Congratulations to Kylie De Jesus ’20 on her third-place achievement at the Junior Rider Championship at Rancho Murieta earlier this month. This is Kylie’s first time competing, making this award even more special. Kylie shared a little about her riding experience and her horse.
How long have you been riding for?
I have been taking lessons for about 10 years now (I started when I was 7 since they had an age limit for lessons), but I had been doing summer camps and pony rides and things like that, up to the age where I could start taking lessons.
How often do you train?
On a regular day with a normal lesson, I would say I spend about three hours at the equestrian center. Technically the lessons are supposed to be around an hour, but depending on what we are doing that day it can vary. If it is a normal lesson in the arena, it usually stays at around an hour. We frequently go on the trails in Pebble Beach for training and conditioning for the horse’s fitness. What's different from other sports, is that when I am at the barn, riding is not the only thing I do. Most of the time I spend there is used taking care of my horse, whether it be tacking him up so that I can ride him, feeding him, or tending to his frequent injuries. (During the summer when I have no other obligations, I could spend up to 6 or 7 hours at the barn riding other horses, giving them baths, or cleaning and organizing the tack room and my things).
Another thing to keep in mind is that, although I am training, most of the training we do is for the benefit of the horse (I think of training as an obligation to the horse to keep them happy). Since riding is a partnership, the horse, as well as the rider needs to be in good shape. Currently, my horse is on a pretty consistent work schedule and only has one day off and one day of light trail work. I ride him six days a week, but even on his day off I still have to go to the barn, feed him, and make sure he's alright, so pretty much when I have no other obligations, I am at the barn. I am at the barn so much I wouldn't really even consider it training, but a significant part of my life.
What do you enjoy most about rising?
I know everyone says this, but the thing I love so much about the sport is the partnership between the horse and the rider. It is a relationship that is extremely unique that you can't find anywhere else. We train so hard and when we are able to get to the point of competing it all feels worth it. It is definitely not easy. Riding and training consumes my life, but I would not give it up for anything.
Tell us about your horse.
My horse's name is Freaking Freckles, but we call him Freakles. He is an off the track Thoroughbred (OTTB) and that was his registered race name when we got him. I didn't name him that, but I think it fits his personality pretty well... He was rescued from the race track when he was four and now we are in the process of training him. He was abused during his time on the track so he has some behavioral issues. Despite this he is EXTREMELY smart. If you respect him and show that you aren't going to let him walk all over you, then he is relatively okay to be around; but if you show that you are nervous then he will take advantage of you and will bite and or kick. It's all just a bunch of mind games that he likes to play. He just recently bit off a small piece of my ear... this was the first time that he had done anything to seriously injure me, but to be completely honest, I'm surprised it was the first time. Horses are unpredictable and it’s just something I have to work with! He definitely has a strong personality, but despite all of this, he is incredibly good to ride.