufts, and although he never rode, he grew up working at race tracks. He also is a huge supporter of my riding and is always making sure the boys are in tip-top condition. Jess Halliday, who I have trained with since I was around nine has been the greatest teacher, friend, and supporter I have ever known, and I am eternally grateful for all the time and effort she has put into making me the rider I am today. I simply could not have accomplished any of my eventing aspirations without her, as she has taught me everything I know about Eventing. Lastly, the amazing friends I have made through this sport not only make it more fun, but they have pushed me to be my best, and they have been there for me through all the highs and the lows. Without them, the impact this sport has had on me would be far different.

Most embarrassing Eventing moment
I have had many laughable moments in the ring, and out on course, but there is one moment in my mind that will always stick out to me as my most embarrassing moment. When I brought my hunter-turned-eventer pony to Groton House Farm for the summer horse trails, I was itchingly anxious about cross-country. Although it is my favourite phase, the technical course with maxed out jumps looked so daunting for my pony. But like most ponies, their little legs make for excellent springs, so it was less about if he could make it over everything, but if I could be his cheerleader the whole way through and give him confidence even when I was lacking it on course. With Quinn going first in the Novice (this was several years ago, so I competed both of them at Novice as I was just starting to ride Quinn) my parents tacked up my pony Westie for me. Now I have always been taught to check my tack before getting on, but the rush of coming off cross-country after going double clear round on Quinn was just exciting enough for me to forget about tack checks. Fast forward to halfway through my course, I have a feeling that I am moving a lot on Westie’s back, but in the midst of my adrenaline, I did not think much of it. On the landing side of a hanging log, I really felt myself move, and when I looked down, I saw no saddle pads underneath the saddle at all. I then realize that I did not check my tack and that my girth must have been loose enough for my pads to slip out from underneath me. At this point, we are three jumps from home, and Westie and I are not about to give up, so I tried to keep my body very quiet as to not disrupt the balance of the saddle. We ended up going double clear with a loose girth and a breastplate holding my saddle on, and although it makes for a good laugh now, it was a great lesson as to why you should always check your tack BEFORE getting on.

Most triumphant Eventing moment
My most triumphant Eventing moment may be from a few years back at the Waredaca long format event. A long format is when after dressage, you have to complete roads and tracks, steeplechase, another roads and tracks, and finally, cross-country. I remember being super excited but very anxious come stadium day, as I had gone double clear up to this moment. When I went into the ring, knowing I was placed fifth out of a huge open division, something just clicked and I experienced one of those moments we all dream about, where everything we have been working on at home is actually solved in the ring. When I left the ring after leaving all the rails up, the next two riders had faults, moving me up in the standings. I finished that day in third place, the highest placed young rider, and the points earned from my finish also bumped me up to third on the national leaderboard for junior Novice.

2018 milestones
2018 has been the best competition season of my life, with a successful move up on Quinn, and so so so much learned from Mo. I would say the best moment of my 2018 season would either be moving up at Groton House Horse Trials on one of the toughest cross-country tracks in Area 1 with Quinn, or the boys’ performance at GMHA. The boys put in some of their best work on the flat, followed by tear-jerkingly proud show jump rounds. Lastly, we were able to get it done finishing with cross country, only adding some time to Quinn’s score. Mo ended up winning his second Training, leading the division by five points after dressage, and Quinn placed second in the Preliminary. I cannot express how happy I was with every aspect of that weekend, so I think it is justified as the best moment of my 2018 season.

Best of luck next year Katerina!

 

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

Scroll for more top stories on Eventing Connect