A Quick Conversation: Nayel Nassar

Each month, the BarnManager team is sitting down with accomplished riders from across equestrian disciplines to learn more about how they got their start, their typical days, their biggest advice, and more! We’re asking the same five questions and sharing their answers with you!

To say Egyptian show jumper Nayel Nassar has had some good results this past month is putting it pretty mildly.

On March 17, the 28-year-old rider and his longtime partner, Lordan, finished second behind two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist  Beezie Madden in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Coachella in Thermal, CA.

Then, only a week later, Nayel and Lucifer V won the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Ocala in Ocala, FL, making him only the second rider to win the $1 Million classes offered at all three HITS show venues, including HITS Coachella, HITS Ocala, and HITS Saugerties in New York! (Beezie’s win at Coachella the week before made her the first rider to win all three!)

As though two top finishes in $1 million grand prix classes weren’t enough, Nayel and Lucifer V then followed them up with a win in the $134,000 CSI 5* WEF Challenge Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL – only days after winning the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix!

Our BarnManager team caught up with him following his WEF win for a quick conversation!

Q: What was the first horse or pony that got you started?

I had a mare called Romantica. She was a five-year-old chestnut mare from Hungary, I believe. She had a lot of blood and was kind of crazy, but she taught me the hard part of the sport and that’s managing difficult horses. It was definitely an interesting introduction! I was probably 10 or 11 [years old].

Q: What’s your favorite riding moment or memory?

All of the [HITS] Millions are very special. Each one was different in its own way.

I had a really good show at the L.A. Masters a few years ago with Lordan, where he won the speed and was second in the grand prix. I’ve had a few memorable moments, but those are probably the ones that stand out.

Q: What’s your number one goal right now?

We have a big year in terms of Olympic qualification. We have a Nations Cup at the end of the year for the Olympic bid for the Arab countries, so I’m trying to be informed for that and have one or two horses at least ready for that.

My goal was to qualify for [the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals]; I qualified, but I decided not to go. My horses are a little older, so I decided to save them a little bit for the [Longines Global Champions Tour] and for these big grand prix classes and try to keep them a little fresher for that. That was a hard choice to make, but I think that was the right one. I’m really just trying to keep them happy and healthy so that at the end of the year, when we have that Olympic qualifier, we can put in a good effort.

Q: On a typical day at home, what’s your schedule?

I’m up usually between 7 and 7:30 a.m. I might try to be on my first horse between 8 and 8:30 a.m. I flat or jump depending on what the horses need. I’m basically at the barn all day and doing whatever needs to get done in the afternoon, whether it’s a lighter trail ride or helping around the barn or whatever. Once the weekend comes around, we’re usually at a show, so it’s usually just trying to enjoy the down time when we’re at home and letting the horses be free in the paddocks a little bit.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young, up-and-coming riders?

Go out and look for as many opportunities as you can, and just try to be as involved as possible even if it’s at the lowest level. I think just putting yourself out there; that’s the most important thing. As a professional myself, I’m very encouraged when I see somebody who has the right drive and who wants to make it and be something in the sport. I’ll always try to help them out whenever I can. I think there are a lot of trainers who are like that.

If you put yourself out there and you’re not afraid of rejection and you keep trying to find a place for yourself, somebody is going to give you a shot. Then it’s just a matter of working hard and trying to make it to the goals that you have set for yourself.

Bonus Question!: What’s one thing that’s always in your ring bag or that you don’t go to the ring without?

This is new, but it’s a tie clip that [girlfriend Jennifer Gates] got me at the beginning of circuit because she got irritated with my tie always flying around! I tried to safety pin it in, but then it looked so bad, so she got me a tie clip, and now I take it everywhere!

Photos by Jump Media

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

A Quick Conversation: Adrienne Sternlicht

Each month, the BarnManager team is sitting down with accomplished riders from across equestrian disciplines to learn more about how they got their start, their typical days, their biggest advice, and more! We’re asking the same five questions and sharing their answers with you!

Adrienne Sternlicht made headlines in September 2018 as part of the USA’s gold medal-winning show jumping team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG), but the 25-year-old was a powerhouse rider to watch well before that! The Brown University grad made her U.S. show jumping Nations Cup debut in May 2017, and since then she’s been a member of numerous Nations Cup teams and accumulated a number of top individual finishes while training with McLain Ward. Just this month, Sternlicht was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Wellington CSIO4*.

An added bonus about Sternlicht? She is also part of our Equine Tech Collab‘s Masterclass Innovation Series: A Mindful Approach to Horse and Rider on March 19! She’ll be sharing insight into what the mental side of equestrian sport looks like for her and how she has learned to build confidence, handle stress, and manage the various emotions that come with competing at the highest levels of equestrian sport! Get all the details here!

Q: What was the first horse or pony that got you started?

The first pony that got me started was named Parker. I leased him, and actually, within six weeks of leasing him, I broke my shoulder! So my mom tried to ride him. She’d never ridden before; no one was in horses in my family. It didn’t go so great. She had one lesson on the lunge line, and then was not interested in riding him anymore! I got him when I was eight, I believe. He was a super sweet pony and kind of taught me the ropes.

Q: What’s your favorite riding moment or memory?

Probably my favorite memory personally was the Sunday of WEG for the individual final. I was the most relaxed that I think I’ve ever been to jump. It just was such a surreal experience being able to share that moment with my horse.

Q: What’s your number one goal right now?

Tokyo! All eyes on Tokyo [for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics]!

Q: On a typical day at home, what’s your schedule?

A typical day when I’m not competing: I typically start around 8 a.m. Sometimes I work out before. It depends on my motivation level that day! Normally, whatever horses are showing that week, I’ll jump them at McLain [Ward]’s farm. So I’ll trailer over there. We don’t really do anything but gymnastics. That’s a huge part of our program. Then I’ll flat the other horses. I have two homebred hunters that I’ve been showing as well. So, I’ll go over to Linda Langmeier’s farm when I’m done riding my horses, which normally happens early to mid-afternoon, and I’ll go ride my hunters. Then I’ll hopefully get a workout in after. I either like to do a barre or pilates class, and I run a lot.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young, up-and-coming riders?

Be patient. And listen to your trainer.

Bonus Question!: What’s always in your tack trunk or ring bag?

I have a wide array of spurs. I have a tack hook that has at least eight to 10 pairs of spurs on it so that I’m always prepared. I’m quite particular about what spurs I use on what horse. In my ring bag, I have the little individually wrapped Neutrogena wipes because I tend to get quite dirty during the day, and those are awesome. I also have my Equestrian Wellness hand sanitizer; I love that stuff. And sunscreen!

Photos by Jump Media

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

A Quick Conversation: Hannah Selleck

Each month, the BarnManager team is sitting down with accomplished riders from across equestrian disciplines to learn more about how they got their start, their typical days, their biggest advice, and more! We’re asking the same five questions and sharing their answers with you!

Hannah Selleck, 30, has made a name for herself as a successful jumper rider – most recently with her mare, Barla – but the Los Angeles, CA, native’s equestrian endeavors aren’t limited to the grand prix ring. In 2010, Selleck founded Descanso Farm, a boutique breeding operation dedicated to producing high-quality sport horses within the U.S. Now, nearly eight years later, the young horses of Descanso Farm are seeing great success in both the jumper and hunter rings – as is Selleck.

BarnManager caught up with Selleck amidst her busy winter competing at HITS Coachella in California where she is showing Barla and bringing along the hopeful future stars of the sport!

Q: What was the first horse or pony that got you started?

We lived on a ranch, so I was always surrounded by different animals: cats, dogs, sheep, rabbits, cows, and horses. My dad had Western horses that he had from filming some of his Western films. He enjoyed trail riding, and I started riding when I was four. My first pony was a small black Shetland pony named Sheba.

Q: What’s your favorite riding moment or memory?

Hannah Selleck (center) double gold at 2008 NAJYRC

I have a few. I would say winning both individual and team gold medals at the 2008 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships and winning the USEF Talent Search Finals that same year.

Then, more recently, seeing our Descanso Farm bred horses winning in the show ring. It’s such a great feeling as we’re now beginning to see the goal through. For a while, when they’re very young and in the field, it doesn’t feel like as much of a tangible thing if you’ve never done it before. Now, we’re seeing it working and we’re seeing them really develop into great horses, and it’s very rewarding.

Q: What’s your number one goal right now?

Getting back in show ring after breaking my leg last summer. I showed for the first time midway through Thermal, and my goal is to be back in the FEI classes by the end of March.

Q: On a typical day at home, what’s your schedule?

The last six months or so my schedule has been a bit different than usual. I would typically start riding every morning at farm by 8 a.m. We normally take Sundays or Mondays off. Right now, I am still making physical therapy a priority a couple times a week, so those days I start early with my physical therapist, then workout with my trainer, then head to the farm and ride the remainder of the day. On the days I don’t have PT or my personal trainer I still like to get a workout in after I ride doing spin, tennis, or swimming.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young, up-and-coming riders?

Immerse yourself in the sport and in learning more about the horses – not just the riding. Spend time taking care of them and getting to know them. It’s so important and can go a long way in your success.

Photo Credits: Top Image – Ashley Neuhof Photography. Bottom Image – PhelpsSports.com

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

A Quick Conversation: Laura Graves

Each month, the BarnManager team is sitting down with accomplished riders from across equestrian disciplines to learn more about how they got their start, their typical days, their biggest advice, and more! We’re asking the same five questions and sharing their answers with you!

Dressage rider Laura Graves is fresh off an incredible individual silver medal win at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (which she adds to her 2016 Rio Olympic team bronze medal), and we had the privilege of catching up with her before WEG at the BarnManager-sponsored “Dressage for Jumping” clinic! (Read more about that here.) She took the time to talk to us about everything from her 4-H beginnings to the hardest part of making your career out of riding.

Graves and Verdades

Q: What was the first horse or pony that got you started?
There were actually two of them. My parents ended up trading our old, used washer and dryer for these two ponies. One of them was jet black, really handsome, and some sort of cob mix. His name was Rafter. Then we had a little Appaloosa whose name was Spanky.

It started out with just those two, but then you know, you have a barn, and you have property – I don’t think my dad really understood that then my mom would just start collecting horses! Anything free or if it didn’t have a home or if it had some sort of tough situation needing rehabbing – there were a lot of horses that had mental issues. They were either really nervous or they wouldn’t get on trailers or for some reason or another people didn’t want them. So, we ended up with all of these free horses.

I have two sisters, and we were all members of our local 4-H club and my mom ended up being one of the leaders. I just wanted to be a part of the presenting of the horses. I didn’t even want to ride. I just liked to groom them and present them. They judge you on how clean your tack is and your own turnout. Then it wasn’t until years and years later that I decided that I really wanted to ride.

The other 4-H leader would give me some lessons. It didn’t really turn into dressage until that 4-H leader said, “You know, if she really wants to ride, she needs to get some real lessons,” and sent us on to a woman who also taught lower level eventing but focused mostly on dressage.

Q: You’ve had a lot of incredible success, but what’s your favorite riding moment or memory?
I have probably two stand-out moments. One was the [FEI World Cup Dressage Final] in Omaha. We had tweaked my final centerline for my freestyle a little bit. I remember the crowd cheering so loud that I couldn’t even hear when my music was supposed to stop. That was pretty amazing.

But probably the biggest stand-out moment for me was in Rio. I had just finished my Grand Prix Special, and we were discussing how not many people came to watch the dressage. With jumping at the end you know how many rails you had down; you know how fast you went. You can look up at the clock. But in dressage, you don’t know for a minute. You kind of count on, “Well that felt pretty good,” and then if the crowd is loud, you go, “Okay, that must have been really good.”

In Rio, I was thinking, “We just delivered the ride of our lives!” and it was like crickets. I heard maybe four people clapping. I was so confused. But I said, “Good boy. I think you were pretty good.’”And then when we turned around to leave the stadium, my three teammates came rushing down because they could see the score, and they knew that we had just won the bronze medal! That moment was amazing.

Q: What’s your number one goal right now?
The World Equestrian Games.

Graves and her WEG mount, Verdades

Q: On a typical day at home, what’s your schedule?
I’m not a morning person. If I don’t have any wrenches thrown in, which is unusual, I get up around 7 a.m. I try to get the dogs out of bed – that’s usually the hardest part of my morning. They like to sleep in also.

I’m always at the barn and on a horse by 8 a.m. Then I schedule my day so that the girls and I are getting barn chores done and horses turned out, and we just go through the riding schedule. Maybe I ride five or six in the morning, and then after lunch, it’s just teaching. I have three clients that have horses in the barn or trailer in. Then the horses are all done by 4 p.m. The barn is totally closed up, tucked in, lights off by 5 p.m.

I just think the quiet time is so important for them. And if I can keep the part of their day where they’re being bothered shorter, I think all together they’re much happier. It’s something that I’m pretty strict about.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young, up-and-coming riders?
We fall in love with this sport for the horses, but when you decide to turn it into a serious career, you have to be really prepared to fail. I say nobody else cares that you take down a rail. Nobody else cares that you missed a flying change. And that sounds a little bit mean, but it really can be very isolating.

Even the people around you, your parents or your spouse, they’ll say, “Oh I’m so sorry that you missed the flying change.” But nobody gets it the way that you do, and you have to be prepared to deal with that totally by yourself. I think that’s the hardest part of what we do.

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!