Lauren Knopp is a 25-year-old dressage rider from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is now pursuing her dreams as a top rider in the FEI dressage scene and training out of her family’s farm in Wellington, FL. No stranger to fierce competition, Lauren had a very successful career as a junior rider as a NAJYRC Team and Individual Silver medalist and as the National Reserve Junior Champion in 2009. In 2013 Lauren and her horse Rantaro were third in the Brentina Cup at the Festival of Champions.
How did you make the decision to become a professional? What are the best and worst aspects of the horse business?
I decided around 16 that I had found my calling, and this is what I wanted to do as a career. I think that you shouldn’t want to take a vacation from your job, and I enjoy doing this every day and coming to the barn to ride my horses. For me that’s the best part. The worst part would be the unexpected setbacks and injuries. Those are just the ups and downs that go with having horses.
What was the hardest part of building a successful business?
In the very beginning it was hard to get people to give me a chance due to my young age. Being in Wellington you’re a small fish in a big pond. There’s lots of competition and it just takes time to build a reputation.
Are you the only equestrian in your family?
My mom rode Appaloosas when she was younger and I started riding at age eight after getting bored with ice skating. As I got older and more dedicated they saw that I wasn’t going to outgrow the horse phase, so they got more involved. Now my parents own IDA Farm in Wellington, a one hundred and ten stall facility.
What is a weakness you have that you’re trying to overcome as a rider? What are your strengths?
I’m a perfectionist, so that’s both my strength and my weakness. I have to realize that everything with horses takes time, and remind myself that improvements are always happening even though they might not be obvious in day to day training.
How did you recognize the FEI potential in your horses?
I bought Samoa by video sight unseen. I knew from his conformation that he’d have the ability for collection. Plus his quick hind leg told me he’d be capable for piaffe and passage someday. I was able to try Gregory in person and ride him. I could tell that as an eight year old he still had more gears, and talent that just needed to be developed.
How do you balance showing your own horses and training clients?
I tend to ride my personal horses first, and the rest of my day is a mix of instructing students and riding client horses. I try to treat each horse as a clean slate. Every day is a new day, and I keep that mindset of starting fresh every ride.
How do you keep your horses in shape?
They go on the treadmill every other day, which I like because there aren’t hills in Florida so we can add incline on the treadmill. They also stand on the theraplate before riding which helps loosen them up. My horse Gregory loves to jump, so I incorporate cross training into his routine. It’s good for him to get out of the ring and have some variety.
Do your horses do anything funny or do tricks?
Gregory is just a ham and has a quirky personality. If you walk up to him to pet him, he will stick out his tongue and wait for you to pull on it! He also likes eating maple glazed donuts.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t at the barn?
Run errands with my dog Clea! I find time to hang out with friends and get away from the barn on my days off. When I’m at home I cook or spend some time reading. I also enjoy going to the beach and snorkeling in the summer.