BY IRENE ELISE POWLICK
For many, going to the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is a family outing where everyone can enjoy the food, fair games, shops, and the horse show, and for the Gochman family, it’s pretty similar, too. Becky, who shows in the amateurs, and her two teenage daughters, Mimi and Sophie who are both juniors, all ride in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers to varying extents. They came to Devon like many, but with perhaps a bigger emphasis on the horses than the general public.
Although showing at one of the most elite horse shows in the country, the Gochman’s love of horses has humble beginnings. Becky grew up riding at the grassroot level and after finally convincing her parents to get her a horse, and she took full care of her partner. As she got older, she began to show more. She knew that when she had kids, she would give them the opportunity to love horses too. Mimi and Sophie grew up differently than their mother, starting to ride at a very early age and showing regularly in their youth, but they also learned that the horse is most important and have always loved them. “They have really grown to be amazing riders,” said Becky. “They have had great training, but the love of horses has prevailed through and through.”
This year’s Devon was a true Gochman domination with Mimi taking the Grand Junior Hunter Championship with Evermore and a win in the USEF Talent Search Section B, and Becky taking the Grand Amateur Owner Hunter Championship with Catch Me. Sophie also had consistent ribbons in the equitation and Junior Jumpers.
This Devon also marks each of them winning a Grand Championship at Devon, as Mimi had not previously won that title before; Sophie was Grand Junior Hunter Champion on Garfield and Becky also won the Grand Amateur Owner Championship with Catch Me, both in 2017. Additionally, Gochman owned Scandal, was champion of the Green Conformation Hunters with Scott Stewart, and Amanda Derbyshire rode Gochman horses to tie for the Open Jumper Championship and win the Leading Lady Rider, after winning the Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake with Roulette BH. “I really feel like it was a great show for our whole family,” remarked Becky.
Catch Me, who is one of two “horse of a lifetimes” for Becky, also won the Sambalino award this year, which is given to the horse, in the judges’ opinion, who best represents what an amateur owner hunter should be. Becky donated the trophy after the death of her other “horse of a lifetime,” Sambalino. Further, Mimi rode Evermore, who is by the stallion Empire, that Becky also rode previously. Becky and Empire were Grand Champion in 2014 and also took home the Sambalino award that year. “Empire was another special horse of mine and it is really nice for me to see the similar qualities of Evermore that I got to know so well with Empire,” said Becky. With the Gochman girls, everything is really kept in the family.
Riding is truly a family affair for the Gochmans. With all three of them riding multiple horses a show, they are very busy, and the logistics can be complicated. “We kind of make it a challenge,” explained Becky. “It allows us to grow in different ways… I don’t think we ever do it perfectly, but we always do the best that we can, which keeps it very interesting.” With them all in the sport, they also speak the same horsey language, but there is some competition, especially between Becky’s two daughter. “They’ve really worked that out between themselves over the years. When we ride, we are really riding just for ourselves.” Sophie explained, “Riding with my family definitely has its ups and downs, but it is nice to share something with my mom and sister.”
Devon, although very successful, is not the end for Becky and her girls. Soon, they head to Europe for their summer campaign with their jumpers, allowing for the hunters and equitation horses to get some well-deserved rest. Sophie and Mimi will be competing in the CSI2* classes, while Becky will compete in some of the smaller 1.15m jumper classes. At the end of the summer, the family will show at the Hampton Classic and the girls will compete at the North American Youth Championships. In the fall, both Mimi and Sophie will continue their education at The Spence School in New York City, while showing at the indoors shows that include the equitation championships.
For the future, Becky hopes that the girls will always have horses in their lives. “The plan is for them to go to college and experience that, and I imagine that they will always keep somewhat in the riding… I think that once it gets in your blood, it stays with you forever,” she said. “We have all really enjoyed it as a family and I hope that it continues for as long as possible.”
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