Amanda and Cody approaching the lake- Photo by Cindy Lawler

Amanda and Cody approaching the lake- Photo by Cindy Lawler

Last year I was able to go to Kentucky for Rolex, but this year I decided to be all adult-like and make smart decisions, and the smart decision was to not spend money on Rolex. And that really bit the big one. I so wanted to be there, and I especially wanted to be there to cheer on Amanda Wilson and Cool Decision as they made their Rolex Debut. In June of 2013, I was lucky enough to go to a clinic and have a Dressage lesson with Amanda. At that time I was still standing in the doorway, looking in at this equestrian world and feeling a bit intimidated. Amanda met me at the door and invited me in. She had the ability to meet each rider, in whatever place they were in, that day. My daughter, a long time equestrian, also had a lesson that day, and was thrilled as well. So I became a fan of Amanda Wilson, and after Rolex I reached out and asked her a few questions.

When did you start riding? And how did that come about? What was it about riding that appealed to you?

I was born and raised in Saltsburg, a small town in western Pennsylvania. Currently I run Dark Horse Farm, a boarding / training facility with a full time lesson program. I was on a horse before I could walk. My mother just had trail horses at her fathers’ farm and from the time I could sit up I was on the back of a horse. I had my first pony at the age of 2 , again just casual riding. At 11 my friend convinced me to ride her horse in a H/J show, no formal lessons at this point, just help from her in borrowed clothes. Needless to say I didn’t place but I did make it around the courses, after that I was hooked! We found an event instructor through my veterinarian and once I went XC I was hooked! In those days no vest, no watch, just run and jump!

Over the brush no problem -Photo by Cindy Lawler

Over the brush no problem – Photo by Cindy Lawler

When did you decide that you were going to go for it as a career, and go as far as you could?

I just knew that riding was for me, I didn’t want a “real” job, mucking stalls while listening to my horses eat was my therapy!

Was Rolex KY a goal? For how long?

I’ve wanted to run at Rolex for as long as I could remember. It was always…Someday!

What is it about Cool Decision that made him your 4* partner?

Once Cody came into the picture, I just knew there was something there. He was opinionated, bold, cocky, all the things that make an athlete a better athlete. He’s an incredible XC machine, and always has been. It was just easy for me, and tricky too, to contain all that horse! He’s not everyone’s favorite, but he’s my horse of a lifetime! Once we ran our first advanced there was no stopping us.

Cool Decision  - Photo by Cindy Lawler

Cool Decision – Photo by Cindy Lawler

What was the most fun part?

Rolex was amazing, the week of a lifetime! I usually go to horse shows thinking it’s a job, one that I can do and do pretty well. At Rolex it wasn’t a job. I was just a girl on a horse doing what she loves! I felt like I was 12 again! I simply couldn’t stop smiling or crying, but a good kind of cry. I can’t pick what was the most fun – it was all unbelievable.

What lessons did you learn for next time?

I thought after I finished I would have been content with that, but who was I fooling?! I want more, another shot! Let’s face it, while I was busy smiling or galloping in the pouring rain, I left points on the table. I want to go back and not only finish, but show everyone what kind of horse he really is.

One piece of advice that you would give every equestrian?

If I could give one piece of sound advice, I guess it would me never give up. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. My work is what got me to this point on my own dime, sometimes it feels like the last one I have. Nevertheless I wouldn’t change a thing!