INTERVIEW BY SISSY WICKES
After a stellar year in the show ring, eleven year old Kat Fuqua carried the momentum right through the indoor circuit. Competing at the Pennsylvania National, Washington International, and The National Horse Shows, Kat carried 16 ribbons, a Reserve Championship in the Washington International Pony Equitation Finals, and a Large Pony Hunter Championship back home to Atlanta, Georgia.
In the 2018 show season, Kat competed three small, three medium, and two large ponies as well as five horses. Under the tutelage of Michael Newman, the poised fifth grader successfully transitioned at each show from the Medium Pony ring to the Large Pony ring to the Junior Hunter ring and even to the difficult International Hunter Derby ring. She currently leads in national USEF Horse of the Year points in the Small Junior Hunter 15/Under division, is first and fourth nationally in the Large Pony Hunter division, and stands second in the Medium Pony Hunter division.
Amidst the accomplishments and accolades, it is easy to lose sight of the young equestrian behind them. TPH caught up with Kat Fuqua en route to a competition in Conyers, GA, in November.
1. What do you enjoy the most about riding?
I really enjoy competing. I love being in the ring and working all of the jumps out. That’s what I find the most fun. My favorite division is definitely the Junior Hunters because I love riding those horses.
2. What do you do when you aren’t riding?
When I am not riding, I am jumping jumps on my feet. Or, I swim at my house in the summer and ice skate in the winter.
3. What were your favorite moments at indoors this year?
My favorite moment was walking out of the ring at Washington and the in-gate starter telling me I was Champion. I had no idea.
At Harrisburg, my favorite moment was winning the hack. I had never won a big hack at indoors, so that was really cool.
[The National Horse Show] in Kentucky was amazing. The ring was set up so beautifully and it was really fun. The ribbons were as tall as me.
4. If you could go back and do anything differently this year, what would it be?
I could have done better at Devon. I didn’t have the best luck there. It was the first time for all of the ponies I took there. My junior hunter had been there before, but my ponies had not. The ponies were nervous and I was nervous and we weren’t very successful. I was really nervous in the big junior hunter ring [the Dixon Oval].
5. What do you look forward to in the upcoming show season? What are your goals for 2019?
I am really looking forward to WEF which has always been my favorite show circuit. My goal is to do well at Devon and be consistently in the ribbons on all of my horses and ponies. There is a Pony Derby Championship in Kentucky before Pony Finals and I am really looking forward to that. I love the Pony Derbies- any Derbies are fun!
I did my first International Hunter Derby in Saugerties, NY, last summer. My horse thought we were finished because I wasn’t really steering him. So, I aimed him toward the standard and he just circled. After that, we were great and it was so much fun. It was a big highlight for the year.
6. What do you want to do after high school? What do you want to do for a career?
Well, I am only in 5th grade! I haven’t given college much thought. But, for a career, I would like to do something with Gumbits (her family’s company) or start my own company. I am definitely going to ride; I am never going to stop riding.
7. What advice would you give a rider just starting out?
It is always better to go forward than to go slow. I have learned that for sure. Don’t push yourself to the point of being uncomfortable. And most important, I think, is to believe in yourself.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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