We are delighted to dive into our “Member Monday” series with Area 1 Young Rider, Ava Applebaum, who is a new member of the YR program in 2023. “Sometimes competing horses can feel like an individual sport,” she said regarding why she joined the program, “the Young Rider program makes you feel like you belong to a community of more than just riders. It allows us to contribute and influence the sport in a larger way. In addition, it helps us pave the way for our future, providing opportunities to expand our passion for the sport.”
From starting riding at just 4 years old at a hunter jumper barn to winning the GMHA September Horse Trial in 2021 at the Beginner Novice level to starting her 2023 season at the top of the Modified leaderboard, Ava is one to watch out for.
Although she began her riding career as a hunter jumper, she met her current trainer, Beth Murphy, when she was only 5 years old! Beth taught Ava from a young age, teaching the basics and riding and providing her with a strong foundation that has now led her to her Preliminary debut this year.
While Ava got her miles at Beginner Novice and Novice with her Dutch Warmblood, Chesterfield, as of last year she began her new partnership with 11 year old Oldenburg gelding, FE Bail Me Out. Bailey, as he’s known in the barn, competed through the 2* level with his previous owner. “He is a wonderful partner,” said Ava, “but he can be quirky at times. He definitely makes sure his opinion is heard, so make sure to hide the cookie bag. He is a true competitor and usually “shows up” on competition days! I truly believe Bailey’s favorite phase of eventing is cross country.”
While Ava and Bailey only recently began their partnership in the middle of last year, it has already led to her most memorable moment at Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trial in Altoona, Florida. “That day I didn’t even think I would make it in the dressage ring,” Ava said, “It was a freezing Florida morning, and the porta potty was extremely scary that day. However, Bailey and I entered the ring and we rode what we had, little did we know it would be our best test yet!” Best test indeed, seeing as the pair scored a sub-20 score of 19.8, putting them right at the top of 20 starters in the Modified Rider division.
“The 2023 season has me learning more complicated techniques and focusing on the process to advance,” Ava replied when asked about her goals for this season. “It’s the details and accuracy that keeps it exciting for me. It’s the tough questions on a course that keeps me thinking. I look forward to the challenges of the 2023 season ahead of me! The 2023 season has been off to a great start, and I hope it continues in that direction. As we all know, eventing can be a very humbling sport.”
With the plans in place, Ava’s goals for this year are to continue competing at the Preliminary level and to run her first FEI 2*. “As a 14-year-old competitor, I truly see myself reaching for the stars. I am manifesting the Olympics team for my future.”
We are manifesting with you Ava! So many things to be congratulated on and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the spring and 2023 hold for this pair.