Erin McGuire Creates a Remarqueable Business

BY GRACE SALMON

“I went through the ropes – started on the local circuit showing cross rails as a kid and went up from there,” Erin McGuire of Cornelius, North Carolina says about the start of her riding career. In 2011, McGuire started riding with Jack Towell and Liza Towell Boyd of Finally Farm, showing in the Junior Hunters with Casallo. “He was my absolute dream unicorn,” Erin says of the grey gelding. “I still own him and he is currently leased out in California.” In 2013 in the spring of her final junior year, McGuire bought Kasarr, or “Benny” as he’s known in the barn. The pair competed mostly in the Low Junior Jumpers, and started in the smaller Welcome and Open Jumper Classics toward the end of her first year of owning him.

Erin & Casallo

Now, nearly five years later, McGuire just won her first Grand Prix aboard Kasarr. “It was an incredibly emotional experience,” McGuire explained. The pair topped a field of 18 in the $25,000 Aiken Spring Classic Grand Prix at the Aiken Spring Classic Masters in Aiken, SC. Benny was purchased as her Low Junior Jumper, but when he showed potential to jump bigger jumps, they decided to test his ability. “We had a rocky start and he really was never supposed to be more than a speedy Low Junior horse, but he has the biggest heart.” Benny stands at only 15.2 hands tall and has a lot of quirks, but they make it work. “He’s my buddy and we’re a team.” McGuire takes a unique approach to keeping Benny fit for shows. “We don’t jump much at home. We take dressage lessons and go on lots of trail rides. Finally Farm sits on the edge of seven square miles of foxhunting country and when the hunt isn’t out we can use it. Benny does all of his cardio and endurance work in the woods; it keeps his mind fresh. “

Of their success in the ring, McGuire comments on the team that is rooting for them outside of the ring. “Teamwork and preparation are on my side. Benny and I have a wonderful team of trainers, managers, vets, farriers, groom, and support systems behind us. Everyone contributes and makes us the team we are.”

Erin says, “I’m big proponent of mental and physical strength for myself. I’m at the gym two times a day to keep myself in the best shape possible.” But for her, the gym isn’t just work. “It’s also my getaway, my happy place.” She works just as hard in the barn as she does out of the barn. “I am also a big believer in doing my homework,” says Erin. “I ride Benny in the heat of the day to prepare for summer shows. When it is too cold in the winter we tack walk on the bit two times a day to exercise his top line. We take dressage lessons because we’re flatwork-challenged. He shows lightly to stay fresh.”

McGuire very much recognizes the mental aspect that goes into the sport. “Mentally, I’ve spent years getting my act together,” Erin said, and it’s clear that it has paid off. “I feel like it is one of my strongest attributes now.”

With many wins throughout their years together, this particular class was special. “It was a revelation for me. In the schooling area for the jump off I watched the first rider, a professional who I have worked with and admire, have a fast time with 4 faults. For whatever reason, that was all it took for me to have the unsolicited thought of ‘I can win this class.’ I’ve had that mindset going into all of the other kinds of classes I’ve entered, but never a Grand Prix. That was the missing piece.”

Erin gives a lot of credit to her mount. “Benny has been irreplaceable because he taught me to ride by the seat of my pants and not worry about what could go wrong. That leap of faith was what I needed to take the next step in my riding. This also inspired me to dedicate my life to helping other riders achieve the same feeling of competence. I just didn’t know what path I wanted to take.”

The confidence that Erin exudes when she canters around a course with Benny was not always there, however. “I struggled with nerves as a junior,” Erin said. “I wanted to succeed so badly, but I had poorly defined goals and I would not admit I was cracking under pressure. I got in my own way on Casallo more often than not. I took a lot of opportunities away from myself because I could keep it together where I was comfortable. But the moment I felt over-phased, I would tell myself I wasn’t good enough.” McGuire gives credit to her trainer Liza Boyd for introducing her to the world of sports psychology. “Liza was the first person to introduce me to sports psych. Becoming self aware made me a different rider and inspired me to pursue psychology in school.” Erin went on to study psychology and athletic coaching at the University of South Carolina. “I went into school knowing I was interested in psychology, but did not have the idea of Remarqueable Athletic Solutions until after graduation.”

When Erin isn’t winning grand prix’s, she’s working on creating a business to help those who are like her junior-self who lacked the mental toughness that the sports demands. Erin’s most recent endeavor has been opening her own sports psychology business, Remarqueable Athletic Solutions. RAS enhances competition performance by strengthening the whole athlete. Her services include: mental and/or physical conditioning & nutrition accountability. “Professionally, I am just starting out and I am overwhelmed with support! As with any small business, it takes time to build. I don’t believe in luck but I do believe that I’ve found a niche,” Erin said of the opening of RAS.

“I found my passion for fitness while at college.” Erin said. “In addition to getting myself fit, I teach group exercise classes that combine motivational psychology and fitness. This was a challenge to me to step out of my comfort zone and it’s turned into my outlet to take the pressure off of riding.”

McGuire was sidelined during the spring of 2017 due to a shoulder injury that resulted in surgery and kept her out of the saddle for 3 months. “I was going crazy and it made me think about what I missed and what I wanted. That is how Remarqueable Athletic Solutions was born. I kept myself mentally in check as I rehabbed because there were lots of uncertainties as I returned to competition. I went to the gym 2-3 times a day to stay as close to riding fit as possible and honed in on nutrition to keep myself feeling good and expedite muscle rebuilding after I had atrophied in my arms. These are all services that athletes, specifically equestrians, can benefit from. These are all things I’m passionate about and have experience with.”

Erin speaks fondly of RAS’s namesake. “Remarqueable was my Children’s Hunter, and he has since passed away. He was a big, goofy guy with the kindest soul who aimed to please. I had him when I was 12 years old, during a relatively vulnerable time. He represents the growing up I did during this time. He gave me my first WEF blue ribbon, as well as having a combined classic score of 60. Highs and lows, everyone has them, everyone can grow from them.”

Erin credits Remarqueable for a lot of what she has learned. “He taught me to love the sport and the journey that it brings. He taught me humility, compassion, commitment, and patience. Many of the lessons I learned from him have shaped me into the athlete I am today.” Erin hopes that she can emulate what she learned from Remarqueable, and in turn teach others what he was able to teach her. “I want my business to be built on the solid foundation of strong character. Winning is an uncontrollable result, but how one gets to their success is completely within their control.”

Erin wanted to make sure she incorporated as many meaningful symbols as she can. “I’m incorporating as many horses as possible since they’re my drive.” Erin said. “The RAS logo is a lion head. ‘Kasarr’ means resembling a lion.”

“I’m an athlete helping other athletes be their best selves. I’m hoping they find remarkable results in performance which transfer over into real life. RAS is based on recognizing habits and modifying them, whether it is mentally, physically, or nutritionally. Services are highly personalized; I value quality over quantity, always.” She is excited to see the company grow, but for the time being is focusing on building the smaller parts. “For now, I’m focusing on building up the mental side to see how much room it needs since it is the most relevant. From there, I’ll add in the physical and nutritional pillars of the company.” Erin realizes the personal potential of her business. “It represents having an impact outside of myself – which is something I strive to do.”

PHOTOS: A&S, ANNE GITTENS, AND SHAWN MCMILLEN PHOTOGRAPHY