The Next Generation: Emily Moffitt
Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen
Despite her young age, Emily Moffitt has made herself a regular face on the Global Champions Tour circuit – 2017 has seen her winning numerous CSI2* classes, being placed in her first five-star Grand Prix and competing on her first senior Nations Cup Team. Emily has also worn the red jacket of the London Knights in the 2017 Global Champions League, which is appropriate since she went from representing America to Great Britain earlier this year.
World of Showjumping met Emily at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Oliva Nova, Spain, where, only hours after our chat about her ice-cold nerves and ambitious goals, she won the first CSI2* Grand Prix of the tour.
Born in California and raised in Las Vegas, the 19-year-old fell in love with horses during her visits to her grandfather’s yard in England. “My dad is English, my mom is American and when I was younger, we spent most of our summers in England. That is where my grandpa’s yard is and whenever we went to visit him when I was small, I saw horses there,” Emily tells. “When I first started I went to pony camp, I fell off three times in one day – but still thought it was the best thing ever,” she laughs. “After that, I begged my dad for a pony. He said I needed to work the whole summer; do everything – so I did. And then one day there was a new pony in the stable when I got to the yard and that was mine! I was so happy,” Emily recalls. “For a few years I just had fun and riding was my hobby,” Emily continues. “Then I went to Chantilly where I watched the big Grand Prix and realized that I really wanted to compete. So, I have only been jumping competitively for about four years now.”
Previously trained by Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton, Emily now trains with Ben Maher and rides full time. “It took a lot of convincing to get my parents to agree for me to only focus on riding instead of going to university,” Emily tells. “I started a lot later than other riders, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I told my parents that riding was something I really want to do – my goal is the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Luckily my dad understood how I felt.”
Emily now divides her time between England and the States. “I am never really at home! I am always away at shows; most of the time I am only home on Tuesdays. England is my home from April to November when I am competing in Europe and then Florida is home from December – March for the Winter Equestrian Festival. This year I will also do some American indoor shows, so I get to be in the States for about six months and that is exciting.”
“Luckily, I have a great team at home who help to keep my horses fit,” Emily explains. “My show groom Fiona, has been with me since my first ever international show. She’s a big reason I’ve come so far in such a short time. Every time I am going through a rough patch riding, she is always there to pick me up. For me it’s important to have a good group of people around to help me achieve my goals and dreams and Fiona helps me every step of the way.”
Being a young rider in a tough industry can be rough at times, but Emily believes that it is best to let the results do the talking. “I would say that I am very lucky to have such a strong team of horses – that obviously helps a lot. But in the end, I think results will get you where you need to be, regardless of what country you are riding for,” she says. “My family have a large string of horses covering all ages and my own string includes several top level horses. My best Grand Prix horse is Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve. We stepped up together and have a really good relationship. Tommy, as I call him, has a special place in my heart. But I am thankful for all my horses for doing it with me – they are animals, they don’t HAVE to jump, they do it because they love us and each one teaches me something different”
“Mentally, I am very strong – even though I have not always been like that. I used to let little things bother me. Now I know, that whatever is going on, I just need to focus on the course and on riding my horse well. If I am really focused and I ride the best I can, that is all I can do,” Emily tells us about dealing with pressure. “I have a one-track mind, I am a very all or nothing person. Tokyo is all I am focused on – that is all my mind is on. When I feel lazy, I think that if I go out and do the little extra – then I get a head start. Obviously I am one of the younger riders and I am really lucky to have my parent’s support. They have helped me enormously and put me where I want to be. Now it is up to me to do the work,” she continues.
Emily has found great support in her trainer Ben Maher. “I love training with him. The best thing is that he is also a great friend. We have conversations, he always listens, he wants to know my opinion and then we make a plan together. I think that is really important rather than just say ’you will do this, because I am the trainer’.”
“She has learned a lot over the past two seasons,” Ben Maher says about his student. “When I began training her she was already a winner, but it was through ambition and raw talent. She has always been very driven and competitive and I like that about her. I am now trying to get her into a system where she gets more consistency,” Ben explains. “Obviously, as a trainer and student we are very lucky to have access to her current stable of horsepower. The talent and quality of the horses is incredible. That is very positive for the future, but it can also be difficult for Emily to adapt to all these horses, but she is learning and beginning to develop into a very skilled rider,” he says.
“I think next year is going to be a very significant year for her. Tokyo is a realistic chance; there is no rule book on how old you need to be to go to the Olympics and it is no secret that the British team is in a difficult place. We have good riders, but not the right horse power. Emily has the horse power and it is my job to get her where she wants to be in a few years’ time,” Ben continues. “I have all the right raw ingredients – a rider who is ambitious and not afraid and horses with talent and experience. I believe that in both sport and life, you need to set goals and Tokyo is certainly a big goal. If she sticks to the plan and works hard, she has as good a chance at making it as anybody,” Ben says. “It is easy to sit on the outside – I think in sport and life you need to push. We are dealing with animals, so there is still pressure every time she goes in the ring. She is still learning, she is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. The fact that she is hardworking and focused, makes my life a lot easier!” Ben smiles.
And in ten years, where does Emily see herself? “I will reassess things after Tokyo. I gave up singing for horses, maybe I could go back to that, I don’t know,” she laughs. “I actually sang at the White House with a small group of other kids. I was too young then to really understand the lifestyle that comes with that, and now I am happy I chose riding.”
Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen