I love watching the Olympics—winter and summer. Pick a sport and I’m into it, willing to admire the athletes, agonize over the losses, celebrate the successes, and even puzzle over the “rules of the game” when it comes to contests unfamiliar to me. I grew up an athlete, and I can identify with the ambition, the guts, and the honor of being an Olympic competitor. Even though it will never be me on a balance beam, ski jump, or podium, I still get a rush seeing others reach such a goal—the kind of goal that requires much sacrifice, hours upon hours upon days upon years, for a few moments of complete and utter validation.
So with Tokyo 2020 postponed until July 2021, I’m all about finding a new way to get my Olympic fix. One way is by reading the profiles in RIDING FOR THE TEAM: INSPIRATIONAL STORIES OF THE USA’S MEDAL-WINNING EQUESTRIANS AND THEIR HORSES.
The great thing about these stories is that they are all over the spectrum in terms of equestrian sport (all 8 FEI disciplines are included) and individual voice. Each rider, driver, and vaulter contributed a first-person account of what it took to rise to the highest levels of dressage, show jumping, eventing, reining, para dressage, driving, vaulting, and endurance. We get to hear the fascinating bits and pieces that helped make our equestrian stars great, and man, it makes for great trivia! For example, did you know:
- Margie Engle didn’t own her own horse until she was 25?
- Michelle Gibson got the ride on Peron after an article about her time as a working student in Germany appeared in the local newspaper?
- Boyd Martin has always competed in his high school’s blue-and-white rugby jersey?
- Suzy Stafford switched from eventing to driving after she bought driving lessons for her father?
- Becca Hart works as a head barista at Starbucks when she isn’t on the road competing?
- Andrea Fappani grew up with a classical riding background in an English saddle?
- Valerie Kanavy paid $150 for her first horse, Princess, with savings from her piggy bank?
- Megan Benjamin Guimarin could only eat bread pieces dipped in Nutella before competing for the World Championship?
There are 47 contributors in RIDING FOR THE TEAM, and as a rider—even one who no longer competes—I enjoyed discovering how each one decided representing the US in international competition was what they aspired to, and then how each pursued and accomplished that goal. Some came from humble means, some had a leg up with families in the horse business or money that helped pave the way, but all of them struggled at points…and still prevailed.
These lessons are the best kind right now. #LetTheDreamsBegin
Rebecca Didier, Managing Editor, TSB
RIDING FOR THE TEAM is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
CLICK HERE for more information or to order.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.