SEPTEMBER - EFO Feature Rider of the Month: Lauren Shickler

SEPTEMBER - EFO Feature Rider of the Month: Lauren Shickler

As the show season is winding down, we are more than happy to announce our September 'Featured Rider of the Month'. We wanted to focus our attention on a young rider who has proven to dedicated, determined and passionate throughout the 2018 season. Lauren Schickler, is just that. She has proven to be a very dedicated equestrian moving up the ranks. Finishing off her 1.0m season at the top of her class. We are honoured to feature her as our EFO rider of the month!
Check out what the fabulous Lauren Schickler had to say! 
How did you enter the Equestrian Industry?

I loved horses since being little, and had done a couple of trail rides. When I turned 10, my mother called a few places to inquire about lessons, but the only one accepting beginner riders at my age was Golden Gate Equestrian. After one week of summer camp, like many, I fell in love with the sport, and have never looked back.

You have accomplished a lot this season, what do you owe your success to?

This season has been so rewarding for me in many ways. We came out of the 0.9M last season with a very positive experience as first-timers in the jumper ring. I wouldn’t be here this season without the commitment all winter long to work hard at becoming even better. Together with my trainer Aj McCoy and Desani (Desert Rain), the three of us devised and bought in to a plan to succeed in the 1.0Ms. My partnership with Desani has been a key factor in that it is a mutually trusting relationship and hard-working partnership, every single day. My family has also made sacrifices for me to pursue this dream - financial and time commitments are huge. They are very supportive of me. My mother comes out to each lesson and show, and all these things put together, are what make the difference.

Did you always aspire to be in the jumpers or was there/is there another goal in sight?

I first rode a beautiful black pony mare and showed for two seasons in the hunters with her. We went from finishing 3rd in the Challenge Series in 2015, to her best results in Trillium, finishing 9th overall in 2016. Not bad for a little girl and her schoolie pony. I loved her very much because she was strong, and fast. My dare devilishness led my coach at the time to suggest looking for a jumper. After casually looking, we came home with our very own jumper mare in July 2016. It had been a great adventure so far, more than I’d ever imagined, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Within the Equestrian Industry, do you have any idols or people you look up to?

There are a lot of people around me that I look up to, from the barn to the show ring. I aspire to be independent and self-sufficient and appreciate barn-mates who show that example. In the show ring, I dream to emulate those who have built this sport, while being inspired by the young riders who are continuing to shape its future. They make my dream feel attainable, and inspire me to keep pushing myself to be the best rider I can be.

Moving forward, what are your goals for the coming years?

I would like to move up in the jumpers, and eventually compete at a more international level. Going to the Royal Winter Fair, Spruce Meadows, or maybe even the Olympics, are of course legitimate dreams. I would love to establish myself in such a way that my core values and work ethic, as well as the people I chose to surround myself with, are recognized as my strengths.

How has your relationship with Desert Rain grown since you first developed this partnership?

Desani’s and my relationship has grown so much since the day we got her. I feel like now, I know her inside and out. I can tell when she is having a bad day or when she is pumped and ready to work (which is pretty much everyday), and it goes both ways, in that she can tell when I’m having a bad day too. Those are the days she decides to make me laugh. We had a very challenging start. She was a very strong and stubborn horse for me, but by working hard together, we both learned to complement each other. She is such a willing partner and accepts my leadership role. She always has my back, and I have hers, literally.

What does an average day look like for you?

As much as I love my sleep, I actually have become very routine with early wake-ups. I wake up by 7am, and finish school by 3:15pm. I spend lunch with my new friends now in high school, taking a break from Grade 9 craziness. I typically race to the barn three times a week after class, and on off days, spend them doing homework to stay on pace, if not ahead of my workload. Weekends, aside from a hack with Desani, you can find me curled up with my other four fur babies (three kittens and a pup), reading a book in my room.

How do you manage to balance school, riding and life?

Life? What life? It’s school and riding, and we all know it. After finishing Elementary School with Honours and several Achievement awards, I am determined to maintain those results through to Grade 12. You can always find a way to make things work when you set goals a plan to achieve them. It’s not always easy, but it’s always possible.

What accomplishment are you most proud of within the Equestrian Industry? (Does not have to be based on show results)

To be honest, having just recently won the Angelstone 1.0M Circuit Championship was a huge moment of pride for me. We came from behind, but rode the grass circuit consistently well. Desani loves the grass ring, the courses were exciting, and the competition level from Ontario and Quebec was high. It came down to the last ride of the series, a stake class with 28 riders, for Desani and I to come out on top. It was one of the most rewarding moments to lead the final victory gallop with her. Desani always gives it her all when she steps in the ring, and as soon as she hears the buzzer, no matter how tired she might be, she musters the strength and will to give it 110%, and that makes me so proud of her.

The most memorable horse which you have owned or ridden is ____ and why?

I have only ridden two horses consistently so far in my brief career, so it's hard for me to choose, but being with Desani has definitely been a memorable experience, and a very special one because she is actually mine. While the pony in the Hunters quickly gave me confidence and made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to, Desani is my first jumper horse and has taught me fearlessness and a never-give-up attitude. She has taught me to go out, and have fun every time we step in the ring, and how to just trust my partner sometimes to get us to the other side of the jump. Today, our bond is stronger than ever, and I cannot thank her enough for that. She is my partner and has earned to share every recognition for our accomplishments together. I believe she is a better horse today than when we got her, and I a better rider for sure.

What is the one thing you can never go to a horseshow without? (i.e. Lucky Socks)

Besides my horse, I don’t really have a specific item that I can’t go without. However, I do have a lucky crop that I always use when I show. It has two bite marks in it: one from my first pony, and one from Desani.

Do you have any horseshow rituals? (other than getting Tim’s at 4am)

I do, actually. Right before I go to bed, I listen to music for a while. Usually it's the Red Hot Chilli Peppers or the Black Keys. My favourite songs right now are probably Little Black Submarines and Mind Eraser by the Black Keys, and Dani California and Snow by the Chilli Peppers.

What is your favourite post-horseshow thing to do?

My favourite thing to do after horseshows is … nothing. we spend so much time on the road that we appreciate the peace and quiet. I need to decompress after all the intense focus, so I often just sit, and maybe read and listen to music.


What do you like to do with your horse in the off-season or off-days?

Desani and I spend a lot of time together. We love cuddling after rides and when it's warm, going for walks. We really bonded like that.

Does your horse have a favourite treat? If so, what is it?

Definitely Stud Muffins. Desani loves them more than she loves me! After long horseshow days, my mom gives her carrots and apples. I don’t know who enjoys that moment more.

What do you like to do when you manage to get some time off and away from the barn?

I love swimming, it’s so relaxing. I will swim in our pool at home for hours at a time. I can also get lost in hundreds of pages of reading at a time. Sarah J. Maas is my current favourite author, among many others.
Describe your dream vacation (does not have to be horse related)

My dream vacation would be up at a cottage in the middle of nowhere by the lakeside. I love being around nature, and at a place where you can see the stars at night. Now, if my horse could come, that would be a huge bonus.

What are you most grateful for at your barn?

I’m most grateful for the environment and all the nice people there. Someone is always there to help you if you need it. When I first started, there was always someone there to lend a helping hand if needed. Now, I am the person that can help, and I love teaching others new things. It is a very caring barn, a fun place where everybody at any level has the opportunity to enjoy this amazing sport.

Describe the funniest “oh shit” moment that you have had when riding

That’s a tough one. There have been quite a few. I’ve made it through a couple of courses by guessing which jump was next, and a few “oh my God, I’m coming in way to fast” moments, but I can always count on Desani to pick up her feet. The funniest moments though, are probably when I lose my stirrups mid jump-off (which isn’t rare), and I know Aj is thinking “oh sh**”, but I’m just loving every second of it.

What is your go-to late night snack?

Ice cream. Lots of it. my favourite is Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I just grab a spoon and eat it right out of the tub. It’s the best and only way to eat it.
Would you rather?

Be forced to show in paddock boots and polos or Hunter rain boots?

Paddock boots and polos for sure.

Show in a sleeveless shirt or a bright neon green show coat?

Bright neon green show coat. I think that would be funny.
Fall in the warm-up ring or go into the ring with a very mud covered horse?

Fall in the warm up ring. I can clean up much more easily than my horse.

Split your breeches in the ring or have your reins break mid-course?

Have my reins break. Desani wouldn’t kill me (maybe).
Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us Lauren! It was a lot of fun and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for you! Best of luck :) 
<3 EFO 

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