Equestrian Fashion Outfitters
Rider of the Month
We are so excited to announce our 'Rider of the Month' for March 2020! Hooked on horses since day one, this equestrian has worked hard to create a life involving the animals that we all love. Read our interview with the lovely Britt Sabbah to learn a little bit more about this determined, successful and happy-go-lucky event/dressage rider!
Read our interview with none other than...Britt Sabbah!
- When did you first begin riding and why?
I first sat on a horse at around 9 months old at a local fair, and then once I was old enough to talk, I begged my parents for lessons constantly until they finally relented when I was around 6 years old. At that point, I was hooked and there was no turning back!
- What is your favourite childhood memory involving horses?
Oh, it’s so hard to pick just one! Growing up, I was a hunter/jumper rider, but I always wanted to event. Luckily, my barn was located directly across the street from a public park with an amazing cross country course. While I never competed in a full horse trials as a kid, I was able to compete in their twice yearly hunter paces. I usually paired up with my trainer or a friend at the time and we had a blast. We never placed very well—we were always too fast and not near the optimum time, but I’ll never forget those fun days!
Out of the saddle, my favorite memories include some of our miniature horses. Two of our minis have been in the family for over 20 years, and when they were babies and we were kids, my step sister and I would train them to do tricks and often lay down and take naps with them in their paddock.
- What made you choose eventing and dressage over other disciplines?
I love how eventing tests both horse and rider in so many different ways. I think most eventers, myself included, choose the sport primarily because of the adrenaline rush of cross country. It is definitely my favorite part! However, eventers have to really become experts in three separate disciplines, which is a challenge I find very rewarding when it all comes together.
I’ll admit that when I first started eventing, I kind of thought of dressage as the boring phase we had to do before getting to the fun stuff. However, over the past few years, I’ve developed a huge appreciation for the intricacies of dressage and have grown to love it. I recently did my first FEI dressage test on my pony that I’ve brought up from the very beginning, which was one of my proudest riding accomplishments. While it may sometimes look boring, properly training for and putting together an accurate dressage test is incredibly difficult. I love the challenge and have a lot of fun competing in pure dressage.
I’m incredibly lucky to have two special ponies right now to focus on both eventing and dressage—Ricky, my Connemara, is my eventer, and Louie, my Welsh X, is my dressage horse.
- Did you always know that you wanted to compete with your horses and why?
I’m a very competitive person by nature, so once I started riding, I knew I wanted to compete. I like having a concrete goal to work towards and a way to test the progress of my training. I try not to put too much pressure on myself or my horses, though. I’m not trying to get to the Olympics one day! Having fun is always the most important part of riding, and it’s always my priority over being competitive, but I do enjoy the pressure of riding in a show environment.
- What are you most focused on with your riding or horses for 2020?
I’m always most focused on having fun and keeping my horses happy. We enjoy a lot of adventures on long trail rides, trips to the beach, etc. I find that all of us enjoy time outside of the ring, and it helps us get to know each other better.
Competitively, I’d like to compete in my first FEI event this year, and hope to complete a CCI2* with my Connemara, Ricky. I’d also like to gain more experience with him at 1.15m show jumping and debut in the 1.20m. With Louie, I’d like to continue competing at the Prix St Georges level of dressage and improve our scores.
- What does an average day look like for you?
I keep my horses at home, so horses are always part of my day from start to finish. We have five of them at home—Louie and Ricky, who I ride, and three minis named Diva, Lilly, and Comet. I feed them first thing in the morning, and switch Louie and Ricky in the pasture (Ricky’s out all night, Louie’s out all day). Next, my husband and I get our 2 year old daughter ready for her day, and I drop her off at her Montessori school. I typically ride both horses in the morning unless my lessons are scheduled for the afternoon, and then feed all of them lunch. I work from home on my computer, so I do all of my work after lunch and in the evenings. Throughout the day, I also feed our chickens, clean everyone’s stalls and pasture, and water and drag our arena. I pick up my daughter in the afternoon and then we spend time at home playing outside, reading books, and taking care of the animals. She loves to help with making and feeding their grain. Then, at dinner time, all of the horses are fed their evening hay, blanketed, and turnouts switched.
- What are the most common challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
With riding, the biggest challenge I currently face is having confidence over fences. After having a baby, I’m a bit more timid than I was before and sometimes I let my fears take over. Having a very honest, forgiving partner like my pony Ricky has helped my confidence improve leaps and bounds. I know he will always take care of me when we’re jumping, so I have to remind myself of that when I start to feel my fears creep in. If I’m feeling extra timid, I’ll go back to basics for a ride or two, and jump smaller fences or do some grids to help myself get back into a good, confident rhythm.
- Do you have any suggestions or advice for young riders aspiring to be as involved with the equestrian industry as you are?
The best advice I have is to always make sure you’re having fun and to put your horses first. There are so many ways to enjoy horses without being a professional or having Olympic dreams. Find what makes you the most happy with your horses and don’t worry about what everyone else around you is doing, or what you see on social media.
- What is the best advice you have ever been given involving horses from a coach, trainer or role model?
My trainers have been excellent role models to always put my horses’ wellbeing first. I’ve had moments where it was difficult to see my peers moving up the levels quickly around me, but my trainers have been wonderful about helping me to see the bigger picture and taking the time to make sure my horses are properly prepared for the next steps.
- If riding wasn’t in your life what other sport would you see yourself involved with and why?
Growing up, I was also heavily involved with dance, acrobatics, and cheerleading, so I would probably go back to one of those. I still sometimes go to a gymnastics facility to do some tumbling for fun, but it’s not as easy now that I’m in my 30s!
- What do you do for a living (career wise)?
I work in digital marketing and social media for a non-profit, and am currently working on a few personal writing projects as well.
- What accomplishment are you most proud of within the Equestrian Industry? (Does not have to be show related)
My proudest riding accomplishments are probably with my pony Louie, who I produced myself up through Preliminary (1.10m) eventing and Prix St Georges dressage. More on this in next question!
- The most memorable horse which you have owned or ridden is _____ and why?
It’s so hard to pick just one, but if I had to it would be my pony Louie. I don’t think many people thought he’d amount to very much. He’s a 14.2 Welsh Pony/QH cross who has always been very sensitive and quite spooky over fences. Eventually he took both of us to our first Preliminary horse trials (1.10m level) with a few top 5 finishes, which was a huge accomplishment because he was never expected to go over the 0.90m level. Eventually I retired him from eventing and decided to have him focus on dressage, which he really loves. We did our first FEI Prix St. Georges test last fall and have hopes to continue moving up the levels. He’s a very special pony who has continued to surprise people more and more throughout his career. I will always consider him my Heart Horse.
However, I can’t finish this question without mentioning the other two (non-miniautre) horses I’ve owned. The other horse I currently own, my 14.2hh Connemara named Ricky, is the most special jumping horse I’ve ever sat on. He gives the best, most confident feeling over fences unlike any other horse I’ve ever ridden. He also has a fun, goofy personality in the barn. I also have to give a ton of credit to my first horse, Elliot, who was so special to me. He was a petite 15.2hh Appendix QH who competed up to 1.35m jumpers before he was gifted to me to teach me the ropes. He was a super sweet little guy who loved to rest his head on my shoulder.
- Does your horse(s) have a favourite treat? If so, what is it?
Most of my horses will eat almost anything so it’s hard to narrow down a favorite! They’re not picky.
- What is the one thing you can never go to the barn without? (i.e. lucky socks, lip balm, gloves)
- What do you like to do when you manage to get some time off and away from the barn?
I’m a homebody so I like to just relax at home with my daughter, husband, and dogs when I’m not riding. I also like to watch true crime documentaries and do pilates to relax.
- Describe your dream vacation (does not have to be horse related)
I’d love to go on a horseback safari in Africa.
- What are you most grateful for at your barn?
I’m most grateful that my horses are at a barn in my own backyard. I’m so lucky to get to see them all day, everyday and be responsible for every part of their care.
- Describe the funniest wardrobe malfunction that you have had when riding?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I saw pictures of my cross country round at a recent show, I noticed my air vest was on inside out. Oops!
- What is your go-to late night snack?
Chocolate ice cream or cookies.