While many 18-year-olds are dreading the end of their high school career, Emily Moffitt is focused on her goal of competing in the 2020 Olympics. This talented young rider has exploded onto the scene of the upper levels and is riding alongside some of the best of the best of Europe. JN caught up with this ambitious young rider to see what sparked her passion for the sport of Show Jumping.
An Immediate Connection
Emily Moffitt fell in love with riding as an eight-year-old after spending a summer at her grandfather’s livery yard in England. “I have always been an animal person,” says Emily, “but there was something special about the horses for me.” She began riding for fun, jumping small pony classes and riding in the 1.20 classes with her two horses at home in America.
Unlike many riders who have to work themselves up to the thrill and speed of show jumping Emily skipped the hunters and equitation divisions and headed straight for the sport that got her blood pumping. “I loved going as fast as possible with my pony, Tina,” she said, explaining her love for the speed classes. It was just three years ago when Emily had the opportunity to watch the Chantilly GCT Grand Prix and she set her heart on riding at the top level.
With that goal in mind, she opted to defer college for a year upon graduating high school and began training with Ben Maher. “Ben is a great fit for me,” Emily tells JN. “He is just as competitive as I am which makes everything much more fun!”
In 2016, she was invited to participate in the debut of the Global Champions League and was the U25 team member of Valkenswaard United – a dream oppportunity for a young rider to get some team experience and consistently compete against the best in the world. Not only was Emily holding her own, but her contributions led to a season championship for United in the inaugural year. Her success guaranteed another year on the GCT, but also another season on the road.
“I try to go back home to Vegas in between my Wellington and European season every year. My family and I will be moving to California within the next few months, but I don’t really consider anywhere home because I travel so much for riding.”
On Being Bold and Brave
When asked how it feels to compete with and among some of the top talent in the industry at such a young age, Emily admitted that initially she had some concerns, but soon learned the ebb and flow of competition from those around her.
“At first I felt a little bit more pressure because all of the riders are so amazing and so much further in their career than I was. If I ever made a mistake or didn’t have a great round, I would worry about what everyone else thought. I soon learned that the top riders are so understanding and a majority of them laugh about it with you and say it happens to everyone!”
One of Emily’s secret weapons is her ability to keep cool when it comes time to show. “I never get nervous as soon as I am in the entrance of the ring. I get anxious when I am warming up or I have a long time to wait. When I can feel myself getting nervous or anxious to get going, I try to take a few deep breaths and focus on my horse and only that.”
The hyper-focus and adrenaline rush required to succeed in show jumping seems to not only suit Emily’s interests and abilities, but to bring out the best in her. “I would say I am more of a daring and bold rider. I absolutely love jump-offs.”
This year, Emily is riding for the newly created GCL team the London Knights with Ben Maher, Kent Farrington, Eduardo Menezes, and Enrique Gonzalez. This diversified string of talent has already proven to be ones to beat on the tour, currently sitting in second place after three stops. Emily will make her Knights debut in the coming weeks now that the tour is headed to Europe.
While team success is a major goal for Emily this season, she also has some ambitious but attainable individual goals for 2017. “My goal for this year would be to win a 5* Grand Prix. I have achieved a lot in the past year, more than I could ever have imagined I would. I am fortunate enough to have a lot of top horses so I think this is definitely an achievable goal for me!”
Much to be Thankful For
Among that string of top horses is Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve, a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood who Emily first paired up with in April 2016. “We bought Hilfiger (Tommy) thinking he would just be a nice 1.50m horse and now he is my top Grand Prix horse! He has taken me around all of the bigger classes and shows that I have done.”
She also sees a big future for two others on her string: It’s Real Love VD Smis Z, a nine-year-old Zangerscheide mare, and Don Vito, a fiery nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood. While each horse is very different, Emily says they all share one thing in common: “All of my horses have really big personalities!”
Through all of this success and change in her life, Emily is thankful for the love and support that has surrounded her. “I would like to give a shout out to my dad. Without him I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today. A few years ago when I decided I wanted to ride competitively and get to the top of the sport, he did everything he could to make that happen.” Of course, we can’t forget her mother either who gives Emily just the right amount of tough love to help her remain successful and competitive. Also included in her team of supporters are her grandparents, who she says come to as many shows as they can.
Her team of grooms and riders at home is also vital to her program. She claims that without them and their tireless dedication to the horses, she wouldn’t be able to make any of this happen. And of course, she is very grateful to Ben Maher for helping her on the pursuit to reach her goals. “He has helped my riding tremendously. We get along incredibly well and he always knows what to say to get the best out of my riding.”
Emily pushes onward for bigger and better things out of her 2017 show season with her eyes set on the prize of landing a spot on the 2020 Olympic team. With a fantastic crew rallied around her to support her, an ideal coach in Ben Maher, a string of competitive horses, and her own drive to move forward, those dreams are on the right track to becoming a reality.