Story and photos by Emma Dubinsky
When I first saw Kyle Muckler ride last year, I know he would be something special. He makes every horse go its best, and can ride anything you put him on, whether it be a baby green hunter or top level jumper. He is also easy to talk to, and was more than happy to talk to me about his thriving riding career.
Muckler began riding when he was 10 years old. He began his career with Kathy Kunsman in Flemington, N.J. A few years later, his family moved to Des Moines, Iowa, and he started training under Ned and Stacey Long. As a junior rider, he told me that he rode every horse he could get on. When not bringing up his own off-the-track-Thoroughbred, Odyssey, he rode various sale horses around the barn, or other OTTBs. He even won a few medal classes, and earned himself a ticket to the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals (Pa.), but he was unable to compete.
While in college, Muckler worked to further his riding career. As a student at Drake University, he snagged a job as an assistant at the barn where he is still currently working – but now as the head trainer; riding and training full time while juggling college. In order to do what he always wanted to do — ride — Muckler studied business while in college, so that he would have the knowledge to successfully run his own equine business. He logged many trips in the ring, improving his skills and becoming a better rider, so he could be competitive right up there with the best.
He plans to stay in St. Louis, Mo., this winter before the Maffitt Lake shows at home in May, but he is always looking to the future.
“I would hopefully like to get a few horses of my own that I can bring up and sell, and to eventually at some point have a grand prix horse, which I’ve never been able to do and haven’t had yet,” Muckler said.
This winter, Muckler has showed at the Queenie Productions winter series shows, the first two weeks of February. During those two weeks, he scored six champion or reserve ribbons, along with notable placings in many classes. Currently, he is moving lots of young horses up the ranks, and so many of those blue ribbons in St. Louis were on young horses in the baby Green or pre-green divisions. He has won a few hunter derbies around the Midwest, and has been picking up ribbons in many more.
“Let the horse help you,” he started. “Allow your horse to be able to be smart enough to get you out of a certain situation. So if you ever get yourself in a predicament they know what to do to get you out of it, and stay out of your horse’s way.”
Even though it can sometimes be hard to keep all the clients and horses happy, Muckler doesn’t even miss a beat when he says that the best part of the job is, “the horses, the showing, the riding.” I personally, am looking forward to seeing more from him soon. With skills like his, he will be a big name on the circuit before you know it!