The Plaid Horse Questionnaire With: Ava Stauber

Photo by Andrew Neal Photography

Status: Junior  
Trainer: Wendy Smith 
Hometown: Chicago, IL

As a rider with profound hearing loss: my superpower is being able to adjust to my horse’s mood. I’ve gotten really good at figuring out what he’s going to do, even if he doesn’t know it yet. 

But it can be difficult to understand where I’m going on a course or in a flat class. Flat classes are challenging because I cannot hear other riders coming up behind me, so I can only hope nobody is going to come too close or scare me. My hearing loss is profound because I can only hear things that are inches away from me, and very loud. 

If I could share one thing with readers about being a disabled rider: it would be that just because I have a disability, it doesn’t undermine my riding ability. I am still able to ride, it’s just harder for me to hear instructions and directions and I use [Bluetooth communication device] CeeCoach. I’ve gotten quite good at learning quickly, predicting what my trainer will say, and how to adjust when needed. 

My favorite horse book is: War Horse. The movie is good too! 

My favorite non-horse book is: Game of Thrones, the first one. 

As a horsewoman, I would most like to improve: on my relationship with my horse Lando. We already have a great connection, but it can always be better. 

Photo Courtesy Ava Stauber

The horse person I most admire is: Charlotte Dujardin. I think she’s an amazing dressage rider and horsewoman. I also really admire Beezie Madden—incredible show jumper and equestrian. 

As a horsewoman, I am most proud of: my ability to persevere through obstacles. Anybody who knows me, will agree: 1 don’t back down from a challenge. Hearing loss and inaccessibility have been my biggest challenges, and 1’m always going to have to deal with that. 1’m so lucky to have a terrific family and support system.

I think the biggest misconception about our sport is: that only people with money can do it. There are so many different people doing this sport, at their own pace, different disciplines, etc. Everybody can do this sport, it just depends on the accessibility of it. There are so many ways to do this sport, and still not be shelling out thousands of dollars a month.

Something I say ten times a day is: “I miss my horse.” Or, depending on the day, “I can’t wait to see my horse.” 

Photo Courtesy Ava Stauber

One of my greatest show ring victories was: winning reserve champion in the Arabian hunter equitation on the flat, and qualifying for US Nationals and Canadian Nationals two years in a row.  

My motto is: Support everybody and celebrate everything that makes a person unique.

*This story was originally published in the March 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!

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