The first time Gabriela Reutter trotted a horse, she was in tears. Now this 21-year-old amateur spends all of her time in the saddle doing whatever it takes to make her show jumping dreams a reality. JN has the scoop on Gabriela’s WEF accomplishments and what she has in store for the future.
A Rocky Start
Unlike many riders, Gabriela didn’t have the dreamiest of starts to her riding career. Born and raised in Chile, Gabriela got her first taste of horses at just four years old. “We used to have a house at the beach in Chile in Cachagua. Near my house there was a large polo club and I would always ask to stop and pet the horses. My mom realized that the polo club also offered riding classes in a small dirt ring that was lined with truck tires,” Gabriela shared.
“She signed me up to try a beginners riding class. The first time I trotted, I started crying and I told my mom I was scared and that I didn’t want to go back. But, she insisted I went and I haven’t stopped riding ever since.” As Gabriela improved, it became apparent to her instructors that she should pursue this passion competitively. After trying a few different facilities, Gabriela found her perfect fit at Universidad Católica when she was eight years old.
In 2013, Gabriela began training with Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Chris Kappler, who is based out of New Jersey at Va Pensiero (formerly known as George Morris’s Hunterdon Farms). Just a couple years after starting her career under Chris’s tutelage, Gabriela decided that in order to pursue her dream on a more competitive scale, she needed to make some big changes. The Chilean native packed up and moved to the United States where she now studies economics and business at New York University.
She doesn’t stay put in one place for too long, however. “I move around all year but I usually spend most of my time in New York and Wellington,” she shared. This ambitious young amateur has not only competed nationally, but also internationally in the Junior South American Games, Europe, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada.
One Horse with Froggy Insticts and One With Childlike Tendencies
With two stellar mounts, Gabriela has been taking Florida by storm. With consistent placings at both WEF and the Palm Beach Masters series, Gabriela and her two mounts Biallon and Atticus Diamant have held their own against some of the biggest names in show jumping.
Watch Gabriela execute a beautiful round at Old Salem Farm aboard Biallon.
Gabriela paired up with the 12 year old Dutch Warmblood mare, Biallon, at the end of WEF 2017. “She is a superstar. The first week we showed we won the Low Amateur Classic and got Reserve Champions of the week,” she said. “I call her Frogger because of the way she jumps; it’s weird but effective!” “Bailey” and Gabriela came in 5th out of over 60 riders in the Palm Beach Masters Open 1.35m class, along with many other top finishes at WEF.
Despite having added Atticus Diamant to the family in November, she only just took over the ride on him in January because of her studies. The nine year old Selle Francais gelding is what Gabriela would describe as a gentle giant. “He is over 17 hands tall, but he has no idea how tall he is. He is super cute and sweet. Monty loves sticking his head out his windows and if no one pays attention to him in a long time he will start playing with his coolers until they fall on the floor. He is like a child; he does really silly things and looks innocent all the time. I feel super safe on him.”
During Week 7 of WEF, the duo brought home a first, a second, and wrapped the weekend up as Division Champions. “I couldn’t have been happier. It was my first week doing the Highs with Monty. He is one of a kind and we have clicked so well. I had never moved up so fast with a new horse before and that showed me that the partnership has so much potential!”
Big Dreams and a Humble Heart
With hopes of being on the map for future Nations Cup events, Gabriela couldn’t be more proud of how Weeks 7 and 8 panned out for she and her two horses. While she would like to establish herself as a professional in the future, she has several goals she wants to accomplish before making that leap. “My long term goals include continuing to do U25 and FEI classes, make the team for the South American Games that will be held in Bolivia at the end of May, and hopefully the Pan American Games next year if all goes well!”
Dreams as big as Gabriela’s take a lot of effort from many parties and she is quick to acknowledge everyone who has helped her reach this point in her career. “I would like to thank my dad for being my biggest supporter and fan because without his hard work and the sacrifices he has made I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. Also my mom for all the emotional support she always gives me, and my little brother and sister because their lives have also changed due to my passion and they have always been very supportive about it. And of course, I would like to thank Chris Kappler and his team for helping me grow as an athlete and horsewoman.”
With these large aspirations, Gabriela is taking everything one day at a time and is unbelievably grateful for all the horses who have gotten her to this point. “What I love about this sport is being able to connect with a horse to such intensity that you are able to tackle difficult courses by working together. It is unbelievable what horses do for us and I don’t think we should ever take it for granted.”